Below are some general questions that cover a lot of general questions you might have. There are also a lot of tax-related questions. Just so we're clear, the ULC Seminary does not offer tax advice of any kind. This is for informational purposes only. There are several books out, the Zondervan Tax Guide being one of them, that will answer your questions.
Choose from the menu below to find the category of FAQ questions you would like to view.
General FAQs - If you want general information about what the can and cannots are about being a minister, this will fill the bill. More the legalities than the specifics.
Ministry FAQs - This is a general list of question about conducting a ministry. It's less about the legalities and more about the nuts and bolts of having a ministry.
Seminary FAQs - This section has frequently asked questions about our seminary, how it works and what you can expect.
Gnostic FAQs - Gnosticism is an interesting religion. This section has FAQs about it and we also offer a course on this interesting religion.
Wedding FAQs - Along with our wedding training section, we also have this section on wedding FAQs so you can have a few more questions answered about how to do a wedding.
Humanist FAQs - Humanists are people who don't believe in God, but still believe in being human. Here are some answers to your questions. Feel free to send more info. if you have it.
Wiccan/Pagan FAQs - We have a wonderful course on both Wicca and Paganism, but this section will give you some basic answers to determine your interest and whet your appetite.
Druid FAQs - The Druids are fascinating. We have a wonderful courses on Druidism and this course will answer some basic questions about Druidism and get you excited to learn more.
Pantheist FAQs - Many people have not even heard of Pantheism, so these questions will help you learn about this interesting belief system.
Methodist FAQs - This is a more 'mainstream' religion, but there are differences between this denomination of Christianity and others. This explains it.
Buddhist FAQs - We have a wonderful course on Buddhism, as well as these questions to help you get a glimpse of what Buddhism is all about.
Dianic FAQs - These questions deal with a specific area of Wicca, known as Dianic. There are many areas of Wicca, so these questions wil clarify things.
Baptist FAQs - The Baptists are another denomination of Christianity with the core beliefs of Christians, but with their own distinctions that make Baptists unusual.. This will clarify some of the differences.
Mormon FAQs - The Mormon religion is something that holds fascination for a lot of people, like 'do Mormons drink coffee?', among others. Many questions are answered here about this unusual variation on Christianity.
ULC GENERAL FAQs
1. What are the differences between the various ULC sites?
There are three major ULC sites up right now. The one you're on is www.ulcseminary.org. It's the newest kid on the block. Like the other sites, we accept ordinations, which are sent to headquarters in Modesto and recorded. We have an online Seminary program, which expands regularly. We have been granted permission from the state of California to grant religious degrees, which we offer upon completion of each of the courses. We regularly post sermons from our ministers, have a section for posting ceremonies and poetry from our ministers, and have a very large selection of ministerial products. We also offer training in the areas of weddings, funerals and other areas of interest. The headquarters site is ulchq.com. They are located in Modesto and are run by Andre Hensley. All the ordinations are sent there and any credentials ordered are mailed separately from there. The third site is ulc.net. It's largely a bookstore, but has an excellent forum and a great directory. It's run by Kevin Andrews, who is a very nice, honest guy. There is one other site, which must be mentioned and that's themonastery.org. Neither the Seminary, The bookstore, or headquarters are connected to that site in any way and do not endorse them. They are no longer authorized by headquarters, keep their ordinations in-house and are not someone we recommend dealing with.
1a. What does it mean to be Authorized?
This is a related question to the one above and one I felt needs to be addressed. The only official site is that of Headquarters. Before headquarters had their own site, they authorized the ulc.org site to speak for them and be their 'official' website. As mentioned above, they have sinced revoked that authorization. After a few years, they found that that site did not reflect their true intentions, so they created their own site. A few years after the first ULC site went up, Kevin Andrews put up the ulc.net site and was also granted 'Authorization'. In 2004, this site also requested authorization and asked to be able to sell ULC Headquarters materials in addition to our own very high quality materials. Headquarters agreed that they would readily accept ordinations sent through this site and would provide the official credentials. However, Headquarters felt that by authorizing another site, it would increase the confusion that currently exists by having more than one site. As this site grows in information and popularity, we hope that Headquarters will recognize our value and will want to include us as an 'authorized' site as well. Our materials that we provide are both valid and of very high quality.
2. I've lost my credential or changed my name, how can I get a new one?
If you need a new credential, even if you can't remember your date, you can order one from http://store.ulc.net/product_info.php?products_id=53. If you changed your name or moved, be sure to include your old name and address in the comment section so Headquarters can update their records.
3. How do I know what to charge?
Call other ministers from the phone book. Look under wedding supplies and services and look for the ministers. Ask them and then determine your price from there.
4. I live in Canada. Is my ordination legal here?
In some provinces yes and some no. Get a letter of Good Standing and present it in your province to see. It varies greatly depending who you ask.
5. I want to start a group of ULC ministers in my area. How can I do this?
Ask for people to join you on the forum and look through the directory. We don't handle the formation of the groups, but we'll be happy to invite it on the discussion board.
6. How old does one have to be to be an ordained minister?
One can be a minister at any age, however, in some states you can not officiate at a wedding unless you are at least 18 years old. The legal requirements may vary in different states, so check with your local Marriage Bureau for your state's requirements.
7. Are there any restrictions on membership in the Universal Life Church because of race, color, creed or sex?
8. As a Minister, what tax exempt privileges as I allowed?
In most cases none. As a private citizen, all your earnings are subject to taxation. Some states do allow an exemption on private property for the clergy. Check with you local Assessor.
9. What services do I have to perform as an ordained minister?
There are no specific duties required, other than those needed by the congregation. You are authorized to perform all ministerial duties such as: baptisms, marriages, funerals, and to conduct church worship and meetings.
10. Can I have a full-time job outside of my ministerial duties?
Of course. And you may earn any amount of wages that you desire; there is no limit as to time or types of employment a minister may have.
11. I am a prisoner; can they discriminate against me legally for being a Universal Life Church minister?
NO. Congress passed Title of 1964, 42 U.S.C. discrimination against basis of religion, which prohibits persons in prison to be discriminated against on the basis of religion.
12. What authority do you use for ordaining ministers into the Universal Life Church?
From the New Testament: St. John states "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that what so ever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
13. Do Universal Life Church ministers get discounts on buses?
That is a tricky question. The answer is "not always". There are some companies that allow this, but on the same token (not bus token), there are some that do not. For more information, contact the companies that you are interested in doing business with.
14. May a minister be compelled to reveal any communications with members of the congregation?
Yes, you may called upon if such communication involves confession of a crime, or the intent to commit a crime.
15. Is the Universal Life Church legal in all 50 states?
YES. We have had some problems in NYC, but not in the rest of the state.
16. Can the government ever shut down the Universal Life Church?
No. As long as we abide by the laws of the land we are fully protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
17. Does a church have to reveal the sum and substance of its religious basis?
No. A church may be established on the basis of Liberty of Religion and permit to each of it's ministers the Liberty of Conscience to which they are naturally entitled. In Everson v. Board of Education, 330 US 203, 91 L. Ed. 711, it was held that: "The establishment of religion, of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force or influence a person to go to or remain away from a church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or nonattendance."
18. What sections of U.S. Title 26, the Internal Revenue Code, apply to churches?
Of particular importance are sections 107, 170, 501, 511, 513, 1402, 2055, 2106, 2522, 3121, 3401, 6033, 7605, and 7214. However, it is up to each minister and each congregation to be acquainted with the provisions of the Internal Revenue codes of the federal government and the Revenue and Taxation codes of their own state.
19. Is the Universal Life Church liable for excise taxes?
No, as a public foundation (churches are not private foundations), the Universal Life Church is not subject to the excise taxes required by Chapter 42 of the Internal Revenue Code, U.S. Title 26, and most states follow the same policy.
20. Should the Universal Life Church file a Form 990T to report unrelated business income?
Perhaps, depending upon whether a particular congregation had unrelated income, as defined in sections 511 and 513 of the Internal Revenue Code, a congregation may wish to file a report of unrelated business income on Form 990T.
21. May the Internal Revenue Service, or any sate agency order my congregation to furnish its books and records for inspection?
Yes, with the proper court order or warrant.
22.What happens if the IRS disallows my contribution to the church?
Check with your local congregation and your tax accountant.
23. What prohibits the IRS from examining our congregation’s records?
Check with your local tax accountant.
24. Can the IRS see our congregation's bank records?
Yes. If asked by the IRS, check with your attorney and ask about their getting get a court order (Section 7609(c) of the IRS Code). Always check with an attorney.
25. The IRS has asked me a list of questions about the congregation and it's internal operations. Do I have to answer them?
Yes. Ask your attorney about Section 7605(c) of the IRS Code, which strictly forbids this type of questing, as it reveals a more complete disclosure than any audit could.
26. May a congregation have a postal Bulk Rate mailing permit?
Yes, a congregation as a nonprofit organization is entitled to mail at a bulk rate. This is a bulk rate, which is available to all nonprofit organizations. Ask your local postmaster about these rates and the permit required.
27. Can the congregation send fund-raising materials through the mail?
Yes, providing it does not break Postal Laws (i.e.) Chain letters which request money, bonds, books, or other items of value, and promise a substantial return to the remitter, are regarded as non-mailable under Postal Lottery and Fraud Laws, Title 18, U.S. Code, Sections 1302 and 1341.
28. Can I use my apartment as my church?
Most states allow you to use just about anything as a meeting place. However, there are a few exceptions. so we suggest you contact the appropriate authority in your state.
29. What is the minimum number of people required to organize a congregation?
A minimum of three people, a Minister (or Pastor), Secretary and Treasure (who must all be of legal age).
30. Is it necessary to keep minutes of Board Meetings?
Yes. Everything done by a church must be done by resolution voted on and passed by the Board of Directors. You need record of only those things which have passed.
31. If a congregation no longer functions, and no one wants it, who gets the property?
The law states if an exempt organization ceases to exist, after its just and lawful obligations have been paid and discharged, the remaining funds must be given to another exempt organization.
32. When issuing receipts does my congregation use the EIN number or our congregation number?
The correct format for distribution of a tax-deductible receipt is for the receipts to be printed with the "exact legal name of the church or ministry" and the church or ministry's EIN number should appear. The EIN that your church or ministry is issued is the identification number which must appear upon any document that is intentionally sent or anticipated, as in the case of donation receipts, submitted to the Internal Revenue Service.
33. Is a congregation an extension, or branch, of the "Mother Church"?
No. Even though the IRS will try to tell you that you are an extension, this is not true. You are an associated church.
34. Can three of one family organize a congregation?
Any three individuals 18 years or older may band together to organize a congregation.
35. Can the Minister be on the Board of another congregation?
There are no rules or regulations on the number of boards an individual may serve.
36. How often does the Board of Directors meet?
Usually once a month. Under certain circumstances, your Board may vote to meet every other month.
37. How many members of the Board must be present to have a legal meeting?
At least two.
38. Can I donate to the congregation if I'm the minister and a member of the Board of Directors?
Yes. The law says you may donate. It is no more than a coincidence if you are the minister and member of the Board of Directors of the congregation to which you make a donation.
39. Does the Universal Life Church control the money and property I donate to my congregation?
ULC Churches which have signed Congregational Agreements with the church in Modesto, CA are obligated, contractually, to pay $5.00 per month for maintaining copies of your congregation's records - usually paid quarterly, however they may be paid monthly if you wish. Quarterly is generally the best practice.
40. What happens to my congregation's assets when I die? Does all the money then go to the Universal Life Church?
Your congregation is operated by a Board of Directors. Upon your death as minister, the remaining Board members simply appoint a new minister and the congregation goes on indefinitely. Check with your tax attorney to confirm.
41. Does our congregation need an employer ID number?
Yes, no matter what.
42. Can the congregation pay for my health insurance if I am a member of the Board of Directors?
Yes - if the Board of Directors votes that all of the members should be covered with such insurance. You may vote to have the congregation reimburse the members for all medical, hospital, dental and other health care, including medications, provided such coverage is for all members and intended to insure the uninterrupted work by taking care of the health of the Board members.
43. Can the congregation pay for my life insurance if I'm a minister in the congregation?
No - unless the congregation is made beneficiary in the policy and the coverage is voted by the Board of Directors.
44. Can the congregation pay utilities of a home used as headquarters?
ONLY when included as compensation in the minister's "housing allowance" or "parsonage allowance" and this income is subject to full Social Security taxation of nearly 17% for ministers as Independent Contractors or if the minister is an employee of the church then only 1/2 of the 17% Social Security, Medicare etc is paid by the minister and 1/2 is paid by the church as the employer.
45. May I donate real or personal property to the congregation if I am the minister and member of the Board of Directors?
Yes. Real or personal property may be donated. We suggest that you do not donate property to your congregation unless it is a willing gift of which you relinquish all claim.
46. Could the board of trustees vote to give me as Minister an allowance (no salary) of $750.00 per month for housing and transportation, and other expenses without my having to report or account how it is spent?
In this instance the $750.00 is income and subject to both regular Federal, State and City taxation and Social Security and Medicare F.I.C.A. taxation. No minister just gets money - absolutely not. A contract between the church and minister to establish compensation and a special amount set aside in a clearly established housing or parsonage allowance. Every cent paid to the minister is taxable depending upon how the wording of the minister's housing or parsonage allowance is written. If the minister's contract with the church has a set dollar housing or parsonage dollar amount and he does not spend it upon certain allowable expenses - it is fully taxable for all types of taxation. If a minister is paid too much, the excess is fully taxable for all types of taxation. ONLY the housing or parsonage allowance to the extent it was spent on allowable expenses if free from Federal Income taxation, but it is fully subject to Social Security, Medicare and F.I.C.A. taxation either at the full nearly 17% or half if the minister is an employee of the church and then the church must pay the other half of what is owed. The negotiation and wording of the annual minister's contract with the church is vital. The IRS may demand to read the contract at any time and this must be declared to the government in a Schedule C Profit of Loss from Business or Profession or a W-2 if the minister is an employee of the church. There is a special formula, call any H&R Block and they can and will gladly explain it to you. Forget the idea that a minister is tax-exempt when in fact he pays far more in taxes. If you have what the IRS terms as a "family church" the rules change even more. To recognized tax-exempt entities, and individual may donate up to 50% of his or her Adjusted Gross Income, however to prevent all the fraud and abuse of the 80's with "instant" churches whether sincere or as a tax dodge, the IRS changed the percentage of an individual's AGI to only 20% instead of the normal 50%.
47. Can a congregation start a nursery? If so, does it need a state license?
Yes, a congregation may start a nursery. If the congregation intends to make it's services open to the general public then yes, a license to operate a nursery must be obtained from the state.
48. Can the congregation provide me with an automobile if I'm the minister?
The minister must report as income a certain amount for his "personal" use of any such church vehicle. Seek advice of your tax advisor on personal vehicle use of the church provided vehicle for church work.
49. Can the Board vote to pay for the education of its members?
This is a difficult call because it can lead to charges of self-dealing or even inurement which would immediately terminate the church's tax-exempt standing, presuming it has such a standing, the sponsorship must be on a competitive basis or all must have equal funding. Sponsoring the minister's children would immediately appear fraudulent. A charge of "self-dealing" could be made by the IRS for funding the minister's children.
50. Can the real property be declared a church where there is no building, and be exempt from tax as such?
Your congregation can hold meetings wherever the Board of Directors may decide. However, any property used exclusively for church services, and only that part, may be eligible for tax exemption. Check with your local tax authority.
51. It it OK if I am the only person making donations in my congregation?
Yes, but it advisable to have more than one if possible.
52. Can I borrow money from my congregation?
This practice is ill advised. It would appear to be self-dealing and possibly inurement. It would require collateral, the current rate of interest on credit cards which is very high, the note would have to be recorded so that it goes on your credit records and shows as a debt. It is a negative practice ill-advised, the church is not a bank, should not serve the banking functions of anyone in the church at all. It would likely be considered as "self-dealing" by the IRS and negated, called in on demand and a poor practice, it is best not to involve individual financial affairs with the church...especially if you are the minister or member of the Board of Directors.
53. How often does a congregation have to meet?
Generally, churches meet on a weekly basis, however, there is no rule in the law so it may be assumed that the meetings are so spaced as to be reasonable for the religious purpose of the congregation.
54. May the congregations of the Universal Life Church establish their own retirement program?
Yes, it is suggested that the Board of Directors of each congregation invest in a good solid retirement program.
55. Are churches exempt from the payment of sales taxes on items used for religious services?
Yes. Check with the state for all exemption requirements.
56. How could I find out about property tax exemption for my congregation?
Contact the local county tax assessor for all such information. It varies from county to county because it is local government function, as it should be.
57. Do we need a congregation statement of beliefs?
YES, a congregation must have a well thought out Beliefs and Practices statement, it is what binds the membership together, they practice thier special religious sacraments to strengthen or further express those beliefs and monies collected are intended to further SERVE those avowed religious beliefs, or what else could the IRS look for or evaluate.
58. What name should I call my congregation?
You are a congregation of the Universal Life Church, but you can have your own local name.
59. How old must one be to be on the congregation's Board of Directors?
All members of the board must be of legal age, 18 years or older.
60. Who decides which church officers are to sign checks?
The Board at it's meeting to Open a Bank Account makes this decision.
61. Can a congregation accept contributions of property?
Do not state any value like $5,000.00 because the IRS has lowered it to about $200.00 before an appraisal is required. Just say "but if the value is over the set amount by the IRS which you may inquire of the dollar amount directly from the IRS".
62. Can the congregation pay directly for any of the Minister's clothing?
Yes, for any garb being used by the Minister while doing his ministerial duties.
63. Can we move our congregation to another state?
64. If we need copies of the Certificate of Authority for the church to operate in our state, whom do we contact?
Write to the Secretary of State's office and request specific information. There is a basic fee charged for duplication.
65. What must I do to prove that I have given to the church?
It is important to keep records; receipts, cancelled checks and other evidence that you have donated to substantiate your claim.
66. What other than money and property can be donated to the congregation?
Almost anything; such as jewelry, paintings, antiques and other objects of art. Household goods, used clothing, collections, and books. The list is almost endless. For further information, ask the IRS for Publication concerning the Valuation of Donated Property.
67. Is it necessary for our congregation to keep records of who made donations to it?
As a congregation, it is your duty to substantiate the donations made by yourself and members of your congregation. If you have made regular reports for your congregation, it is a simple matter to verify the legitimacy of your donations.
68. I am in the military; can the Board of Directors grant me a housing allowance in addition to that given to me by the military?
Yes, but since the government already provides you with housing (and, since the Board cannot pay for your housing directly and must make it's bestowal in cash or it's equivalent), such could be considered by the IRS to be taxable income.
69. How should checks be made out to the congregation?
All checks should be made out to the name of your congregation and deposited into the congregation's account.
70. Must I file and incorporate my new congregation?
Your congregation can incorporate if it decides its in the best interest of the congregation.
71. If the congregation gives him a travel allowance, or pays directly for part of the Minister's auto expenses, can he still take this as a personal deduction on his 1040?
No; the congregation has paid this as a service directly and it can not be deducted on his personal return.
72. Can you list briefly the various ways one can lose a congregation?
The willful breaking of any local, state, or federal law.
73. Are prisoners allowed to have congregations?
Yes; we have many congregations in institutions throughout the world. But you are subject to the guidelines of the prison.
74. Can my three cellmates hold a congregational meeting behind cell bars?
Yes; there is no reason why you cannot, but it is best to check with the Warden about the rules of the institution before proceeding.
75. If I die, can my congregation be passed on to my beneficiaries?
No; the two remaining members of the Board select an individual to replace the one who is gone.
76. Do the Board Members have to be local, or can they be from another state?
When at all possible, it is a good policy to have at least two of the members local. This is a majority (quorum) to transact business for the congregation.
77. What types of investments and incomes may churches have?
It has been the policy of the Federal Government to actually promote organized religion by granting it almost total tax immunity. All income that accrues to a non-profit church is tax exempt (with the exception of unrelated business income). There are about six different kinds of church income, five of which are totally tax exempt.
1) Donation Income - All money and property donated or willed to a church or otherwise received from it's church members is tax exempt. A church may perform any type of service or engage in any business activity for the benefit of its members without paying taxes on the income.
2) Fund Raising Activity Income - Whenever a church sponsors a fund raising activity and charges admission, the income is tax exempt. All income that is generated by various church members by donating their services in return for contributions to their church is tax exempt.
3) Passive Church Investment Income - All income earned by a church via its own investments in stock, bonds, rental properties, bank accounts, etc. is tax exempt. A passive investment is any investment that does not require day-to-day management and supervision by the directors of the church.
4) Capital Gains Income - Any income or profit realized by a church from the sale of church owned assets is tax exempt.
5) Related Business Income - any income that accrues to a church from a business venture that can be justified one the basis that the business is related to the mission of the church is tax exempt. Several examples of related business income can be found throughout the Catholic Church with regard to the radio and television stations that the church owns and operates. Churches are also engaged in publishing as well as the life insurance business. The Lutheran Church maintains a $3 billion insurance fund exclusively for church members.
6) Unrelated Business Income - Church can own and operate any kind of business. If the IRS can prove in court that the income from a particular business venture is not related to the overall mission of the church, then it can force the church to pay taxes on the income. The most famous and recent example of this is when the IRS finally forced the Christian Brothers Winery to pay income taxes on the revenue they received from the production and sale of liquor related products.
78. What is "self dealing"?
"Self dealing" includes borrowing or loaning money, buying or selling property, and any other activity in which a profit may be made for the Trustees or members of the Board of Directors - except that anyone may receive compensation reasonably related to services actually performed.
79. Can a minister deposit his salary into the congregation account and take it out as cash?
No, this is "self dealing".
80. My friend and I both have congregations. If I make a contribution to his congregation, and he contributes to mine, would that be considered "self dealing"?
This is not a good practice and it give rise to doubts about intent. Why would you give to another church just to receive it essentially back? As case could easily be made to negate your exempt status of the bais of what the IRS calls "quid pro quo" which is Latin for give to get. Do not do it, it makes no sense, it gives rise to questions as to "why" and it is NOT an acceptable accounting practice. Don't get engaged in the handing out - then collecting back donations because it is one of the fraudulent practices utilized very early in the beginning 80's which the IRS utilized to find other ULC entities when clearly there were wrong doings with the denomination alleged by the IRS only to later be proven so. Do not attempt to build up donation receipts. This is a perfect example of "qui pro quo" because how long would you continue to give to another ULC entity - if you did not expect it back in donation form to your ULC congreation? STOP! It is a fraudulent practice. It does not even qualify for tax-deductible receipt issuance by either congregation because a donation must be made with NO ANTICIPATION OR EXPECTATION OF ANYTHING IN RETURN. And clearly you are giving to get - remember that. A gift is only a charitable gift if is given from the heart with absolutely no expectation are anticipation of anything coming back.
81. My congregation operates a service station. Do I have to pay taxes on the income?
Yes. This is "unrelated business income" - it has nothing to do with religious purposes of a church even though the congregation operates the station. All unrelated income is taxable.
82. Can the congregation buy real estate and other items in it's own name?
Yes, any person, natural or artificial, may own real estate. An individual is a natural person, as opposed to an organization, which conducts business, such as a church. A church, a Common Law organization, or a corporation, are examples of artificial, or juristic, persons.
83. Can the congregation own and operate a non-related business?
Yes, the church may own a non-related business; see IRS Publication 598, "Tax on Unrelated Business Income of Exempt Organizations".
84. Can the congregation own stocks and bonds?
Yes, the congregation may own stocks, bonds, and securities as passive investments.
85. What does the ULC believe?
The church has two basic tenets: That people have a right to freedom of religion, and that people should do what they think is right. In general, the ULC recognizes that an individual's rights extend up to the point where they infringe upon the rights of another individual and that such actions are within the law. ULC has no set dogma that it attempts to convert others to. Instead it sets an example of the fuller life for all.
86. ULC sounds like a very open kind of church. Are you sure it's legal?
Yes. Rev. Hensley, the President and founder of ULC, has seen the church through many court cases where ULC's legitimacy was questioned. A federal court has ruled ULC a legal church and a denomination in its own right - Universal Life. That decision is Civil No. S-1964 Filed March 1st, 1974 and signed by the honorable Federal Judge James F. Battin on February 27th, 1974. The most important paragraph has been the law of the land since 1974 and read this well and understand it fully as it applies to all religions old and new....."Neither this Court, nor any branch of this Government, will consider the merits or fallacies of a religion. Nor will the Court compare the beliefs, dogmas, and practices of a newly organized religion with those of an older, more established religion. Nor will the Court praise or condemn a religion, however excellent or fanatical o preposterous it may seem. Were the Court to do so, it would impinge upon the guarantees of the First Amendment......" That one portion of the ruling opens the world to new ideas and frees the mind from oppression of old ideas if one so chooses. It is one of the foundational cases in religion of the century and applies to storefront churches or home churches equally. Of course, albeit not mentioned it is accepted as a given that no religion can be established as a guise to engage in an illegal activity. In the United States most individuals believe we have the freedom of religion, but they do not understand fully what they are stating. Our U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right of total religious belief of our choice, but our actions are still restrained by established law.
87. Is there an actual, physical, ULC church building?
ULC International Headquarters is located in Modesto, California. A real church building exists there as well as offices for church business. ULC has various congregations all over the world as well. A church is NOT a building. Even a church building itself is not a church. You have to understand that legally a church is a group of believers in some religious tenets (beliefs) and there needs not be any physical structure at all. That is a common misunderstanding held by millions. The building is just a building - nothing else.
88. I've heard that ULC will ordain people as clergy. Is this true?
Yes. ULC will ordain anyone who asks no matter what the person's gender, race, sexual orientation, or spiritual belief might be or whether an individual has no beliefs whatsoever. Officially the ULC will ordain all that ask, without question of beliefs, granted for life, without a fee! That is the official practice of the church since its inception and is its practice to this day.
89. That sounds great. I've heard that it costs $15-$20 though, right?
No! There is absolutely *no* fee for becoming ordained in the Universal Life Church. Many people believe that there is some sort of fee involved. There is none. You need only contact ULC by mail or on their World Wide Web page on the Internet to become ordained. If you mail them a short letter asking to be ordained and receive your credentials, they will send you a packet with an ordination credential. If you use this site, The Universal Life Church Seminary, you don't have to wait for the packet.
Instead, you'll have access to information via the site and a credential will display that you can print out. No one will harass you for any kind of money. Period.
90. Now, wait a second. There's more to being a clergyperson than possessing an ordination credential! Are you suggesting that a printed piece of paper makes someone a legitimate Minister, Pastor, etc?
Absolutely not. ULC's ordination does not make you a Minister or Pastor. You do. A clergyperson is expected to assume certain roles and tasks in society such as caring for the needs of others and performing clergy services such as marriages and funerals. The ULC provides you the potential to become a clergyperson by granting you an ordination as is required by all of the 50 states. The rest is up to you. You can put your ordination in a sock drawer or you can use it and perform services for those who need them. It's completely up to you.
91. As ULC clergy, can I perform a wedding as other clergy do?
Generally, yes. ULC clergy can and do perform all of the usual duties that other clergy do. Check with your local clerk of court or other county official to see what the laws are in your state. They vary. You should also check with ULC. Some cities may have local ordinances requiring "pre-marital counseling" so you need to check on that status as well.
92. What is my title once I become ordained by ULC? I've seen ULC clergy with the title of Minister, Pastor, and even Priest!
When you become ordained you are by default a Minister of the church and are entitled to place the Rev. abbreviation before your name to stand for Reverend. Other clergy titles, however, are offered by ULC. The other titles are not imprinted upon one's official ordination credential, they are available as documents in their own right. Titles have no hierarchical status in the denomination Universal Life. No one is above another, no one individual has any "territory" or governing authority over other ULC ministers - each is equal to another.