if you work for a church, can they require you to give 10% of your salary back to them?

A reader writes:

A friend of mine has been really down on his luck job-wise, but he’s finally managed to pass the final round of interviews for an IT position at a church. The way he tells it, it seems as though they are just waiting for his background check to go through and they’ll go forward with hiring him. He was given a copy of the employee handbook today, and as he was reading it, he said it stated that church staff are required to tithe! (For those who may be unfamiliar, a tithe is nowadays interpreted as 10% of your income given to the church). So, if he takes this job he will have to give 10% of his paycheck back to the church.

Normally I would just tell him to find a different job elsewhere, but in this case my friend has been looking for a job for months and has a kid to support, and this is his first real lead (his work history is pretty unfortunate and he has been a stay-at-home parent for most of the last five years). My thing is, even if this policy is illegal (which google tells me is not only legal, but fairly common practice), he likely won’t make any progress with trying to change any policy as a brand-new employee.

So I figure his options are to (a) take the job and just don’t tithe, and hope no one says anything, (b) tithe, suck it up, and try to make himself feel better about it by focusing on the discount he’s getting on their (not free) childcare program, or (c) start all the way back over with his job search, and risk homelessness.

None of those options are great, so what would you advise? Also, if my friend makes less than the minimum salary requirement for exempt employees after the tithe, is it still legal to require it? And the last thing — HOW is this legal???

It is indeed legal for churches to require their employees to tithe. I was skeptical at first too, but yep.

The answer to “how is that possible?” is that federal law exempts religious organizations like churches from laws against religious discrimination. That means that churches can, for example, require that employees be “church members in good standing” and good standing can require tithing.

So yes, your friend would be earning 10% less than the salary the church offers him, since 10% will be going right back to them. He should find out whether it’s taken as a pre-tax deduction from his paycheck (preferable) or whether he’ll be taxed on the money before he’s required to donate it back. (In most states they cannot withhold the money from his paycheck without his written permission … but they can also fire him for not tithing so, you know, tomato/tamahto.)

Normally if a required deduction takes your paycheck under minimum wage, it’s illegal … or if it takes an exempt employee under the exempt salary threshold, they’d lose the exemption and thus would be entitled to overtime (here’s an explanation of what that all means). However, that’s governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and churches are often exempt from the FLSA! However, individual church employees can still be covered, depending on their duties, so there’s no blanket answer here. You’d need a lawyer to look at the specifics of his situation. (There are also a bunch of state-specific exceptions, so a lawyer is really the way to go if he wants definite answers.)

As for the options you laid out … if he’s really at risk of homelessness or not being able to buy food/medical care/other necessities, he should take the job. Hell, even if he’s not at risk of those things, he should take the job if it’s his only option for income. He doesn’t need to stay long-term, but it’ll get a paycheck coming in for now. He could try not tithing and see what happens — but my guess is he’ll be called on it eventually, even if not immediately, so he should be putting that 10% aside in case he suddenly needs to cough it up to stay in the job. (Or, if he has other options by the time that happens, maybe he doesn’t need to cough it up — but you don’t want him to find himself in a situation where he needs to and can’t.)

If he’s really opposed to tithing (which would be understandable), in theory he could take the job, not tithe, collect the paychecks for as long as he can, and then let them fire him for not complying at some point if they want to. But that’s not a great solution if he’s trying to repair a spotty job history. It also raises the ethical issue of whether, when an employer is up-front about the requirements of the job and you oppose those requirements, is it okay to take the job knowing you don’t intend to comply? On one hand, the law says the church has the right to only hire people who actively support their congregation, including monetarily. On the other hand, there’s some inherent coercion in this situation, especially when we’re talking about someone whose alternative might be homelessness. So … I don’t know. I don’t like the requirement to tithe, but they’re being up-front about it … and I’m also not a religious person trying to build a team of other religious people to run a church with (and I can see how my perspective might change if I were). I suppose ultimately I could argue it either way.

{ 481 comments… read them below }

  1. Tither*

    In theory, an organization that requires an extra expense of 10 percent, should up the salary by that much

    1. SpeckledBeagle*

      True, but- how do we know they haven’t already built that expectation in? They might already have their job salaries set that way

        1. SpeckledBeagle*

          Well, I’m playing devils advocate here. And I meant more there inflating an already low salary by10%. But I’m Not suggesting it’s what’s actually happening.

          My real advice would be: the generous interpretation is this isn’t enforced ever, no one does it unless they want to anyway, and the handbook is old and no one realizes it actually says that (a possible reading, since they didn’t mention this requirement in the interview and applicant only discovered it by perusing the handbook itself).
          The most ungenerous is of course that they do enforce it and purposefully avoid mentioning it.

          As a new employee you have no idea which is true and if you call attention to the provision you run the risk of actually enforcing it, so I don’t see a good solution other than the one Allison offers. But maybe if you work there a few months and find a reliable friend you can ask subtly if it’s really A Thing or something no one actually does. The working culture there will probably be another good indicator

          1. bmorepm*

            Fair point, I would expect this to be disclosed at some point, not just found in onboarding materials later.

          2. Minneapolis Non-Profit*

            I’m church staff and in my career of 4 different churches this has never happened. I had a friend in a similar position (single mom, worked in admin at a church that REQUIRED 10% tithe taken out of paycheck automatically). She was able to negotiate a lesser amount of money (5%) due to her circumstances AND she offered to volunteer in a church program unrelated to her job as a “tithe of time.” As soon as she could get a better job, she left that church but it helped in the interim.
            So definitely ASK

            1. MigraineMonth*

              My grandfather did odd jobs at a church when he was a teenager until they explained that they wanted him to give everything he was paid back to the church–even though he wasn’t a member.

              He got out of there fast.

          3. DJ Abbott*

            We have all made the mistake of trusting someone at work and learning too late they are not trustworthy.
            So I wouldn’t ask a colleague. I wouldn’t ask management either, because it risks drawing attention when they might not be enforcing this.
            If they mention it, he could try negotiating like Minneapolis’ friend did. And of course, get a better job ASAP-maybe stay at the church a year if possible, to stabilize his job history.

          4. Starbuck*

            Thanks for the nice chortle you gave me where playing Devil’s Advocate means taking the side of the church. Lol.

            1. merula*

              I mean, originally the term referred to an official position in the Catholic Church created by the Pope, so…

              Don’t want to post the link and get caught in comment limbo, but the Wikipedia article for Devil’s Advocate lays it out well.

          5. Ellie*

            My generous interpretation is that it could be their official policy, but they might not actually require it of everyone. For example, if the prospective employee is a member of the church, and is also going through some hard times, they might let it slide. They might not demand it if they really need an IT person and there are no church-going options around too.

            OP – if its the only option, I’d take the job, and just try my best to avoid tithing. I’d disclose my financial situation since churches are supposed to help the poor and all that. You shouldn’t have to, but you can’t let pride get in the way of having a home for you and your kids. And keep job hunting.

        2. Jam on Toast*

          I don’t know about the jurisdiction that the friend works in, but where I live, all donations to your church are deductible from your taxes. The church produces a tax receipt each year, and you can claim that against your taxable income. It may be worth finding out if this is the case and what that would mean for your friend’s overall annual income. It might drop them into a lower tax bracket, for instance. I also wonder if working for a church might make them eligible for student loan forgiveness. In the US, if that’s where they are based certain jobs with non profits and government departments allow to to claim a credit against student loans. If this job is as necessary as it sounds to their family’s well-being, I’d look for every way to benefit from it short term without feeling one iota of guilt. I think conversation with a good tax specialist would help answer these questions.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I don’t understand taxes as well as others on this blog, but I’m pretty sure it would be more advantageous to get the money taken out pre-tax and lower your AGI / tax bracket rather than hoping the charitable deduction will be a write off. Many people just take the standard deduction (I don’t know the situation well enough to know if that makes no sense here) and I think (?) there might be a cap on how much you can count as a deduction. I hope OP has better info elsewhere in the comments.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              They are unlikely to be itemizing their deductions which is the only way they would be able to take charitable deductions into account, so having them removed pre-tax is definitely better.

          2. Snow Globe*

            The standard deduction is $12,950 for single taxpayers, so it is unlikely that a tax deduction for tithing is going to be better than the standard deduction.

          3. Artemesia*

            Almost no one in the tax bracket the OP is likely in can deduct charitable contributions from the income tax; the standard deduction is generally better. So it is just a deceptive salary. The OP should view the offer as 90% of what it is and request if they plan to accept that the 10% be taken off the front — otherwise they will be paying taxes on their ‘donation.’

        3. ferrina*

          Seconding this. Churches are notorious for underpaying their people. The thought is that working at a church is a ‘calling’ so the money should be secondary. And some congregations get annoyed that their offerings get used for paying people’s salaries, and they feel like market rate is too high *shrug* Never mind that often folks that work at a church are working odd hours/long hours and deal with a lot more emotional labor than almost every other profession (I might argue more than a therapist- at least a therapist can fire a client, whereas congregants are much harder to fire.)

          1. many bells down*

            Oh boy I feel that. I work at a church and our biggest expense is staff salaries (which are quite good, for a church) and some members get annoyed that so much of the budget is staff … but then they’re also annoyed when we can’t have the campus open 12 hours a day 7 days a week because we don’t have enough staff.

            1. Wilbur*

              People have the same complaint about teachers and basically any public servant and it’s so bizarre. This is all money that gets put back into your community. Why on earth is it a bad thing if these people have a nice life?

        4. Nina*

          I mean… mine does. We figured out the median salary of the church members (different to the median salary of ‘people who regularly attend church’ – for one thing members are more likely to be older and more affluent) and that’s the pastor’s salary, plus either first refusal of the use of the manse (next-door house owned by the church, occupant pays the council tax and half of any required maintenance) or a housing stipend equal to half the median rent in the area if they’d prefer not to live in the manse (which is rented out at market rent if the pastor doesn’t want to use it).

      1. Lavender*

        I guess the question OP’s friend should ask himself is whether he’d still take the job at 90% of the offered salary–because that’s effectively what they’re paying him.

        I guess it would complicate things if the extra 10% puts him a higher income tax bracket, though.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          In the US, the higher tax only applies to the amount they earned above that bracket, though. So you never *lose* money by earning into the next bracket, that money is just taxed at a higher rate.

          For example, take someone who earns $150,000 and the tax brackets are 0% for $0-50,000, 5% for $50,000-100,000, and 10% for $100,000-150,000. Then the individual would need to pay $0 for the first bracket, $2,500 for the second bracket, and $15,000 for the third, for a total of $175,000.

          The real thing to watch out for is no longer being able to afford income-limited tax benefits such as the earned income tax credit, or earning too much for non-tax benefits such as Medicaid.

          1. Lavender*

            Yeah, that’s true. I guess my point is that it might be a slightly more complicated equation than just subtracting 10% from the base pay. And that’s a very good point about income-limited tax benefits–you’re right that it’s probably a more important concern.

          2. Evan Þ*

            The Earned Income Tax Credit, specifically, gradually decreases as you earn more so that it never makes you worse off from earning more money. But there’re other benefits where you’re sadly correct.

      2. Rainy*

        Sorry, I read this and immediately started laughing hysterically. No, if this is in the US (and since the FLSA applies it must be), and it’s a church, no, they have not built that expectation in.

        And chances are VERY good that the job will be awful in other ways as well, but if they need the money they need the money, so I’d take it, try and arrange a pre-tax deduction, and consider this the job to get another job with.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Sure but if he knew the pay range before he knew about the tithe, then it’s reasonable on the applicant’s end to feel like “the pay I’d accept is now 10% higher than what I thought at the beginning of this process”. Attempting to negotiate on his part wouldn’t be bad faith. Doesn’t mean they will negotiate, but it’s worth trying.

      1. Carlie*

        Another possibility is that he could try to get them to put off the tithe portion – to let them know that he’s coming out of a very bad financial situation, and ask for them not to take the 10% out of his paychecks for the first few months while he gets back on his feet. They might agree to that.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I’d try to negotiate for a year of tithe free employment. At the one year mark, they can reevaluate if he is able to tithe or if he can only chip in a couple percent instead of the full whack. (Keep chipping away at them…. don’t make it easy for them to take your money.)

        2. Caroline*

          I am outraged that this is remotely legal, like, WTAF?? But then, religious entitlement is alive and kicking so.
          Anyway, since they’re meant to be an ethical and decent organisation, he could request that until he passes whatever probation or training or whatever, he not tithe and see if they go for that.

          Makes my blood boil.

    2. Ex-prof*

      That was my thought as well. Mr. IT Guy should certainly ask.

      A friend of mine once worked at a job at a Catholic organization where several of his coworkers were monks. Every so often there would be a budget meeting during which each of the monks would formally refuse his entire salary, and that amount would be crossed off the budget.

      My friend said he didn’t know what would happen if one of the monks were to opt in, but assumed they would be fired.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Actually, I think they might be kicked out of their order, as they most likely had taken a vow of poverty.

        1. SpeckledBeagle*

          That’s the answer. It’s enforced by their order; not the business. The business would probably be extremely confused.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I think it would be both. Presumably the organization never set aside that money, since they assumed it would be refused.

            1. SpeckledBeagle*

              Sure, but I don’t think the business would discipline them. It would be dealt with through the order, one way or another.

      2. Evelyn*

        I’m curious about that, because typically the salary of a religious (monk, nun, brother, sister) is paid to their order, which then gives them enough to live on plus a small allowance. I don’t know that the monks could be fired by the organization if they didn’t refuse their salary, but the order might have to dismiss them. It would certainly be a can of worms.

      3. Anon Again... Naturally*

        From what I understand from a friend who spent five years in monastic training before deciding not to take the final vows, part of the vows involve the idea that you will receive no income from any work for the church, and any outside income received would be donated to the church. So if, for example, you had written a novel before entering and received residual income from it, all of that income would be given to the monastery. So opting in to the salary would be a serious deal, putting their standing as a monk in jeopardy, not just their position in the organization.

        1. AnonPoster*

          Yes- I’ve worked with a couple of orders, and any that have a vow of poverty will usually require something similar from a donation perspective. I know a lot of the orders like having the option to formally refuse too, as they want everyone to actively chose to honor the vow. If anyone decided to accept their salary, I imagine it wouldn’t be done in the formal setting, and would instead be a conversation between the monk and the abbot privately- as it would be in violation of their vows as a monk.

        2. SpeckledBeagle*

          It’s enforced differently in every order. In some orders, it is paid directly to the monastery or convent. In some they opt out entirely. In some they accept it but are expected to give the entire thing to charity (normally the this happens if you work for an organization with zero religous affiliation that wouldn’t be ok with just paying someone else your salary. I know of someone who works as a neurosurgeon and does option3).

          1. Chinookwind*

            The order that ran (and I think still runs) the Catholic college at the university I went to did a version of option #3 for those who actively worked for the university as professors, etc. There were members that only worked at the college (it was a men’s dorm as well) or were retired. There was a story when I was there of the college dean being out with some of the student residents for a beer saying that “the next round was on God” and taking out the order’s gold card (a rare sight back in the 90’s in my part of Alberta). Considering how they lived, I can only presume they got “gold card status” from pooling their incomes.

            1. My Cabbages!*

              Hahaha! I work at a Catholic University where a decent amount of faculty are in orders, and I can totally see some of them doing that.

              The faculty mixers at the Residence definitely have good food and wine.

      4. Bagpuss*

        I am surprised that they refused, I would expect the money to be paid to their monastery / abbey . It makes more sense ifthe employer *was* the order / abbey

    3. goducks*

      Technically, they’d need to gross up by 11+%.

      If the salary paid 50k, adding 10% makes the salary 55k, which after 10% tithe is only $49500.

      In order to get after-tithe 50k, the salary would have to be $55,555.55

    4. Letter Writer*

      LW here. With what they’re offering him, he’s going to be under the minimum FLSA salary to be exempt, after the tithe. So they are definitely not doing that

  2. ursula*

    My eyes bugged out of my head. That is absolutely horrifying.

    The non-profit community has really turned a corner recently on whether it’s even acceptable to just *ask* your own staff for donations – I guess it used to be common, but now any time it’s mentioned online you’ll see a ton of pushback. (To be clear, I am on team your-staff-are-already-doing-enough-thanks, plus-they-are-probably-already-underpaid, plus-theres-a-power-issue-here-and-you-should-know-better.)

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      When I worked for a large national nonprofit (in the US) and was very underpaid, I saw the fact I was working for a much lower salary than I could have got elsewhere to be a donation in itself. It wasn’t as bad as some nonprofits – they would ask us to donate twice a year at most and leave you alone if you didn’t donate, but it’s still not great when people paid a lot more than you are asking you to set up a monthly donation.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I would like to see this not-happen, but every job I’ve had in the East Coast has had the expectation to various degrees. The ones I think are the most insulting is when they ask you to set up recurring donation out of your own paycheck; it just makes no sense to me. It’s fine to make opportunities available for the staff to give and even to mention it to them IMO (say, once or twice a year at most), but *not* find to hassle / follow up with them individually. The best one I worked had had the requirement that all staff give annually because they were trying to check off some stupid box somewhere, but it could be any amount, and they gave us an extra day off if we hit the “threshold” so most of the supervisors threw in a couple extra bucks to cover any of their direct reports who hadn’t contributed. Even $1 or $5 was fine.

      1. Curious*

        I agree First, you can only deduct charitable contributions if you itemize, and many people don’t. Second, deductions don’t reduce your Social Security/Medicare tax of 7.65%.

    3. Kelly*

      I worked for a PRIVATE university that would call and harass staff to donate. They were paying some of these people $25k full time and expecting a chunk of that back. It was super gross. I blocked all the numbers they made those calls from.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Ugh, that’s awful. I also work for a private university, but the only place where they really encourage staff to donate is to their public service fund, which benefits the people in the local community through work done by students at the university. And that call only comes out once a year, I believe.

      2. PorchGal*

        I work for a private school and we are constantly being told they need 100% of staff to donate so they can show other benefactors how dedicated we are to the mission. However, we’re free to give as much or little as we want. I’ve heard of people giving $5. I give $50. Nowhere near a 10% tithe.

      3. DJ Abbott*

        I used to know a young scientist who had a degree from a well-known university. His wife told me the university would call weekly to bug him for donations. Even though he was still paying off his student loans.
        Universities are just as greedy as corporations!

        1. Jaydee*

          The only job I ever quit without notice was working in the call center at my university’s foundation. I hated calling people, but it wasn’t the worst when we were calling alumni who graduated 10+ years earlier. Then we started calling people who had graduated 2-3 years before. These were people who I overlapped with as a student. I talked to so many grad students and people working entry-level jobs who were still paying off their student loans. They weren’t donating money because they needed it to eat and have housing and pay those student loans. It felt so gross, and one day I was driving home from my day job (an unpaid internship in state government) and I realized I was going to be late for my shift. So I called in, got the answering machine, and left a message saying I wouldn’t be coming in that day…or any other days.

  3. Louise*

    This doesn’t do more than put a band aid on, but if he’s not planning on attending this church on Sundays, can he say he’s a member elsewhere and is tithing there? That might make them back off.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      This is what I immediately thought. Though if they only hire members of their congregation that glimmer of a way out is gone.

      And really, this just doesn’t make sense. What do they do for people in dual income homes…the tithe is a tenth of *both* incomes, not just one. But of course that’s trying to apply reason to an unreasonable situation.

      (FWIW, my husband and I tithe but don’t quite get to a tenth of our income. And our church definitely doesn’t require employees to tithe. This just feels gross.)

      1. many bells down*

        The church I work for actually forbids staff from being full members (who would give money) to avoid things like that. Staff can attend services, classes, and events all we like, but we can’t be a voting, pledging member.

        1. Wintermute*

          That’s really, really common, too but it tends to be one specific kind of church that does this, and one specific kind that does it the way you’re talking about and they have very different attitudes towards nonmembers. One local congregation had a longstanding “trade” with another, theologically similar local denomination. It wasn’t official it just tended to work out that the secretary of the first was a member of the second and vice versa, over multiple people over many years.

          Both of them felt there were fewer complications if their non-liturgical paid staff had their spiritual and financial needs filled from different places and thought it headed off problems with potential cliquishness or gossip and with any potential conflict of interest between being a good employee or being a good member of the congregation.

          But that requires a congregation that accepts there are other valid denominations that are not all bound for pit, and churches that have mandatory tithing and other heavy financial pressure TEND not to be those churches. Some of them even have a nasty charismatic streak where they think **their pastor** is the one and only true way and even members of other congregations of their same denomination are, if not invalid or totally wrong, at least “less right”.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Eh, depends on the couple. My wife is religious, I’m not. We both agree that since faith is a personal thing, it’s not appropriate to expect a non-religious person to tithe to a church they don’t attend just because someone in their household goes to that church.

        We agreed that 10% of her income (including her half of any shared gifts, inheritances, etc) goes to the church, but we don’t count my income for tithing. Any charitable donations from my income go to organizations/causes I personally support.

    2. Lavender*

      This may or may not work, depending on what religion he belongs to. If he’s LDS, I’m pretty sure he would have to tithe 10% to remain in good standing with the church–so his employer might not be able to prove he’s not tithing, but they could easily confirm whether he’s in good standing or not. (There might be other religions that work this way too but that’s the only one I’m aware of.)

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Yep, this. I was going to say that most churches don’t have the luxury of hiring ONLY members of their own denomination for non-clerical positions, but then I’ve never lived somewhere that’s predominantly LDS/Mormon. He could certainly tell them he’s tithing to a different church, but he might have to be able to produce receipts (and it would open him up to issues if his employer doesn’t approve of the denomination he’s trying to stay “in good standing” with).

        1. Lavender*

          I was interpreting “different church” to mean “different congregation,” not a different denomination–so his tithe would ultimately be going to the same place anyway.

          1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            It depends on the denomination — some are very centralized, whereas others, that money is going to the operating budget of the specific congregation.

            (Which isn’t to say that Friend wouldn’t be well within his rights to support the church he actually goes to, at least from my point of view.)

            1. Lavender*

              Yeah, that makes sense. Based on the letter, my guess would be that they want OP to tithe specifically to them (either to that specific congregation or to the denomination in general, depending on how the denomination handles tithes).

        2. Lavender*

          Also, I think it’s fairly common for LDS-affiliated organizations to only hire LDS members in good standing (although I could be wrong). There are cities in Utah that are more than 90% LDS, so it wouldn’t even be that hard to do in some places.

          1. My Boss is Dumber than Yours*

            Let’s be frank: throughout Utah, even many non LDS affiliated businesses have de facto policies of only hiring LDS members in good standing.

            1. Lavender*

              Yes, true! At least in those cases it counts as religious discrimination, although I doubt it’s very strongly enforced.

              1. My Boss Is Dumber Than Yours*

                It’s absolutely not enforced, and is always presented as a “culture fit” issue or brushed off as “client preference.” Neither of which should be allowed as grounds for discrimination, but are easy cover stories. My other favorite is when they claim someone who just finished their undergrad from BYU has better credentials than someone in the job for six years who just happened to not go to the Y…

            2. Nina*

              Hell, I ran into this in New Zealand. (We have a surprisingly large LDS community in my city.)
              Applied for a job. Owner of business says he’s LDS. Well that’s nice I guess, I don’t have a problem with LDS members as people. Owner of business asks what ward I’m in. I say I’m not. He says ‘oh well enough of our customers are LDS that that’s often going to be a customer’s first question and you don’t want to make them uncomfortable.’ Didn’t get the job.

    3. WillowSunstar*

      Right but it could open him up to religious discrimination. Some denominations are notorious for pot —> kettle when judging others, at least in my personal experience from having had a religious Christian childhood. (No longer agree with it now.)

      1. SpeckledBeagle*

        Unfortunately, religious discrimination isn’t a thing when you’re employed by a church. The church is allowed to employ only members/people who share its beliefs if it wants to

        1. Rose*

          Ummmm discrimination is still very much a thing that OP might want to avoid at work. Not being able to sue over discrimination doesn’t mean it’s suddenly not real and a non issue.

          1. SpeckledBeagle*

            Ah, I see. I read the initial comment as saying it could “open him up” to discrimination, implying the church would want to avoid that since they could face liability. You are reading it as saying he could make himself vulnerable to discrimination in his workplace. I agree with your point.

            1. Lavender*

              I think the distinction here is he can be fired for belonging to a different faith or denomination, but/and it wouldn’t be discrimination in the legal sense. In any case, I’m sure OP’s friend would want to avoid it.

            2. WillowSunstar*

              Yes, like some denominations argue other denominations aren’t a “real” Christian and vice versa (I do not agree with this but I’ve heard it said). If he’s not going to the church he works for, they may deny him promotions, pay raises, etc. Technically it’s not supposed to happen, but it could.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          It’s actually worse; in the US it’s almost impossible to win a discrimination case against a church for other protected classes (age, pregnancy, etc) as well.

      2. Lavender*

        I think Louise meant attending a different congregation but the same denomination–so his tithe would ultimately still go to the same place, but his employer might not be able to keep tabs on how much he donated. Or maybe they would, depending on how the records are kept and who has access to them.

        1. goducks*

          A lot of churches are independent, even within the same denomination, particularly evangelical churches. They don’t have a larger governing org like the Catholic church does, for example. Tithes in independent churches are used solely at the direction of that congregation.

          1. Chinookwind*

            And even the Catholic Church is not centralized when it comes to donations. My parish has no way to check if I donate elsewhere. In fact, if I choose to donate two different ways (monthly pew donation and an annual lump sum through a charitable donations website), I end up getting two different tax receipts from the same organizaation (so they aren’t compiling them within the parish even). The diocese is then paid a percentage of the overall collection from the parish, so they would have no idea who contributed.

            I would be in awe of any religious organization that could track donations across various churches/parishes.

            1. wittyrepartee*

              Yeah, as a former Catholic- I was thinking “The Catholic Church is centralized, but I’m pretty sure they are not keeping track of who donates what all that well”. Like- some people get those numbered envelopes or use check or venmo, but plenty of people just chuck a tenner into the basket as it comes by.

            2. allathian*

              It probably requires being a state church to do that. I’m in Finland and we have two state churches, Lutheran and Orthodox. Members of either pay their tithes through our IRS, which automatically adds a percentage point to the member’s income tax as the tithe. Obviously, IRS couldn’t possibly keep track of whatever church members donate during services, etc.

              This also means that because employers are required by law to deduct taxes before paying salary (only applies to employees, contractors pay their own taxes), payroll also knows whether or not each individual employee is a member of either of the state churches. In practice, huge numbers of people are members without being active participants in religious life, or without even defining themselves as believers.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Yes, approach it as a negotiation. Ask for 10% more salary to compensate for the tithe, can the first six months be tithe-free while he establishes himself, get a waiver for the tithe since he is a church member elsewhere, and so on.

      1. Artemesia*

        If he can’t negotiate 10% more to cover the tithe then he should take the job — do a terrific job and keep looking for another job. When he gets a better offer, he should give notice with ‘I have loved working here but the combination of the salary and the tithe is putting me into debt — I just can’t live on it and so am regretfully giving my two week notice.’

      2. Minneapolis Non-Profit*

        Ok first of all this policy is terrible and all the churches I’ve worked for have never had this. BUT I agree with the negotiation idea.

        I had a friend in a similar position (single mom, worked in admin at a church that REQUIRED 10% tithe taken out of paycheck automatically). She was able to negotiate a lesser amount of money (5%) due to her circumstances AND she offered to volunteer in a church program unrelated to her job as a “tithe of time.” As soon as she could get a better job, she left that church but it helped in the interim.

    5. CheesePlease*

      yes I would try this approach. unless they are weird and would call to check or something.

      I know some church schools / non-profits that require “good standing at their church” for employees will call the applicants church or request a letter from the pastor etc

    6. Person from the Resume*

      That was my thought … is he required to tithe to his employer or to the religious institution of his choice?

      It’s for an IT position so there’s not an inherent requirement that this role be filled by someone of the religion, but I am sure they prefer it. But beggars cannot be choosers and I imagine a church IT position may not pay much so they may be having a hard time finding the right applicant which is why it’s appealing for a down on his luck job hunter with a spotty employment history.

      1. Owler*

        How many churches that require tithing would also recognize other denominations as valid? This may be my own religious ignorance, but I would assume that if you were working for an LDS or Catholic Church, they wouldn’t see tithing to the other as meeting their tithing requirements. And smaller denominations or independent would have similar thinking. But that is just a hunch.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          I guess that’s a point. It does seem targeted to their own members who work for them because that’s the only way it benefits the church.

          OTOH I hate to think churches run around calling other churches invalid.

          I am fairly certain, though, this letter is not about a Catholic church. In my experieince the Catholic church isn’t strict about tithing and 10% being the right amount to donate every week.

          1. Nina*

            OTOH I hate to think churches run around calling other churches invalid.

            yeah so this is totally a thing and it’s not even that unusual.

            1. Jessica*

              When I (American, Protestant background) went to college, I was shocked to meet people who didn’t think Catholics were fellow Christians. But my friends from evangelical backgrounds were equally shocked to be told that anyone, or indeed all mainstream Protestant denominations, did acknowledge Catholics as Christian.

          2. WorkingRachel*

            I’m afraid churches run around calling other churches invalid ALL the time. Hell, I was brought up liberal Lutheran (i.e. about as liberal as you can get for Christians) and even there I was definitely taught that other Lutherans and Catholics are Wrong about what they believe. They were still gonna go to heaven, but people like the LDS and Christian Scientists didn’t “count” as Christian and therefore might end up in the bad place.

      2. Chinookwind*

        You would be wrong about the Catholic Church. The parish has no idea how much I am putting in total into the collection plate (I am only required to put my name on it if I want a tax receipt, so some people still put in loose cash). And, at least in Canada, each parish is a different charitable organization (as is each diocese) and the have no reason to share who donates what to whom. I could easily say that I am donating at X parish when I work at Y parish and they would have no way of verifying if I was telling the truth.

        Plus Catholics a)don’t insist on tithing and b) count different charitable organizations (including healthcare, social services, education, and others) as charitable giving, and these would have no way to report their donors back to the local parish, especially since they never ask if we are even Catholic when we donate.

        1. Evan Þ*

          Every (Protestant) church I’ve gone to also recognizes other charitable organizations as legitimate places to give your tithe.

        2. Temperance*

          This is not universally true. My in laws are Catholic and they absolutely had minimum donation requirements. They gave our envelopes with the names of each family member every year, and closely tracked giving.

    7. Bex*

      That, or explain his financial hardship and ask if either a) they might make an exception for some amount of time until he gets back on his feet or b) they gave any other forms of support available. The policy sucks, but many churches do use funds for social services so I wouldn’t start by assuming they’re just greedy. They may think their employees are better off than much of the community they serve and if it turns out that’s not true in his case, they might be generous. It’s worth asking. Preferably after getting a job offer, though.

    8. Onym*

      I was going to suggest something similar but donating to a charity instead. Or if he is unwilling to donate, claiming he donates directly to people in need, which is unverifiable.

      As far as I know, while some religious organizations will pressure and berate their members to tithe to their church, they won’t officially deny that a member who tithes to a charity is in good standing, as it satisfies both the spirit and letter of most religions laws.

      This would let him attend the services and be a member of the church he works for.

      If he chooses the option of tithing and being a member of a different congregation, he could look for one that accepts smaller amounts than what his employer requires. Some interpret tithing as being one tenth of a person’s *surplus* rather than a person’s increase, which means it is calculated after living expenses.

      1. Onym*

        *surplus rather than income

        What I’m getting at is that there’s a difference between what a church asks of its members vs what it officially requires to be in good standing, when faced with a member who interprets their God’s will differently. They might pressure that person and might not like how or how much they tithe but they won’t necessarily deny good standing and stand by that decision if contested.

        But obviously, that’s still a shitty position for OP’s friend to be in.

    9. Letter Writer*

      With the type of work he’s doing he would be expected to be present on Sundays. So that isn’t really an option.

  4. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

    This country, and it’s attitude towards churches and money, is absolutely bonkers. This shouldn’t be legal.

    1. Managing to get by*

      And churches should pay taxes. They should be able to set up a non-profit arm for charitable work, but they should pay taxes on the money that is used for the church part of their business.

      We have a big-church pastor in this area with a huge multimillion dollar home and a helicopter that he uses to commute between his two stadium-sized churches. That shit should not be tax-free.

      1. ThatGirl*

        So, I actually agree with you, but – not every church is a megachurch. Most pastors are toiling in obscurity trying to make ends meet. My dad was an active church pastor for 10 years (before going into other church-related work) and we always had fairly small congregations that were not terribly wealthy in buildings that were not terribly well maintained.

        1. saradactyl*

          Yeah, when people say “churches should be taxed” they’re really only thinking of megachurches – and most churches aren’t megachurches. What’s ironic is the megachurches would actually be fine, if they were taxed – it’s the small churches (and other smaller religious communities like synagogues, mosques, temples) that would sink.

          1. jes*

            No, that is not what I mean when I say churches shouldn’t be taxed. I don’t care about a distinction between rich megachurches and others. Sure, the tax ought to be progressive just like personal income tax, so the rich ones would pay a higher percentage, but what I really care about is not privileging religious ideologies over nonreligious ones.

            1. Modesty Poncho*

              Yeah, same honestly. But I do feel weird about the thought that a group’s source of religious community might just go out of business and disappear. I have trouble remembering sometimes that for other people, it’s important to worship communally. If a congregation is too small to sustain a business (taxed or not), is it OK to just say well, too bad? I don’t know -_-

              1. Giant Kitty*

                “ If a congregation is too small to sustain a business”

                Then that business is not self sufficient and should be allowed to fail. Churches do not get an exemption from this because the item that they sell is religion.

                I mean, why should churches be privileged like this over any OTHER small business that might be struggling to succeed?

                The law guarantees people’s right to worship/not worship. It doesn’t get to guarantee that they get to have a nice tax free church to do it in.

                1. Modesty Poncho*

                  I think I agree, on principle. But I am trying to stay empathetic and think about what happens to religious minorities in an area. It’s very easy for me to say “well just worship on your own!” because I’ve never put stock into rituals that require other people. Should it be up to (say) the five Jewish families in a city to pool together and rent a hall every Saturday, vs someone running a not-for-profit Synagogue? Is that a problem the government should be involved in, or not? If all religious institutions are taxed, should it be possible to set up a non-profit, just like you can have other non-profit businesses? I think these are just questions without easy answers.

                  100%, after a certain profit threshold there should be tax.

                2. Santiago*

                  Should my DND group, which has 30 people and meets on group me, be taxed too? Because there are churches smaller then that, that meet just as informally.

                  With certain nuance, I’m not totally opposed but we need to consider this.

                3. Giant Kitty*

                  They can be taxed on a sliding scale just like people are. Being very poor almost never exempted me from having to pay personal income taxes, I just paid very small amounts. Why should churches get more tax privileges than low income individuals who actually need that income to literally survive on a day to basis? Why should they have more tax privileges than individuals who own small businesses that are struggling to survive?

                  And more bluntly, in a country that can’t even guarantee that the people that live in it will have a HOUSE to LIVE in, why TF do religious people feel so entitled to a government guaranteed tax subsidized house of worship? Certainly housing the homeless is more important than giving tax free status to churches?

                  If they want the tax free status of a non profit, then they can do it under the same laws and regulations that non profits already have to follow, doing work that benefits humanity as a whole.

                  As for minority religions- why should the government be involved in anything other than making sure they are not persecuted for their religions? Why should they get government money or tax breaks when “separation of church & state” is supposed to be the basis of the law? I know plenty of Pagan groups who have (and still do) worshipped/fine rituals in personal homes & backyards, rented spaces, public parks, bookstores, and so on. Are other religious groups too good for that?

          2. Sparkle llama*

            I am on the board of a nonprofit and what I would like to see is churches having to jump through the same hoops as a 501c3 and have the same taxable status. I work in city planning and see churches be able to hold land for decades with no taxing but a nonprofit has to prove that all land they own is being used for the purposes of the nonprofit, otherwise they need to pay property taxes.

            1. Lenora Rose*

              This sounds reasonable to me. There definitely also needs to be a salary cap at the top and a hard audit if congregation funds are used for the purchase of items not obviously related to actual church business (if a church actually operates a wilderness rescue branch and pays the salaries of EMTs and firefighters, they might need a helicopter, but your average normal megachurch is just not going to.)

            2. saf*

              I work for a church. We have to file a property report every year. When we had land that was not being used for church purposes (a parking lot we rented out during the week), we had to pay property tax on that.

              Churches are subject to UBI tax too. The are 502c3s.

          3. Siege*

            No, I mean every church. Every house of worship. Every tradition. I am very tired of living in a country that chose to avoid the perception of religious discrimination by discriminating against everyone else, leaving the religious institutions free to mount attacks large and small on my rights and my life. Blatant discrimination by religious institutions goes unpunished. Blatant evidence of widespread criminal activity by religious institutions is ignored. Blatant political meddling is encouraged. Tax the churches, do it on a sliding scale, but stop giving them a free pass to use their funds to wreck secular America.

            And I can at the very least point to an extremely conservative mosque in my city and similarly conservative synagogue nearby to make the point that it’s not just megachurches or Christian churches doing this. Tax them all and take away some of their power.

            I would like to live my life free of religion like the US Constitution promises. I cannot, when religious hospitals limit my reproductive choices and religious extremists elect unfit leaders with authority over me.

            1. Giant Kitty*

              SING IT!!!

              I agree with all of this.

              In this particular situation, I cannot think of any other job/industry where it would be legal or acceptable to claw back 10% of an employee’s salary as a condition of working there, for any reason whatsoever, and especially not “because this business requires that claw back amount to fund itself”. There’d be a massive general uproar if it happened anywhere but the religious industry.

              And someone else posted that in PA, clergy are exempt from mandated reporter laws? Forget flames on the side of my face, I just turned into the Human Torch.

            2. I have RBF*

              IMO, every organization that takes in money should be taxed, or have to prove their non-profit status. If a religious org operates as a charity they should do the same paperwork and record-keeping that a (US) 501c3 does.

              I have a religion. I am not Christian. My religion doesn’t have many organizations that even own land, much less salaried clergy. IIRC they all have to do the 501c3 dance, because they aren’t automatically privileged as religion if they aren’t Judeo-Christian-Islamic organizations.

            3. StephChi*

              100% this, and what Giant Kitty said as well. The US is officially a secular nation, and I’d love for it to live up to that. Right now, religions have more rights than I do. I’m not against people who are religious, they can believe whatever they want to believe, but it should be a private matter and it shouldn’t be subsidized by the state.

              Aside from wanting this country to live up to the Constitution, I wonder how much affordable housing for the poor and services for the homeless could be provided if churches had to pay property taxes, especially in cities?

            4. Lily*

              I’m a practicing Christian and I applaud these comments. So would the pastor of our very progressive, inclusive, and service-oriented church.

          4. Wintermute*

            Most “good” religious organizations would have absolutely no problem meeting the legal requirements for nonprofit status. The ones that would have trouble meeting the charitable use and open records requirements are the ones primarily set up to funnel money to the enrichment of their pastor and their family or the gigantic organizations which have vast sums of wealth with no real accountability for it.

        2. Area Woman*

          For sure, they should have a scale for this. Over a certain budget/monetary amount for payroll per person on staff. Tax benefits fall off for regular folks for lots of things (I was sad to lose my deduction for loan interest after I got married, my husband’s salary at the time pushed us out of it). They like to screw over middle class folks all the time with this stuff, they should be able to do it for big extravagant churches, not all.

        3. sb51*

          Yeah, but those of us asking for this sort of thing (and knowing it won’t happen) generally also want a bunch of other unlikely things that would help those small congregrations a lot, like universal health care, universal basic income, government funded childcare, etc; if your dad’s congregations didn’t have to worry that one case of cancer among employees with church health care would wipe them out, they might be more able to maintain themselves. And things like historical building preservation subsidies, etc.

        4. Starbuck*

          Fine, then add some sort of minimum – contributions over $$$ whatever will be taxed. Church wealth over $$$ can be taxed.

        5. Student*

          You are saying that your church only survives because of the government subsidizing you by not charging you the taxes that every non-church equivalent organization would have to pay.

          That’s exactly what many of us don’t want. We don’t want to subsidize mega-churches. We also don’t want to subsidize small, poor churches on the brink of financial ruin.

          Not all of us subscribe to the belief that all churches, at all times, are an unvarnished good. Some of us believe they are no different from other social or business or non-profit activities. Your poor, failing church is taking up land that might be put to better use general use – whether that’s for a better-funded church, a business, a home, or a public work like a park. Or you could double up with another congregation to share land & expenses. Or you could rent a smaller space that better fits your actual needs.

          There are lots of options for reducing your expenses that DON’T involve taxpayer subsidies. Every non-church organization figures out how to work within those confines. Churches could, too – it wouldn’t spell doom for your religion, nor even your congregation; it just means you couldn’t live well past your congregation’s apparent actual means.

          It’s not that I have no sympathy for your poor, small church – I’m sure it’s very meaningful to those that participate. I don’t want it to fail or your congregation to suffer in particular. It’s just that I don’t think you should have the right to dip into our shared tax money by way of tons of special tax and legal exemptions to support your religious social need, a need that I and many other taxpayers do not share with you.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        This is one of those very popular opinions online that I’ve never heard in real life or seen in serious journalistic publication even despite living most of my years in urban areas with a high percent of atheist people. I don’t think people have thought this one through. I’ve lived in rural, suburban, and city areas and even in the most liberal and atheist places in this country, churches (well, the backrooms and basements) get used for meetings, day cares, after-school programs, or get rented out for events. So taxing them basically means getting rid of these things and building separate community buildings which require maintenance and staff which leads to increased taxes. I think the assumption behind “let’s tax the churches” is that every church is a Joyce Meyers type institution which is just false. Not to mention the fact that churches in particular are always called out but not other types of institutions. And while people will say churches are more widespread or powerful, that’s not the point. The point is that the law will apply to everyone.

        1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

          I’m more of the opinion that this would cut down on a lot of church buildings in general and force congregations that can’t afford their own place of worship to share. An awful lot of church buildings go unused a lot of the week- there doesn’t need to be an empty church for 90% of the week sitting around, taking resources from both the community and the parish. Also, other types of buildings can be used for worship (see: store fronts that get converted). Sure, churches do good for the community, but so do a lot of other businesses and organizations that don’t have the same tax benefits and social leniency that is granted religious groups.

          1. anonymous atheist*

            My polling place is a parish center with photographs of bishops and the pope on the wall. The lawn of the attached church has a tombstone for “aborted fetuses”.

            Separation of church and state is BS, unfortunately. At least I can now mail in or vote early at city hall, but ugh, having to be retraumatized from my religion of origin, at a building sponsored by people who actively work against my rights/existence just to vote sucks.

        2. Temperance*

          Really? I’ve definitely had the “tax the churches” convo many times, with different people, IRL.

          I’ve also long held the opinion that things like voting and other community, secular events shouldn’t be in churches.

          1. Siege*

            Just like public restrooms shouldn’t be provided by businesses. The moment the business chooses to stop providing the restroom, there is no restroom because there is no requirement they provide them. Public infrastructure should be secularly funded and provided and maintained, but we don’t do that because it’s expensive and we refuse to invest in people and community. Much easier to coopt or allow cooptation of existing, privately-maintained spaces. We vote by mail in my state, which is good because the churches are thinning out, which creates the same problem of public space anyway.

            The irony of course is that if we taxed churches, we would have more money. Not as much more as if we taxed corporations more, though, which we should also do.

          2. Lenora Rose*

            Why? It’s a physical location, and the religion doesn’t rub off on the ballots. Churches actually being used for secular community spaces is a net benefit over an empty building used part time – especially if they take a genuine hands off approach to those community users staffing themselves (which they obviously do for elections, but can for child care spaces and support groups). I mean, the building is already here, it’s to like they can go back in time and not have the building exist.

            1. Temperance*

              That’s where we disagree. The church absolutely has the right to keep up their signage, keep out their literature, etc., and all of those things can influence people’s votes or at the very least, throw pressure.

              1. Lenora Rose*

                If your entire vote can be influenced by a church sign, you have bigger problems.

                Our last municipal election was in a church hall mostly used for various poverty support/alleviation programs. It had zero signage related to the church in the hall anywhere — there was a community bulletin board, to which nobody got close enough to to read any signage that might have a religious tone — and no “literature”. Those were presumably upstairs in the sanctuary.

                Meanwhile, it was a large open space, and the main difference between that and the school gym I’ve done other elections at is a lack of basketball hoops and floor markings, and that the school gym had the kitchen area separate rather than it being an integral part of the floor plan (The gym doubles as a cafeteria for breakfast/lunch and for the before-and-after-school child-care). I really fail to see the problem.

            2. Happy*

              Of course the religion can rub off onto the ballots. It influences who feels comfortable going there and what people are thinking about while they are voting.

        3. Pescadero*

          ” So taxing them basically means getting rid of these things and building separate community buildings which require maintenance and staff which leads to increased taxes.”


          Sounds like a pretty net neutral thing to me. Taxpayers have to pay for more, but they now have more taxpayers because churches are paying.

          …and the taxpayers now get a SECULAR space that is open to everyone with no weird religious strictures or rules involved.

        4. nom de plume*

          So… we shouldn’t tax churches because their buildings are used for other purposes by groups who, by the way, have to *rent* that space from a church?! I fail to see how this argument holds together. There are other buildings. And those could even be financed by the taxes paid by religious organizations.

        5. M. from P.*

          It’s not impossible to create laws that would tax-exempt smaller churches while taxing megachurches.

        6. Starbuck*

          Fine, then it would be nice if we could at least do the bare minimum of enforcing the existing requirements for maintain non-profit / tax exempt status – like not politicking.

        7. Giant Kitty*

          The government SHOULD be providing those community spaces for childcare, day programs, and events, though, instead of foisting of their secular duties on religiously affiliated organizations.

      3. Anon today*

        Then go after all of the “charities” and “foundations” too and tax the donations they receive. Plenty of wealthy people fund their elaborate lifestyles off their non-profits. Close that avenue for everyone instead of targetting one religion (I notice you only mention churches and not other buildings of worship)

        Also stop relying on churches to handle community stuff. Every time someone posts in a weekend thread about wanting to find X in their area, the most popular suggestion is to check out the local churches even if they aren’t a member. Local governments aren’t generally doing a good job of filling that need – most of the people I know attached to churches are athiests/agnostics who skip the religious service and do the community events.

        1. Critical Rolls*

          This becomes kind of a circular argument, because taxing churches could potentially provide more funds for community services.

        2. Giant Kitty*

          Nobody is “targeting one religion” here. We want to see tax free status eliminated for ALL religious organizations. Separation of church & state does NOT include subsidizing religious organizations in the form of tax free status.

          We also have it as one of our GOALS to get federal, state, and local governments to step up and meet the needs of people in this country instead of fobbing it off onto religious and secular charities- the latter of which absolutely SHOULD be held to high standards to keep greedy glassbowls from using them to profit.

        3. Temperance*

          Churches get extra benefits that “regular” nonprofits do not. Seriously Google the housing benefits available to churches vs. an actual 501(c)(3).

          I always recommend 211 for services. I’ve never seen churches offer robust community support like you’re suggesting. I’m sure that some DO, but only in very rural areas would they be the only or the first option.

  5. Xavier Desmond*

    As a non religious person I don’t find myself too outraged by this as long as its upfront.
    Like if the salary is 100k but you would have accepted a job that is 90k without the tithe requirement then its the same thing really.

    1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      Your place of business- which is what this would be- shouldn’t be relying on you giving money back to them in order to operate. Yes, knowing it up front is good and that allows you to make a choice whether or not to accept it, but it’s a really weird position to put people in, especially if those people are being paid a lower wage to begin with (as traditional non-profits are) and if that person has limited options, as in this case.

      1. Governmint Condition*

        I feel awkward seeing my government employer taking back some of my salary back in the form of tax. When you think about it, some of it is coming back to me, anyway as it pays my salary. I could argue that this is the same as what the church is doing, except that my government is mandated to do this by law.

        So, yes, my place of business is relying on me giving money back to them in order to operate.

        1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

          That’s a little different in that a government job taking taxes is applying the same rules they tax everyone else at AND you’re actively benefiting from any taxes applied to public services. I agree it is a little…redundant…on the government’s part. However, in this instance, the employee is being “taxed” a fee for which they will not benefit from- if they’re not a church goer, they won’t benefit from the services that the church provides the congregation. (This is ignoring businesses expenses you would expect from any other business and spent on the employee- salary, supplies/equipment, health benefits, retirement, etc because those are things every employer should be offering anyway.) This is more akin to working at McDonald’s versus working for the government- you don’t HAVE to eat at McDonald’s to work there, but if you work for the government or not, you’re benefiting from the government’s services.

    2. Ex-prof*

      Not much difference between 100k and 90k, true. But it’s not scalable. Between 35k and 31.5k, the bite would really be felt. Between 7.25 an hour and 6.52 an hour, there’s serious pain.

      1. Clobberin' Time*

        If it’s “not much difference” why is the church demanding it? Why is $10K pocket change when the friend has to pay it, but is an absolute necessity when the church gets it?

        1. ecnaseener*

          Because large community organizations have more expenses than individuals. I don’t disagree it’s a slimy practice, but your argument doesn’t really make sense.

          1. Clobberin' Time*

            Large community organizations also have greater opportunities to fund raise than individuals do. Sorry, but it still makes no sense to say that $10K is an insignificant sum when it comes out of an IT worker’s earned income, but is a huge amount of money when its something a church is demanding as a tithe.

      2. Rose*

        They’re not saying that it’s not a big difference between 90k and 100k. They’re saying OPs friend will know the salary upfront, and that salary is 10% less than what their job offer says it is, and they can make an informed decision based on that, by accepting they job at 90k or not accepting the job at 90k. I agree with many others who feel it’s inherently gross and stupid but it’s really no different than being offered the job at 90k (assuming it’s taken out pre tax).

    3. theothermadeline*

      Yeah, except this scale is wildly different. The OP says it takes them below the exempt salary threshold which is $35,500 or 684/week. The average cost of a two bedroom apartment in the US in 2020 was $1295/month which is already 50% of their monthly income, way higher than advisable. Taking $68 away from this person’s pay every week would exacerbate that and could well be the difference between them being able to afford proper housing for themselves and their child

      1. TheLibraLibrarian*

        Additionally, many churches purposefully make a large portion of their staff part-time to avoid paying benefits or a full salary out. I hope this man takes the job but immediately starts looking for another!

    4. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

      I can guarantee you that this person will be earning nowhere NEAR $100,000 – minimum wage will be more like it.

      And given the enormous leeway that employers have to fire anyone for almost any reason, SOME reason can ALWAYS be found to fire even the best employee in the company (or church). No one is perfect, and employers who are determined to get rid of someone can find a way to do so.

      Until the laws are changed (don’t hold your breath waiting for THAT!), the man in this scenario should probably keep his head down, do the job as well as he can, tithe in order to keep his job long enough for him to look around and find a better one. (I only hope that this church isn’t one that espouses anti-LGBTQ+, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, racist policies.)

    5. Dutchie*

      As a religious person I am quite concerned about this, because financial control is one of the symptoms of religious abuse. This church might be totally cool in all other aspects, but this construction should not be possible, to block any controlling religious communities from using this construction to control their members.

      1. Darsynia*

        More awful than this is the fact that most churches do not have to pay unemployment. We found this out after my mother was laid off and she had no idea (our fault, I guess, but she was a new widow when she got the job and the financials person was also not a member of the religious order, and the two of them were the only ones it affected. So it was unkind not to give her a heads up).

        OP’s friend should factor that in, too.

      2. Frankie*

        That’s my big thing here–you can talk about routine persuasion and manipulation when fundraising in churches, and social pressure when the giving is visible (passing the basket), but this extremely large mandatory chunk of what is likely to be a lower salary is much more coercive and much more concerning to me. I would be concerned about the church in question being abusive in other ways. Where I grew up this would be unusual. And maybe there were churches this happened, but we all gossiped so much about each others’ churches that something as extreme as 10% (or anything beyond a small membership fee and weekly voluntary giving) would probably have come up. Most of the families I grew up with could not have afforded that and it wouldn’t have been a realistic ask.

        I do think if the applicant is really financially struggling, they should ask whether the 10% is mandatory and what happens if they can’t afford that much. If it’s mandatory even if that’s not affordable, that’s concerning. If there’s a sliding scale or some matching help from wealthier congregation members, that’s slightly less, but still, concerning.

    6. metadata minion*

      It would make me feel slimy, because they clearly want you to actively give money to the church. If they can only afford to pay me 90%, then just set that as the salary and keep the remaining 10% without making me do this weird little song and dance to give it back.

    7. Chocolate eclair*

      Agreed, you know what you are doing when you apply at a church that the rules are different. I feel like this is the same concept as agreeing to be around alcohol being a bartender, but because its a church there will be a section of people that come out just to complain.

      1. Giant Kitty*

        They are complaining because it’s 100% WRONG to claw back part of your employee’s salary as a condition of working there.

        1. Chocolate eclair*

          Then don’t work for a religious organization. Really unless your a pastor/clergy/rabbi there are other options that almost always pay more. For most religious jobs it pays more to work at McDonalds in 2023.

    8. Letter Writer*

      My take on employee handbooks is that very few people read them, so anything this major that’s not brought up as part of the compensation discussion isn’t fully up front. Technically the info was there, but if he skipped or skimmed through the handbook as many new hires do, he probably would have missed it. And really 10% is too big a deal not to explicitly discuss.

      1. Teapot Wrangler*

        I completely agree. I’d suggest he pretends he never saw it unless they bring it up. If they do, try to negotiate out of it (at least for a while, if not permanently) and if that doesn’t work reduce it.

        I’d say this kind of things should be explicitly flagged at whichever point salary is initially raised (i.e. job ad or interview) but if he needs the job, he should take it anyway and deal with the consequences later – any money is better than no money if you’re about to lose your home!

  6. Danielle S*

    Just a thought – but is he required to attend or be a member of the church he is working at?

    If not, he could potentially state that he is supporting his family’s church, and that he feels more comfortable tithing there. And I highly doubt anyone would follow up with that church to find out if he actually is doing that or not, but if he’s concerned, then he could give a smaller amount to the “home” church. There should be absolutely no reason for an actual amount to be mentioned.

    Not that it’s a great situation, but this could be a work-around.

    1. rayray*

      I was wondering about this too. I attend a church that does tithing. I don’t think you have to be a church member to work for them. If you weren’t a member of this church, you wouldn’t even have a way to pay tithing as you would have no membership record. Even if you went to a bishop and gave them money, it wouldn’t be recorded and tied to you anyway so they wouldn’t know.

      1. daffodil*

        In my church you don’t have to be a member to donate. It’s a hassle for the deacons because they send a letter acknowledging each donation for people who are not in the system (instead of one at the end of the year), but they do have a way to deal with it. You can also be in our donor list without being in our membership rolls. Often people start contributing financially before they formally join.

    2. Casual Librarian*

      I have heard of churches that require a tithe of employees who also have to tithe to the larger district for their pastoral license. It’s weird and gross for someone to be expected to “double tithe” however, I’d second this as an option if it makes sense in your church/religion/district.

    3. T.N.H.*

      This absolutely could be a solution. Some churches are incredibly wealthy and would let this go. Others are struggling and might only be able to pay his salary minus the 10%. It could go either way, but I think many churches budget knowing they’ll get that money back and spend it accordingly.

      1. DEJ*

        The LDS church is incredibly wealthy and I guarantee you they would not let this go. This is the type of church that will force you to pay years of back-tithing for you to be able to enter the temple for your child’s wedding.

        1. SweetFancyPancakes*

          I can guarantee you that they would let this go. My mom stopped paying tithing for a few years because of financial hardship, and when she wanted to go back to the temple (paying a full tithe is one of the qualifications), she just started to pay it again. There was no “back-tithing” required.

    4. chips and scraps*

      Giving a smaller amount to his own church only works if he actually has a church. I realise that’s stating the obvious, but this comment read to me as if you meant of COURSE he has a ‘home’ church. The world is full of non-church-goers, however.

      1. Danielle S*

        Totally agree, and understand how that reads. I should have been more clear.

        It’s a bit riskier to do this if you don’t have a “home” church, because if you are working at a church, they’re likely going to require you to be a member of some church somewhere. And if you don’t have one that you can say, “I attend X church”, then they’ll want you to attend and participate in their church – which means tithing.

        But potentially you can say you attend another church even if you don’t. It’s just riskier and easier to be found out. And then you’re in trouble for lying and breaking employment requirements.

  7. EmmaPoet*

    I think it sucks, but in this situation I’d grit my teeth and use it to build some work history, then get out of there ASAP.

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      Same. Use it as a temporary stepping stone, but keep searching for another job and get out as soon as you can. And if people ask you why you are leaving that one, explain that you are looking for a position that does not have a 10% tithe requirement.

      1. Letter Writer*

        That seems to be what past people in this jo have done. No one seems to stay in the position longer than 6 months

    2. chips and scraps*

      Yeah, same. I think this is absolutely horrible, but given a choice between homeless family or this, then – this.

    3. Ex-prof*

      In theory, I’d do this. Go in assuming that since they’re willing to kick me when I’m down, I owe them zero loyalty.

      In reality, I’d be one unhappy camper and very cranky. If I were an IT worker I’d be unable to resist the temptation to… do some things.

    4. Rose*

      I think there’s one pretty huge caveat here. We now know this is a religious organization that’s going to demand their employees be religious in some way too. He should be looking carefully for red flags that the culture is bad in a way that could screw him over.

      Bad job history often becomes a self fulfilling cycle where someone takes the next job because they feel really desperate despite red flags, and then that job winds up being such a mess that they get fired or are forced to leave or their work place norms are twisted.

      In a church that requires you to tithe I could definitely see a situation where he would quickly be labeled as not a team player if he didn’t want to do some thing like pray at work or attend church events in his spare time, in a way that could spiral quickly. He should assess red flags and weight them against factors like how close he truly is to homelessness.

    5. EPLawyer*

      I hate it too. But he needs some solid work history. Discounted child care (hello they can’t do free as part their mission?) is a plus too. If he went elsewhere he would be paying full freigh for daycare. Which can wipe out a lot more than 10% of your salary.

      It sucks. It’s not right. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Until you can do better.

      UPDATE PLEASE so we can find out how your friend is doing. Wishing him all the best.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, OP’s friend probably literally can’t afford to be picky on this topic. I’d take the job and put up with whatever it dishes out.

      2. Awkward Interviewee*

        I’m surprised very few others are mentioning the child care angle. Child care is very expensive. If the discount is substantial enough it could come close to being a wash with the 10% tithe. In which case yes, take the job, build up some experience and job history, then find something better.

        1. Qwerty*

          I completely missed the discounted childcare! In that case, I’d run the math to see what the overall compensation package turns out to be. Child care is so expensive that he might come out ahead?

      3. Cheshire Cat*

        I could be wrong about this, but it seems to me that the church giving a discount for childcare instead of offering it free to staff suggests that the church budget doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room and it really can’t afford to offer free childcare.

        I’ve attended several “middle class” churches (not wealthy, not struggling to keep the lights on) over the years, and the ones that offered day care provided it free to staff. My current church couldn’t afford this, even if it ran a daycare. :(

      4. Letter Writer*

        Well, he signed most of the hiring paperwork today. Theyre now just making sure that they have a spot in preschool for his kid, because if not he can only work part-time.

        1. Office Gumby*

          We’re wishing him well and hope this provides a sufficient solution to his current issues. I hope the child-care discount balances out any possible mandatory tithes he must pay.

  8. Old Folk Melody*

    As a longtime independent school employee, this feels familiar. It isn’t a contractual requirement that we contribute a percentage of our paycheck to the school, but it’s definitely an expectation — and the sell can be pretty hard when the development office is trying to get their numbers up. (I guess “percentage of employees who contribute to the school fund” is an important metric when it comes to grant writing and alumni donations?) I never understood how my employer could reasonably expect me to contribute any portion of my salary back to them even if I did believe in their mission, but I’d usually cough up a few bucks to avoid awkward conversations.

    1. irianamistifi*

      Ew. This sounds gross too. Do they expect this even if you don’t have a child in the school? What expectation could they have for employees to put money back into the school unless it’s almost like a co-op where you share the value of the shares or business income.

    2. Sal*

      Someone needs to put me in touch with development offices because how they decided this metric is important is completely opaque and also makes no sense. My spouse works for an independent school and we give by PAYING (half-price, thanks faculty discount) TUITION. When I worked for a nonprofit I gave by ACCEPTING A NONPROFIT SALARY for my efforts when I could have worked for the private sector and made 2-3x my salary. The way I see it, employees already give by accepting nonprofit-level salaries and dev offices need to step all the way back.

    3. Spearmint*

      Wow. That makes zero sense. Why not just offer lower pay if they’re concerned about money? Seems like that would be less administratively burdensome and hurt morale less than demanding donations.

      1. JSPA*


        1. Because this way the US and possibly state governments are de facto subsidizing the church, if the employee is itemizing (taking other-than-the-standard deduction). A few years ago, when the handbook was written, a much larger percentage of filers were doing so.

        2. Because they can brag about money raised, and use it to search for matching grants.

        3. I’m guessing it could possibly also allow them to pay him from money that is in a restricted endowment, and use the money they get back, in a less-tracked general fund.

        4. Mammals play dominance games. Might as well ask why “chicken” exists.

        1. Pippa K*

          Item 3 on your list is an interesting possibility that I hadn’t considered. Sort of an internal money laundering!

    4. Birdie*

      “I guess “percentage of employees who contribute to the school fund” is an important metric when it comes to grant writing and alumni donations?”

      Yep, employee giving is a metric used by the two biggest benchmarkers in the independent school world (along with current parents giving, alumni giving, and some others). It’s also touted in solicitations to alumni and parents: “Look, 100% of our employees gave in support of the annual fund, please make your gift today!”

      Which is not to say I agree with shaking down employees for gifts.

      I worked at a small non-profit for a few years that really underpaid it’s employees. One day a department director came to me and demanded I tell her who on her team had donated to the organization that year. I was appalled and refused. “Donor information is strictly confidential. I won’t share which employees have and have not donated under any circumstances.”

        1. daffodil*

          I often make small donations to my nonprofit employer for exactly this reason. Their metric is participation, so my $10 gift is participating. They get their metrics, I save my more substantial donations for organizations I choose.

      1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

        Yeah, I just left a position in an independent school and they were harping on the “% of employees who give” number all the time. They would even say, “just give $5/month!” since the amount mattered less than the participation percentage.

        The best good-faith reading of this is “that percentage indicates how much faculty/staff support the school and its mission.” Honestly, I’d love to see whether anyone has really dived into that metric to see whether it’s accurate or a mix-up of correlation/causation.

        (I just deleted every email they sent about donations without a response.)

        1. Birdie*

          I’m fairly certain that a not insignificant reason why so many employee donate during our employee giving campaign is that if you give during that specific time period, your name goes in the raffle. And everyone is desperate to win one of the 4 reserved parking spots for the school year.

    5. katydid*

      lol do we work at the same independent school, or is this par for the course? It is embarrassing to be the 2% of faculty that didn’t donate… but not embarrassing enough to make me change my ways.

      1. Birdie*

        Par for the course. This is my second stint with an independent school, completely different states, and it’s the same at both places. Friends in fundraising at other schools tell me its the same at their schools. INDEX and DASL are the two biggies when it comes to independent schools benchmarking themselves and seeing how the stack up against peer schools, and both ask about and publish employee giving percentages.

        But, again, it’s not much different in the broader non-profit world. Every organization wants their employees to donate. Some are just (a lot) more aggressive about it than others.

    6. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, when I worked for a private college, everyone was expected to donate. It was annoying as heck. However, we had complete control over how much we donated, so I gave a minimum amount to a cause I thought was valuable (a special fund to provide low income students textbooks and other expenses not covered by traditional scholarships) and left it at that.

    7. Loves libraries*

      I remember this as well when I was full time at a private school. They said no donation was too small but there was lots of pressure to just give $10 for the year.

  9. Casual Librarian*

    Personally, I’d go right down the middle and donate what I can afford (or what I normally donate) and explain the situation. What some people forget is that the church, at least outwardly, has a duty to help those in need, and with the explanation being “I can’t afford to donate 10% because I have a single income and other bills to pay. Tithing in-full would put me on a path to homelessness I’m not comfortable with” that will work for many churches.

    I know that there are more toxic churches out there that would respond with “well if you tithed, God will provide, and you need to have faith” and honestly, eew. But I think it’s OK to thread that needle at 3% or 5% to show a good-faith effort at adhering to policy.

    1. Unfettered scientist*

      Yeah ewww I want to be like “god has provided me with this job and with this paycheck. Maybe the church should look to god to provide them with $ instead of looking to its employees?” But idk how one would deliver that.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, most religious organizations I know would want to support an employee in need, not make their life harder with the very charity that’s supposed to be helping people. This would however raise a new set of problems for OP’s friend: like, how much do they want the employer to be up in their business, would they feel in debt to the employer if they started getting very overly charitable with them (a significant risk with some). I’d start with an open ended “what does tithing involve?” question, in case it’s not at all what they fear. If it is, I would probably raise it along the lines of “I’ve had some financial difficulties while looking for work and I’ve worked out that at (full) salary over the course of (period of time), I can get a good financial footing again. Would I be able to defer tithing until that time?” Or as you say, tithe at a lower percentage. Then, I’d probably try to get another job in that time frame.

      1. Lozi*

        I work for a church and I think this suggestion (and one above) are where I would go – these are really good scripts, and it’s about good-faith commitment to the church community and mission more than the actual dollar amount.

      2. Nobby Nobbs*

        I’m skeptical that a church that has this policy in the first place would be at all reasonable about helping rather than taking advantage of their employees. But maybe he’ll get lucky and find out that it’s an old policy still on the books from previous leadership, attitudes have changed, of course they’d never think about enforcing it now, etc. Might be worth asking just in case.

        1. MEH Squared*

          This was my immediate reaction as well. A church that has this in the employee handbook but did not (presumabbly) mention it in negotiations will probably not be that benevolent, but I, too, hope it’s just an old policy that is not strictly enforced.

    3. lunchtime caller*

      This was exactly my thought too; talking about personal finances at work is usually frowned upon so I get why the answer didn’t mention it, but in the case of a place like a church I do think it’s valid to plead some sort of hardship exemption/reduction.

    4. Aggretsuko*

      I thought about just saying they need that 10% because they can’t afford to donate, but Alison brought up that that might just be deducted out of the paycheck automatically!

    5. JSPA*

      I wonder…

      What if he were to use their food bank, then if they complain, explain that’s the only way he can feed his kid, while setting aside tithes?

    6. Church Goer*

      The Bible explicitly states that the purpose of giving is to be able to shelter, clothe, and otherwise help the needy, especially widows and orphans. I know you churches that pass through the plate and allow people to donate OR take. If the 10% comes out of the check and that 10% would make or break me being homeless, I’d just go to Sunday services and pull 10% right back out of the plate. Have them explain to me where’s the lie.

  10. Neeul*

    Tithe might mean 10%, but it might be possible for him to get away with something smaller like 5% at least for a little while. It certainly still wouldn’t be ideal, but it might prevent people from getting on his back for contributing nothing, so he at least looks willing to play along. It might be worth a try.

    1. Another freelancer*

      I have heard of churches being open to less than 10% given if the member also volunteered within the church to sort of make up the difference. No idea if the church in the op would do that but it could be an option. I realize it means ops friend could end up spending way more time at the church/employer.

  11. Purple Loves Snow*

    I have nothing helpful to add as someone who resides outside of the U.S.A., but please send an update on your friend’s behalf once things shake out for them.

  12. Sunny days are better*

    They are only being upfront about it now at this point in the interview process which is terribly sneaky.

    Something like that should be clearly listed in the job posting so that applicants know the expectations right off the bat and can decide whether or not they want to apply for the job.

    1. Username goes here*

      And not even all that up-front now – it sounds like it’s in the handbook rather than being stated in this stage of the process. To me, employers should mention big things like this (remote work policies, extreme lack of benefits, etc. would also fall in this category) in the job description or at least verbally in the interview process before the background check stage.

    2. ecnaseener*

      It’s also not clear whether he’s already negotiated & preliminarily agreed to the salary yet. If they locked him in at a salary knowing full well he was overestimating how much of it he’d take home, that’s slimy as hell.

    3. Rose*

      I don’t think there’s anything sneaky about this at all. I’ve hardly ever been able to get concrete salary information from a job before I get to the official offer stage. Most jobs they won’t know the exact salary they’re going to offer you until they know a little bit more about you and your work history. I agree with everyone who thinks that this is stupid, gross, should be illegal, etc. but if he hasn’t even gotten an offer there’s no need to assume anything sneaky is happening here. They might very well spell it out to him when they tell him when they give him an actual offer with numbers. They might be paying 11.11% above market rate to make up for that tithe.

      I’ve had secular companies offer me 10% less than I was hoping for it had asked for. This is no more sneaky than that.

      1. Starbuck*

        It’s definitely sneaky to not disclose up front that you’ll be raking back a certain % of the to-be-negotiated pay. It’s not the same as employers failing to disclose a range, or not knowing where you’ll fall in that range (which more and more is now being required anyway).

  13. Madame X*

    It’s really unfair for him to be required to pay 10% of his income. Unfortunately, it is legal for this church to request this. I think his best options are to accept the position if offered, pay the tithe, and then after about a year start applying to other positions. This doesn’t have to be a long-term job. If he maintains his good standing while he works there, it can hopefully allow him to have a better compensated position ( with no requirement to tithe!) that is more aligned with his career goals.

    1. Ex-prof*

      I agree with this except I don’t think he needs to wait the year. If someone wants to poach him he should be ready, willing and able to be poached.

      1. MEH Squared*

        Agreed. He owes this church no loyalty. Take the job to pay the bills, but still keep looking. I normally wouldn’t advocate this, but the church is putting him in a real bind.

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          OP mentions his friend has spotty work history and has been looking for a while. I think it might make sense to stick this out for a full year to show some stability. It absolutely sucks, but also might be the best move for the friend to just grin and bear it for the year.

  14. higheredrefugee*

    I’d plan to tithe, but not the full 10%, especiallyif the document doesn’t specifiy a specific expectation. If pressed, I’d say that I alloctae 10% of my net income to charitable giving but only a portion of that to this specific congregation. This idea of 10% on tithing is different across the country. In my corner of Roman Catholicism, we talk about 10% for charitable giving, a portion of which supports your parish but that’s not even universal across the United States.

    1. Cloudy*

      Yes, clarify both the percentage and where the money should go. Our parish sets as its “stretch” goal 8%, with half going to other charitable causes, especially the poor. It’s all discussed as “tithe”.

    2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      Certainly I grew up with an expectation to tithe, but I am confident that not all of the members of that congregation were giving 10% of their household income to the church, and I seriously doubt that any of the members of the church I currently attend are, either (and I’m treasurer, so I actually have those numbers).

      That said, neither church requires its employees to tithe (though what portion of the church budget is external giving is a whole thing every year come budget time (and was in my childhood congregation, too), which drives me up the wall — I’m giving to the church so we can pay the pastor and pay rent; I will select my own outside charities, thanks), so I would be pretty cautious about feeling this out.

    3. STAT!*

      In the Roman Catholicism I grew up with (in Australia), I was never taught a specific figure of 10% as an expectation for charitable giving. There was an expectation you would make some contribution to the running of the parish, financially and/ or through voluntary labour. There was also an expectation that you would make similar contributions to charitable or social organisations. I wonder if tithing is a USA social expectation arising from the evangelical churches, which now influences other religious confessions.

      BTW below is a link to a US pastor who argues there is no New Testament requirement for Christians to “tithe”. He argues the requirements are to give generously, joyfully, voluntarily, and to those in need. Certainly these metrics will not be met if your employer takes 10% of your income!


  15. irene adler*

    I don’t suppose there’s any way he can negotiate an additional 10% salary given the tithing -which I assume he wasn’t aware of until AFTER the salary was negotiated but BEFORE he received the employee manual?

    (That seems a bit of a bait and switch. Not all churches require their employees to tithe. Should job candidates be expected to know to ask about tithing prior to negotiation of salary?)

    Tithing would be a big surprise to me- church or no church. And it would mean not surviving on the salary agreed to.

    1. Tired of Working*

      Even if he could negotiate an additional 10%, he would still wind up with less money. If the agreed-upon salary was $100,000 per year, and he negotiated an additional 10%, he would wind up with $110,000 per year, but he would have to tithe 10%, which would be $11,000 per year, so he would eventually wind up with $99,000 per year.

  16. Cynan*

    As someone who serves on the board at my church and is involved in these kinds of decisions, this policy is nuts.

    A tithe is supposed to be a freely given offering. Mandating it as a condition of employment defeats the entire purpose. And 10% is a guideline, not a hard and fast rule; some people don’t have the financial means to give that much, and some people really should be giving more!

    Plus, if someone is employed by the church but isn’t a member/regular attender by the church, it’s ridiculous to expect them to tithe to the church they work for. They should be tithing to the church they attend (if any).

    So, yeah. This may be legal and relativel common, but it’s a terrible policy and it’s not off-base to call it out.

    1. The Francis Scott Key Key*

      I was thinking the same thing! This is totally against the spirit of what the actual Bible says about giving and it’s a really bad look for the church.

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      I would say “the entire purpose” of a tithe is to get money, so no, it doesn’t defeat the purpose at all. It’s rotten, but that’s what a tithe is: give us your money.

  17. BellyButton*

    I learned this was legal a few years ago when I was being recruited by a private religious university. They stated in the employee agreement that people could not live with a partner they were not married to. I thankfully had other options and didn’t have to take the job. But if I had been in a bad place I would have taken it and kept looking.

  18. Jigglypuff*

    I used to work for a school that was connected to a church. I was required to be a member in good standing at the church, which did indeed involve tithing on my income. In fact, I was called into the principal’s office and berated for using some of the money that should have been tithe and instead assisting my mother in paying her mortgage. Needless to say, after that meeting I started looking elsewhere for a job.

    1. NotRealAnonforThis*

      I know that honoring thy mother and father is number five, but I can’t exactly recall where failure to tithe is in the ten commandments…

      I’m glad its “used to work”. What a decidedly unholy thing to do – to scold an employee for helping their parent instead of donating to the church….

    2. Elsie*

      This is addressed in the Bible in Mark 7:9-13 that those who gave money to the religious organizations but didn’t care for their parents were not following God. How ironic and hypocritical for that principal to shame their employee for caring for his mother.

  19. Coverage Associate*

    Just want to echo those saying that “tithe” may not mean “tithe to employer,” especially if there are no other requirements to support the employer outside of paid work responsibilities, such as by attending services. If it doesn’t mean “tithe to employer,” the employer may not enforce the tithing requirement by asking for receipts. Some religious organizations can actually be reluctant to issue receipts, so it could be a hard requirement to enforce.

    I know of a religious organization that required all staff to be members of a church but the enforcement was lax.

  20. YM*

    The tithing is probably an automatic deduction that comes right off his check. Take the job and take the 10% reduced check while applying to any other job that interests him.

    1. The Francis Scott Key Key*

      Reading the letter again, I’m actually not so sure. I understood it at first to mean that the church required a tithe to their organization, but I just realized it doesn’t specify – it might just be a requirement to tithe in general as part of their code of beliefs.

  21. SometimesMaybe*

    I know most commenters on this site are very anti-church/religion, so as someone who has worked for three churches over the last 25 years (two of them did require tithing) I have never know this policy to be enforced, especially with someone in the OP’s friend’s situation. I understand that this requirement could probably be enforced at some churches, but I would not start from a place of “this is evil and immoral”, but rather that charity is a core belief of this religious organization. Best of luck to the OP’s friend and I hope that this church is one of the majority that will help and support them.

    1. PsychNurse*

      The comments here actually include quite a few people who are active church members. In general I agree with you that this site tends to be pretty anti-religion, but people commenting on this letter have been pretty diverse.

      1. Mary Connell*

        Also disagree that “most commenters” are “anti-church/religion.” Really haven’t seen that. I’ve seen nuance in whether religions are being supportive of their members or abusive, but after reading the site for many years, both the blog author and many commenters are very reasonable about religious issues.

      2. JSPA*

        That’s about as correct as saying we’re “anti employee” or “anti manager.”

        We’re broadly anti anyone who thinks that historical precedent excuses careless, deneaning, or abusive behavior, or that any person or organization has the right to tell you that you can’t leave; can’t be a good person if you leave; and that disappointing them is something that should haunt your dreams, and your every waking moment.

        Plenty of people and organizations don’t violate any of the above! Talking about abusive relationships (with a person or organization) involves talking about patterns and details. Some of those details will overlap with details of non-abusive relationships.

        Whether that’s “bringing roses after an argument” or saying “[deity] still loves you.”

        You can either focus on, “but bringing roses isn’t bad!” or you can understand that even roses (or talk of divine love) can be coopted by abusive people.

    2. Butterfly Counter*

      I suppose one’s starting place to decide whether this is “evil” vs. “charitable” depends on how they’ve been treated by religion and religious groups in their lives.

    3. Someone Online*

      I truly do not understand the point of putting a policy down like that if it’s not meant to be enforced. Even having that in writing is in some ways coercive. It’s great that in your experience they are not pressuring employees who cannot afford to give, but there is still pressure for people to stretch more than they may be comfortable with.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I would see charity and tithing as two somewhat different things though. If you are a member of a church and some of the money you are giving is paying the expenses of that church, then I wouldn’t see that as charity. Charity, to me at least, is giving to something that doesn’t have any benefits to you, like giving to those affected by the earthquake. And I know some churches do use some of the money they collect for charitable causes, but it’s not always easy to be sure how much and nor do those contributing have say in where their money is going to. In worst case scenarios, it could be going to fund political campaigns that the person may or may not agree with. And again, I would not see that as charity. If you are contributing to a political cause you agree with, that’s lobbying or activism, not charity.

      And presumably the person will be giving to charities they support themselves, so if somebody is giving 10% to their church, they are probably giving significantly more than 10% overall in charitable donations.

      I wouldn’t consider the money I give to our church collections to be really charity, as it pays for the heat and light during church services I attend. That benefits me, so it’s not really something I am doing with no intent of self-interest. (It’s also nowhere near 10% of my income, it’s well under 1%. When Ireland changed over to the euro, they asked those who could afford it to give €2 a week. That is 20 years ago, but it was probably close to 1% of the social welfare rate.)

      And while I think it very likely charity is a core belief of this religious organisation, that does not make it OK, in my opinion, for them to not only force that belief on their employees (to me, that is no different from requiring their employees to live apart from their partners unless/until they are married or to attend church weekly) but also to enforce how they do it. Most people have specific causes they want to support and there is no guarantee that the money they give to their employer will go to those specific causes.

      I don’t think it’s evil but I do think it is exerting more control over their employees lives than I would be comfortable with from an employer. If they were not a religion but decided that they thought charity was important and were therefore taking 10% of each employee’s income to donate to a charity of their choice, I think most people would find it problematic and I don’t think it’s any different for a religious organisation to do it.

      1. SometimesMaybe*

        As far a forcing their beliefs on their employees, half the purpose of a church is to pass on a belief system. A church is not a standard commercial employer or even not-for-profit organization, that is why there are sperate guidelines and laws regarding employment standards. When you work for a church you are a representative of the organization and their beliefs differently than you would if you were an employee of any other type of employer. You are correct that ideologically tithing and charity can be separate contributions.

    5. Nono Cat*

      Sorry not sorry, but demanding that people pay off the church as a condition of employment IS “evil and immoral.” If the church actually cares about charity as a so-called “core belief,” they should start by being charitable to the people who rely on the income from them to survive. Hopefully it’ll be as you say and the tithe isn’t enforced. However, it’s still a terrible thing to even have in the handbook, let alone that it doesn’t sound like this was brought up at any point in the hiring process, either as “yes, you have to tithe” or “I know the stupid handbook says you do, but you really don’t.”

      1. SometimesMaybe*

        While I don’t personally believe that tithing is mandatory, giving a portion of income/time to God, is a basic principle of Christianity. Many drifters have taken advantage of this throughout time, but if you are a representative of this religion, which arguably you are if you work for a church, then it is not a out of the question to see this the same as other core religious beliefs that would be required of employees.

        1. STAT!*

          I await the LW’s confirmation the handbook prescribes other acts that are explicit Christian testaments as a condition of employment, such as spreading the good news. Acts, mind you, which is what this “tithing” obligation is, not “core religious beliefs”. Otherwise, I will be suspicious that this is in fact yet another grift.

    6. Member who tithes*

      As an LDS member who had a husband who worked for the church and a daughter who attends a church university, this WILL be enforced if it an LDS church job.

      1. SweetFancyPancakes*

        Interesting. I once worked for a business owned by the LDS church (but not for the church directly), and this was totally not a thing. And this was a business where our Christmas party was attended by the highest leaders of the church every year, so it’s not like we were very far removed.

    7. Verde*

      It’s not so much “anti-church/religion” as “anti-people who go out of their why to try and take away the rights of myself and my friends”. Which sadly, is often churches and/or other religious organizations.

  22. Lady_Lessa*

    That is just awful.

    Like the LW said, there are no good options.

    Coming from that kind of religious background, I would have the friend ask (probably via email to get the answer in writing) if that applied to all employees or just members of that local church.

    I would also consider going to their way of helping the needy and getting help from them. Might be shocking to some of the workers there. (I have worked at the food bank at my parish, but never actually approving the assistance).

    I am not surprised because I read that the construction workers at the Creation Museum, near Cincinnati, had to agree with the theology of the Museum.

  23. A Pound of Obscure*

    If a 10% tithe is a requirement of employment, I’d bet the employer takes it out of the friend’s paycheck, negating the advice to try not paying it.

  24. RagingADHD*

    Does the handbook say employees are required to tithe *to the same church*, or that they are required to practice tithing in general? It would be slightly less icky and more in the realm of wanting to have employees who share values, if the employee could choose to tithe to any type of ministry (say, another church, a food pantry, or an organization that digs wells or provides mosquito nets overseas). My husband works for a church, but not the church our family attends, so that would be really problematic if he was required to tithe to his employer.

    A lot of nonprofits expect/encourage employees to donate back, but making it a requirement is not something I would feel good about.

  25. Emily*

    I don’t agree with the tithing requirement, but I do think it’s unethical to take a job not intending to comply with the requirements that were laid out ahead of time. It would be one thing if he took the job and then the church sprang the tithing requirement on him after he had accepted, but agree with it or not, they are making the requirement clear up front.

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      I don’t know. The fact they didn’t inform him during salary negotiations and he had to read it himself in the handbook makes the whole thing shadier, IMO.

      1. irene adler*

        Agree. It puts them at the advantage.

        Should job applicants to church positions just know to ask about whether tithing is required?

        1. Emily*

          He was given the employee handbook to read. I don’t see how they are hiding anything. To me it would be like being given a syllabus for a class and then getting mad that the grades were decided a certain way that were described in the syllabus. Also, he is at the final interview stage, so I don’t think there would have been a chance to have salary negotiations yet because he has not yet been offered the job. Again, I don’t agree with the tithing requirement, and he is welcome to ask about it and I definitely think he should to find out if it is taken as a pre-tax deduction or not, but it doesn’t seem secretive.

          1. Nono Cat*

            They didn’t tell him upfront about something that could affect his pay. That IS shady and dishonest. Someone should have been on top of this.

            How very Christlike of them. /s

            1. Emily*

              You are entitled to feel however you want about it, but focusing on how you think it is “shady and dishonest” is not really helpful to the LW. Alison clarified that it is most likely legal (no matter how we may feel about that), and the church included it in the employee handbook. OP’s friend read the handbook (as he should), and now OP’s friend can decide what he wants to do about it. I would certainly hope that he asks for clarification on it.

          2. STAT!*

            When you decide to study, you know you will be assessed on the course contents. You know the assessment may include essays, vivas, a minimum class attendance, quizzes, & other commonly known assessment tools. When you decide to look for a job, you do so in the knowledge you will be paid money if recruited. You also know that some of that money might not make it to your bank account due to other commonly known requirements, such as income tax, other local taxes, garnishee orders & so on. What you don’t commonly expect is that your employer will deduct ANYTHING from your wage in order to fund its mission.

            Anyway, if LW’s friend can’t keep his job unless he tithes, then this is not a compensation condition, & a mere nuance in the argy-bargy of negotiating wages/ salary. It is a fundamental condition of employment, & one which should have been disclosed much earlier in the recruitment process.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Not in general, no. I’ve never heard of it before and have a number of church workers in my family and have been one myself, in a few different Protestant denominations.

          Apparently in certain denominations or parts of the country it is common, there are some mentions of LDS / Utah upthread.

    2. Starbuck*

      They actually did not make it clear up front as it wasn’t in the job posting. Such an unusual condition that would obviously be a deal breaker for many should be disclosed in the job ad.

  26. UnpopularOpinion*

    Finding someone to work IT at a church (and do a decent job) might be so precious of a find, that they mind turn a blind eye to a lack of tithing (or be willing to negotiate to a lower number — 10% is “standard” but was that the number listed in the handbook?). Of course, if OP doesn’t tithe at all, he might be passive aggressive-d to death by various church members. Although I also feel like an IT position has a better chance of feeling like a “job” at a church rather than a calling where people feel like you shouldn’t be so gross as to want money (pastor, church direction, Sunday School, etc).

    1. UnpopularOpinion*

      This reminds me of discussion where some churches try to hire “support” positions from people who do not attend the church in question to try and keep some (hopefully healthy) boundaries between the congregation/faith/church and business aspects. I feel like I read about that here. I can certainly see positives on both sides (hiring from within, or expecting new employees to join the church vs having an “outside” person).

      1. Emily*

        As a church goer, I think it’s definitely best if the church staff (excluding the pastor of course), are NOT members of the church. As my pastor said, “You can’t really minister to someone and be their boss at the same time”. We actually had a very bad experience where we hired a church member’s business as a vendor and it did not go well (I think they basically expected us to accept subpar service because they were a member).

        I think this should go for pretty much any organization though. Mixing business with personal matters too often does not go well. Boundaries are important!

        1. Chirpy*

          This, once upon a time I was on a church council when the church had to hire a new secretary. If the employee is not a member of the church, it makes it a lot easier to keep the separation of “work” and “volunteer”, because in a church setting that line can get blurry fast.

          The only staff person who needs to be a member is the pastor. And even then, most of them have a separate pastor’s group to meet their own spiritual needs.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Yeah, there’s also a confidentiality aspect. People go to the pastor for support on *very* personal issues, and even if the pastor maintains confidentiality, people in the office see them going in and out, see if they’ve been crying, might overhear some things if the walls aren’t soundproof, etc.

          It’s better not to cross the streams.

      2. revnorthwest*

        Yep! We have a policy to do everything we can to not hire church members because it is best practice. If you have to do any type of correction you are their boss, not their pastor.

  27. Martha*

    I wonder whether this might be a misunderstanding / miscommunication? It is reasonably common for a church to expect its members to tithe (in some way, not necessarily the full 10% to the church itself). Members who are also employees are clearly engaged with the church, so the expectation becomes stronger. The scenario where one is an employee but not a member may have simply been overlooked?

    I think it’s worth asking “Can you confirm that the requirement to tithe only applies to employees who are also members?”

    1. PsychNurse*

      Excellent point. Our church employs a music director, who is a member of a different church. She probably tithes to them (I have no idea whether she really does or not) because she is actively engaged there and considers herself a member. She just can’t attend their Sunday 10am services because she’s working at our church.

  28. PsychNurse*

    Does the church say he has to tithe to THEM, or just has to be a Christian who attends church and tithes? If it’s the latter, he can just say he goes to a different church. (I promise, they aren’t going to call that church to ask whether he tithes. I guess they could possibly call to ask if he’s a member there.)

    In my experience, this isn’t the sort of thing a church is likely to really monitor. If he’s really in bad straits, I say take the job, don’t tithe, and wait for them to notice. In most churches, the people monitoring the finances are a totally different group of volunteers than the people doing the hiring. It could take months or forever to notice that the IT guy hasn’t send in any checks.

    1. 2023, You are NOT Nice.*

      Also, these handbooks can go years or without ever being updated, and no one knows what is in them really. That tithing is more likely to be aimed at pastoral staff, not support.

      1. Another freelancer*

        Not only can they be outdated, but there may be some rules that do not apply to parts of the org.

  29. bunniferous*

    My church actually teaches that tithing is not required under the Old Testament. There is also a verse in the New Testament that says giving should not be under compulsion. This might not help the OP’s friend but I wonder if a legal argument could be made that giving under compulsion was against his religion? As someone who does give to my church, this just hits me as wrong and even more so considering his financial status.

    1. The Francis Scott Key Key*

      From what I understand, tithing was part of the law that God gave to the Israelites, but Jesus fulfilled that law – that’s why Christians today don’t have to avoid shellfish anymore and can wear polyester blends. But some of the tenets of faith from the Old Testament were reiterated in the New Testament. Christians are called to give charitably, but not to give a strict 10%. A lot of people just do it anyway.

      1. metadata minion*

        FYI, polyester blends are fine for Jews, too; that particular commandment only applies to combinations of linen and wool. (I’ve never been entirely clear if that’s just sheep wool or if it’s any wooly animal.) Linsey-woolsey used to be a very common fabric, but today it’s a restriction that actually doesn’t come up all that often.

      2. JSPA*

        The covenant was between g-d and the jews; the dietary and other laws would not (in any case) have applied to non-jews.

        I’m aware that some Christian denominations choose to follow them, and that some are closely mirrored in Muslim teachings.

        But from a Jewish standpoint, it’s a bit like….I dunno…. someone spontaneously deciding that they should be paying into your condo association fees, without living there. I mean, knock yourself out, if it makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing!

        Or if you feel that G-d would not have made arbitrary rules (as a test, or as a way to cement group identity, or as a way to feel that both sides are contributing to an agreement between parties with hugely different power and resources, or because they were specifically healthful at a specific point in time)… so the rules must be intrinsically good. Or maybe they just feel right to you. Or maybe your tradition specifies that you were brought into the covenant by a later, separate divine contract. Or that you come from one of the lost tribes.

        But otherwise? Eh…you can’t get a condo by paying association fees; not following random other people’s contacts is normal behavior that doesn’t require explanation.

    2. metadata minion*

      “My church actually teaches that tithing is not required under the Old Testament.”

      That is very not true; the commandment to tithe is in the Tanach.

      1. bunniferous*

        I was typing that on my phone-obviously I misspoke. It very much WAS required in OT times but NT….things were different. Sorry about that!

    3. RagingADHD*

      Most Protestant churches do not teach that tithing is a requirement, but a spiritual discipline / blessing. Giving of time, talent, and money is an expectation, but dictating exact amounts or percentages, no.

      Legally, such an argument wouldn’t get very far because churches are explicitly allowed to make agreement with their teachings a job requirement. So if you’re going to say, “it’s against my religion to give under compulsion,” it is legal for them to say, “okay, then don’t work here.”

  30. DEJ*

    I live in Utah and it really wouldn’t surprise me if this letter writer were from there. I’m going to say two things:

    – The church may pay a lower salary overall because I know that some people see it as ‘you’re supposed to be honored to work for the church.’
    – Someone above said that ‘if the church was really rich they may let it go.’ How do you think the church became super rich in the first place?

    1. PsychNurse*

      Good point. I’ve been giving advice that applies to a lot of mainstream and/or evangelical Prostestant denominations. Mormons do everything way differently, and I know they are more strict with the tithing thing.

      1. Laughs in Exmo*

        I very much DID get a Mormon vibe. Multiple rounds of interviews and bureaucracy, required tithing to stay employed….
        The only thing that didn’t seem Mormon was the background check. They don’t like to do those unless legally required, even though it’s bit them in the butt multiple times (see: sexual abuse scandals where known pedophiles – who had convictions that would have shown up on a background check – were given assignments to work with kids)

  31. Asenath*

    Wow. OK, I am in Canada, not in the US, and the particular churches I know best, including the one I attend, don’t tithe as such, although of course they encourage charitable donations to the church and to other charities. It’s up to the individual how much they choose to donate and where, and I don’t suppose anyone knows what anyone else gives except the accounting person who does the tax forms. As for employees – OK, I don’t suppose our salaries are that great, but we do manage to pay for benefits, and I haven’t heard of the employees (aside from clergy) being required to be members of the church. Even if they were, their donations would be private as mentioned. My mind is boggling at this requirement of an employee. I’d question it myself, before signing on the dotted line. What if I don’t want to donate – I prefer to donate what I can afford to other causes? Or perhaps I’m attending another church or even belong to another religion, and prefer to support them? And, you know, if they really want an IT expert, they may decide that hiring an IT expert who is not a member of the church and therefore does not tithe is probably better than starting a new search for one who is.

    1. Kaiko*

      Yeah, I just looked this up – Canadian churches can be non-profits, and non-profits have legally defined member categories (which comes into play for issues like voting, sitting on covering bodies, etc), and that might include membership or application fees. But tithing is something else entirely.

    2. Robbie*

      Canadian minister here, and yeah, it is bizarre.
      Maybe it is a denominational thing, but here it is not expected that I would donate a part of my salary to my congregation. I donate to my national church and other affiliated works, but only a handful of clergy I know do that practice where the church is their main employment.
      It is even weirder for a non-church member to be expected to tithe any of their salary. This is their employment. If they want to donate that is fine, but it should be because they want to, not a job expectation.
      That and I have been reading the Canadian v. American tax exempt laws and frankly, I am understanding where the “tax the church” motto is coming from. Up here it is significantly different.

  32. Thumbelina*

    “a tithe is nowadays interpreted as 10% of your income given to the church”

    Is 10% in writing somewhere for this specific job? If the only thing in writing is “tithe,” I’d be tithing 0.5% of my income. If nothing in writing says “tithe,” I’d donate 0% of my income until called on it, then I’d tithe 0.5%.

    And that’s my 15 pieces of flair.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I mean, “tithe” by definition is interpreted as 10%, otherwise it would be “donate” or “give a weekly offering” or something.

      1. goducks*

        Exactly this.

        There’s a reason a lot of churches use the term “tithes and offerings”. A tithe is by definition 10% (and in many churches an expectation-not unlike a tax), an offering is any amount given freely outside of the tithe.

    2. Lily Potter*

      The very definition of “tithe” is a donation of ten percent.
      “Tithing 0.5% of income” is a contradiction.
      Kind of like saying that you’ll get a Benjamin in your birthday card, but getting $20 instead of $100.

    3. JSPA*

      “Tithe” literally means 1/10.

      Like “decimate” means “kill one in 10.”

      Sure, there are looser, less literal definintions, but in a legal agreement, “we stated it literally” is a pretty strong argument.

  33. Hawk*

    I’m a pastor’s kid, spouse of an elder on our church’s HR committee, and in a denomination that would hope would never ask this, especially for people who don’t attend that congregation! A current church staff member did tell me about her experience at a different church that had similar gross expectations and it was a motivating factor for leaving (she’s working remotely and is not even in our denomination!). I agree with other commenters that if he can give less than that 10%, he should do that if he has to take this job.

  34. Parenthesis Guy*

    This is a religious organization demanding that all employees abide by the tenets of their faith, which is tithe to 10%. It’s not asking people to support the organization. It’s asking people to follow their religious rules.

    The challenge is why should potentially non-religious staff be forced to follow church religious rules. It’s one thing to require that from church staff that function as clergy. For example, preachers or youth pastors or so on and so forth. It’s another to require it from the secretary.

    I almost wonder whether this person should ask to make sure it applies to him. They may only want this to apply to people that belong to their church.

    1. SometimesMaybe*

      Thank you, I tried articulating this point in my comments, but could not get the point as clearly as you.

    2. Frankie*

      But the interpretation of the concept of tithing as being a percentage of salary to your home church is unusual. In the churches I attended in my childhood, cultivating a spirit of giving and charity was a big deal, but it was understood to mean your giving over the entire year, and it was also understood that not everyone is in the position to give 10% of their income away in total, not to mention just to the church.

  35. Spearmint*

    LW’s friend should definitely ask about the tithe and explain his situation. I have never worked for a church but often there are policies in employee handbooks that are only written on paper but never enforced or were enforced at own time but no longer. Additionally, it may be possible that the policy is phrased poorly and instead employees are merely encouraged but no required to tithe.

    1. Ex-prof*

      That’s true. I once had a job where the employee handbook said I had to notify my boss if I was going to be out of town for a week or longer. When I did so, my boss was astonished and asked why I was telling him.

    2. UnpopularOpinion*

      Yes, not a job handbook, but they gave my parent a handbook on an upcoming surgery and I read it cover to cover and asked a follow up question on one of the “rules” for which they were surprised said rule was in the handbook and we definitely didn’t need to do it, the opposite, in face (it said you were supposed to come into the office to get a prescription refill and we were 30 minutes away…they definitely wanted you to call in and leave a message).

  36. Pyanfar*

    There are certain churches/religions/sects that have a very hard and fast 10% tithing rule, and I suspect the organization here might be one of them. (See also Mitt Romney’s tax returns.)

  37. Warrior Princess Xena*

    This seems totally bonkers.

    There ARE a lot of churches where tithing is a part of full membership. I can only speak to the ones in my denomination, but this is one of the things we have. However, it seems to me that the moment you open up job applications to non-members, you should not hold them to the same restrictions as a member. While we aren’t large enough to have any staff beyond the priest, none of the assorted part-time people we’ve hired to take care of church maintenance have been required to be members or to tithe in any amount. This might be legal, but it does not feel ethical (required tithes skip the whole purpose of a tithe anyways and so does requiring a single flat %).

  38. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    Churches like this give religion a bad name. Yes, you are supposed to tithe, but it is also supposed to be freely given. Basically it’s between you and God; it’s not supposed to be enforced by the church. Unfortunately, some denominations do it this way, but not all do. If tithing is a requirement of the job, and the person really needs the job, I would definitely explore tithing to another church or charity and see if that will satisfy the requirement. I imagine you would have to prove you are doing it. If that’s not acceptable, then I would take the job (and tithe) for as long as necessary then look to move on as soon as possible.

  39. EvilQueenRegina*

    Speaking as someone who doesn’t know how it works (not in the US although also not sure how much difference that makes, it’s not something I’ve heard of in the UK but couldn’t confidently say it never happens) – would it actually be possible for him not to tithe, or is it like someone suggested above and they’d deduct the 10% tithe from his pay automatically?

  40. Stacy*

    I think the real issue here is what constitutes tithing and does it need to be monetary. I work for a church. I am paid hourly. I can work up to 12 hours a week. I do not tithe. Mainly because I tend to work more than 12 hours a week and there are a lot of things that are a few minutes here and a few minutes there that add up to many hours more than the church allots for my paycheck. So basically I’m tithing in time given to the church which adds up to a heck of a lot more than my 10% back to the church. The difference is that I do attend this church and I am involved in many aspects of the day to day management of the church. I do give on occasion to our church and we also give to other charitable organizations throughout the year. I would take time to talk to church leadership about the policy if I were expected to tithe 10% monetarily. It would mean me nickel and diming them over time I don’t normally and probably isn’t in their best interest.

    1. Verde*

      I completely understand your sentiment here, and since churches don’t have to abide by the FLSA the way other businesses do, you’re not going to get them in trouble by doing this. However, as someone who has battled this at multiple nonprofits, non-church employees should not do this. You can’t “volunteer” for your paid job; worked time = paid time. If you work at a nonprofit food bank as a bookkeeper for 20 hours per week, you can’t “donate” another ten bookkeeping hours. You can, however, volunteer in a completely different role, i.e. handing out food in the organization’s food bank for a day, which is not your regular paid position. When people work off the clock at their actual job and don’t report the time, it could get the organization into trouble with state and federal labor boards. Additionally, it doesn’t let the organization accurately understand how much time is needed to adequately perform the job duties.

  41. T*

    After working in a Catholic school for several years and seeing the highly unchristian way the staff were treated, I believe that all businesses need to pay taxes and follow FLSA and labor laws. It’s a disgrace to call yourself a Christian and then treat people with disrespect and disdain. Maybe in the meantime, he can request a 6 month delay on the tithing to have time to get back on his feet (and find a better job). Good luck to him and anyone else who works for a religious organization!

    1. Just wondering*

      Don’t Christians in the Bible enslave human beings, treat women as property, and otherwise “treat people with disrespect and disdain”?

      1. Keep Smiling*

        Not really. There are no Christians in the Bible until the New Testament, the “slavery” in the Bible was not like slavery the way we think of it, and the Bible expressly states that all people are equal under God and we’re to love our neighbor. But I hope you feel better getting that off your chest!

      2. Elsie*

        Not accurate. Marginalized people were actually treated well and cared for in the early church. Roman society was very hierarchical but in the church there was an emphasis on equality, with men and women, slaves and free, rich and poor together in community and ministry. The Bible reports that early Christians even sold their property in order to provide for those in need. Very countercultural compared to Roman society which was downright barbaric

  42. Evelyn*

    Ugh. I hate this. I work for a church, and we are urged to tithe, but at least they recognize that me working for wages that are right at poverty level for my family size, means that -10% doesn’t leave me enough to live on. I’ve always considered that me being hugely overqualified for my position (and contributing that expertise) is the way I give back.

  43. Llama Llama*

    So he really needs to think of it as if they are offering him 50000 a year they are actually offering 45000. Is that an acceptable sum.

    Other sneaky ways is to tithe but not do 10%. Lie and say he is tithing at another church. Each of those could get him in trouble. So he needs to determine if 45K is fine.

    1. Trillian*

      I wouldn’t lie about tithing elsewhere unless he does. Tithing is so controversial in churches that there are plenty of ways to get the number down to what you want or to be and still call it a tithe. You can calculate the tithe post tax. You can calculate it post necessities like food and housing and transportation.

  44. marvin*

    I’m finding myself wondering what the friend’s specific issue is with this requirement. Is it just the principle of the thing, or would the deduction make the salary unfeasible for him? It might help him decide if he’s clear about what tradeoffs he would have to make.

    I would also consider speaking with his contact about whether they are willing to waive the tithing requirement or reduce it to a more nominal amount in cases of financial need. Obviously he wouldn’t be able to quietly avoid tithing in that case, but personally I’d feel more secure if I could get some clarity on what the situation is.

  45. Somehow_I_Manage*

    I think your friend should take the job and do nothing, and if it comes up later plead ignorance and assume they’re exempted as a non-member of the church (which they very well may be as an informal policy).

    I think the fact that a set percentage wasn’t offered in the handbook suggests it’s not part of the payroll process. If they are later asked to choose a percentage during the payroll enrollment process, and assuming they need the money, I’d just put down 1%, and move on. Meanwhile, keep ears open to other opportunities.

  46. Parenthesis Guy*

    It’s worth noting that a number of countries in Europe do force tithing for people that say they belong to a religion, although not at 10% of income.

    1. Many questions*

      Can you clarify this? Do you mean the governments of these counties are collecting tithes like taxes? But it’s an opt-in system based on self declaring as part of a religious denomination? Which countries? Which religions?

      1. In the provinces*

        In Germany, members of both Christian churches are charged a 10% surcharge on their income tax, which then goes to their respective church. You can opt out of this, by filing various forms (since it’s Germany, it’s a complicated bureaucratic procedure) and an increasing number of people do, but that also means you can’t have church marriage baptism or burial.

        1. Tau*

          Yeah, this has been a very interesting comments section to read from a German perspective! But if you’re in Germany and a member of a religious group that does this you will know and basically calculate it into your taxes.

          (IIRC many larger religious groups can choose to get this from their members, not just Christian denominations. Some do, some opt out and choose to fundraise on a voluntary basis instead.)

    2. allathian*

      I’m in Finland, and we have two state churches, Lutheran and Orthodox. Members of either pay their tithe through our IRS, as one percentage point added to the income tax. In practice this means that it’s impossible to hide your church membership (or lack of it) from your employer, or at least payroll. This is because it’s mandatory for employers to withhold income tax from employees (contractors pay their own taxes).

      Many people are members of especially the Lutheran church without actually being believers, simply because they either think the church does more good than bad in society in general through various forms of charity, or because they do want a church burial or wedding even if they’re basically indifferent to religion and live a completely secular life otherwise.

      1. Many questions*

        Thank you for all the answers! This was fascinating to learn about, the part about needing to contribute to have a church wedding or funeral in particular explained a lot

  47. Elle*

    This sounds like some non profits I’ve worked for. Staff were expected to participate in fundraising campaigns. Our ED would use the 100% staff participation as she recruited new donors. We were pressured to give monthly even though we were not paid well.

  48. Momma Bear*

    It’s one of those things where if I knew upfront, I’d ask for a higher salary to start.

    ONLY because he has a child and is struggling would I suggest he take the job. Legal or not, it seems terrible. A lot of people do not work for the same place of worship they attend so I’d be irked to not have my tithing support my own charitable choices. He should look for his next step while he’s getting his paycheck.

  49. Trillian*

    I’m married to a pastor. We tithe. Just not to his employer. So the money gets split between several ministries we care about. I also tithe my work hours. So I spend 4 hours a week on average doing volunteer work.
    Unless he’s a member of the church, I would say take the job if he needs it and don’t tithe If they push for tithing have a talk with the pastor and tell them you have financial difficulties. Keep track of your hours and any low key volunteering you do. Things like meal packing events, running over to the church to let someone in, making food for potluck dinners, answering tech questions from congregants outside of church etc are part of the job that fall into the gray “volunteering” part. If you are asked about tithing you can point to volunteer hours. After all, they could pay you 10% more for representing the church at the local hunger walk or leading the local parent support group.

  50. Salem Churchvale*

    First, accept the job or not. This is not horrifying, this is pretty standard. These are the terms which are either acceptable to the applicant or not. If this person doesn’t take the job, the next one will.
    I was a finalist for a position at a large Methodist church a few years back. When the talks about coming on board got serious, they told me they would expect me to be in the pews on Sundays.
    I happen to be active in another church and didn’t want to leave, so I withdrew from consideration.
    If you go to work for a church, you must expect and accept this kind of thing. There’s no use wringing your hands about it.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I agree.

        That said, some churches make a point of not hiring members of the same congregation or parish in non-clergy roles. Like someone else said in another comment thread, it’s difficult if not impossible to be both the manager and spiritual advisor of an employee.

        I’m in Finland, and we have two state churches. In cities and larger towns with several congregations it’s very common for clergy to work for one congregation and live in another. Many do this because it gives them a better work/life balance given that the risk of people recognizing them when they aren’t working is much lower. My SIL is a Lutheran pastor in a rural congregation with about 5,000 members. Even in civilian clothes, she’s constantly recognized by her parishioners. That’s why she always spends her vacations elsewhere, because she can’t get away from her job at all otherwise. People stop her in the street or at the grocery store to talk about their wedding, the funeral of a family member, or their child’s confirmation, for example. Even people with a spiritual calling deserve some time off…

        Here the congregation of a church member is determined purely by where they live, at least in the Lutheran church. The tithe is collected by our IRS and shared out to the various congregations as a function of membership. The size of the tithe each member pays depends purely on their income (1 percent), but the amount each congregation gets depends on membership numbers regardless of income, so that a congregation in an affluent area with few members will get less than a congregation in a less affluent area with more members.

  51. Tex*

    If this is the church denomination I think it is (very, very wealthy) – they require 10% no matter what you earn, but they also have programs in place to help people in need (not sure if you have to join the church in order to qualify for help). OP’s friend may qualify for help.

    It may seem redundant to give money in charity and then turn around and ask for it back, but I can see from the church’s perspective that it prevents people from free loading One could also argue that it creates community, or a slightly more sinister take: that it enmeshes people more tightly into the system.

    1. Laughs in Exmo*

      If it’s the same one I’m thinking of (currently being investigated by the SEC?) their “social programs” are only for members – or (at the whim of local leaders because there’s no central oversight) people they can pressure into joining in return for the help.
      The very wording you use (“freeloading”) is, frankly, offensive when referring to people in need of help. VERY telling.
      And yeah, it *is* ridiculous and gross to ask very poor people in need of help to give money to an uber-wealthy church.

      1. Polly Priesthood*

        I think you and I might be on the same page here.

        Tithing 10% is wild. Requiring that tithing is deeply unethical.

  52. Keyboard Cowboy*

    Isn’t it even worse than 10% of his salary from the church? They’re also asking for 10% of his side job if he has one. If he’s working IT 40 hours and driving Uber to make ends meet, then they’re asking for tithe from that too, aren’t they?

  53. Well...*

    Question: Can they require you to give 100% of your paycheck? If tithing is legal, can they say, “in our religion, tithe = 100%” This seems like a really dangerous way for cults to trap their members.

    1. Parenthesis Guy*

      1) They’d make a rule that says that anyone who works in their religious organization needs to be a member of their faith.
      2) Anyone that wants to belong to their faith needs to give them 100% of their paycheck.
      3) People leaving their faith get fired.

      At that point, workplace is irrelevant. You either give them all your money, or they kick you out of the group.

      Presumably, the government would care if the employee didn’t pay taxes though. But I suppose the religious organization could take care of that for them.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Well, Tom Cruise’s religion, I hear, pays peanuts to the employees who supposedly work on the ocean….

      1. JSPA*

        Sea is in the name (and I assume we avoid spelling it out to avoid the attacks that follow) and it used to be largely boat-based, but they’re now largely on land.

      2. Well...*

        But why do they even go to international waters? It seems like they can just stay in the US and not pay them, if this reading of employment law is right?

        1. UrsulaD*

          They are no longer actually at sea most of the time (though you can only reach the highest levels on a ship). They were at sea when the religion was being formed because their leader was avoiding prosecution in a bunch of cases.

    3. Student*

      Yes. There’s a discussion upthread about monks and monasteries and vows of poverty that goes over this exact thing.

      Yes, this has been done in certain cults to trap their members while pleading legal plausible deniability.

  54. ILoveLlamas*

    It’s in the handbook, but they haven’t verbalized this, right? In my mind, I wouldn’t tithe at all because once you tithe a penny you are acknowledging that tithing is an acceptable term of employment. I would just beebop along until (and if) they confront me. Then I would innocently say, “Tithe? Wow, I didn’t factor that into my budget. How about I do X after my first year?” Or whatever timeline might kick the can down the road. I would keep “forgetting” and always offering an amount way below 10%. Stall, stall, stall while you get the work experience and are a superior employee in every other way. Just my two cents.

  55. Amy the Rev*

    OP, it depends on the denomination of the church so YMMV, but some denominations require pastors to join the church they serve as a member once they are hired there- it’s part of how we track standing, and how judicatory systems keep us accountable, etc. Since members are expected to pledge/tithe, pastors are included in that expectation. If your friend isn’t a member of that church or denomination (and especially if he IS a member of a different religious organization), the church may say that the requirement doesn’t apply to him. For example: in my denomination, the ‘called’ staff (pastors) are expected to pledge, but the ‘hired’ (aka non-member) staff (admin, facilities, IT, etc) aren’t expected to pledge. Even as a pastor I hate this expectation- I want to give my ‘tithing’ money to other organizations that I get to choose, or to other local churches that I support the work of!

  56. Lily Potter*

    My short answer to LW’s question – your friend needs a job. He needs to take this one if it’s offered. He doesn’t need to proactively offer to tithe, but if it’s brought up, he needs to cough up the 10%. As soon as the opportunity to move to another job presents itself, he can move on.

    Something I wondered in reading the original letter, though. How upfront was the church about the personal religious views of the LW’s friend? I have a friend who works for a local evangelical college, and they were VERY upfront about their expectations of her before hiring her. She even had to write a personal faith statement and provide references from her local pastor with her initial resume and cover letter. She doesn’t have to donate to the college, but the personal faith and morality clauses to her contract were not a surprise that she found in a job handbook.

  57. Ex-prof*

    I’m doing contract work for an organization associated with a religion and am finding this conversation very useful. A lot of my frustrations are the same as things other people are commenting on.

    Whether the tithing is a real requirement or not, the assumption that the worker should feel honored and privileged to have the job at any amount of money seems to be widespread.

    I have seen postings for church jobs that require the applicant to have “a servant’s heart”. Which sounds like a recipe for every kind of employer abuse.

  58. GoodyGotIt*

    Option (d) take the job, tithe as required, but continue looking for work. As soon as your friend finds something with equal pay & benefits without a mandatory tithe, they should quit and move on.

  59. River Song*

    Ministry survivor here- can confirm forced tithing is the tip of the iceberg. My partner and I left after being told we weren’t allowed to report disclosed child abuse as mandated reporters, because child abuse laws (PA) had a loophole that exempted clergy from reporting disclosed abuse and therefore the church would fire us if we did. So we quit. This site has been invaluable to us making the career pivot out of religion and religious affiliated work! I dream about someday either writing in to Allison or making my own landing page of tips we learned for moving on with a career after cringy church work. OP- tell your friend it doesn’t get better and they can do ministry if that is their passion outside of a job with pay, benefits, and a functioning HR. Volunteers have more clout than staff, anyway.

    1. Amy the Rev*

      @River Song (btw love the username), I’m still in parish ministry but would totally pour over a list of tips like that! Even in liberal/progressive congregations, ministry is such a weird working situation…My female colleagues and I have often wanted to compile a book called “Tales from the Field” about the funny/enraging/poignant experiences of clergywomen- people often assume that if a church has female or queer clergy, its members somehow magically cease to be sexist… go figure!

    2. Giant Kitty*

      “ because child abuse laws (PA) had a loophole that exempted clergy from reporting disclosed abuse”

      WHAT?!?! I mean WHAT THE ACTUAL F?!?!?

      How can they get away with doing that?!?!

      1. Make reporting mandatory!*

        Multiple states do have an exemption for clergy, and churches lobby FOR the loophole all the time. Because if a church member is abused by another church member at a church event, or with someone they connected with through church, and then the abuser confesses, reporting the abuse = increased liability for the church because of what happened at the event. It’s all about money and liability.
        Utah (where I line) has a law with the exemption right now, though there’s a bill this year to close the loophole in the works. Mormon church is fighting it.
        The Mormons even have a 24/7 hotline (to their law firm) for local leaders to call FIRST and if they’re not legally required to report, they are advised not to. Frankly, it’s evil.

  60. Kaiko*

    I mean, aside from tithing, what else is in that employee handbook that might be worth considering? Is he expected to live a moral lifestyle (no dating, no drinking, no drugs)? Is he barred from non-marital relationships and/or anything on the LGBTQ menu? Is there any expectation that he be a member of the church and therefore attending services?

    I’m not saying don’t take the job – but I am wondering what other expectations this organizations will impose on their new hire just by dint of being a church. If there’s a way to say “hey, I’m not actually a member here, so I won’t be tithing” without it being An Issue, I hope that it’s an option to the new hire without much blowback.

  61. DRElady*

    I work at a Catholic church, and I’ve never heard of this. I’m required to be a Catholic, but they have done no investigating into the specifics of my finances. My husband and I give to the church and to other charities, but we do not give 10% to the church. (Just to clarify, for Catholics, tithing does not have to equal 10%, just whatever you are able to give to the church and other charities at that point in your life. My church has done zero investigating into how much I give to them and they have never spoken to me about what I am expected to give.)

    It seems weird to me to put this in a handbook, since employees probably come from all sorts of financial backgrounds and some might be unable to give 10%.

  62. Kristen*

    Oh boy, I am uniquely qualified to help with this question! I’ve worked at a church since I was a teenager (as a musician) and am now the full-time Director of Music for a large church in a metropolitan area.

    A likely reason behind a policy like this is so that they can say their staff is as committed to the ministries of the church as they are asking their members to be. I’ve been through dozens of stewardship campaigns (the annual solicitation of pledges from members so that a budget can be made for the following fiscal year), and several campaigns to raise money for building projects. I’ve had pastors require pledges of staff so when they ask members to give, they could say that 100% of the staff has pledged and believes in the campaign. At times when I have been strapped for cash, I’ve pledged what I could, well under 10%, so the pastor could say the whole staff pledged, and no one said a thing to me, but I was prepared to explain my situation and I would not have been forced to give more.

    I’d be curious if they’re really looking for literally 10% or if they put that in as a goal/placeholder amount, which you could find out by talking to current staff. Casual Librarian suggested to offer what you can afford- 3% or 5%, and that’s a good place to start. Or if that’s too much- start with a round number like $100/month, or $25/weekly (which is how tithing usually happens).

    So basically, yes this is a thing that happens, BUT I’ve worked at 8 churches in 4 different states and at none of them would it be an iron-clad requirement, it’d be more important to give *something*. It’ll vary hugely depending on the church staff, but you can count on most church staff to generally fall on the side of reasonableness; if there’s no room for grace or understanding if you simply can’t afford it, you’re likely at an outlier church and I’d recommend keeping an eye out for other unreasonable policies and practices.

    And also, sometimes there are things put into church policy that were important to previous staff people or church leaders but can be ignored or overridden by current staff, especially if you’ve got reasonableness on your side. (My prior boss instated a 6-week maternity leave and that’s still on the books, but current boss disregarded it and gave me 13 weeks.) Frustratingly, policies can even change with leadership changes, and some denominations like mine change lead pastors every 6-10 years.

    All to say- churches have their own peculiar set of expectations and their own reasons why, and there is sometimes quite a lot of wiggle room in policies like this. I’d recommend asking about it!

  63. revnorthwest*

    I just find this so upsetting. Mostly because I am ordained reverend in the PCUSA, and have been working in churches for 15 years and have never, not one time, been asked about my tithe, nor has it been required of any member or staff person. I have friends across every major denomination and not a single one of them has ever been required to tithe. I have only ever heard of this at non-denominational churches honestly and it is so problematic for so many reasons. If the church can’t afford to pay the salary they offering, they shouldn’t. Also giving is never meant to be compulsory, it is meant to be given freely. And the only person who should know how much someone gives is the bookkeeper. I have zero idea what anyone in my congregation gives on purpose because it doesn’t matter.

    Also just as an aside because I see it come up about taxing. Please remember that church employees are in fact taxed. I have to pay 15% of my salary for SECA and then all the normal income tax on top of it, so I actually pay more in taxes than most people. Yes, there are mega churches who exploit loop holes and are highly, highly problematic, but the majority of churches in the USA are less than 100 people and barely scrape by, while doing a ton for their communities at no cost. Food programs, reduced fee childcare, free space for counseling offices, after school programs, tutoring…. while it can be cool to say tax them all there is a cost benefit analysis to no charging property taxes for buildings that actually serve their communities in impactful ways.

    1. Amy the Rev*

      Ah jealous! I’m a UCC pastor in a super super progressive church and was told by the senior pastor that I’m expected to pledge…I told him that I would, but if it were up to me I’d rather give the money to the church I grew up at, not my workplace lol!

    2. Frankie*

      Same childhood experience here–I had not ever heard of this and nearly everyone I knew was Christian, with spread over various denominations. This discussion on mandatory tithing to one entity alone, particularly such a large percentage, is very upsetting.

      I was also never denied entry to a church service, event or activity based on member or non-member status, membership fee, or any kind of accounting of what I had or had not donated in the past.

  64. Keymaster of Gozer*

    It’s not a thing in the UK as far as I know, but having been in the ‘do I pay my bills or are my morals more important?’ situation I can guess it’s a decision your friend is going to struggle a lot with but will ultimately have to decide on their own.

    If something is legal but pings your ‘I’m not okay with this’ metre then you *might* be able to negotiate with the employer to mitigate it – like they could point out that they are in a financial situation where they *need* aid more than they can *give*.

    Personally I’d work out if salary minus tithe is livable. If it’s not then don’t go for it. If it is then take it, get the employment history looking better, keep your head down and get out when feasible.

    1. Whomst*

      I appreciate you bringing up the moral angle. So may comments here blithely saying “just lie to the church!” without considering how a religious person may feel about that.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’m not Christian by any means, but my own faith is important to me and while I can lie I’d feel bad about doing it to my particular beliefs. If that makes sense.

        Ultimately morals are very personal and what’s good for one person to do may be anathema to another.

  65. Whomst*

    As someone who is deeply religious, pays a 10% tithe, and worked in the technical department of a church that required employees to be members in good standing (which mean paying a tithe), here’s my advice:

    Odds are good that this job isn’t going to be a great place for you culturally if they’re requiring religious observance that you’re not comfortable with. We’re focusing on the money thing because that’s what the letter focused on, but it’s quite likely that remaining in good standing also requires things like church attendance and not drinking and all sorts of other things. They’ll likely be praying at the workplace, all your coworkers are either deeply religious or pretending to be. That’s an environment that I think most people aren’t going to want from their workplace. Whether you take the job or not, it’s important that you go in understanding what you’re in for, and you’re likely going to want to stay for as short a time as possible.

    You’re gonna have 2 situations. Th first is a non-centralized church that has no idea if you are paying tithing. In that case, you can take the job, lie about tithing, and look for another job. You may or may not get push back on this depending on the employer. This sort of situation is also far more likely to be paying very poorly than the next situation I describe, so that may factor into the risks you want to take. Second option is a large centralized organization, which keeps track of tithing donations across the organization, and will not accept tithing to a different organization. I believe you would still be able to get away with not tithing for the duration of a job search. (I’m assuming under a year.) If you want to stretch it to an indefinite period of time, I’m almost certain that a large organization isn’t going to be reckoning your salary with your tithing, so paying anything at all would cover your bases in terms of getting caught.

    However, if you’re someone who cares about your faith, and you have some kernel of goodwill towards your church, this would likely destroy any faith you had in the organization and possibly lead to some sort of faith crisis. (Most faith crises aren’t actually a dramatic crisis, you just stop caring and carry resentment.) This may or may not be important to your decision, but I thought I’d put it out there. My grandfather worked for his church for a couple of years long before I was born and it caused him a great deal of pain and he had to do a lot of soul-searching as a result. I really enjoyed my time working for a church, however.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      This is really a well-thought out response. I worked for several years as for a religious organization to which I was not a member and it wasn’t until after I left how much I realized I’d been “putting on” a persona to get through my work days with people who simply did not share my worldview. They were lovely people (and I still think of them all fondly), but for me, long term, it ended up feeling like I was being “fake” at work all the time. That was far more draining than I could have ever imagined. I wish them nothing but the best, but I would not recommend working for a religious organization unless you are really going in eyes open- because churches can be super toxic (I did not work for one, but I have horror stories from folks I know who do) and the cultural fit might just be very poor. Having said that, I also have a non-religious friend who needed a job in a pinch, ended up working for a bible school for one year in IT and then quickly transferred to another job as soon as they could find one. So, sometimes it works out.

  66. One HR Opinion*

    I understand how this can feel, but I think just like with other things, he needs to look at it from a cost/benefit analysis. Depending on many factors, day care alone can cost such a significant amount that the benefit outweighs the tithe. Having an income vs no income, etc.

    I’d also suggest AFTER starting the job and only if they bring up tithing whether special circumstances exempt someone from giving the full amount. One of the churches I attend requires group leaders to give 10%, but they also say if you are not able to give that amount, you have to give regularly what you feel you can.

    1. My Boss is Dumber than Yours*

      Counterpoint: A certain church that is famous for requiring tithing has regularly seen their leaders outright say that if the choice is between feeding your family and tithing, you need to choose tithing.

  67. The Preacher’s Wife*

    As a pastor’s wife, I can tell you that a lot of things get written into a church’s policy that aren’t thought through, or that aren’t actively enforced. Does this position require him to be a member of that specific church? In most churches, the pastor and other ministerial staff would be expected to be members and would be expected to tithe, but the secretary and custodian might not be. They might attend other churches or none at all. If this is a position that does NOT require membership at that specific church, they might expect him to tithe at his own congregation but would not be able to verify whether he does so (as that information would be confidential and known only to the people who handle the money at that church).

  68. Temperance*

    Just a heads up, most churches that push tithing also expect it to be pre-tax. So basically, your friend will lose more than 10% out of each paycheck to the church.

  69. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom*

    Another question that you should consider is, if the church decides to let you go, or not continue with your employment, if they pay for unemployment benefits. I understand that churches and synagogues do not.

  70. M*

    As someone who works for a church and also tithes (though not 10%): tithing or pledging is a spiritual practice that’s important in congregational life. I’d never require it of lay staff (not ordained staff) because I’d generally expect them to attend elsewhere (not mix work and worship) and pledge there (no minimum required). I do pledge where I work but as clergy it’s different. I can’t tell if this person would work in a church or for larger church infrastructure (like if you took a general IT job for the LDS Church, which does require good standing and good standing requires pledging). But it sounds to me that if the person can’t stomach the 10% from a spiritual standpoint and it’s a financial hardship that’s going to be a hard row to hoe. But if they can do both things it might be the price they pay for shoring up their work history, as unfair as that sounds..

    Fyi, I’m not a fan of requiring pledging—if I’m doing my job right, congregants want to be generous and support the church’s work. Employees already accepted a lower non-profit kind of salary and even if I believed they should tithe I’d consider that enough of a tithe!

  71. Age Discrimination Sucks*

    Compelled giving is against the spirit of being a cheerful giver, as the Christian good book says. Plus, it’s an old testament principle that applied to the priestly class, and was a tithe of agricultural products, not money, because the priests could not work. This type of financial coercion, especially the strong-arming as described in this post and also as practiced by Latter Day Saints is absolutely despicable.

    That said, the person in question should take the job and avoid paying the tithe for as long as possible. If it’s a payroll deduction, they may not be able to do that. In that case, work the job, get a good reference, and move on ASAP after at least a year or so.

  72. kiki*

    Is it possible for your friend to negotiate their salary to 10% more than they thought they would ask for? I don’t think they should tell the hiring manager directly that’s why they’re asking for more, but if your friend was initially thinking $60k would be a fair salary, maybe they could ask for $66k?

    If not and your friend really needs this job and can’t spare the money, I think it’s worth taking it and then talking to their manager about potential exceptions. A friend worked at a church and she was allowed not to tithe while her family went through a hard time financially. If your friend needs time to get on their feet financially, I would hope that a church would understand that.

    If this is a purely a moral/ethical/principle issue (which I do understand), I’d advise your friend to take the job for now and use it as leverage to go somewhere else after they have some recent work experience under their belt.

  73. daffodil*

    As a few other commenters have said, I wonder if OP/friend are assuming tithe means 10% of income to the church, or if it’s clear that’s what’s meant in this context.
    If it appears in the book alongside other spiritual practices, I would take it to mean participating in charitable giving, without a specific percentage or beneficiary. At least worth following up on if in context it could be ambiguous.

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      That is what I think, too, that the calculation for a tithe would include all charitable giving. I work for a church-related organization and am not aiming for 10% to go to the church or the organization (especially since, as others have pointed out, I am underpaid for my skills and experience) but for 10% to go to charity overall. Hope this helps!

    2. Polly Priesthood*

      Mormons have to give 10% to the church as a base donation. You’re expected to give more to help those in poverty. Those in poverty are also expected to tithe a full 10%.

      Ask me how I know.

  74. AnotherLibrarian*

    So, I think like a lot of things in work, this is a “ask about it” sort of moment. Regardless of the legality or the morality of the situation, the fact is that there’s no way to know what’s expected unless you inquire. I’d suggest that after there’s an offer, just asking what tithing means to this organization at this time and in this place. Traditionally, a tithe is 10%, but people are reasonable and church salaries tend to be low. So, it may possible to give an amount your friend is comfortable with on a regular basis. However, I think the bigger issue, and one several other commenters have hit on, is how are they going to feel about this? If this is going to cause resentment or they are going to feel like they have to lie about their level of faith practice to their coworkers than this might be a bad situation for reasons above and beyond the tithe.

  75. LondonLady*

    I would follow the advice to show willing and offer a smaller monthly donation not the full 10% and consider putting the 10% aside in case you need or become able to give more in future.

    It’s not only faith groups that do this. Elected local councillors (in the UK) get an allowance from the council to compensate for some of the direct and indirect costs of the role. Most political parties have it in their rulebook that councillors will give a % of this allowance to the party, so that they have a fund for campaigning, media work, party staff etc from which all the councillors in theory benefit.

    Maybe both politics and religion like to think people don’t do it for the money and this collective giving back is a way of building that culture of dedication and sacrifice as well as a legitimate way to fund shared costs. It doesn’t translate particularly well into the world of paid employment.

  76. Fabulous*

    I may have missed it, but why is no one suggesting to TALK to them about the requirement?? It might be possible to get that % reduced or even waived if he explains his situation and that financially he won’t be able to swing it AND pay his bills.

    1. Adds*

      That’s what I was thinking too. I can’t imagine that the board of elders or whatever this church’s governing body structure is would want to create undue financial hardship for their employees, so I would hope they’d be open to coming up with some other kind of a solution in situations like this. Maybe he can offer to tithe his time instead of money by volunteering with a ministry or serving on a committee as an offering of time.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      Probably because the question was about the legality of it, and that portion was enough for a fairly length response.

    3. Jayne not Jane*

      I was thinking the same thing. Some churches (dependent of course on the religion and the staff at the church) will be sympathetic of this. Hopefully OPs friend could explain they are a Dad and have been having financial issues and every penny they make counts!

  77. Somewhere in Texas*

    For someone in his position, I would definitely take the job to keep things afloat and in a better $$$ position. A salary minus 10% is better than nothing. I wonder if he can volunteer as a way to give back instead of monetarily?

    I’ve been in those boats where I took less-than-ideal jobs, but kept up the job search. Having a steady income made it easier to search for the *right* job for me without putting myself into debt. He can learn what parts of the actual job he enjoys, focus on building skills and restart his employment timeline. He may love the position and grow there.

  78. Becky*

    This really bothers me. Nowhere in the Bible does it specify giving 10%. What is does command is sacrificially and with a joyful, giving heart.

    How in the world is it better to require giving, which would create a resentful heart?

    If it’s something like, “Being a member in good standing is required.” I would ask to see the documents requiring the general membership to tithe 10%. If they have that spelled out in their bylaws, etc. (even as a suggestion), I would be more OK with requiring it of employees. But I bet they’re not policing their members’ giving, so why police their employees’ giving?

    Or how about this: Give cash to the church in the offering plate—whatever your heart feels led to do. When they ask you about it, give them this verse:

    Matthew 6:3-5
    But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 5And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their full reward

      1. Becky*

        You are correct, 10% definitely has solid roots in the Bible, but I don’t believe that New Testament Christians are called to give 10% to the church.

        1. At the time those verses were written, Israel was a theocracy. That was a tax as much as a tithe.
        2. Actual religious giving in OT times was actually much higher, as that 10% was only one tithe commanded.
        3. In the New testament, Christians are called to give sacrificially and willingly. No amounts are specified.

        Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

  79. Modesty Poncho*

    Oooh I hope that it’s not actually required after he talks to someone about it. That would be the best-case scenario, I think, if it’s just one of those things written into the rulebook so there’s a written rule but that no one really enforces. I hate the thought that he’d have to go into his finances to justify not tithing. I’m on team “take the job, but continue looking for a better one”. Personally…I’d probably just not do it, if it’s not taken out of the paycheck, in fears that bringing it up would cause someone to enforce.

  80. Nocturna*

    As with others, I would question the assumption that “expected to tithe” automatically means “expected to give 10% of the salary back to the church”. At the church I grew up in, “tithing” referred to charitable giving in general (there was an expectation that *some* of it would go to the church, but church members were actively encouraged to give elsewhere as well) and the precise amount was “between the giver and God” (10% was an ideal, but it was explicitly recognized that that wasn’t reasonable for everyone).

    So I would encourage the friend to ask for clarification about the policy–it may well be that the church just requires their employees to reflect the faith by giving to some degree somewhere.

    1. Qwerty*

      Was coming to say this! I was always taught the opposite of OP – tithe literally means tenth, but that in modern days it translates more loosely. We were encouraged to just do something, even if it was volunteering rather than monetary – to be committed to making the community better.

  81. Lcsa99*

    I have a real problem with this, as it ignores the whole point of tithing. It’s been a looooong time since I’ve been to church, or could honestly say I even believe in a god, but the point of tithing is as a thank you to god, for everything you have, and it’s something your supposed to given joyfully. Being forced to give an amount out of your salary isn’t something you’re giving joyfully as a thank you. It’s decided for you. In my mind, a tithe where you heart isn’t in it would even count. It’s a tax, not a tithe.

  82. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — If your friend is really desperate for a job, they may have to just put up with this for a while. I like Alison’s suggestion to try to get the tithe taken out on a pretax basis, but that may or may not fly with this particular church. But this sounds unlikely to be a good fit for the long term, so your friend should plan to resume the job search after a few months.

    Full disclosure: I’m a member of a church that doesn’t do this. Members are asked to contribute according to their means. Paid staff are not required to do so.

    1. jojo*

      I am not a tax expert but I do not think the IRS recognize church donations as pretax. That is for medical and retirement.

  83. My Boss is Dumber than Yours*

    Another thing to consider: find out what they consider “compensation” from which to calculate 10%. I went to graduate school at University of Utah, and thus had many LDS classmates who were expected to tithe out of their graduate assistantships. Multiple classmates told me the church didn’t just calculate the tithe from their take home pay, but also included the value of their tuition waiver! Have your friend make sure that the 10% is just calculated from the their actual salary, not salary plus value of benefits.

    By the way, this whole thing is really stupid. Your friend probably needs to take this job, but should 1000% keep searching.

    1. SweetFancyPancakes*

      Except that the LDS church doesn’t calculate tithing. Your ecclesiastical leader will ask if you pay a “full tithe” (defined as 10% of income) as a requirement to go to the temple, and you say yes or no, but you don’t turn in paystubs or anything to prove it. The whole idea is that it’s really between you and God, and you decide what “full tithe” means. I can promise that as a fully active member in good standing, I never was expected to pay tithing on anything other than my actual income, and certainly not on something like a tuition waiver.

      1. DEJ*

        I once overheard a group of LDS women discussing paying tithing on their wedding gifts. The discussion was clearly that they were expected to although I don’t believe that any of them had. The church has a history of squeezing all the money it can from its members (and is currently being investigated by the SEC for tax fraud).

      2. My Boss Is Dumber Than Yours*

        All I know is that multiple colleagues of mine felt compelled to include the value of their tuition waiver in their tithing calculations. Whether this compulsion came directly from church leaders personally reviewing their finances or simply the overall attitudes presented to them is frankly immaterial. There’s not going to be room for OP’s friend to hedge if whatever church this is calculates things based on the cost of their salary plus benefits. They know what they’re paying OP’s friend and they know the value of the benefits.

      1. Member who tithes*

        It is far from stealing since they were upfront about it and he absolutely has the choice to decline if he objects.

  84. ijustworkhere*

    As a tithing church member, this requirement offends me on so many levels. It completely violates my understanding of scripture which is that we freely give of our resources as an act of gratitude for what God has done. We don’t compel anyone to give anything. That is completely antithetical to the concepts of grace and mercy taught in the New Testament.

  85. Anne*

    How much does the discount for childcare offset the tithe requirement? It might help to look at it that way.

  86. US church question*

    I’m not in the US and I’m not religious. I’m seeing a lot of comments that say that churches require you to tithe 10% of your income to be a member in good standing. How does the church know what your income is? are you required to submit your tax documents to be a member in good standing? Do they trust people? Just curious, this is very far from things I am acquainted with.

    1. Jayne not Jane*

      For many they are expected to report their income and then tithe accordingly. The church does keep track and some religions will not allow you to take part in services if you don’t tithe properly.

      It’s also very much ingrained in the culture of the church, so many people don’t question it. It’s almost like the expectation of taxes or paying tolls on a road. You just do it, because that is what has always been expected.

      1. Frankie*

        This is pretty shocking to me–my church did not require my parents’ income disclosure (nor mine when they invited me to membership when I left my parents’ household)–nor did they stipulate anything beyond a pretty affordable annual membership fee, as well as a general social expectation that you put a few dollars in the basket each week. The baskets would sometimes go to church overhead, would sometimes go to a special project, or would go to particular denomination-affiliated charitable projects.

        When tithing was discussed, the 10% was generally discussed as a big picture goal to be able to give overall for each year, not an expectation to give 10% to your home church.

      2. Giant Kitty*

        My husband worked with a man who went to a church that expected 10% tithing and liked to brag about the fact he gave his full 10%, even though it meant he did have enough for his family’s living expenses. He thought that since he was such a righteous person that tithed appropriately, that he should get a raise (beyond top pay + a bonus in their union shop, which he already got) so he could still tithe 10% and have enough money to support his family. When my husband reasonably asked him why he didn’t just stop giving so much money to his church so he could afford his bills, he acted like my husband had just asked him to traffic his wife or sell his children for extra money. It’s absolutely bananapants thinking.

    2. Becky*

      I believe this is a very small minority of churches. I haven’t heard of any. Churches may and should preach tithing–some recommending 10%, some recommending what your heart feels led to give. But I’ve never been to a church–or even heard of one–that requires a certain amount.

  87. RB*

    I don’t know if this has already been covered, but what if he already attends/is a member of a different church and wants his tithe to go there? How can they require the tithe to go to a church he doesn’t even attend? Are they going to require him to start going to their church, even if he’s already a member elsewhere?

    1. Becky*

      I see nothing wrong with requiring an employee to be a member of your church. I think most churches and non-profits want employees to be aligned with their mission and goals. I am the director of a non-profit (not religious) and certainly want good employees who are excited about our mission and goals. Many churches are not able to do this just because they limit their pool of good applicants.

      In an ideal world, if he doesn’t go to the church, isn’t a member of the church, doesn’t share their values (i.e., giving 10%), then he wouldn’t be a good fit for the position.

      But this doesn’t appear to be the case. It doesn’t look like he shares their values or goes to the church, so he’s left with a quandary.

      1. RB*

        Yes, but I’m picturing like a custodian or a maintenance guy. While it might be nice to have them aligned with the church’s goal/mission, it’s not important for the kind of work they’re going to be doing. And the custodian might prefer to have his family go to a different church because it’s closer to home, has a better Sunday School program, etc.. It might even be that the wife is a different denomination and wants to raise the kids in her own church.

  88. Beth*

    If I could talk to this church leadership, I’d tell them to either 1) only advertise their openings within their church community and accept that if they don’t have someone available with the skill set they need within that group, they simply won’t be able to meet their need, or 2) drop the requirement that employees tithe or be members in good standing. Setting the legal question entirely aside, it’s not morally right to hire someone you know hasn’t chosen to be a tithing member and then require them to give you money to keep their job.

    Since we’re instead talking (indirectly) to OP’s friend: take the job, do what you need to do to keep it, keep job hunting in the meantime, and leave as soon as you get a better opportunity. Even if that means you leave as quickly as a few weeks in, I think that’s fine in a case like this. If they want to skirt the line of “yeah this is scummy but it’s technically legal,” then they lose the right to expect you to offer courtesies like staying in their position for at least several months, giving significant notice, etc.

  89. Frankie*

    In the church environments I grew up in, 10% would be pretty excessive. There was a specific membership fee associated with being church members, which our family was, that was paid annually, and it was not very high–when I got older/moved out, I was sent the membership info and it wasn’t very much. And then you’d put some money in the basket every week which would go to various charities.

    I am absolutely looking askance at any church demanding 10% of anyone’s household income. The 10% comes from a very different time and the implication is that you would aim to charitably give around that–the expectation was NOT that that went to an organized church.

    I’ve seen 10% as an overall giving goal for those who are otherwise able to make ends meet. That means all charitable giving.

    So I see that as a predatory abuse of a now obsolete Old Testament guideline for a completely different society.

  90. Ursley*

    Did LW actually see this policy written down? Because if his friend doesn’t attend that particular church, it is very likely that it means: “you must give ten percent of your income to your own church OR to a charity.” Not necessarily the employer.
    I could see this kind of church wanting to mandate that their employees be “the kind of people that tithe” without actually demanding 10% of salary back.

    1. Polly Priesthood*

      This sounds like a Mormon thing, and yes, it is very strictly enforced. You are given a statement and are questioned about how much tithing you paid yearly. 10% is minimum to build churches. You’re supposed to give more in addition to help feed the hungry. Helping those in poverty is not included in the base 10%.

      Ask me how I know.

  91. DJ*

    He could also look into whether it could be claimed as a tax deduction which would take it down by his marginal tax rate.
    Also try to negotiate ie explained been a stay at home parent so still financially getting on top of things. Family values etc etc.
    And yes keep looking for other work. I’m sure churches wouldn’t pay the best nor have the same training development or career progression opportunities.

  92. BRAvery*

    To me, one of the issues in this letter seems to be that that requirement wasn’t disclosed up-front? I feel like that would have impacted LW’s friend’s negotiations if they’d known they’d only get to take home 90% of the salary.

    Maybe there’s value in renegotiating in light of the new info? Not sure if it’s worth the risk TBH, given the situation.

  93. Not Always Right*

    Maybe OP’s friend could speak with the person/people/committee hiring him and ask about it? I didn’t read all the comments so this may have already been said, but I see no harm in questioning it. Friend probably should ask if the tithe comes out of his check directly or not. Depending on the church’s interpretation of scripture, they may require 10% of first fruits, meaning 10% of gross pay vs. net pay. It is certainly worth having a conversation. I mean, if what stands between OP’s friend and homelessness is a job, then take the job, work a year and move on to better things. That is what I would do anyway.

  94. IDIC believer*

    What a racket! I respect everyone’s right to their religious beliefs. But it’s incredibly unjust & irrational that churches are run as a business with employees, run programs that charge users, own property, etc YET are exempt from taxes and employment laws.

    Our US citizenry and thus government need to stop awarding advantages to churches and other similar non-profits. But sadly realize this surely will never occur in my lifetime.

    FWIW I object to all special advantages and loopholes regardless of the beneficiary. I’m a confirmed capitalist but believe in an even playing field.

  95. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    I’m trying to figure out how a federal law like this passes Constitutional muster.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      It’s not that there is a law allowing it, it’s that it hasn’t been made illegal.
      There are LOTS of things that are unethical but no laws against them exist, so they are legal.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      Requiring churches to follow these laws would violate what you’re quoting. I don’t understand the confusion. The entire quote is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This means Congress is not allowed to establish a national religion, favor one religion over another, or prevent people (or religious institutions like churches) from practicing their religion as they see fit. It doesn’t mean respect as in treating something with respect. In fact, it *requires* Congress to treat every religion with equal respect, and not declare Christianity as the national religion or give it deference at the expense of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. or even nonbelief/atheism.

      This church follows the Biblical principle of tithing, which IIRC (it’s been many years since I was religious) is an old testament principle and is the bare minimum you’re “supposed” to contribute. Believers are supposed to give more abundantly than the 10%. But this church requires 10% and it’s not unreasonable or illegal for them to require their employees to follow their religious practices. It could be argued that it is hypocritical to require tithing of their congregation, but not of the employees of the church who should be held to at least the same, if not a higher standard, than everyone else.

      It’s the same reason why gay employees sometimes get dismissed from religious institutions once they marry. As an LGBT person myself, I find that horrible and I think it’s a shame that there isn’t more acceptance and love. But I get from a (regressive) church’s perspective why they want their employees to comply with the religion/live by certain rules. The church doesn’t want to signal that they condone or excuse something they disagree with. A law prohibiting them from requiring this of their employees would impede their free exercise of religion and would favor progressive denominations over that one. Similarly, in the tithing situation, a law prohibiting the church from requiring their employees to tithe would impede their free exercise of religion and favor denominations that don’t require tithing.

  96. lilsheba*

    And this is one of the many reasons why I will never work for a church. I really hope a better opportunity opens up soon!

  97. Alex*

    This brings me back to a time in college when I was volunteering with a homeless shelter. This was the kind of shelter that housed families, who had been placed there by other agencies, not a walk-in-off-the-street shelter. One woman there worked for a church and told me that she had to tithe as a requirement of her employment, which was a struggle for her, obviously. I was so angry–they were requiring money from a women who had children and was living in a homeless shelter!! I couldn’t believe it. But yeah, based on that experience I don’t have much hope for getting out of the requirement. This woman literally was homeless and was still having to do it.

  98. rubble*

    I’ve never been in a church environment where tithing was a thing, but I’m wondering how they handle very low income families, families dealing with major medical challenges within the congregation. is it possible to get an exemption or reduction for financial hardship?

    I would tithe for a month or two, then go to whoever handles these things and explain that he’s a struggling parent (I assume either a single parent or a one income household out of necessity? it sounds like he is the breadwinner), and is it possible to reduce his tithe or eliminate it?

    whatever he does, I would be looking for a new job once he’s been there for 6 months (unless they cheerfully exempt him from the tithe). if interviewers ask why he’s moving on, he can say that unfortunately the salary isn’t enough. I wouldn’t mention being a parent, financially struggling or the tithe, in case it biases an interviewer against him.

  99. Kah*

    I am appalled at the amount of hatred for religion in this community, for people who claim to be so progressive and inclusive.

    Plenty of employers have different requirements. This one is tithing. Take it or leave it. If you don’t like the job then find another one.

    It sounds like the church is requiring something (a) lawful and (b) is being upfront about it. The advice to skip on the tithing while knowingly having agreed to it when you signed up for the job is both ungrateful and dishonorable.

    1. Heathen*

      Maybe people would be more empathetic if a lot of religions in the US didn’t promote hatred and call it ‘family values.’

    2. allathian*

      I’m not seeing any hatred for religion here, just criticism of hateful religious practices. And yes, requiring people to tithe to a rich church when they’re living at or below the powerty line is *hateful*. The taint of hypocrisy is also strong, there’s no room for Christian charity in those requirements.

      I’m culturally Lutheran but spiritually indifferent to religion or religious practices, and I identify as a secular humanist.

      1. Wendy*

        Man created religion

        So, the hateful religious practices were created by man

        My question is…

        What do you want man to do about this issue?

  100. fgcommenter*

    It also raises the ethical issue of whether, when an employer is up-front about the requirements of the job and you oppose those requirements, is it okay to take the job knowing you don’t intend to comply?

    Yes. That is an effective way of undermining and sabotaging unethical requirements.

  101. Not your typical admin*

    Pastor’s wife here. One issue is that many times employee handbooks are often written by laypeople, who often don’t have experience in that area. Depending on the age of the church, they’re also many times outdated. In my experience, there’s also different levels of expectations for ministerial staff in comparison to support staff.

  102. Mah*

    Would he be required to tithe to the church he works for? What if he attends another church, and tithes there? Would he need to provide some kind of “proof of tithe”?

  103. Polly Priesthood*

    As an exmo, if he is thinking about working for a Mormon company, visit the ex Mormon Reddit page and ask about ways to claim you’ve paid tithing. You can say you paid with stocks, and that is pretty much the only way a bishop/local church can’t see what you paid. Good luck!

  104. Michelle Smith*

    If I were him, I would take the job, comply with the requirements, and continue looking for other work. If he finds something quickly, he can quit and leave this job off his resume. If he doesn’t, at least he’s taking care of his needs and the needs of his child in the meantime. Sometimes we have to pay for things we don’t agree with (some people resent paying HOA dues or union dues, for example) so we can keep something we want like a house or a job. Holding our noses and accepting that doesn’t preclude us from continuing to search for other opportunities that mesh better with our values. And if it helps, he can just recalculate his salary in his head to be 10% less than what they said they’re offering (e.g. $45k instead of $50k), because if he doesn’t believe in the whole tithing thing that’s all this really is anyway: a lower salary than stated.

    1. L'étrangère*

      I totally agree he should take the job and keep on looking. But I’d do as AAM suggests too, save the 10% and wait till the chuch absolutely demands it (maybe at first using previous unemployment as an excuse for being tight at the moment?). He may get a job quickly, be able to flee with the tithe still in his pocket and leave that job off the resume. He may take a bit longer at it, but be better able to find another job because of having this one, and maybe be forced to cough up the tithe. Either way it’s better than not doing anything.. sometimes we must do whatever we need to.

  105. Anonymous For Now*

    The OP’s friend needs to take the long view.

    He has a spotty work history and is not someone who can easily get hired. He needs to establish or re-establish himself in the eyes of his industry.

    He should take the job with a view to his future in terms of becoming more employable in general. At the same time, if he explains that he is a single father (at least it sounded that way from the letter) and needs to be able to support himself and his child and the 10% tithe would make that difficult, there may be room to negotiate.

    Given that it’s a church, they may not want to cause one of their own employees any hardship.

Comments are closed.