An unfortunate by-product of the nature of free and easily-obtainable online ordinations are the doubts people have about them. ULC ministers must combat these doubts.
Yesterday, the Universal Life Church Ministries's Church Blog discussed an issue which threatens the rights granted to ministers of online ministries by Federal law and Constitutional provision to officiate wedding ceremonies in the state of Michigan.
This blog entry shared a story of a ULC Ministries minister who inquired with the county clerk of Kent County, Michigan about what documentation and credentials he would need to legally perform a wedding in that state and county. The clerk, Mary Hollinrake, told this minister that she and a number of other county clerks in Michigan are collaborating to pass a law that would effectively disallow ministers from online ministries to perform weddings there. She also claimed that the ordinations offered by organizations like the ULC Ministries are "ludicrous" and questioned why anyone would take either the ordination or the minister seriously.
The blog post concluded with two messages. The first reiterated the Universal Life Church's stand that its ministers should report attempts by public servants to deny them of their right to become a minister and perform weddings. The second urged the ULC Ministries's ministers to dispel myths about getting ordained online whenever they encounter them.
The latter of these two messages is an important responsibility of ULC Ministries ministers. Misconceptions about the nature of the Universal Life Church and the legality of the ordinations it offers cause many people throughout the United States - including people of influence like Hollinrake - to speak out against it. If left alone, commonly-held misconceptions could foment popular distrust of online ordinations and cause their legality to come into question.
Ministers of the Universal Life Church Ministries should thus challenge the following common misconceptions:
Is the Universal Life Church Ministries ordination legal? Absolutely. The Universal Life Church Ministries is a not-for-profit organization and has the ability to issue ordinations to people around the globe. The vast majority of the states and counties in the US accept our ordinations. Tens of thousands of weddings (if not more) have been performed by ULC Ministries ministers. Those who claim our ordinations are fake, illegal, or useless are thus patently wrong.
How can you become an ordained minister without going through a multi-year religious school? Conventional Christian clergy receive training on a wide variety of subjects with a focus on the Bible and services they can provide to their congregation. All of this training, and more, is made available on the ULC's websites and in the literature it is offered in our Minister Supplies store. Expensive Seminary schools are so costly because of the enormous amount of overhead they need to support - those palaces the Pope lives in aren't cheap! We work hard to democratize and open up religion to anyone who feels so-called, because everyone should have the right to captain their own spiritual ship.
If anyone can become an ordained minister online, what's to stop a convicted murderer from becoming ordained? People who are nervous about the concept of online ordinations available to anyone from every walk of life generally revert to this question, and they have good reasons for doing so. It stands to reason that someone would not want the pastor of a conventional church to be a convicted felon. Unfortunately, as we've seen in recent years, ministers and priests of traditional religious organizations are certainly not all shining examples of morality themselves. We actually find that the ULC ministers we interact with are lovely, humble, people of modest means who simply want to do good in the universe.