Robert Morris did not get severance after resignation over abuse scandal, Gateway Church reveals

Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris speaks on March 21, 2020.
Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris speaks on March 21, 2020. | Gateway Church/Screengrab

Gateway Church founder Robert Morris received no severance payout after he resigned from the Texas megachurch in the wake of allegations that he sexually abused Cindy Clemishire over multiple years in the 1980s, beginning when she was 12.

Responding to questions from The Christian Post regarding the terms of Morris’ exit from the church on June 18, Lawrence Swicegood, executive director of Gateway Media, tersely told The Christian Post “no” when asked if the megachurch founder had received any kind of severance package.

It was unclear Friday how much Morris, who is worth an estimated $117 million, was being paid by Gateway Church prior to his resignation. The Internal Revenue Service only requires that churches report income from unrelated trade or businesses.

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A look at Morris’ earnings associated with income generated from his preaching and teaching with the Robert Morris Evangelistic Association shows him progressing from being paid $15,000 plus an additional $25,787 in allowances in 2003 to as high as $350,000 annually in the last decade of the church’s operation.

According to IRS 990 filings by the Robert Morris Evangelistic Association, in 2022, the ministry paid him $200,000 for 15 hours of work weekly. In 2021, he worked the same number of hours but was only paid $100,000. In 2020, records show he was paid $200,000. In 2019, Morris’ executive compensation from the ministry was $300,000. In 2018 and 2017, Morris was paid $350,000. In 2016 and 2015, he was paid $250,000. In 2014, he was paid, $300,000. In 2013, he reported $310,108 in compensation from the ministry. In 2012 he reported $120,631, and in 2011 he reported $131, 361.

While in 2005 Morris reported $0 in compensation from the ministry, he received $93,240 in expense account and other allowances. He reported the same in 2006 and 2007 for 15 hours of work weekly. In 2008, he reported $20,500 in compensation plus $93,240 in expense account and other allowances. In 2009, he reported $29,905 in compensation plus $93,240 in expense account and other allowances. In 2010, he reported $97,000 in compensation plus $93,240 in expense account and other allowances.

On Wednesday, the Board of Elders of Gateway Church and the Overseers of Pastor Robert Morris Ministries said in a joint statement posted on the Robert Morris Ministries' homepage that “all future radio and television broadcasts” for Morris had been canceled.

“Pastor Robert’s sin and his lack of transparency to the church’s elders and leadership has disqualified him from continuing in his role as senior pastor at Gateway Church and as leader of Pastor Robert Morris Ministries. As a result, all future radio and television broadcast ministry from Pastor Robert Morris Ministries has been canceled,” the ministry leaders said in their statement.

Texas-based Daystar Television Network, one of the largest Christian television networks in the world, also removed all programming featuring Morris following his resignation from Gateway Church.

Clemishire, now 54, reported last month that Morris began sexually abusing her on Dec. 25, 1982, when she was just 12 years old. She says the abuse continued for four-and-a-half years before he was found out. He was later allowed to return to ministry, however.

Though Clemishire contends that officials at Gateway Church were informed of her allegations against Morris years ago, Swicegood reiterated in a statement to CP that the current board of elders did not know that the megachurch founder had been accused of child sex abuse.

“The Board of Elders called a special meeting and accepted the resignation of Pastor Robert Morris several weeks ago. Gateway Church is committed to protecting people — first and foremost children and the most vulnerable. Abuse simply cannot be tolerated,” he said.

“The Board of Elders has retained the law firm Haynes and Boone, LLP to conduct a thorough and independent inquiry so that the facts can be understood. Even though this abuse occurred many years before Gateway was established, the Elders are committed to finding the truth and holding people accountable,” he added.

“Regrettably, prior to Friday, June 14, the current Elders did not have all the facts. The Board of Elders is deeply committed to walking in integrity and finding the truth. Having this inquiry done by an independent and unbiased outside law firm is best practice. This review has begun, and the Board of Elders pledges its full cooperation.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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