I just tried revisiting www.ulc.org and it appeared to be a blank page. However, by viewing the source I could see that it was supposed to redirect to www.themonastery.org.
I had an email discussion about voting systems today with an Australian guy called Rev Simon Rumble. When I asked if he is really a Reverend he replied that he is a "devout evangelical atheist and a minister of the Universal Life Church". This, he insisted, is not a contradiction. I was naturally curious so I looked at the wikipedia entry and then at www.ulc.org, the website of The Universal Life Church Monastery". On the main page it says:
You can become a legally ordained minister, instantly, online, at this website. The Universal Life Church is totally non-denominational, interfaith and welcomes all religions. After you fill out the ordination form, you will receive a pop-up instant credential, which serves as your receipt of your ordination. Print it immediately.
What is it all about then? It seems that in the United States at least, the Constitution does not allow official discrimination against any religion, so a ULC minister can officiate at weddings, funerals, baptisms etc. Once ordained it is possible, together with only two other people, to form a congregation which you can then donate money to - tax free! Brother Daniel Zimmerman, in his introduction to the above website, spells out the only requirement for ordination:
We ask only that you promote the freedom of religion and do that which is right. It is up to the individual to determine what is right as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others and is within the law. That is as close to the Golden Rule as one can come.
But doesn't doing "that which is right" sometimes involve breaking the law? Also, what if I decide that the sacred herb cannabis sativa should be used as a sacrement? It seems a bit too restrictive to me! But if one of the purposes is to qualify for some sort of official tax-exempt status in the United States I guess they might have to include that spoiler.
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010