Pastors and Private Jets.
This is obviously a sore topic.
I do not condone pastors embezzling money. I do not condone pastors using church funds for personal gain (save their allotted salaries). I do not condone pastors being selfish and/or greedy. But that's where my outrage ends. I do not have a knee-jerk negative reaction to a jet acquisition…not until I know all the facts.
I do not believe that because one is a pastor, he cannot be well-to-do.
There are poor pastors, and there are rich pastors. There are poor doctors and there are rich doctors. There are poor and rich engineers, lawyers, musicians, Danfo drivers, and even presidents!
Wealth is not a function of one's occupation. Too many factors come into play, such as investment and/or business savvy, inheritance, use of valuable property (both material and intellectual), use of goodwill and social networks.
A pastor of a church where many of the congregants are rich will drive a better car than one where the congregants are poor. A pastor of a multinational church will be more visible than one that meets his flock in a garage.
My problem is not so much the pastor who by hook or crook actually has enough notes to rub together to acquire a private jet. It's the motivation behind it and the use of the jet in the end that is more important. Call me naive, but I believe it is possible for a person to do good with a jet...even though I acknowledge that for most of them it's bragging rights. Oops! I just made a judgement call. Not my place. The best I can do is let them know that they have a maker to whom they are going to give account of themselves to someday.
Face it people, there are stinking-rich church-goers out there. Some of them, give offerings large enough to buy jets for whomever they choose. That handles the legal aspect, though not the moral. Is it morally right for a pastor to buy a private jet? My simple answer is 'it depends'. It depends on the specific circumstances surrounding said acquisition, and it is not my place to make a judgement call without knowing the facts. Yes toys for the affluent are not necessarily bad things in and of themselves. A pastor can be rich if he likes, as long as he can handle the fact that it is harder for a rich man to go to heaven (more like 'impossible' for those who actually serve mammon).
All that said though, I strongly believe that being a pastor does not exclude one from being fiscally accountable (if not responsible). While the government does not necessarily need to tax churches, it needs to make sure that pastors give a good account of every single penny donated to their church. Even that is not enough. A pastor must be accountable to his congregation (if not his local community), not because he is mandated to do so by a government that has the backing of lethal force, but because pastors should set an example of openness, honesty, accountability and responsibility. If not the pastors, then who?