A prominent New York attorney is alleging that Joel Osteen is using his non-profit ministry to promote his for profit books. The upshot of the allegation is that book royalties are paid to Osteen personally, while his 'ministry' foots the bill for his TV broadcasts. I have many times considered restructuring ChristianMoney.com as a non-profit, but due to conflicts like this one I have decided against it.
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According to media reports, Osteen stopped taking his $200,000 salary as pastor of his Houston mega church in 2005. Although this may appear magnanimous on the surface, Osteen is clearly the beneficiary of millions in free advertising through the TV broadcast funded with church dollars. Who knew (according to media reports) that Osteen's reported net worth is now $40 million dollars? Or that he lives in a $10.5 million dollar estate? (six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three elevators, five fireplaces, a guest house and pool house).
How Many Books Would Joel Osteen Sell Without His TV Broadcast?
If the allegations are true, I simply can't agree with what Osteen is doing. This arrangement, however, is not unique to Joel Osteen. From those in the publishing industry I have discussed this with over the years, I have been told 'they all do it.' My view has always been that if you want to operate in the 'non-profit' world you should not be in it to build a personal fortune. I don't just apply this to Christian organizations but to secular ones as well. A recent article published by The Street.com listed 10 CEO's of non-profits that are paid more than $1 million dollar salaries. I wanted to throw up after seeing this list. Even more sickening are the enormous salaries being paid to college presidents when kids are barely able to beg, borrow, and steal enough money to pay for college these days. But, I digress... While I would not go so far as to say that Osteen's TV broadcasts are infomercials for his books (as the Enquirer article insinuates), I don't think this is far from the truth.
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Another Christian Guy With A $10 Million Dollar House
Much like Osteen, Christian financial guy Dave Ramsey has built a massive following through his media broadcasts and made millions of dollars from his books. Ramsey also owns a $10 million dollar mansion himself near Nashville. There is one major difference, however. Ramsey does not ask for donations or operate as a non-profit.
Don't tell me how much Osteen 'gives' to charity or that he does not take a salary. The church should be receiving the lion's share of the money made on these books in the first place. Joel, you can't have your cake and eat it too. Come on over and join me in the for profit world, the water is fine... Yep, us for profit guys have a tough hill to climb each day. We can't use donations to promote our books, we have to pay our expenses with our own money, but we do sleep well at night.
Please help us to supplement this article. Is there something we missed or can add here to be more fair to Joel Osteen? Operating as a church, Osteen's operation is exempt from many of the reporting requirements of a traditional charity. ChristianMoney.com was unable to connect Osteen's ministry with any financial accountability organization, or obtain any kind of independent rating or review. We were also unable to find any public response to the National Enquirer article by Osteen's ministry.
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