The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 06-28-2011, 09:34 AM
Don Draper Don Draper is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Can I really get "ordained" as a marrying minister online?

With gay marriage about to become legal in NYS, a friend & I were joking about getting ordained as ministers online in order to officiate at our friends' weddings. (I've been out of full-time work for a while, and it sounds like a good way to generate money.)

I mentioned this to another friend, who has been in a committed relationship for almost two decades. He & his partner had decided a while back that if the law passed, they would officially tie the know. I jokingly suggested that I'd get ordained and marry them. Much to my surprise, he has told me that he liked the idea and, if I did get ordained, he'd actually like me to officiate!

I'm still thinking about it, not sure if I really would want to. But...how would I go about it? Anybody know?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 06-28-2011, 09:38 AM
Darth Sensitive Darth Sensitive is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
I googled "how to become a licensed wedding officiant new york" and the first sponsored link was:

Same Sex Marriage NY | theamm.org
Become a Minister to officiate same sex weddings across NY!
www.theamm.org/free-ordination

Google is scary good.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06-28-2011, 09:39 AM
NOLA Cajun NOLA Cajun is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 262
Yes. All you're doing is saying some magic words. So why couldn't anyone be an "ordained minister"?

Google "online ordination". Yes, it's legal.

In Arkansas once you apply for a marriage license, if you don't get married, you are fined.

Last edited by NOLA Cajun; 06-28-2011 at 09:41 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06-28-2011, 10:12 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
NOLA, its not whether it's generally legal, but whether it is legal in New York. New York State has fairly arcane laws about who can marry who.

Essentially, to marry others in most of the state you must be a religious officiant of a "congregation" OR the Clerk or a Town Mayor OR a sitting judge who's willing to do it for free. Domestic Relations Law Section 11 (browse NYS laws here)

Secular officiants such as Justice of the Peace do not exist in NYS.

HOWEVER, online ministries are permitted within the boundaries of Manhattan ONLY. (a court case*, in the Second Department (which encompasses Brooklyn, Queens, and all of Long Island) found the Universal Life Church credentials were invalid to marry in their jurisdiction and the marriage thus performed was void. It is hard to sure if a marriage performed under ULC will be considered valid within New York State, outside of Manhattan where it is permitted, and Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk, where it is definitely not permitted.

Offiants in New York City must be registered to officiate in New York City with the office of the City clerk.

*Ranieri v. Ranieri, 146 A.D.2d 34, for those interested

Last edited by Hello Again; 06-28-2011 at 10:16 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06-28-2011, 10:19 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
ERROR - After the court case, the City of New York issued a new rule, valid only in New York City, accepting the credentials of ULC. ULC marriages continue to be invalid in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 06-28-2011, 10:22 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 14,946
Legal in Pennsylvania. I'm a minister in the ULC, have been since my first days online. Don't have a flock, but I've done 4 marriages.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 06-28-2011, 11:03 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
A person I know very well started out as a DJ and decided to branch out several years ago, and became an ordained minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanism. He has performed dozens of weddings in both NY and NJ.

Last edited by Keeve; 06-28-2011 at 11:04 AM.. Reason: forgot to include that his ordination was totally online. click the link!
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 06-28-2011, 11:38 AM
johnpost johnpost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
you can get ordained online.

in order to officiate at a marriage you need to conform to the laws of your state (in the USA). you may need to register with the state or through other levels of government.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 06-28-2011, 11:51 AM
Lightnin' Lightnin' is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
I'm ordained through the Universal Life Church- I figured it'd come in handy to be able to bless water, should the vampires attack. Just call me Reverend Lightnin'.

A friend of mine used her ordainment to marry her two friends a few years ago.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:00 PM
svd678 svd678 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
Of course its only pretend: ordination is by a church, not by a seller of phony certificates. (Come to me for tax help - I have a copy of Intuit - that ought to be enough, credentials,right?)
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:03 PM
Darryl Lict Darryl Lict is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
It's legal in California. I have at least two friends who are ordained as ministers merely to perform wedding ceremonies for friends.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:10 PM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
I just got ordained through the Universal Life Church. Is what kayaker said correct? This is legit in PA? What else is needed to preform marriages in PA?
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:11 PM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
Of course its only pretend: ordination is by a church, not by a seller of phony certificates. (Come to me for tax help - I have a copy of Intuit - that ought to be enough, credentials,right?)
You're begging the question. Who says the certificates are phony?

While you're at it, who are you to say what is a church and what isn't?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:11 PM
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 14,946
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
Of course its only pretend: ordination is by a church, not by a seller of phony certificates. (Come to me for tax help - I have a copy of Intuit - that ought to be enough, credentials,right?)
So. . .you do not recognize The Universal Life Church? Funny, California does. My state (Pennsylvania) does. What churches in particular do you recognize?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:23 PM
Anamorphic Anamorphic is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
I personally recommend the Church of Dudeism, where I am ordained. I'm available for marriages taking place in bowling alleys.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:36 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
Of course its only pretend: ordination is by a church, not by a seller of phony certificates. (Come to me for tax help - I have a copy of Intuit - that ought to be enough, credentials,right?)
Ministry work is a calling from God and people ordained by God (not man), as such some including ULC offer them openly as they should not stand in the way of a person's callings, nor should place any restrictions on it. Some feel that restrictions and religious training detract from a ministry by mixing rules of men in with teachings of God.

Because it is of God, the state has to walk very carefully around it (separation of church and state)

Last edited by kanicbird; 06-28-2011 at 12:37 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:43 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
Of course its only pretend: ordination is by a church, not by a seller of phony certificates. (Come to me for tax help - I have a copy of Intuit - that ought to be enough, credentials,right?)
You'd have the same credentials as most H&R Block tax preparers.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 06-28-2011, 01:27 PM
svd678 svd678 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
One of my professors said two things about ordination: 1. The Holy Spirit may call whoever He wishes to ministry. 2. The Church has an obligation to protect the world against fraud. The Universal Life Church exists only to purvey PHONEY ordination certificates. God has nothing to do with them. The church has an obligation to test a person's call - what church? I can think of several hundred. Not someone who ordains himself. Paul ordained Timothy and told him to study, not just go out and do it. No US government can decide on a church's validity except on the most elemental level, so acceptance of a "certificate" is not proof of anything except a minimum pretense.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 06-28-2011, 01:29 PM
Crown Prince of Irony Crown Prince of Irony is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anamorphic View Post
I personally recommend the Church of Dudeism, where I am ordained. I'm available for marriages taking place in bowling alleys.
I'm an ordained Dudeist as well - for the price of a good Oriental rug (to tie the room together, man), I'd be happy to join any two consenting adults in marital bliss. So long as the dress code for the wedding is slacker casual (bowling shirt, shorts and jellies, bathrobe optional).
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 06-28-2011, 01:30 PM
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 14,946
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
One of my professors said two things about ordination: 1. The Holy Spirit may call whoever He wishes to ministry. 2. The Church has an obligation to protect the world against fraud. The Universal Life Church exists only to purvey PHONEY ordination certificates. God has nothing to do with them. The church has an obligation to test a person's call - what church? I can think of several hundred. Not someone who ordains himself. Paul ordained Timothy and told him to study, not just go out and do it. No US government can decide on a church's validity except on the most elemental level, so acceptance of a "certificate" is not proof of anything except a minimum pretense.
SERPENT!!!! i COMMAND THEE TO HELL!
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 06-28-2011, 01:42 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 30,424
Good answers to the legal question ("it depends"), so I'll tackle the assumption: unless you're really ready to work your ass off, you won't pick up much extra money doing weddings. Most of your weddings are going to be for people you know, and they tend not to pay. If a person wants to hire you, $50 is about all the market will bear, but most people don't charge even that. You've got to do a lot of marketing if you want to make a living at it. I know lots and lots of ordained ministers (some from brick-and-mortar congregations, most online ordinations), including me, and not a single one makes a living wage at it. It's something you do either because you have an honest calling or because your friends want you to be included in their ceremony.

I make more from doing House Blessings/Cleansings and Baby Blessings (which don't require Ordination and aren't a legal thing), and I still don't make enough in a year to file taxes on it. I do it because I'm asked, and I can, and I feel good helping people.

Other than that, I use my Ordination to visit friends or family in the hospital without being hassled about visiting hours, and to get discount parking at those same hospitals. I'm on a couple of local hospitals lists under Clergy, Other, in case an Other wants to talk to a priest who's not Christian, but I've never been called.

Neopagans tend to gravitate to online ordination simply because very few of us are members of a legally incorporated church. We may study for years under very rigorous programs (as I did), but that piece of paper the state wants us to have can't come from the people who trained us.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 06-28-2011, 01:52 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
One of my professors said two things about ordination: 1. The Holy Spirit may call whoever He wishes to ministry. 2. The Church has an obligation to protect the world against fraud.
I don't agree with stated reason #2, though God can use the church in that way, but it is God alone who protects the world and the church. Taking on burdens, in this case of judgment in the name of protecting the people, not given to them gives them a big problem.

Quote:
God has nothing to do with them. The church has an obligation to test a person's call - what church? I can think of several hundred. Not someone who ordains himself.
You just said it is the Holy Spirit who may call who He wishes. Scripture has many examples of people called out of obscurity to the ministry without certified studies, Jesus being just one of them. Perhaps more people without certification then with. One of the greatest, called by Jesus as the greatest (or 'no one is greater'), was John the Baptist.

It was Jesus who asked the religious authorities who authorized John, was it by man or God. Your professor seems to be making the same error as the pharisees.

Quote:
Paul ordained Timothy and told him to study, not just go out and do it. No US government can decide on a church's validity except on the most elemental level, so acceptance of a "certificate" is not proof of anything except a minimum pretense.
And here is the problem, Paul learned not from a person but from the Lord directly and the Lord does not issue certificates. Many others came from obscurity including the apostles.

Last edited by kanicbird; 06-28-2011 at 01:56 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 06-28-2011, 01:58 PM
svd678 svd678 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
So, Kanacbird, you're OK with the Church of Dudeism? ...since you don't want any standards...
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:05 PM
Cheesesteak Cheesesteak is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
If you're in NYC, you have to register as clergy with the city clerks office. At least, that's what my chiropractor did when he got ordained online to officiate my wedding. You also should expect to handle the required paperwork, getting documents signed, witnesses, etc. If you go ULC, double check that their ordination is accepted.

While it's a bit of a laugh to get ordained online to officiate a friend's wedding, you do have to give it a reasonable amount of consideration, as you are taking part in an important legal matter. When I talk to people who are going to be having a wedding, I remind them that as long as they are married at the end of the day, it was a good wedding. You don't want to be the reason that gets screwed up.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:09 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
So, Kanacbird, you're OK with the Church of Dudeism? ...since you don't want any standards...
The standard it God's not mine. If you feel you are called go for it and God bless. We scripturally all have ministries.

You can see this in Acts, if it is of God it will prosper, if not it will be destroyed.

Last edited by kanicbird; 06-28-2011 at 02:13 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:17 PM
legalsnugs legalsnugs is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Greenwich, London, UK
Posts: 1,055
Wait a minute here! Are you all saying that in the State of New York, you can't get married without an ordained minister? How do the atheists get married? In South Carolina and Florida (two states I've lived in), a notary public can perform a wedding ceremony and no religion is necessary at all. Not true in NY?
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:20 PM
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 14,946
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
you won't pick up much extra money doing weddings.
I made out like a bandit at the reception. Not money, but food and drink!
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:23 PM
A2Steve A2Steve is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: By the Ambassador Bridge
Posts: 44
When I got married (in Washtenaw Co, MI) we had a friend do the ULC ordination for us. We specifically asked at the county clerk's office if there would be any problem with it, and we were told that anyone you thought was valid to perform your ceremony would therefore be valid.
The best part was getting him to close the ceremony with "by the powers vested in me by the Internet"!
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:26 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by legalsnugs View Post
Wait a minute here! Are you all saying that in the State of New York, you can't get married without an ordained minister? How do the atheists get married?
I believe they are not legally prevented from using an ordained minister, though I think a justice of the peace could be used also.

Last edited by kanicbird; 06-28-2011 at 02:27 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:26 PM
hajario hajario is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Posts: 13,079
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
Of course its only pretend: ordination is by a church, not by a seller of phony certificates. (Come to me for tax help - I have a copy of Intuit - that ought to be enough, credentials,right?)
Fail. The Universal Life Church ordains people for free. I was ordained by them in 2000 and have performed two perfectly legal marriages here in California.

Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
One of my professors said two things about ordination: 1. The Holy Spirit may call whoever He wishes to ministry. 2. The Church has an obligation to protect the world against fraud. The Universal Life Church exists only to purvey PHONEY ordination certificates. God has nothing to do with them. The church has an obligation to test a person's call - what church? I can think of several hundred. Not someone who ordains himself. Paul ordained Timothy and told him to study, not just go out and do it. No US government can decide on a church's validity except on the most elemental level, so acceptance of a "certificate" is not proof of anything except a minimum pretense.
Good thing virtually no one on Earth gives a shit what your professor thinks. You don't like it? That's fine. Choose a minister of your choosing if and when you get married. The rest of us will do the same.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:26 PM
ethelbert ethelbert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
I was married in NYC by a Universal Life Minister (in the 70's). It was my understanding that it was not legal, so we tied the knot the next day at City Hall (which I presume is how atheists get married).
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:34 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
NOLA, its not whether it's generally legal, but whether it is legal in New York. New York State has fairly arcane laws about who can marry who.

Essentially, to marry others in most of the state you must be a religious officiant of a "congregation" OR the Clerk or a Town Mayor OR a sitting judge who's willing to do it for free. Domestic Relations Law Section 11 (browse NYS laws here)

Secular officiants such as Justice of the Peace do not exist in NYS.

HOWEVER, online ministries are permitted within the boundaries of Manhattan ONLY. (a court case*, in the Second Department (which encompasses Brooklyn, Queens, and all of Long Island) found the Universal Life Church credentials were invalid to marry in their jurisdiction and the marriage thus performed was void. It is hard to sure if a marriage performed under ULC will be considered valid within New York State, outside of Manhattan where it is permitted, and Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk, where it is definitely not permitted.

Offiants in New York City must be registered to officiate in New York City with the office of the City clerk.

*Ranieri v. Ranieri, 146 A.D.2d 34, for those interested
I don't see anything in that statute that specifies a congregation.

Quote:
11. By whom a marriage must be solemnized. No marriage shall be
valid unless solemnized by either:
* 1. A clergyman or minister of any religion, or by the senior leader,
or any of the other leaders, of The Society for Ethical Culture in the
city of New York, having its principal office in the borough of
Manhattan, or by the leader of The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture,
having its principal office in the borough of Brooklyn of the city of
New York, or of the Westchester Ethical Society, having its principal
office in Westchester county, or of the Ethical Culture Society of Long
Island, having its principal office in Nassau county, or of the
Riverdale-Yonkers Ethical Society having its principal office in Bronx
county, or by the leader of any other Ethical Culture Society affiliated
with the American Ethical Union.
* NB Effective until July 24, 2011
* 1. A clergyman or minister of any religion, or by the senior leader,
or any of the other leaders, of The Society for Ethical Culture in the
city of New York, having its principal office in the borough of
Manhattan, or by the leader of The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture,
having its principal office in the borough of Brooklyn of the city of
New York, or of the Westchester Ethical Society, having its principal
office in Westchester county, or of the Ethical Culture Society of Long
Island, having its principal office in Nassau county, or of the
Riverdale-Yonkers Ethical Society having its principal office in Bronx
county, or by the leader of any other Ethical Culture Society affiliated
with the American Ethical Union; provided that no clergyman or minister
as defined in section two of the religious corporations law, or Society
for Ethical Culture leader shall be required to solemnize any marriage
when acting in his or her capacity under this subdivision.
* NB Effective July 24, 2011
* 1-a. A refusal by a clergyman or minister as defined in section two
of the religious corporations law, or Society for Ethical Culture leader
to solemnize any marriage under this subdivision shall not create a
civil claim or cause of action or result in any state or local
government action to penalize, withhold benefits or discriminate against
such clergyman or minister.
"A clergyman or leader of any religion...."
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:37 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by svd678 View Post
One of my professors said two things about ordination: 1. The Holy Spirit may call whoever He wishes to ministry. 2. The Church has an obligation to protect the world against fraud. The Universal Life Church exists only to purvey PHONEY ordination certificates. God has nothing to do with them. The church has an obligation to test a person's call - what church? I can think of several hundred. Not someone who ordains himself. Paul ordained Timothy and told him to study, not just go out and do it. No US government can decide on a church's validity except on the most elemental level, so acceptance of a "certificate" is not proof of anything except a minimum pretense.
Which "church?" - cause I can assure you that the moment we decide the Wahhabi's get to determine who can perform marriages, it won't just be Universal Life Ministers who find themselves unable to tie the knot.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 06-28-2011, 02:42 PM
friedo friedo is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 20,611
Quote:
Originally Posted by legalsnugs View Post
Wait a minute here! Are you all saying that in the State of New York, you can't get married without an ordained minister? How do the atheists get married? In South Carolina and Florida (two states I've lived in), a notary public can perform a wedding ceremony and no religion is necessary at all. Not true in NY?
You can use a judge.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 06-28-2011, 03:18 PM
Derleth Derleth is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
Secular officiants such as Justice of the Peace do not exist in NYS.
Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo View Post
You can use a judge.
OK, reconcile these statements, please. (Also ethelbert's)

Last edited by Derleth; 06-28-2011 at 03:18 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 06-28-2011, 03:23 PM
friedo friedo is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 20,611
Justices of the peace are not necessarily the same as judges.

I believe town and city clerks can also perform weddings in New York, as long as they are registered officiants.

ETA: This

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again
Secular officiants such as Justice of the Peace do not exist in NYS.
Is definitely not true; secular officers of various sorts as others have mentioned are allowed to be wedding officiants in New York, but in some cases they may need to be registered as officiants.

Here's how you get married at the NYC Clerk's office, for example.

Last edited by friedo; 06-28-2011 at 03:26 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 06-28-2011, 03:29 PM
friedo friedo is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 20,611
And some more helpful information from the NYC Clerk's office

Quote:
Originally Posted by City Hall
Generally, the following people may register [as wedding officiants]:

* Clergy members or ministers of any religion;
* Leaders of the Society of Ethical Culture;
* The Mayor or any former Mayor of the City of New York;
* Federal, state, or local judges or justices, elected or appointed in the State of New York, who are currently serving or retired;
* The Clerk of the Appellate Division of the First or Second Department; and
* The County Clerk of any of the five counties in the City of New York.
Weddings conducted within New York City must be conducted by a registered officiant (ordination alone is not sufficient.)

Requirements vary elsewhere in the state.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 06-28-2011, 03:30 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
I don't see anything in that statute that specifies a congregation.

"A clergyman or leader of any religion...."
The definition of a clergyman or minister is found in the Religious Corporations law section 2 (cited in Domestic Relations law)

The term "clergyman" and the term "minister" include a duly authorized
pastor, rector, priest, rabbi, and a person having authority from, or in
accordance with, the rules and regulations of the governing
ecclesiastical body of the denomination or order, if any, to which the
church belongs, or otherwise from the church or synagogue to preside
over and direct the spiritual affairs of the church or synagogue.


A church may be either incorporated or unicorporated. Either variety must gather or the purpose of worship:
An "incorporated church" is a religious corporation created to enable
its members to meet for divine worship or other religious observances.
An "unincorporated church" is a congregation, society, or other
assemblage of persons who are accustomed to statedly meet for divine
worship or other religious observances, without having been incorporated
for that purpose.


Actually getting married as an atheist can present a problem in NYS, if you want an officiated ceremony (you can always be married by the Clerk, and have a ceremony with no legal effect). While you can have a judge marry you, there are no judges assigned (or even required) to perform this specific task, and a judge is unlikely to agree unless he knows you personally. If you happen not to know a judge, you have a bit of a problem. The usual end-run is a variety of highly secular rabbis and ministers.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 06-28-2011, 03:31 PM
gazpacho gazpacho is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 5,100
New York City
http://www.cityclerk.nyc.gov/html/ma...iant_reg.shtml
Quote:
Who is Eligible to Register

Section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law of the State of New York shows the list of people who are eligible to perform Marriage Ceremonies within the State of New York.
Read this section of the law
Generally, the following people may register:
Clergy members or ministers of any religion;
Leaders of the Society of Ethical Culture;
The Mayor or any former Mayor of the City of New York;
Federal, state, or local judges or justices, elected or appointed in the State of New York, who are currently serving or retired;
The Clerk of the Appellate Division of the First or Second Department; and
The County Clerk of any of the five counties in the City of New York.
If you are a member of the above stated list and have not previously registered to perform Marriage Ceremonies in the City of New York, please continue reading to learn how to register.
But you do have to register and pay a $15 one time fee to be registered as an efficient.

The Society for Ethical Culture looks like a pretty decent choice for atheists.

ETA so late so very late

Last edited by gazpacho; 06-28-2011 at 03:32 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 06-28-2011, 03:32 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo View Post
Justices of the peace are not necessarily the same as judges.

I believe town and city clerks can also perform weddings in New York, as long as they are registered officiants.

ETA: This
Sorry, I didn't state that well. There is no guaranteed source of for-hire secular marriage officiating in New York. Most officiants (unless you are lucky enough to convince a mayor or judge to preside) have some religious affiliation.

The clerk only marries people at the office of the clerk/City Hall/Town hall, whichever government building applies.

Last edited by Hello Again; 06-28-2011 at 03:33 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 06-28-2011, 03:32 PM
Beadalin Beadalin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
I was married quite legally in Minnesota, and our officiant was a woman who was ordained online. It was great to be married by a friend.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 06-28-2011, 04:06 PM
Max Torque Max Torque is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Raiderville, TX
Posts: 9,645
This atheist got married to another atheist in Las Vegas by a minister who performed a non-religious ceremony at our request. I'm sure Catholic churches and the like won't offer that service.

The ULC website offers some sort of kit specific to New York City that will help you make your marriage officiating nice and legal, so they say. It appears to include the application form that the city requires.

I too am an ordained ULC minister. I call my ministry "the Church of Nothing In Particular". It's rather casual. The only "marriage" I've ever performed was a non-legal ceremony for a gay couple I knew.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 06-28-2011, 04:50 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
Sorry, I didn't state that well. There is no guaranteed source of for-hire secular marriage officiating in New York. Most officiants (unless you are lucky enough to convince a mayor or judge to preside) have some religious affiliation.

The clerk only marries people at the office of the clerk/City Hall/Town hall, whichever government building applies.
Though "religious affiliation" doesn't mean "dogmatic belief system."

Unitarians have been marrying atheists for 40 years.

Its interesting that NY law is so Judeo Christian in its definition of religion. "church or synagogue" but not "mosque or temple." So 19th century (or perhaps even 18th century) of them.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 06-28-2011, 08:35 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
I've been an ordained ULC minister for many years, and have attempted exactly 0 legal acts related to this "ordination".
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 06-28-2011, 08:38 PM
friedo friedo is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 20,611
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
Though "religious affiliation" doesn't mean "dogmatic belief system."

Unitarians have been marrying atheists for 40 years.

Its interesting that NY law is so Judeo Christian in its definition of religion. "church or synagogue" but not "mosque or temple." So 19th century (or perhaps even 18th century) of them.
"Church" has a pretty expansive definition under the law and includes those categories easily. (Mentioning synagogues is probably redundant.)
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 06-28-2011, 09:49 PM
Analogue Skywalker Analogue Skywalker is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanicbird View Post
Ministry work is a calling from God and people ordained by God (not man), as such some including ULC offer them openly as they should not stand in the way of a person's callings, nor should place any restrictions on it. Some feel that restrictions and religious training detract from a ministry by mixing rules of men in with teachings of God.

Because it is of God, the state has to walk very carefully around it (separation of church and state)
AMEN
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 06-28-2011, 09:55 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: A better place to be
Posts: 26,718
Those authorized to solemnize a marriage in New York according to Domestic Relations Law sections 1 and 11-c include:
  1. A clergyman or minister of any religion
  2. A leader of any of several enumerate Ethical Culture Societies. or of any other Ethical Culture Society affiliated with the American Ethical Union
  3. A village mayor
  4. A County Executive
  5. A city mayor
  6. A city recorder of a city less than 100,000 in population
  7. A police justice of a city
  8. A police magistrate of a city less than 100,000 in population
  9. A former Mayor of New York City
  10. The New York City Clerk, his deputies, or one of not more than four regular clerks designated by him
  11. A judge of the federal circuit court of appeals for the second circuit
  12. A judge of a federal district court of New York (there are four districts)
  13. A judge of the United States court of international trade
  14. A federal administrative law judge presiding in this state
  15. A judge or retired judge of the court of appeals.
  16. A judge or retired judge of the appellate division of the supreme court in each department.
  17. A judge or retired judge of the supreme court. (Note: contrary to the Federal and most states' usage, this is the court of general jurisdiction, equivalent to superior court in many states.)
  18. A judge or retired judge of the court of claims.
  19. A judge or retired judge of the county court in each county
  20. A judge or retired judge of the family court.
  21. A judge or retired judge of the surrogate's court in each county.
  22. A judge or retired judge of the city court outside the city of New York.
  23. A judge or retired judge of the district court in each county or portion thereof in which such
    court shall be established. (Only Nassau County AFAIK)
  24. A town justice or retired town justice
  25. A village justice or retired village justice
  26. A housing judge or retired housing judge of the civil court of the city of New York
    the clerk of the appellate division of the supreme court in each judicial department
  27. A retired New York City Clerk
  28. A county clerk in Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, or Richmond Counties
  29. A marriage officer appointed by the governing board of any village, town, or city

In addition, a marriage may be solemnized by means of this:

Quote:
A written contract of marriage signed by both parties and at least two witnesses, all of whom shall subscribe the same within this state, stating the place of residence of each of the parties and witnesses and the date and place of marriage, and acknowledged before a judge of a court of record of this state by the parties and witnesses in the manner required for the acknowledgment of a conveyance of real estate to entitle the same to be recorded.

Last edited by Polycarp; 06-28-2011 at 09:58 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 06-29-2011, 06:45 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo View Post
"Church" has a pretty expansive definition under the law and includes those categories easily. (Mentioning synagogues is probably redundant.)
Obviously. Or it would have been struck down eons ago. Obviously Muslims in NYC marry. Its just such a assumptive phrasing.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 06-29-2011, 08:36 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polycarp View Post
Those authorized to solemnize a marriage in New York according to Domestic Relations Law sections 1 and 11-c include:
I am talking about the practical aspect. If you want to have a marriage ceremony, not in a courtroom or a public building, by a purely secular officiant, you're going to have a problem in New York State. Believe me I am married in New York State and it is a HUGE problem. You would think all those retired judges would offer it as a side business -- they don't. We were unable to identify any purely secular officiant performing marriages in New York City. We went with a super-liberal Rabbi who agreed not to use the word "God."
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 06-29-2011, 09:07 AM
Eva Luna Eva Luna is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Chicago-ish, IL
Posts: 9,277
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
I am talking about the practical aspect. If you want to have a marriage ceremony, not in a courtroom or a public building, by a purely secular officiant, you're going to have a problem in New York State. Believe me I am married in New York State and it is a HUGE problem. You would think all those retired judges would offer it as a side business -- they don't. We were unable to identify any purely secular officiant performing marriages in New York City. We went with a super-liberal Rabbi who agreed not to use the word "God."
Friends of mine were married in New York State by a sitting judge who did it as a side business. It was not in any kind of government building.

Tom Scud and I were married in IL by his sister, who is a Universal Life Church minister - no additional paperwork required. Oddly enough, she was married a few weeks before us, and their father, who is an actual career ordained Protestant minister, had to register with the county or something in MN before he could legally officiate at his own daughter's wedding.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:26 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.