David Cerullo, the son of evangelist Morris Cerullo and CEO of the nonprofit Christian broadcaster Inspiration Networks (INSP), is in the media spotlight for his multimillion-dollar salary.
According to IRS returns, Cerullo earned nearly $2.5 million in total compensation in 2010. That marks a 47 percent pay increase since 2008.
By contrast, Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson received total compensation of $383,000 in 2010, according to a report in The Charlotte Observer.
The revelation of Cerullo’s salary—along with the fact that several of his family members receive salaries approaching $200,000—has opened the door to secular media jabs against the famed evangelist’s son.
“With a budget of more than $95 million, it has raised much of its money by telling viewers that God brings financial favor to those who donate. Televangelists tell viewers to expect miracles if they send money,” The Observer reports.
The Observer has concluded through its research that Cerullo is the best-paid leader of any religious charity. Rusty Leonard, CEO of Ministry Watch, called Cerullo’s compensation “out of bounds.” Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, told The Observer Cerullo’s salary is “outrageous.”
Cerullo was not immediately available for comment on his salary, but INSP, which reaches more than 72 million homes in the U.S. alone, offered a lengthy statement dated March 9.
The statement offered a list of “facts” about Cerullo’s compensation and noted that Cerullo cannot and does not participate in any decision about his own salary or the compensation of any family members employed by the company.
“David Cerullo’s compensation is established by a board of directors utilizing reports and recommendations of an independent executive compensation committee,” INSP said. “He is not present during the board’s review and does not participate in these discussions or their decisions.”
INSP said it assures objectivity because none of the members of this committee are employed by or have any association with The Inspiration Networks, and none serve on its board.
“This committee compares his compensation with other executive compensation of similar organizations with similar levels of responsibility,” INSP said. “This includes cable television network CEOs, senior media company executives, CEOs of faith-based national ministries, and pastors of churches.”
INSP said Cerullo receives no additional compensation by way of stock options or bonuses. He also does not receive any royalties on the sale of his books, DVDs or CDS. He has no expense accounts or deferred accounts.
“Since its founding,” the broadcaster said, “The Inspiration Networks and its associated ministries has worked diligently to ensure that all employee compensation is fair, equitable and competitive with comparable positions in cable television networks and national ministries.”