According to the Department of Labor, the average clergyperson in the United States made just below $48,000 last year.
Annual pay for Catholic priests is often lower, with some making $20,000 or $30,000 each year, while megachurch pastors typically bring in pay in the low six-figures, as do many Reform and Conservative rabbis, according to recent surveys. Among some of the biggest televangelists and best-selling religious authors, it's not unusual to be a millionaire.
But unlike most nonprofits, which are required to file public tax statements (990 forms) to the Internal Revenue Service, churches are houses of worship are largely exempt from that requirement, making it hard to pinpoint details about their finances. Still, there are plenty of faith-based charities, nonprofits, media ministries and social justice organizations that are required to make their salaries public, with payments for top leaders regularly exceeding anything made by the average pastor.
HuffPost Religion has culled through pay for some of the largest and best-known faith-based nonprofits, many which are led by clergy. What's listed below includes base salaries as well as other types of earnings, including retirement account contributions, deferred compensation and benefits. Many of these people also earn additional money from other ventures, such as book sales, educational institutions and religious and nonreligious organizations with which they're affiliated.
While it's not a definitive guide -- and though the numbers don't compare to the incredibly high pay of corporate CEOs in the U.S. -- the list below represents a sampling of how, for a select few, being a religious "do-gooder," media mogul or professional evangelist can mean a living quite a comfortable life.
Do-Gooders Making Good
|Franklin Graham||Samaritan's Purse||2,884 in 2012|
|Mike Novak||Educational Media Foundation||9,423 in 2011|
|Robert Aronson||Birthright Israel Foundation||6,838 in 2011|
|Gordon Robertson||Christian Broadcasting Network||9,644 in 2011|
|Paul Crouch / Jan Crouch||Trinity Broadcasting Network||0,100 for Paul, 7,884 for Jan in 2011|
|Denny Rydberg||Young Life||5,132 in 2011|
|Ruth Messinger||American Jewish World Service||1,684 in 2011|
|Charles Stanley||In Touch Ministries||6,468 in 2010|
|Les Steckel||Fellowship of Christian Athletes||5,201 in 2011|
|Jim Daly||Focus on the Family||5,753 in 2011|
|Father Larry Snyder||Catholic Charities USA||9,929 in 2010|
|Alexander Hill||Intervarsity Christian Fellowship/USA||8,809 in 2011|
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, based in Madison, Wisc., is an "evangelical Christian mission serving students and faculty on college and university campuses." In 2011, President Alexander Hill made $178,345 in "reportable compensation" and $30,464" in "other compensation from the organization and related organizations."
Catholic Charities USA is one of the largest charity networks in the country and works with hundreds of local and national charity organizations on humanitarian relief and alleviating poverty. In 2010, its president, Father Larry Snyder, made $219,929.
Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Focus on the Family says is mission is to share "the Gospel of Jesus Christ while promoting Biblical family values." In 2011, its president, Jim Daly, was paid $238,227 in "reportable compensation" and $27,526 "other compensation from the organization and related organizations."
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, based in Kansas City, Mo., operates Christian clubs for athletes in hundreds of high schools, colleges, universities, as well as camps and events across U.S. cities. In 2011, its president and former NFL coach Les Steckel (right) made $141,145 in "reportable compensation" and $144,056 in "other compensation from the organization and related organizations."
Charles Stanley, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, is also the founder and president of In Touch Ministries, a TV, radio and magazine ministry that aims to "lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ." In 2010, Stanley made $296,468 from In Touch Ministries, including his base compensation, retirement and deferred compensation and nontaxable benefits.
American Jewish World Service describes itself as a "faith-based international development organization" that works with international community groups on humanitarian relief, development and social justice issues. In 2011, President Ruth Messinger made $294,866 in "reportable compensation" and $26,818 in "other compensation from the organization and related organizations." (Pictured: Messinger and George Clooney attend a dinner hosted by the Save Darfur Coalition September 13, 2006 in New York City.)
Young Life, an evangelical organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo., describes itself as a "ministry to help adolescents around the world become exposed to the person of Jesus Christ," including running many international and U.S.-based Christian camps and youth events. In 2011, the ministry's president, Denny Rydberg, was paid $349,841 in "reportable compensation" and $45,291 "other compensation from the organization and related organizations."
Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is one of the largest Christian television networks in the world. It calls itself a "church whose primary purpose it to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world." As the New York Times reported last year, founders Paul and Janice Crouch live in multi-million dollar mansions "provided by the network using viewer donations and tax-free earnings." In terms of IRS-reported salary and compensation the Crouches together made $795,884 in 2011, with it nearly split evenly between the two.
Christian Broadcasting Network, known best for its founder and The 700 Club host Pat Robertson, actually pays the most money to his son, Gordon Robertson, who runs the network has appeared on The 700 Club as a substitute for his father. In 2011, Gordon Robertson was paid $404,394 by in "reportable compensation" and $25,250 in "other compensation from the organization and related organizations." His father was paid $16,574 in "reportable compensation" and $124,875 in the "other" category. Pat Robertson, who is estimated to have made millions over his lifetime, has made money from being the founder of Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., the American Center for Law and Justice, and The Family Channel, which was sold several times and is currently part of ABC Family Worldwide, Inc.
Birthright Israel aims to "support the education of members of the Jewish community outside Israel about Judaism and its heritage, and to foster bonds between the Jews of the diaspora and the state of Israel." It's known best for sending thousands of young Jews from around the U.S. on free trips to Israel each year. Former President Robert Aronson, who stepped down in 2012, made $466,838 in 2011 from the job. That included base compensation, bonus and incentives, retirement and deferred compensation and nontaxable benefits. (Image shows preparations before President Barack Obama's speech to Israeli students on March 21, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel.)
EMF is one of the nation's largest Christian radio companies and runs the K-LOVE and Air1 radio networks, which largely play contemporary Christian music. It's mission, it says, is to "operate non-commercial religious and educational radio stations." In 2011, president Mike Novak made $469,200 in "reportable compensation" and $20,223 in "other compensation from the organization and related organizations."
Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham III (right), is the head of Samaritan's Purse, which describes itself as a "nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to people hurting around the world with the purpose of sharing God's love through his son, Jesus Christ." In 2012, Franklin Graham III was paid $437,255 in "reportable compensation" and $175,629 in "other compensation from the organization and related organizations."