Brother Kevin

Big Win for Religious Freedom and the ULC

Recommended Posts

Andre Hensley notified me that the New York Supreme Court has handed down a decision in a case that has a lot of significance for religious freedom in general and for the Universal Life Church specifically.   In Oswald v Oswald, the court held among other things, that the Universal Life Church is a "church" within the definition of the New York statutes.   

As church president, Mr. Hensley was called to New York to testify in this case, which the court relied upon heavily in making its determination.    It will be interesting to see whether that information is redacted from the case file when this information is posted by "you know who" or whether he will attempt to usurp credit for this victory as with everything else.

The court's ruling may be found here

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mark 45   

while it is about time,is the law changing for new york state,and even more so,for new york city?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm an Atheist ULC clergyperson and don't believe in supernatural powers but consider my ministry work as valid as any other members ministry work who may be religious in nature. So this is good news for me also.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/15/2016 at 1:18 PM, mark 45 said:

while it is about time,is the law changing for new york state,and even more so,for new york city?

It doesn't change the law, no.   New York City was already accepting ULC ministers and issuing them the required permits to officiate marriage.  That issue was resolved quite a long time ago.

There were those who claimed that the state law of New York did not include ULC ministers, for various reasons, and pointed to an old divorce case for support of that idea.  Which to me, always seemed silly,  because if true, that would have meant that the New York City Clerk's office was issuing the permits to ministers who were not authorized by the state law to officiate marriage.   (Not to mention that pesky old First Amendment!).

In issuing this decision, the state's highest court ruled that Universal Life Church is a church within the meaning of the statute.    Nothing "changes" other than that the question has be resolved.   It seems highly unlikely that the case would be heard by the SCOTUS, but let's hope it is!   I cannot imagine the SCOTUS issuing a different ruling, and that would then be persuasive in getting the few remaining recalcitrant jurisdictions to quit playing games with religious liberty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mark 45   

thank you bro kevin.it has been a very long time since new york was talked about.

i suspected nothing changed,new york is one of the hardest places to get a permit to conduct marriage(especially if you are ulc).while i have no plans to officiate a wedding there,i can't say it would never happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I received this information from Dusty Hoesly, a member of our ULC community who has been following this case closely.  It appears that the state of New York has a different understanding of the word "Supreme" and especially "Supreme Court" than the rest of the world, and that this case still has a path to appeal even within the state.    So far the courts are ruling in favor of religious freedom on this one, but it will continue to be one to keep an eye on!

Dusty wrote:

I quickly scanned the court decision, and sure enough the judge rules that the ULC counts as a religion in New York. However, the New York State court system is funny, and they call their trial and superior courts "Supreme Court," their courts of appeals "Appellate Divisions," and their supreme court the "Court of Appeals." So, in this instance, while the signature at the bottom of the decision says Acting Supreme Court Justice, Judge Sise is really a local county judge and not a member of highest court in the state.

In 2013, the Third Appellate Division ruled in favor of the ULC while deciding an issue regarding this same case. However, that court sent some matters back to the lower court for further considering, including deciding whether the ULC counts as a church. That question was resolved by the case you sent me, in which the lower-level court judge ruled in favor of the ULC as a church when deciding the ultimate issue: the divorce proceedings of the Oswald couple.

I hope this helps. New York's court system is confusing and I'm still trying to get the hang of it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tylwoo   

Thanks so much for this . I was just asked to officiate a wedding in NY and I was hesitant to say yes and have been stressing over it. But now I that I can!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brother Kevin, thank you for posting this.  The reason why this order may be appealed is because of the divorce settlement.  But generally the appealing part has to specify those matters/decisions on appeal. Most states also have a 30-day peripod (from the date of the entry of the order) to file the appeal.  (yes, I am a retired lawyer - emphasis on the "retired"). I hope that the individual monitoring this will check it to see if an appeal in filed.

But the bottom line, it's a great decision for the Universal Life Churc

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bro. Hex   
On 6/14/2016 at 5:43 PM, Brother Kevin said:

  It will be interesting to see whether that information is redacted from the case file when this information is posted by "you know who" or whether he will attempt to usurp credit for this victory as with everything else.

Actually,  No, I don't "know who", Brother Kevin. Could you please educate me ? ( private message OK)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Key   
34 minutes ago, Bro. Hex said:

Actually,  No, I don't "know who", Brother Kevin. Could you please educate me ? ( private message OK)

He's referring to someone who tried hijacking the ULC name and calling his faction the true ULC. His organization has a reputation for ripping people off under the guise of providing service, which they at times never delivered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now