Scanning through the 2008 Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, I ran across this bit of information:
“The Executive Committee participates in a defined contribution annuity plan (the Plan) which covers substantially all employees. The Plan is sponsored by GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention (“GuideStone”). The Executive Committee makes contributions equal to 10 % of the participant’s compensation and also matches participant contributions of 1 % for each 3 years of service not to exceed 5% of the participant’s compensation. The Plan was amended in fiscal 1992 to change early retirement from age fifty-eight to age fifty-five and to change eligibility to participate in the Plan from two full years of service to the first day of employment.” (2008 SBC Annual at p. 253)
Now admittedly, I’m no retirement plan expert, but this strikes me as pretty generous. I can’t help but wonder how this would look if it were compared to retirement plans for employees of other organizations.
Is YOUR retirement plan this generous?
It’s particularly striking when you consider the repeated claim of Southern Baptist officials that the SBC really exists “only a few days each year.” That’s another one of the excuses they make for why they can’t do anything to systematically address clergy sex abuse. It’s their “gee-whiz-we-don’t-even-exist” shell game.
Yet, this entity that purportedly exists for only a few days sure pays out some generous benefits to all those honchos working in that block-long building in Nashville.
Speaking of which… do any of you know how to find out the total compensation packages for those Southern Baptist honchos in Nashville?
A couple reporters have told me it’s impossible. They say the Southern Baptist Convention won’t disclose that information.
From what I hear, the Southern Baptist Convention doesn’t make that information available because it claims to be exempt from filing the IRS-990 form. That’s the federal form that other non-profit entities file, which requires them to disclose how much they’re paying their executives.
But apparently, the Southern Baptist Convention claims to have status as a “church” and so it claims to be exempt from publicly disclosing how much its executives are paid.
How’s that for having your cake and eating it too? They claim to have no responsibility for clergy sex abuse within the denomination because the denomination is separate from the churches. Yet, they claim to be a "church" and hide behind that label when it helps them avoid federal standards of financial accountability.
So… if the Southern Baptist Convention is a “church”, who are its ministers?
The only way this makes sense to me is if you figure that the ministers of the SBC are the ministers of the local churches. After all, they’re the minister who carry the “Southern Baptist” brand on their shoulders.
Yet, those ministers who give the SBC status as a “church” for purposes of avoiding federal non-profit disclosure laws are the same ministers for whom the SBC claims it can’t possibly exercise any oversight.
Am I missing something here? Is my information wrong? Is there some piece of this that I just don’t understand?
Help me out, if you can. As I said, I’m no expert on retirement plans, and I’m sure as heck no expert on federal requirements for non-profit disclosures.
So how does this make sense?
Why aren’t all the thousands of hard-working people who put money in Baptist offering plates entitled to know how much those SBC executives are taking out for their own salaries and benefits? Huh?
I know a lot of you are undoubtedly a whole lot smarter than me on this kind of stuff.
Are any of you tax lawyers? Accountants?
Explain this to me. Please.
While you’re at it, if you’ve got a minute, take a look at that 2008 SBC Annual. It’s 1360 pages long. Maybe you’ll spot some other gem in there.
And remember… all of this comes from an organization that claims it exists for “only a few days each year.”
But of course, that’s what SBC officials say when they’re trying to deflect responsibility for clergy child molesters. When they’re justifying their salaries, I imagine it’s another story. I haven’t been able to figure out how much they actually make, but I bet they’re getting paid for more than just “a few days.”
You can access the 2008 SBC Annual by clicking on the link at the top of the upper-right column at www.sbc.net.