Imams, Pastors & Rabbis – Holy Compensation

During the month of January, I read several articles outlining the differing average pay for clergy in the United States, including Brian Palmer’s very direct approach: “What Type of Clergy get the Highest Salary“.  He lists the following average compensation:

  • Rabbis – $140,000
  • Pastors – $40,000
  • Imams – $30,000

Other research suggests these numbers are most accurate:

  • Rabbis – $80,000
  • Protestant Pastors – $40,000
  • Imams – $30,000
  • Roman Catholic Priests – $25,000

So What?

Within Protestantism pay varies widely depending upon several factors including:

  • Denomination (some provide minimum compensation standards while others have no such involvement)
  • Size of congregational membership and budget
  • Scope of responsibility
  • Education
With relatively low starting salaries for new seminary graduates, many in traditions that require a seminary education (a graduate theological degree) for ordination struggle financially.  This is leading to some reform (read about one seminary’s creative solution) and pleas for additional consideration (read one pastor’s plea for preparation committees to take more seriously the cost of a seminary education).
  • Do you think religious denominations or groups should set minimum compensation guidelines for clergy? Why or why not?
  • Is your religious tradition attracting enough candidates for ministry?  If not, what type of changes do you believe would encourage more people to pursue religious vocations?

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