Among the recent criticisms of Bob Jones University, one of the strangest is that the university’s teachers are poorly paid. One critic even prepared a chart showing faculty salaries from independent four-year colleges and universities throughout South Carolina, locating Bob Jones University at the bottom of the salary scale. The (anonymous) critic took this lack of munificence as such an obvious scandal as not even to require comment.
Plenty could be said about the survey itself. Comparisons of this sort are rarely as helpful (or, in this case, as damaging) as they are meant to be. The variables are simply too significant for direct evaluations to be made.
A larger issue is at stake, however. The fact is that the published salaries at Bob Jones University are not greatly out of line with faculty salaries at most Fundamentalist institutions of higher learning (especially if regional cost of living is taken into account). Professors in Fundamentalist institutions are paid far less than their peers in comparable secular colleges and universities.
This situation extends further than just Fundamentalism. Many broadly evangelical schools do not pay their professors much more. I have degrees from two large, evangelical seminaries. In one of those institutions, a tenured professor told one of my classes that, in order to support his family, he had to make $10,000 to $15,000 of outside income every year. A recent reporting instrument shows that institution paying an average salary of only $25,000 per year, less than the reported average for the Bob Jones faculty.
While average salaries are low for Christian professors, they can be even lower for pastors. Many pastors receive no more compensation than professors at Bob Jones. In fact, many receive substantially less. Smaller churches frequently offer salary packages that virtually require pastors (or their spouses) to work outside jobs.
The people who take these positions—these professorships and pastorates—are obviously not taking them for the money. Some other concern is in play. That concern can be expressed in various ways: ministry, serving the Lord, the care of souls. Jesus called it “laying up treasures in heaven.” read more