Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders 05.18

Newsworthy

Got me to wondering. I live in North Carolina, which is basketball crazy, so it was duly noted in the state's media when Duke University released its 2010 financial statements that men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski earned $7.2 million in total compensation. Most said he deserved it: 2010 was the year Duke won the national championship. Some folks gloated over the fact that Duke's football coach, David Cutcliffe, was paid a "mere" $1.8 million. (The figures include base pay, bonuses, and retirement or deferred pay.) I've met "Coach K" and I like him. He's a strong leader, a great role model, and an obviously excellent coach. But $7.2 million to coach a basketball team? Got me to wondering what's the average pastor compensation? Crown Financial Concepts posted the key findings of a recent pastor salary survey on its website. The survey, conducted by The National Association of Church Business Administration, found that "the average American pastor with a congregation of 300 people earns a salary of less than $28,000 and that one out of five pastors has to moonlight for supplemental income." Now, the way the tax laws work, most pastors also get significant housing allowances. Still, the study found that "only 5 percent of American pastors earn more than $50,000 a year, and 14 percent earn less than $25,000."

Mythbusting. The conventional wisdom is that America is becoming more accepting of so-called "same-sex marriage" (SSM). Indeed, if you look at survey results, that appears to be the case. But as I've noted in this space before, we seem to be reaching a high-water mark for the acceptance of SSM. Data from North Carolina's recent vote over Amendment One, which protects traditional marriage, shows support for SSM among young people, in particular, is exaggerated. The American Enterprise Institute says that even if no one over the age of 45 voted in North Carolina, Amendment One would have passed by about 8 percentage points. The Family Research Council's Tony Perkins looked at the data and added, "What's more, voters do their own evolving as they age, and the radical views many Americans hold in college often change when they marry and have children."

Has Obama lost North Carolina? Another bit of conventional wisdom this political season is that the economy, not social issues, will decide the election. But same-sex marriage appears to be changing the calculation for a number of states, including important swing states. North Carolina, for example, was a surprise Obama win in 2008. But the margin was close-just 14,000 votes out of more than 4 million cast. Democrats decided to hold their national convention this summer in Charlotte in an attempt to keep the Tar Heel State in their column. But the same-sex marriage issue now has the state leaning strongly toward Romney. Last month, Romney narrowly led Obama 46 percent to 44 percent. A new Rasmussen poll finds Mitt Romney up 51 to 43. Of course, a lot can happen between now and November, but North Carolina has the 10th most electoral votes, and if Romney can lock it down early, that changes the fight in other states and could change the outcome of the election.

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Gays and Girl Scouts. The nation's Roman Catholic bishops are reviewing the church's long-standing ties to the Girl Scouts of the USA. The complaints are growing in number and volume that Girl Scout programs contradict church teachings on contraception and abortion. Girl Scout leaders deny that the group has ties to Planned Parenthood, but in a March 28 letter to his fellow bishops, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, wrote that "important questions still remain and need to be examined." "There had been some complaints about the Scouts, and the bishops couldn't turn a deaf ear," Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops, told The Washington Post. "So they want to know, what's the story?"

Evangelical outreach. It's hard to say what it means that President Obama's reelection campaign has hired a 24-year-old executive assistant in the White House faith-based office to head up its outreach to religious communities. On the one hand, Michael Wear is, by all reports, an "up and coming" young man who has worked in the White House for the past three and half years. On the other hand, if Obama were really serious about reaching out to religious people, you'd think he might have chosen someone with a bit more clout than a guy who was an intern during the 2008 campaign.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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