Apr 042002

When you think of an ordained reverend, what comes to mind?

Most of us would picture a man of the cloth, able to be trusted in every respect, a confidant and a friend.

I doubt very many of us would picture the person standing next to us.

Yet, according to the Universal Life “Church” out of San Modesto, Calif., that person standing next to you could have very well been ordained via the Internet in less than three minutes.

I honestly thought it was a joke.

I just couldn’t believe that anybody can be ordained as a reverend in the Universal Life “Church.” Drug dealers, prostitutes, child molesters, crack whores-according to the guy I heard about it from, they all qualify.

I decided I would check it out.

I went to the Universal Life “Church” Web site (http://www.ulc.org) and clicked on the link that said free ordination. I filled out the necessary information and clicked on the submit button. Lo and behold, up pops my very own printable version of a certificate of ordination, complete with “Reverend Scott Wilkinson.”


Now I had a problem as, according to some “church” out in California, I was now ordained. I decided to go through the rest of the site in an effort to find out how to undo the “ordination” and to see just exactly what kind of organization this was.

I came upon a few different things that disturbed me. The first of these was the “church’s” discourse on ordination. In it, the “church” claims, “ego and validation are things new ministers really want most of all. The wall credential with gold seal, pen and ink signatures, and ribbons the more the better all to frame and hang on the wall are what are perceived by some as their self-worth.”

In my 22 years as a practicing Catholic, I have never met a priest who had what I would perceive as an ego. People with problems regarding the satisfaction of their ego do not pick a calling where you spend your life and your life’s work in the service of others.

The second was a list of “ULC Materials, Degrees & Packages.”

Here, the “church” offered it’s newly ordained “reverends” the chance to pick up valuable items like press cards, window shields, and special titles like Shaman, Yogi and High Priestess. In addition the Universal Life “church” will grant anyone a degree as a Doctor of Divinity for a “free-will offering” of $30, a Doctor of Religious Science for $50, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Religion for a mere pittance of $105.

Clearly, this was the place for those of us seeking serious spiritual enlightenment. If only people had heard about it sooner.

David Koresh of Waco, Texas, fame could have been an actual ordained minister, as could the leader of the Hale-Bopp comet cult. Religious fanatics all over the United States could have had some degree of validation for their claim to be religious leaders.

If you ask me, any “church” willing to ordain any individual regardless of belief is sacreligious. When a pagan and a Catholic and an atheist can all be put under some common umbrella, I don’t call that a church-that’s a scam.

It turned out the Universal Life “Church” really was a joke-now I just have to figure out how to get rid of this phony ordination. Fortunately, according to ULC, it can be renounced.

That’s good. The sooner the better.

Scott Wilkinson is a senior majoring in civil engineering.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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