Thursday, June 03, 2010

Dear Anonymous Commenter…

In my recent blog entry, you made the following observation, as I am sure you are lounging on your chair and sipping that cuppa as you judge the world from your couch seat...

(Photo credit: Flickr)

Anonymous said... “too many things to say but i will say one thing, a pastor makes much more by taking no salary but gives to one another in the circuit talks. It is under the radar and attracts no taxes.”

Well, Anonymous, thanks firstly for taking the time to comment on my blog. It does bring a smile to my face knowing people read and take the time to comment.

While you are entitled to your opinions, this is also my blog, so here’re my opinions.

With regards to “taking no salary”, I take it as a non-too-subtle jibe at Pastor Kong being off salary since 2005. If earning money was Pastor’s primary motivation, then if you think about it, there’s really NO reason for him to go off payroll. I mean, no other pastor in Singapore has done it. It will probably attract derisive remarks as you have so kindly demonstrated. If he remained on the staff payroll, then all things being equal, you would expect that he would be one of the best-paid pastors in this land, given the City Harvest has one of the biggest congregations around. Isn’t the more (money) the merrier?

I have never blogged about Pastor being off-salary, but I respect him all the more for it. It is something to be celebrated, not scoffed or sneered at. And certainly not something to be dismissed as merely a “ploy” or a “stunt”.

As for “circuit talks”, I suppose you mean pastors ministering in another church. Well I suppose in the Christian world globally, it is a common practice to give a token amount for guest speakers to cover their travelling expenses.

But the thing is, it isn’t even a “Christian” phenomenon.

With all due respect to the following persons, they too primarily make their living off the “circuit talk track”:

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, for instance. Reports state he earns £100,000 per talking engagement.

Back in 2007, Forbes stated Anthony Robbins earns up to US$300,000 per speaking engagement.

Even Sarah Palin reportedly earns an average of US$100,000 per speaking engagement as well.

Of course I could go on, but you see my point. In no way am I saying Christian ministers get paid this kind of astronomical figures, but the truth remains that there is nothing “strange” or “fishy” about this practice.

As for “tax avoidance”, that is a pretty heavy accusation. Unless you have some solid insider proof that somehow Pastor Kong (or any other pastor in the land) is purposefully avoiding and under-declaring their revenue, I’d avoid this route, if I were you.

Just my two cents. :)

(Ok, maybe it’s more like fifty cents, given the length of my retort, but you get the idea.)


Inthedaisies said...


Anonymous said...

Pastor Kong is not the ONLY pastor in Singapore to be off payroll. Do your research carefully before you speak

San said...

Dear Anonymous, nice to see you back here again.

Well, did I even say Pastor Kong is the ONLY Pastor off salary? No, right? Why do you assume I think he is?

Unless the previous taking no salary jibe is pointed at some other pastor? Which won't make sense since my earlier post was on City Harvest and by extension, Pastor Kong.

See, I am not against comments and I don't expect every reader to agree with me. I do, however, expect a coherent argument and not some loosely-based "theory", conspiracy or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Your statement as "no other Pastor in Singapore has done it" implies that.
Did you read what you type?

San said...

Hi Anonymous, if you read the sentences before it, you'd know I was talking about "...since 2005." Back then, no other Senior Pastor/Founder of a church voluntarily went off-salary. I am not saying as of now he is still the only one. I do hear of at least another pastor in town doing the same thing (and there might be more). Hope this clarifies. :)

Grayson said...

WOW! First time i see your blog, Fabulous! I should log on more often to see your comments and views. Singaporeans are so educated until they like to spot & pick on the little things in life. Get a life everyone! Yeah San, Thanks for the dollar worth of comment! This is what i have been thinking since Monday~ I believed that this time we will have a greater breakthrough! Glory to God!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the reason Ps Kong got off the payroll was to ensure he could remain as president of the Board under the COC's best practice/rules on governance?

San said...

Hi Anonymous, well - quick timeline here. COC only released its Code of Governance for Charities and IPCs in late 2007. A good two years after Pastor Kong went off salary. Do you still think the Code was the reason?