Ordination - Two questions

Question #1: Is this website for real?

They claim to be a valid, recognized religion. They say you can apply online to become ordained as a clergyman of their religion. Is this legal? Does anyone know if, by becoming ordained through them, one is thereafter legally considered clergy?

Question #2: What legal powers does ordination bestow upon the person being ordained? The website linked to above says that: “As a legally ordained clergy member you can legally perform religious ceremonies and rituals like weddings, funerals, benedictions, etc.”

What exactly does that mean? Does that mean I can legally join two people in marriage? That would be kinda neat.

All you need to do to marry people (in the eyes of the state) is become a Notary Public.

All the ceremony is only a ritual anyway. It’s the marriage license issued by the state that makes a marriage. If you just have the ceremony without the license what do you have?


In the eyes of the state anyway.

Uhm…what do you mean by “ritual”?

In Oklahoma, you can’t have a marriage without signing the marriage license; but you can’t have a marriage license signed by an officiant without their having something to officiate at. Whether that’s the standard “dearly beloved…” Christian ritual or a consensual dance of the Bunny Hop isn’t important, as long as the officiant and newly wedded pair agree that participating in it constitutes agreement to be married.

Also in Oklahoma (and if I don’t miss my guess 17 other states, but IANAL) we have such a thing as common law marriage; if you are otherwise eligible to marry someone (i.e. not already married, of age, of opposite legal sexes) and you have a public wedding with them, you ARE married, license or no, because you’re representing yourselves as married.

Sure, you can register to be legally able to marry people; however, you do need to study up on it, at least as much as you’d study CPR, the Heimlich, or any seriously life-altering ability. :stuck_out_tongue:


This column:

about sea captains performing marriages talks about what makes marriages valid and not valid. It’s not a clear issue.

The reason online ordination is perfectly legal and valid is that the US government does not regulate religions, and wouldn’t presume to tell individual churches whom they can ordain or how such ordination is to come about. Hence the legality of the Universal Life Church. It’s legal because it’s illegal for the US government to tell it how to run its business. (Cite: The First Amendment.)

However, individual states can and do define the qualifications required to perform marriages. In Mississippi, for example, the officiant has to be ordained. Now, this person could be Jewish, Christian, or whatever, but ordination has to have taken place for the marriage to be valid. So, the student rabbi in Biloxi, Mississippi could not marry Airman and me, because she does not fit that description. Once the marriage is legally recognized, you can have anyone you want to officiate at a second ceremony; after all, the marriage is already legal, and the state doesn’t care what you do after that.