Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ben Braxton Buyout or Social Just-us

Ben Braxton, best known as a passionate seeker of social justice and New Testament exegete. (His work on Philemon and Philippians is phenomenal, btw.) He's recently been called to serve at New York City's historic Riverside Church.

So why the grim face?

Well, it's not his garish outfit. (Though it should be...Emory has a knock-out PhD gown and I have no idea why he wears that magenta monster when he could be true blue, but I digress.)

No, I don't think it's his massive wardrobe wack-job. It's probably the economy. Times like this, people need to cut back and remember the little guy. It may be because he's so upset at the corporate executive compensation fueled by Wall Street Bail-out money. Something like this:
  • $250,000 in salary.
  • $11,500 monthly housing allowance ($138K/yr).
  • Private school tuition for their children.
  • A full-time maid.
  • "Entertainment," travel and professional development allowances.
  • Pension and life insurance benefits.
  • An equity allowance for the future purchase of a home.
Yeah...he'd probably cry about the injustice of a $600,000 package like that...if it weren't him that's getting it.

Many of his parishioners agree that - in light of the former pastor, the eminent preacher Dr. James Forbes - only had around $300K in compensation (and that was after nearly two decades of service). They were so upset that they took their case all the way up to the Manhattan Supreme Court! (Somewhere the irony of William Sloane Coffin preaching more on protest procedures than on Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 6 is dripping off the wall.) The Wall Street-like package, the dissidents say, is outrageous for a man of the cloth - especially when you consider Riverside's long history of advocating social justice.

Did I mention he's also hired on a new associate of his choosing with another $300K in salary & compensation?

It looks like some of the parishioners are catching on to this con-scheme's true nature, more properly termed "social just-us."


Tim said...

What a SWEEEEETTTT deal! Maybe I should update my Pastor Data Form and put it out there again. I had no idea that wolves, er, shepherds could demand such a high package in light on the current economy! With news like this, more pastors might be "bailing out" of their current churches...

Reformed Catholic said...

I can understand the cost of the monthly housing allowance, after all, it IS Manhattan. Unless he could find a rent-controlled place, he may need the entire amount.

That said, $250K, maid, kids tuition, etc, etc, etc

And here I know people who gave up on that kind of salary, to become ministers, fully knowing that the reward they seek is not on this earth.

Presbyman said...

This package is about 10 tens greater that Henry Sloan Coffin received in his last year at Riverside, about 20 years ago.

Now, I understand there is inflation and all, but not to this extent!

Well, maybe his great wealth will trickle down to those lower on the economic ladder ... like his maid.

Bill Crawford said...

Look who's preaching just before his installation:

Dr. Ann Holmes Redding, Preaching

On Sunday, April 19th, Ann Holmes Redding will be our guest preacher in morning worship. Dr. Redding, an Episcopal priest from Seattle, was recently defrocked by the Episcopal Church after announcing in 2007 that she is both Christian and Muslim. Dr. Redding formerly served as the Director of Faith Formation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle.