Call Me Father

I am now a minister. Whee!

I just got a certificate from
Universal Life Church
saying that I have been ordained and “[have] all rights and privileges
to perform all duties of the Ministry.”


I grepped a bit through Maryland law to see whether there are any
particular restrictions on ordination, but couldn’t find any. As far
as I know, I am now legally empowered to officiate at weddings,
funerals, baptisms, and so on. I trust you will not abuse this by
asking me to actually, like, marry you or anything. In return, I
promise not to molest anyone, fleece my parish, or take the only good
parking space unless I have a reason.

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11 Responses to Call Me Father

  1. Fez says:

    I trust you will not abuse this by asking me to actually, like, marry you or anything.

    Sorry. I like you and all, but you’re just not my type.

    Like

  2. Eamon Knight says:

    AFAIK, weddings are the only ceremony on that list with legal significance. Does a ULC certificate really allow you to formalize a marriage? Or does the couple still have to file paperwork at City Hall?

    Like

  3. arensb says:

    Eamon Knight:

    The government has an interest in marriages because from a legal standpoint they are a contract between two people, whereas a baptism is legally meaningless. As for funerals, I suppose the state has an interest in knowing that the body has been properly disposed of.

    But getting back to weddings: as far as I know, yes, I am allowed to perform any function that an ordained minister is allowed to perform (though I welcome correction). Scary, huh?

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  4. Eamon Knight says:

    I have the impression that the funerary service handles the legalities of disposal of the body, though I don’t really know. My only contact with the situation was arranging my parents’ funerals, and it was the funeral home that issued the death certs. Somewhere in there is probably a formal statement that the remains were cremated. The only clergy involvement (Unitarian chaplains in both cases) was to MC and say a few words at the memorial service.

    It may, of course, vary among jurisdictions.

    as far as I know, yes, I am allowed to perform any function that an ordained minister is allowed to perform (though I welcome correction). Scary, huh?

    Can you sign my passport application? (Actually no, though for reasons unrelated to your professional status. Wrong citizenship, for one thing).

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  5. arensb says:

    Can you sign my passport application?

    Of course I can, just as Glendower can call spirits from the vasty deep. Whether it’ll have the effect you want is a different question entirely.

    Like

  6. Troublesome Frog says:

    FWIW, my wife and I were married by a ULC minister here in California. While it’s OK for an average Joe with no legal or religious credentials to perform a marriage as a one-off here (there’s just some paperwork to do–it’s for special occasions), this wasn’t one of those. Our officiant said that he was legal to perform marriages in every state except Nevada. Before you spit your coffee onto your keyboard, the reason is simple: Nevada has a serious wedding industry and wants a little bit of cash from you if you plan to take part in it.

    Anyway, the guy did a great job and somehow managed to walk the line between my side (the Catholic side) and my wife’s side (the Buddhist side) and still make everybody feel warm and fuzzy, and the marriage certificate was approved and filed by the state. Quite a feat.

    Like

  7. arensb says:

    Our officiant said that he was legal to perform marriages in every state except Nevada.

    I can easily believe that. Given that from the government’s point of view, a marriage is a contract between two people, it makes no difference whether the person who says pretty words at the signing of the contract is someone who spent 20 years learning and practicing religion, or just some guy off the street.

    However, the law doesn’t always make sense. That’s why I was trying to find out about Maryland specifically.

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  8. Troublesome Frog says:

    BTW, I think that you should really rethink your title, Homer Simpson style: “Please Kent, call me Your Holiness.”

    Like

  9. arensb says:

    Unfortunately, the ULC certificates listing special titles (including things like “Angel”, “Colonel”, “Druid”, “Metaphysical Teacher”, “Revelator”, “Shaman”, “Spiritual Warrior”, “Universal Philosopher of Absolute Reality”, etc.) cost money. $5.00 a pop, plus $3.00 for non-default fonts and $5.00 for the embossed gold seal.

    However, since the ULC has no dogma, I prefer to keep my options open. If anyone tries to use the weight of titles by calling themselves “Father So-and-so”, I can always insist on being called “Father” myself. Or Monsignor, or Your Grace, or whatever strikes my fancy.

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  10. Fez says:

    I always thought “Very Reverend” had a piquant kind of elitism associated with it.

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  11. arensb says:

    It does seem to say “I should be not just revered, but very revered”.

    I’ll settle for “Your Epic Win”.

    Like

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