From church closings and foreclosures of houses of worship across the nation to the limited number of clergy jobs for new rabbis, imams and pastors, the recession has hit religious Americans just as it has affected the tens of millions of the country's jobless.
Even before the recession, most spiritual leaders of small towns and big cities across the United States earned meager salaries, with annual pay for Catholic priests and imams ranging from $25,000 to $30,000 and the average Protestant pastor making $40,000 a year, according to a recent survey.
Yet, even in difficult times, some churches and pastors are soaring. While not a definitive guide, HuffPost Religion has has compiled a slideshow of some of the best paid pastors in America. For several, their high income comes not only from employment as pastors, but also from TV appearances, book sales and charity management.
For the lucky few, being a pastor can mean being a multi-millionaire.
Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who runs Kenneth Copeland Ministries, was one of several televangelists whose finances were investigated from 2007 to 2011 by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa. According to an article by the Associated Press that ran in 2008, "His ministry's 1,500-acre campus, behind an iron gate a half-hour drive from Fort Worth...includes a church, a private airstrip, a hangar for the ministry's $17.5 million jet and other aircraft, and a $6 million church owned lakefront mansion." The article later added that while Copeland has not released up-to-date salary statements, "the church disclosed in a property-tax exemption application that his wages were $364,577 in 1995; Copeland's wife, Gloria, earned $292,593. It's not clear whether those figures include other earnings, such as special offerings for guest preaching or book royalties." Here, Copeland is shown on his TV show "Day of Discovery." (Shelly Katz, Time Life Pictures / Getty Images)