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August 19, 2015

Graham's $880,000 Pay Raises Eyebrows at Christian Groups

Religion News Service looks at the issue of pay for megachurch pastors and Christian nonprofit leaders in the wake of media reports that Samaritan's Purse CEO Franklin Graham's annual earnings total $880,000. Mr. Graham was paid $622,000 by the North Carolina-based Christian aid group and $258,000 as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association founded by his father, according to the Charlotte Observer.

A spokesman for Franklin Graham said his pay in both positions is set by independent commissions that compared top salaries at like organizations. Citing other sources, Religion News Service writes that CEOs at the 50 biggest U.S. charities, a group that includes Samaritan's Purse, earn in $350,000 to $450,000 range, and Mr. Graham's pay is in the upper reaches for senior pastors at churches with more than 1,600 attendees.

The article quotes academics and experts on faith nonprofits on how church leaders' pay is set and whether Mr. Graham's compensation is appropriate for such institutions.