The internet has changed everything, especially the types of things you can easily obtain. Go on eBay and you can buy a helicopter, no joke. Well, it might be a step back from a helicopter, but now people can become an ordained reverend with just a few clicks.
This started back in the mid 2000’s, but it seems things take a little while to catch on. Inevitably though, this strange phenomenon has made its way to Castleton, where the Universal Life Church is now getting more publicity than it deserves. Essentially, becoming part of this “Church” and becoming ordained is as simple as typing in some basic information and clicking submit.
No, that hasn’t been oversimplified. It’s that easy.
There seem to be two minds about this: one is that it’s easy, it’s free, and hey, why shouldn’t you be able to perform weddings and absolve people of their sins? No harm ever came of that, right?
The second view is that this “mail-order ministry” trivializes something that is sacred to a great many people. Why should someone be able to become not just a reverend, but an ordained one – so they are allowed to perform these tasks in any congregation, even though they technically belong to none – if they have undergone no schooling or training, and may not even practice faith?
We here at the Spartan understand both sides. In our article last issue, the stance came up that it’s good to have this ability if you want a personal wedding with all meaningful members, or if you are unable to perform the ceremony at any local congregation. In a way, this could make the wedding mean more, not less. Why have an unknown member of the clergy do what one of your best friends could?
The above stance is a powerful one, and one that could possibly legitimize something that is otherwise pretty illegitimate. The problem is that that’s rarely if ever how it’s used. Of the three people encountered who’ve done this, all did it for kicks.
It is completely harmless, yes, but imagine this scenario: you’ve gone to college for four years, maybe even two more for good measure. You’ve spent at least $60,000 learning and becoming better qualified in something you’re passionate about, and suddenly you encounter a website that allows you to input your basic information and print out the same degree you received from college.
It’s ridiculous that this “Church” exists. You can bet there would be an uprising if a website was launched that allowed you to print a personalized B.S. in Accounting, so why is this any different?
It’s not. Just because the topic is religious rather than educational doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect people looking for work. Congregations are essentially religious companies, with the same level of entry-level job competition.
All we ask is that you consider how you’d feel if someone could get a free degree in the field that you’re here for four years to get, and they could do it for free in 30 seconds. Maybe that will shed light on how actual reverends feel when they see Dasani being tossed at dorm doors to be “blessed.”
– Nick Minarik