Gender pay gap among clergy worse than national average, and why that infuriates me


I won’t lie. It’s difficult to see my wife struggle with her call to ministry in that she has to constantly be juggling her time and serving others while trying to find and clarify her own voice. I struggle against my urge to be a “manly man” and step in and tell her she can be a stay-at-home mom and doesn’t have to deal with all of the daily grind that no one else sees and feels but her. I get glimpses of what she goes through occasionally, and I’m not sure how she balances what are essentially two full time jobs that get labeled as “part-time” (can there ever be a part-time pastor?) along with the demands of our newborn son on top of having to deal with me.

I imagine that’s the same with every pastor and every pastor’s family.

Yes, there is credentialing and educational requirements (undergrad, seminary, internships … and the high rate loans that are associated with them), but it’s no coincidence that pastors are also among the highest professional groups to struggle with depression and high suicide rates.

To compound that with these stats is, well, infuriating and disappointing.

New national data reveals that women clergy earn 76 cents for each dollar earned by male clergy. This is substantially worse than the national pay gap of 83 cents. The clergy pay gap is even more stark when compared to similar occupations…

The gap among clergy is noteworthy because, as an occupation, the clergy has credentialing (ordination) and educational requirements that should encourage similar pay for similar work. Religious organizations often have educational requirements and institutional controls for clergy.

Source: Gender pay gap among clergy worse than national average – A first look at the new national data – Corner of Church and State

As Willie Nelson sang, “these are difficult times” for churches and pastors. We’re seeing cultural and socio-economic shifts that (for better and for worse) are resulting in diminishing church attendance and financial support. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, and it will result in a church that “looks” very different in the coming decades both here in the US and on a global scale as the southern hemisphere begins to assert its growing influence on christendom.

It also means that churches should think about how they “treat” and pay their pastors differently. Whether it’s a 5,000 member congregation or a 50 member country church, the failed policies of the baby boomer generation in regards to running churches-as-a-business have failed. No where is that more apparent than in the relative cultural homogeneity of any particular church (at least here in the American South), and the way we’ve treated female pastors who have unique abilities to salvage their congregations.

3 Replies to “Gender pay gap among clergy worse than national average, and why that infuriates me”

  1. […] is that the answer is decidedly different if your woman is a pastor and your woman is a man. A study reveals the shameful reality that women clergy are making 76 cents to every dollar their male […]


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