In a response to the Supreme Court cases on gay marriage this week, David Barton said ministers should be “bivocational” to prevent them relying on “church welfare,” otherwise known as a minister’s salary.
Barton was on Glenn Beck’s show opining about the importance of the two gay marriage cases on the military, the state department, and Christian conscience. In discussing the effect of the rulings on conscience, Barton said ministers who refuse to perform gay marriages may cause their churches to lose tax exempt status. Such a loss would be a problem because ministers derive their income from churches. Here is the segment:
Tax exemption could prove to be a huge bargaining chip for the government, if churches don’t begin to walk away from the loophole.
“What are we going to do to get churches to walk away from their income tax exemption,” Glenn asked.
“I mean, they need to at the state level. What they believe is that they can’t survive without it. Now, I’m a big believer in the way Paul did it. Paul was bivocational. He had his own income so that he wasn’t dependent on a church,” David explained. “Right now what happens is so many ministers depend on their church, and I’m sorry, I often call it church welfare. These are guys that get their check from the church and they don’t want to mess with their check, don’t want to jeopardize that. It’s time for more pastors to become bivocational so that nobody can tell them what to do with their money. They own their own money. If the church money dries up, great, they are still ministers and they can still preach because they’ve got an income. So I’m really into that mold. And until we get out of the church welfare mold, the church takes care of me and I can’t afford to lose my check from the church. It’s going to be really tough to get the guys in a different direction.”
I Timothy 5:17 is often referred to in defense of paying ministers a salary and certainly indicates that they are deserving of their compensation. Calling it welfare insinuates that paid ministers aren’t doing much for their compensation and as such suggests a pretty low view of the minister’s vocation.
The broader topic of loss of tax exemption is an unfounded fear often raised, but never supported. Ministers were able to refuse to marry same-sex couples yesterday without jeopardizing their tax exempt status. Nothing has changed today (or is ever likely to change) due to the Supreme Court cases.
Video of Beck interviewing Barton (church welfare comments begin at 2:40 into the clip.
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