Just How Accountable Is The Worldwide Church of God Willing To Be?
What Are They Hiding?
I'd been wondering whether a gradual evolution would take place toward more accountability in the Worldwide Church of God, even though we've now been out over a year. (When I was still a Worldwide Church of God member, I'd had correspondence and phone conversations with Bernie Schnippert unsuccessfully requesting information about compensation of top church officials -- though I did get IRS filings from him relating to compensation of AICF and Ambassador College executives, which seemed to me to be at appropriate levels.)
When I got several letters asking for Plain Truth partners to send money, I called the Plain Truth and told the woman who answered I'd like to know the salaries and compensation -- including housing allowances, bonuses, perks, pensions, incentives etc. -- of the top 10 people in Plain Truth Ministries and the church.
I thought that was a fair question for the successors of Herbert W. Armstrong, given the kind of kleptocracy Armstrong operated and the hideously high salary and perks he awarded himself. And I thought the answer I got would be something of an indicator of whether or not the Worldwide Church of God was any closer to becoming a normal, healthy church.
I attach the response I got. (Please excuse any typing errors I make.)
For me, this response really answers the question of whether the Worldwide Church of God is there yet. The response, of course, ignores both why many other churches have no difficulty with this kind of financial transparency (For instance, the United Church of Christ publishes the salaries of all its denominational executives and staffers making over $50,000 a year, including that of President Paul Sherry, in the church newspaper every two years, by mandate of the General Synod.) and why Plain Truth Ministries, which is not a church, would not provide this information for its executives, which I believe actually is required by law.
Respectfully, William D. Meyer
WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91129
JOSEPH W. TKACH
May 18, 1998
Mr. William D. Meyer
Dear Mr. Meyer:
Thank you for your telephone call of May 5th to the Worldwide Church of God. According to the operator, you wanted to know what the compensation package was for the ten top positions in the Worldwide Church of God. I'm happy to answer your question.
For reasons of privacy, we do not make this information available to the public. This sometimes surprises people because they assume that this information must, by law, be made public. That applies to publically held corporations. But we are not a publically held corporation such as IBM or General Motors. Neither are we a registered charity.
We are a church, and churches are legally and constitutionally in a priviledged position. In the United States, they do not need to disclose the salaries of their executives or employees. In fact, the church would have to get, by law, the permission of each of its executives and workers in order to disclose their salaries. We do not feel there is a need to ask our employees to disclose what they make. Would you want everyone to know how much or how little you make, if there was no compelling need to make this information public?
I can tell you the following about the wages and salaries of those who work for the church. Information is available regarding the wage and salary structure of various jobs in both industry and non-profit organizations. Over the years our human resource department has carefully looked at this information, particularly at wage and salary levels paid to workers and executives in other organizations similar to ours.
Our hourly and salaries employees receive comparable wages to workers in these groups. Our senior executives are generally paid somewhat less than executives in other comparable organizations and companies are paid. However, as I said, for privacy reasons we do not make public what employees or executives earn.
I hope my answer has been satisfactory. Thank you for your interest in the Worldwide Church of God. If we can answer any Bible-related questions, please let us know. May God's grace go with you.
In Christian Service
Personal Correspondence Department
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