With all my reading recently of Senator Grassley's investigation of some preachers, and some of the comments that have come this way from people who, for some unfathomable reason, actually want to DEFEND people like Kenneth Copeland, I got to wondering just what somebody has to do to get ordained. Can anybody do it? Could I say that I heard Jesus talking to me while I was taking a shower and decide that was not just some voice in my head but a call to preach? (I could tell people about that voice as long as it was Jesus-if I said I heard Zeus talking to me, I'd get locked up in the nuthouse). I mean, this might be a great way to bring in some extra cash during the Bush recession-I could do weddings and funerals and get paid. Google tells me so!
Well, yes, I could get ordained! On the internet. Here's one of the packages I see. (If I only have about 30 bucks to spend, I could get the basic package, but my heart yearns for the deluxe, because it not only includes a nice little card for my wallet and a certificate, but I can get a clip on badge for my lapel! And a CD! and some wedding certificate printouts! I'd be READY TO GO!
On the other hand, this site says I can get ordained for FREE! Right there online! and people from their church will read my application before okaying it! (I feel sure there MUST be a money hook in there somewhere.)
The freedom of being a Universal Life Church Minister includes the legal status to officiate marriages. Ordained ministers can officiate marriages for friends, family, and others. Some ministers get ordained to do it once, and some find love in being an ordained minister. They open up wedding businesses, as there is a certain level of sanctity and fellowship in having family & friends included in a wedding of your procession. The Monastery hopes to make this process as simple and possible for you through the Universal Life Church | ULC
I believe I could start a great little business-make a wedding chapel or maybe Weddings in the Woods and all I would have to do is step out of my house, Vegas-style and do the deed! I have to assume that nobody is going to actually CHECK to see if I'm really an ordained minister, and if they do, HEY! I have a certificate saying so! (Come to think of it, couldn't I just print a dang certificate on my home computer and save the cost even of the Universal whatever church sending me one? I believe I can also print out a nice wallet card too. For cheap)
But dang, it appears there's a difference between me slipping on a collar, making business cards and advertising to do weddings, and getting to claim it as a tax break. You know, so that I don't have to pay taxes. Dang! It appears there are some rules, so that, while I could put myself out to collect fees for doing marriages, etc, I can't necessarily claim to be an ordained minister for tax reasons. Here's guy who had a Master's Degree in religious education but still wasn't considered an ordained minister. He should have coughed up the 30 bucks to get a Universal Church certificate!
A "minister of education" in a Baptist church was not a "duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed" minister for purposes of [eligibility for a housing allowance]. The petitioner held a Master’s Degree in Religious Education from a Baptist Theological Seminary, but was not ordained. Although his church "commissioned" him after he assumed the position, the court interpreted the commissioning to be for tax purposes, as it did not result in any change in duties. Most significant, however, was the court’s analysis of petitioner’s duties or rather, the duties he did not perform. He did not officiate at Baptisms or the Lord’s Supper, two Ordinances that closely resembled sacraments, nor did he preside over or preach at worship services. The court concluded that the evidence did not establish that the prescribed duties of a minister of education were equivalent to the duties of a Baptist minister. Lawrence v. Commissioner, 50 T.C. 494 (1968).
I've been asked by my sister if I will officiate at her wedding. I better hurry up and get ordained. Oh, and start looking on costume sites on the internet for a preacher outfit. Halloween's coming up, so I expect I can find some.