A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 21, 2015
“The pay stinks, but the benefits are out of this world” (religious work joke)

A popular joke is said about religious work (particularly in Christianity):

“The pay stinks, but the benefits are out of this world.”

The joke has been cited in print since at least 1968 and was popularized in many churches in the 1970s.


25 June 1968, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, Carlton Stowers column, pg. 17, col. 1:
A former college chum, discussing his new job as a religious writer for a downstate newspaper says, “The pay’s not much but they keep telling me the retirement benefits are out of this world.”

2 October 1974, Midcounty Chronicle Review (Port Neches, TX), “Kip’s Corner” by Currens, pg. 1, col. 7:
James Nacol reported this one. A sign in front of a Port Neches church advises all to “Work for the Lord. The pay Isn’t good, but the benefits are out of this world.”

Google News Archive
5 November 1975, Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, FL), “Women and Work” by Kenneth T. Swanson, pg. 24-A, col. 2:
A recent sign in front of a Newcastle church said: “Do the Lord’s work. The pay isn’t much, but the fringe benefits are out of this world.”

Google News Archive
17 July 1976, Lodi (CA) News-Sentinel, “Random Snapshots” by Paul Zimmerman, pg. 9, col. 1:
NOBODY CHUCKLED any harder than Rev. Jim Pluimer at the bumper strip proclaiming, “Christians’ Retirement Benefits Are Out Of This World.”

Google Books
Faith Is the Password:
Meditations on Romans

BY W. A. Poovey
Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Pub. House
1979
Pg. 45:
As someone has said about Christianity, “The retirement benefits are out of this world.”

Google News Archive
20 April 1984, Ludington (MI) Daily News, “Dear Abby” by Abigail Van Buren, pg. 6, col. 5:
CONFIDENTIAL TO PLANNING MY FUTURE IN VICTORIA, TEXAS: Work for the Lord. The pay isn’t anything to write home about, but the retirement benefits are out of this world.

Google Books
A Guide to Religious Ministeries for Catholic Men and Women
By Mari Castrovilla
New Rochelle, NY: Catholic News Publishing Company
1992
Pg. 47:
We’re in the business of love. The hours are long, the work is hard and often frustrating, there isn’t much of a salary...but the benefits are out of this world!

Google News Archive
4 March 2001, Victoria (TX) Advocate, pg. 1, col. 2:
Chuckle
Serving the Lord may not pay much, but religious institutions claim the retirement benefits are out of this world.

Google Books
Penance
By Kenneth P. O’Rourke
Lincoln, NE: iUniverse
2006
Pg. 78:
I noticed a sign on her desk:

THE PAY STINKS, BUT THE BENEFITS ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD

Google Books
Meditations From The Minstrel
By Pastor Jacqueline Faye Saunders-Johnson
Lulu.com
2013
Pg. 46:
There is a saying that goes “work for God, the pay is low and the hours are long, but the benefits are out of this world.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Tuesday, July 21, 2015 • Permalink