Saturday, January 19, 2019

Is It Unethical To Charge for Religious and Spiritual Services?

The Parthenon wasn't built with Facebook likes, and the Oracle of Delphi wasn't financed with Chucky Cheese tokens, I always say. The romance that is often equated with Pagan clergy and their services to their states is not realistic. There was nothing uncommon or out-of-character about a people donating to or financing their local clergy and temples, because sadly, we live in a world where everything costs money or some kind of monetary support. Nevertheless, the question is often brought up in the modern Pagan, Polytheistic and Alternative Spiritual community as to whether or not it's ethical to charge for services.

The core answer is no, it's not unethical, because clergy and leaders still have to eat and pay their bills, and it's therefore acceptable for them to expect a reasonable fee at times for their time and energy, especially if that time and energy is exceptional, such as having to travel hundreds of miles, or staying longer than a day somewhere. You have to have food, shelter, the ability to travel, and also the luxury of being able to spend your time there instead of at a regular job. Therefore, you have to have financial support, otherwise you won't be able to render those services. 

In many ways, people are forced to charge reasonable fees because the Pagan community has been robbed and oppressed for 2,000 years. If the Christians and Monotheists had left us alone, we'd probably have so much wealth in our community that we wouldn't have to charge for anything anymore. The reason places like the Catholic Church don't have to accept money for things is because they've plundered the world for 2 millennia, and have a net worth today of 30 billion dollars. It's easy to say, "we don't charge" when you don't have to.

With that being said, I do think service fees should remain reasonable. People who tell you something like, "you're cursed and it's going to cost $1,000 to break it," are charlatans and scammers. It's not hard to tell the difference between someone trying to make an honest living serving the people and community they love, and those who are simply fraudsters. People who have known me for any amount of time, know that my priesthood isn't about accruing as much wealth as possible. More often than not, I do public speakings, workshops, public rites, and personal services for free because most of them are within close distance to my home. The only real money I make off being clergy at this time is from my books, and even those are among the lowest priced on the Pagan/Polytheistic market. During a good pay period, I might make $200. On a typical one, maybe $50. I'm not in it for wealth, and thank the Gods, I don't have to rely on it for supporting my family. However, I do understand why there are people who consistently charge reasonable fees for their services, and I don't think it's wrong. In many ways, it's a necessity in 2019. The people who charge aren't doing it because their religion is about money. They're doing it because they need to live.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.