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Everything posted by pope_cahbet

  1. Now, off the main topic, THAT is one impressive list ! All these groups have been unable to even get their buildings recognized as religious meeting sites? !? Wow ! Some of these groups are older than the UK and many are hundreds of years old, although I suppose a few of them are rather new-sounding or suspicious-sounding (Women Freemasons?!? :(Uhm, it is a FRATERNITY, as in BROTHER-hood. How the frak are women Brothers? The British Sailors Society as a religious group?!?) . All I can say is that the ULC in the UK is in pretty good company if all these other groups are on the same list. Just saying. Good luck with your quest for recognition by the UK authorities.
  2. I just noticed. Your note says you are about to "preform a Marriage" - how does one pre-form a marriage? (grin) I suppose you meant perform a wedding, right?

  3. Congrats on your prep for officiating at a wedding. Is this your first? Be sure and post back to let us know how it went.

  4. has started a yahoogroup for ULC Ministers & Members in the greater Memphis, Tenn., area. MemphisULC-at-yahoogroups.com.

  5. You are entitled to your opinions and so, I will yield this topic to you. (Not to say I agree with everything you say, only that I am choosing to withdraw from arguing or discussing it with you. You win. Yay, you ! )
  6. So sorry for my confusing blanket statement. Let me clarify. I always listen to my attorney, but I do not necessarily follow his advice. Sometimes, he is more picky about details than even I am - so I go with my own level of pickiness unless I am convinced that I need his level of it. In this case, I have the handbook on Marriage prepared by the University of Tenn law school and offered as a service to the various counties, I have the Shelby County Clerk's website-posted info, and I have the actual state law (downloaded from Michie's, an authority on publishing the laws). So, I am pretty sure I have all the documentary backup I need. (Okay, I also have multiple copies of the US Constitution -- I plan to get one of the TN Constitution, as well. That will be it, tho! ) All I need from my attorney is a Legal Opinion as to whether the law has changed since the Handbook was written and, if so, in what ways; and whether I can rely on the handbook as the guide for my practice as far as weddings in Tennessee go. What attorneys are supposed to do is be familiar with the principles of the law in their chosen area, then read up on case law and specific law when asked to handle a court case or to render a Legal Opinion. What got me going on this to begin with was a State Attorney General's Legal Opinion. Okay, the law has changed since then and the AG's other Legal Opinions have reduced the impact of the one I was concerned about, as well. So, now I just need / want to know if what the documents I have APPEAR to be saying is 1) what they are actually saying and 2) still valid. It is a sad fact that some attorneys are better than others about doing proper research and about keeping on top of the latest case law and changes in the law. Some are just plain unprofessional; some are any other negative adjective you can imagine. Even so, all I can do is to ask one or more that I trust what their professional Opinion is on this and then decide what actions I will and will not take after that. Thanks for participating in this topic.
  7. Oh, I always choose to listen to my attorney, too. I just have not yet spoken with him about this. This appears to be a case of the law in FL is different than in TN and that makes all the difference in terms of who to ask for the legal status. Now that I have the handbook from the Univ of TN law school, I am not as worried about it as I was. It will be a while before I am prepared enough to offer services such as weddings, in any case -- plenty of time to check with local counsel on the legal ins-and-outs. THANK YOU, again, for your participation in this discussion. I do appreciate your suggestion, even though I am not following it at this time.
  8. I was reading about this everyone-deserves-to-have-religious-authority idea recently. Someone named Luther (could not tell from the context if it was Martin Luther or another Luther) had written about radical laicization (sure I am misspelling it). What he was talking about was making all the lay folks into priests. The website author who was writing about this went on and on about how it was a bad idea as it made priesthood meaningless by taking away the specialness of it. He had a point - being a priest or a minister should mean something; otherwise, why even call yourself one? My view (at this point - this may change) is that everyone has the right to be a priest, minister, rabbi, iman, whatever for themselves. When they start to deal with the Grand Architect or the Great Spirit or God or Goddess on behalf of others, they need to have made some sort of commitment to having at least figured out some of their own spiritual path so they can walk the walk, not just talk the talk. In other words, you have the right, but most folks will never exercise that right and those who do need to realize what is expected of them when they call themselves a Minister. It is supposed to mean something and you will not be the only person most folks meet who go by that title, so they will see how you measure up compared to other ministers they know. Sure, anyone should be able to officiate at ceremonies -- but the ceremonies go much better (smoother, more enjoyable, closer to the mark of whoever designed them) if the officiant has taken the time to get themselves ready first. All that Tennessee requires (check your own state) is a wedding license issued by the County Clerk, a willing couple of one man and one woman, someone authorized to solemnize the marriage and a very brief ceremony - "do you take? I do , do you ? I do. You're hitched !" Beyond that, it is up to the couple and the minister (or office holder or former office holder) to decide what gets done. Let's face it, marriage (and, to some degree the other ceremonies over which ministers officiate) is a vestige of a much older form of ceremonial magic, in which by pronouncing it so, you make it so. If you are helping to create a new family, this is serious stuff and that is why they call it solemnizing the marriage. Sure, have fun with it (as much fun as the couple can stand), just realize that you are there as a professional (even if you are not getting paid) and so you should know what you are doing & do it well. And, in answer to your question, as you put yourself out there and tell the world that you are a Minister, you can expect to run into people who do not believe you because you do not fit their image of what a Minister should look like, how they should behave, or what their background or current occupation should be. If they are Christian and you are comfortable being one yourself (or acting like one), quote them John 15:16 from the King James version of the Bible "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it [to] you. " (emphasis added) This passage was Jesus speaking with his disciples. Any Christian can claim this ordination, especially if they are Protestant, as a big part of the Protestant Reformation was the belief that all believers are inherently priests & able to speak directly with God without needing a Pope-approved intermediary. So much of what is wrong with the world today could be fixed (or at least made much less awful) if all those Christians who claim to be following Jesus actually did follow him instead of Paul. Give to the poor; don't clamor after wealth; focus on doing good deeds and showing love for your fellow human, for that is how His true followers will be known. The wealth tied up in buildings that are used 1 or 2 days a week by churches is unbelievable. If all those "building-Christians" opened their facilities up, how many homeless would there be left? How many kids could they feed if they converted their kitchens into soup kitchens and missions into ministries to those in need? How many schools or abused people shelters could they house? A true ministry is taking care of those who need care -- do that and few people will have any basis for questioning your use of the term. My own plans for how I am going to put my ordination to use are still in the early stages. Right now, I am leaning toward some sort of a Chaplaincy, but I do not know whether that would be in a hospital, nursing home, large company or a prison or jail. While I have started various types of groups before, starting a new church does not appeal to me -- I like my current church home, which is UU. I do know that I am taking this ordination quite seriously and the thought of where it leads continues to ping around in my head, distracting me for other work, as it has done since April 30, when I received the email from Rev. Kevin welcoming me to the ministry. All IMHO, of course.
  9. Oh, no doubt I am making things harder for myself. I do that, in order to avoid making them harder for others. Also, because of how I was raised - it was a volatile household and avoiding mistakes was more highly thought of than doing something brilliant. I am 50+ years old, but still the little boy in me is afraid of my father's wrath. So, I am nitpicky to an extreme at times, and I know this, but it is how I am and I aint gonna stop being this way even if it causes me to work harder on some things than anyone else. I do get praises for my results tho, when I remember not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. (I feel at times like Spock when Kirk told him to guess. It does not compute. I must have logic to base my guess upon.) I am not an attorney, either, but I am a former legal secretary and I know how easily you can get yourself in trouble by asking a government worker what the law is. They may know what they need to in order to do their job, but that does not mean they will know anything about unusual situations - and they can usually spin the rules to get the results they want (so a right-wing Christian, which Memphis has far too many of, might tell me that the ULC Minister can not solemnize marriages because they believe we are some sort of cult). I have the UT law school handbook on marriages now and it says the AG's opinions say the Clerk can not judge whether an officiant is legit. That kinda answers the question of asking the Clerk, IMHO -- they can not answer my question and if they do, I can not rely on their answer. This really is a state-specific thing. I am going to ask an attorney here in TN to get my legal questions answered. Thanks, again, for your support and your suggestions. Right you are. Thanks !
  10. Oh, I will talk with them if I must. My theory is that they have no right to answer that question as they are not supposed to be the ones deciding who gets to solemnize weddings and who does not. Unless they are lawyers, they are not allowed to answer legal questions anyway, as that is the unauthorized practice of law and you can be arrested for that. No, if my question was about how to fill out a form, I would ask the County Clerk's office; it is about whether I can do something, and they do not get to answer that. IN FACT (he shouts with glee), I heard back from Kevin and he gave me links to stuff. The best one (and the most relevant for this discussion) is Basics of Marriage handbook , which leads to a Basics of Marriage in Tennessee handbook prepared by the University of TN Law School. It pulls together several AG's opinions and the changes in marriage laws up to that point and, for me at least, made it all make sense. So, I now know that the AG said the Clerk has neither the authority nor the duty to judge whether an officiant was qualified to solemnize a wedding -- and that the weddings done by ministers who failed to live up to his interpretation of the law would most likely still be upheld in court if either party believed they were valid at the time and acted like they were married afterward. I am still going to check with my attorney just to find out if there have been any changes since this handbook came out in 2006 (and to assess the likelihood of there being a lawsuit against a ULC Minister if a disappointed heir or a disgruntled spouse wanted to void the marriage, as there still does not appear to be a court case or a nice clear law that says every religion is to be treated equally in TN just like the US Constitution states). Kevin did say that there was no lawsuit by the ULC against TN because you can not sue over an opinion, only over acts (taken or threatened). If some state official takes or threatens to take an action based on the AG's opinion that got this discussion started, then there can be a suit -- but not until then. I just do not want to be the test case (). In any case, thank you for your suggestion. I will probably speak with the Clerk's office at some point, especially if I still have any doubts after I speak with my attorney. What did your Clerk say when you spoke with her?
  11. I know that. The thing is, without a Court ruling or a legislative change, the presumption of anyone who checks would be that this is the policy or position of the State of Tennessee. It may not stand up in Court, but anyone who wanted to get out of a bad marriage could cite it as grounds for annulment; any heirs who did not like the new spouse could cite it as a ground for challenging the will or the disposition of the estate; anyone who lost out in such a situation could then turn around and sue the Minister. Some county clerks might reject the wedding license when it is returned if it was signed by a ULC Minister, citing this AG's opinion as their reason. I do not know that any of that will happen, but, unless there is something official (court case or legislative action) that overrules the AG, I would be reluctant to proceed with marrying folks here in TN. If you google "Universal Life Church in Tennessee," this AG's ruling is one of the first things that pops up. There are even marriage businesses that cite the ruling as why you should use them, rather than a ULC Minister -- "see, we are legit & the AG says they are not" kinda thing. If there is something official overturning this AG's opinion, I want to create a web page showing it off so there will be the correct info available for everyone. If there is not, perhaps we need to have the ULC HQ or some group of ULC Ministers here in TN file suit and get a court ruling. See, I have encountered this sort of thing before. I am a Notary Public and the AG issued an opinion as the maximum fee that a NP can charge. There is no specific law that says an amount, but there are references to what other offices charge and how they are related, so he had a basis for his opinion. I know many NPs who charge a good bit more than what he said and they give the same argument - it is just his opinion. I keep waiting for someone to read his opinion, get mad about "over paying," discover this has been going on for years, get a sharp and hungry attorney and file a class action lawsuit. Then a Court would have to hear it and decide if the AG was correct. A better solution would be for the legislature to clear it up with an actual law that said what the fees were for each type of Notarial act and that is what I am hoping will one day happen -- and that the fees they set will be a good bit higher than the pittance the AG said is allowed. In the meantime, people charge what they want, so the same act (having something Notarized) could cost you $10 or $5 or $2.75, which seems wrong to me, as we are all doing this (Notary Public) as elected officials serving the public and the fees should be standard. What started all this is my wife saying that, with my luck, I could become the test case for a Minister being sued for a marriage that went bad. That led to the legal question of when could a minister be sued, which led to if he or she did something like officiate at a wedding where they were not authorized to do so. See, a marriage is a contract, as well as a religious institution. So, the state gets to say who will officiate it. There is a long list of elected and appointed office holders allowed to officiate weddings here in TN; Notary Public is not, alas, on the list. In any case, I need to go do some paying work now. Thank you, everyone, for your contributions to this topic. I WILL let you know when/if I find out anything specific on the status of ULC Ministers doing weddings in Tennessee.
  12. My spouse is mostly concerned with income right now, as she has been unemployed for over a year. My income has never been that great to start with and she sees this (ULC Ministry) as a distraction. I am working on a marketing plan for my other businesses (Notary Signing Agent and Field Inspector) and developing a step-by-step plan for my ministry. Once I have those in hand and start working them, the results will show her how seriously I take the income side and the ministry side. I don't see the ministry as a major source of income, but if I can not officiate at weddings here in TN, then it will be even less of a source and I will have to revise my plans accordingly. The laws are pretty straight forward. Lawyers are not. I need something official that says the AG's opinion was reversed or overturned by a Court -- or made moot by changes in the law. I am working on this and will report back here on any progress. Thanks for your support.
  13. I have no intention of becoming a starting a wedding-only ministry. I have no intention of making a living from the ministry, either. I would like to supplement the income I have now, sometimes, with donations received from those who ask me to do services for them. I am currently a Notary Public and, in Tennessee, the fees we can charge are very small. So, I am very familiar with not making a living from doing services (). I make most of my income from what the law calls "additional services." My vision is more along the lines of a chaplaincy than a congregation. You are, of course, correct that anyone can be sued for anything. The question is more one of how likely is it and has it happened before and with what result. Thanks for taking part in the discussion. ()
  14. See, this is what I need -- the interpretation of the law. I already have access to the wording of the law, but law is tricky. You may think you know what a word or a phrase means, while those who wrote it had a somewhat different meaning in mind. This is why lawyers issue Legal Opinions and doing so without a law degree can get you arrested for the unauthorized practice of law -- because it is their job to know the legal meanings, not the obvious meanings. I already planned to contact my state senator about suggested changes in the laws for Notaries (I am one), so this just gives me another reason to contact her. Thanks !
  15. Congrats on your new congregation. How long did it take you to get up and running?

  16. How odd! It was not showing at all when I checked a few minutes ago. Now it is. Cool !
  17. How much of these contradictions could be explained by removing Proverbs from the list? That is generally known as poetry, so poetic license could be involved. Then, consider that the Tribal God of the Hebrews may not actually be the same Being as the God of Paul and other never-met-Jesus writers of the New Testament. The Hebrew God was capricious and warlike and very much in line with the other gods of the pantheons of the times up to monotheism took over; the New Testament God is much more a Theological Being, existing in the Platonic Ideal rather than the earthly realm. (I blame Paul and the influence of Zarathustra's grip on Persia for the abstract, ideal God of the theologians.) Thank you for the list and the link to it, in any case. I will probably put some of this on my webpage for whatever I decide to do about my Ministry.
  18. Tried that. The website says "Please enter a valid entity number." Yes, I entered it without the #, just the C0432091. Not there. When I tried under the name, it shows suspended. Check for yourself: CA Secty of State
  19. Thanks for the info. I will check with my attorney before proceeding. I wonder if it matters that the ULC incorporation is showing as Suspended on the CA Secretary of State's website? I would think the Mother Church for the ULC would want to be incorporated, although I guess a church would not need to be.
  20. Actually, no one alive today knows why the concept of Satan was created. Elaine Pagels has a book out on that topic (The Birth of Satan) and I have it on my to-be-read list. My understanding is that Christianity inherited it from the Hellenistic (meaning, urbanized, exposed to Greek and Roman thought and viewpoints as opposed to those who stuck to more hardcore Jewish traditions) side of the family tree, in other words, it was Paul's version of Christianity. I have read that Satan came from the Persian concept of Shaitan and Persia was at that time a Zorastrian country, so Zoraster came up with the notion of a dualistic Good versus Evil world. The ancient religions, especially those that had pantheons, tended to understand things in terms of what was good for them and what was bad for them, but not with these overall galactic-level Good and Evil concepts. Pain is a fact of life, so it would not be Evil - just bad. I agree that just having your Diety be all-good (or all-loving) creates logical problems, especially when you start adding all-powerful and/or all-knowing to that. This is why I can not accept a Supreme Being with all three attributes. Either there is more than one, roughly-equal in power, Diety and what we see as evil (or pain or injustice) is the result of their fighting; or there are limits to what the Supreme Being can do or know - or that Being has its own agenda and our suffering do not count as evil or bad in that Being's viewpoint. The really interesting thing to me about Christianity is how the Catholics (at least some and sorta) acknowledge that their Church is built on Authority (Christ to Peter to Popes to all the lower ranks of priest) and the Bible is more a source of inspiration, guiding their actions but not higher than the Pope (which puts a human in charge of their Church); while the Protestants defy the Authority structure and claim all believers are priests if they choose to be, then enshrine the Bible (which puts a badly-translated and poorly-understood and easily-misinterpreted book that was cobbled together by a committee of Catholics in charge of their Church). Most Protestants have little or no knowledge of how the Bible came to be assembled, how many times and how badly it has been translated, how few copies exist of any early versions from which a good translation can be made, how much those Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek early versions differ one from another, how many scholars have taken the books apart and put them back together (comparing them to other religious texts and to the results of archeology and other sciences and arts) and discovered all sorts of things about them, and so on. In short, they (most Protestants) know very little, actually, about the Bible they claim to be Holy and Infallible. They may be able to cite chapter and verse, but not the context in which it was written or how a text that needs inserts [in brackets] and footnotes can possibly be Divinely-perfect. I call myself a Heterodox Christian (among other things) because I was raised a Christian and am part of that culture, and because I still find much to admire and follow in the teachings attributed to Jesus, not because I stupidly turn off my brain whenever a preacher starts spouting off. I do still find much to value in the Bible. Just don't ask me to take it at face value or to accept that the religion about Jesus is more important than the religion of Jesus, that history as relayed in the Bible is seamless and factual, or that everyone done in the name of YVHV was just and righteous.
  21. Okay, I will have to add a disclaimer that they sign to whatever package I work up to give them. I received the Marriages, Funerals & Rites of Passage book yesterday. Bought it off ebay for $15 including s/h. It was written by the lady who runs the ULC Seminary (ulcseminary.org) and it has a nice section of FAQs at the front, as well as some good ceremonies. She also has a sequel with More Marriages, Funerals & ... you know () for $9.95 in doc or text format & they have some cool stuff you can order on that website. I am going to ask her what she thinks about this notion of suing the minister. I mention her book here because it contains some info about counseling and offers some forms for the couple to use in thinking about the marriage before the wedding takes place. (She has another book for the couple that goes more into detail about all the planning they could be doing before their wedding.) Earlier this week, I wasted spent some time at Cokesbury and at LifeWay Christian stores looking for CLERGY signs or bumper stickers or window decals. LifeWay had some books on being a Minister and some on weddings and such, including the Star Manual that is offered on the website store here. Those books give a good bit of coverage to counseling the couple before the wedding. Of course, they are more right-wing or hardcore Christian than I have been since about, oh, age 13 -- but what they are saying about pre-wedding counseling strikes a chord with me, even tho I would do it with a much different emphasis than they would. All of which leads me to think I will need more planning and prep before I even consider doing a wedding. Of course, I sorta knew that -- but it helps to have specific reasons to motivate me to take the time to do it. THANK YOU, everyone who replied to this topic.
  22. Do you (or anyone else on here) recall WHERE the Minister or Ministers were? I am in TN and laws vary so much from state to state. I did look into the laws here in TN and I intend to discuss this with my attorney before I actually officiate at any ceremonies, so I am not RELYING on this Forum for legal advice -- but it would be nice to know if these sorta-remembered instances were in a state other than mine.
  23. My wife is not happy with my decision to become a ULC Minister, or, quite frankly, any kind of Minister. She also wants me to focus my attentions on things that will bring in money and sees this as a distraction from that purpose. Now she has mentioned a fear of something I had never heard of -- the minister being sued if the marriage turns out badly. I suggested that if Ministers were liable for how the marriages turned out and could be sued when they went bad, we would not have any Ministers left with the divorce rates and rates of spousal abuse being what they are. She said with my luck, I could be the test case that let it happen. (Gee, thanks for the support, dear!) So, while I know there are no lawyers on here, have any of you heard of a Minister being sued for a bad marriage? Or anything else besides criminal activity (fraud, theft, child abuse)? I am going to ask my attorney about this as soon as I can, but I thought someone on this forum might have heard of it, if it has happened.
  24. The ancient argument against the Christian God and one still brought up today is that any being who is both all-knowing and all-powerful could not then also be all-good, else where did evil and pain come from? Either He is not all-knowing (so some things surprise Him) or She is not all-powerful (so some things She can not do) or They are not all-good (so sometimes They let us suffer and let evil exist to serve Their own purposes). I am sure there are Christian apologists who have answered the you-cannot-be-all-three argument, but I have not read their refutation and logic would seem to side with the no-you-cannot argument, IMHO. One of the reasons I am a Discordian UU Heterodox Christian, rather than the mainstream Baptist I was raised to be, is because I long ago rejected the all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good Trinity God. It makes much more sense to me to believe that sometimes She is just whimsical and while She can know anything, she does not pay attention to us all the time. By the way, an apologist is someone who explains something and answers its critics, not someone who says they are sorry about something. An apology used to mean an explanation, not a statement of remorse.
  25. Oh. Well, as you are the Admin, I will leave that sort of determination in your hands. I still would have reported her if there was not already a long thread spun out from her original post. Now I know that I would have been wasting your time, so, hypothetically speaking, please forgive me for that hypothetical waste.