Universal life church symbols

Universal life church symbols DEFAULT

Universal Life Church

Religious organization which offers ordination to anyone

Not to be confused with Universal Life Church Monastery.

The Universal Life Church (ULC) is a non-denominational religious organization founded in by Kirby J. Hensley,[3][4] under the doctrine: "Do that which is right". The Universal Life Church advocates for religious freedom, offering legal ordination to become a minister for a small fee, and in many cases free of charge, to anyone who wishes to join. The ULC has ordained ministers from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs, including Christians, atheists, Wiccans, pagans, Jews, and people of many other faiths.[5] The ULC's popularity stems in part from a rising interest in having friends or loved ones host weddings, a trend which has attracted a range of celebrities to become ordained including Stevie Nicks, Adele, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen,[6]Conan O’Brien and Steven Tyler, among others.[7] However, four U.S. states have held that they will not recognize marriages solemnized by ULC ministers,[8] while eight states have specifically held such marriages to be valid, these being Alabama,[9]Illinois,[10]Mississippi,[11]Pennsylvania,[12]South Carolina,[13][14]Texas,[15]Utah,[16] and Washington.[17] The remainder have not addressed the issue.


Foundation and early growth[edit]

The Universal Life Church was founded by Kirby J. Hensley, "a self-educated Baptist minister who was deeply influenced by his reading in world religion".[4] Religious scholar James R. Lewis wrote that Hensley "began to conceive of a church that would, on the one hand, offer complete freedom of religion, and could, on the other hand, bring all people of all religions together, instead of separating them".[4] With this aim, he sought to establish "a new religion that would emphasize what all religions have in common",[3] establishing this entity in under the name "Life Church" in Modesto, California.[5][18] He first held services in his garage, and incorporated the organization in [3][19]

The ULC began issuing mail-order ordinations shortly after its incorporation. The church's growth was affected in part by social movements; during the Vietnam War, a widely circulated rumor claimed that ordination would qualify one for a legal exemption from the draft. Ordination requests increased dramatically, but the rumor proved to be false.[5] The ULC and its founder, Hensley, were also featured in several publications during this time, including Rolling Stone, which further increased public awareness of the church.[20] In the late s, Hensley "became something of a folk hero among the young", particularly with college students, whom he would mass-ordain at speaking events.[3] He offered a Doctor of Divinity degree from the ULC for twenty dollars, including "ten free lessons explaining how to set up a church", until the state of California ordered him to stop issuing degrees without accreditation.[3] By , the church had ordained over 1 million ministers. Also in , a federal judge declared that the ULC was qualified for a religious tax exemption.[5][21]

Later expansion and division[edit]

The Universal Life Church ran into difficulties as new branches of the ULC were granted charters and began moving off in different directions. The Modesto group struggled to maintain control over these other entities as ULC affiliates grew in number.[22] There are currently multiple groups operating under the ULC name, most of which are unaffiliated in practice.[20] During this period, the IRS became suspicious about tax avoidance efforts within the church, eventually determining that Hensley, the Modesto ULC, and numerous affiliated churches chartered under its name were promoting tax avoidance schemes within church periodicals. As a result, the IRS withdrew ULC Modesto's tax-exempt status in Over the next 16 years, Hensley and his family battled the IRS in court over disputed tax payments. The matter was eventually settled in when the Modesto group agreed to pay $ million in back taxes.[20]

By , the ULC had begun offering ordinations online. News coverage about journalists and celebrities getting ordained to perform weddings helped boost the popularity of online ordination. As more people became aware of non-traditional officiants presiding over wedding ceremonies, ULC membership rolls surged. Between and , the ULC issued more than 18 million ordinations worldwide.[22][23] A large number of people seeking ULC ordination do so in order to be able to legally officiate at weddings[7] or perform other spiritual rites. A article noted that "[a]bout 70 percent of people who become ordained through the Universal Life Church do so to officiate at weddings".[23] According to a internal survey conducted by wedding website The Knot and reported by the Baltimore Sun, 43% of couples in the U.S. in chose to have a friend or family member officiate their wedding, up from 29% in [24] Another example of a person becoming ordained through ULC in order to perform a religious ritual is that of a Native American in Cincinnati, who needed such an affiliation to perform smudging ceremonies as part of the prayer ritual for other Native Americans in area hospitals.[23]

Following Kirby Hensley's death in , an organizational split led to the creation of the ULC Monastery (ULCM; now based in Seattle under the name Universal Life Church Ministries), which remains unaffiliated with the Modesto group.[5] The ULCM formally split from the ULC in following financial, legal, and philosophical disputes between the two bodies[25] and began ordaining ministers independently.[26][27]

Beliefs and practices[edit]

The U.S. Department of the Army publication, Religious Requirements and Practices: A Handbook for Chaplains, summarized the doctrines of the ULC as follows:

The Universal Life Church has only one belief. They believe in that which is right and in every person's right to interpret what is right. The Universal Life Church has no creed or authoritative book such as a Bible. Those wishing to learn about the Church can obtain its periodical Universal Life and other materials that it publishes from its international headquarters. No specific ethical guidelines except to do "what is right". The Universal Life Church is open and accepting of people of all religions. It is opposed only to those religions that attempt to deny religious freedom. Any minister in the ULC can ordain new members. The Universal Life Church has no specific holidays, though local congregations celebrate a wide variety of them. There are two gatherings (conventions) each year in the spring and in the fall, at which the members and ministers meet for celebration and to conduct business.[4]

According to Lewis, Hensley personally believed in reincarnation, in a merely human Jesus, and "in the reunification of all religions and governments under the Universal Life banner during thirty years of turmoil around the year ";[3] however, none of these beliefs were doctrinal to the ULC, which allowed members to follow their own doctrines. The Army's Handbook for Chaplains also notes that the ULC "has a very loose structure", with those ordained being given "a set of instructions on how to form a congregation", but otherwise operating with complete autonomy. It further notes that those ordained "may perform any of the functions normally associated with the clergy, including the conducting of weddings, funerals, etc.", and that "[g]roup worship is not required, but local congregations are required to hold regular meetings".[4] The ULC is noted to have no medical or dietary restrictions, and no specific burial requirements.[4] With respect to military service, the handbook notes that the ULC maintains no doctrinal opposition to military service, but "respects the individual opinion of its members".[4]

Legal status[edit]

Main article: Legal status of the Universal Life Church

The legitimacy of ULC ordination has been challenged in legal venues, primarily with respect to the questions of whether it constitutes a religious affiliation for tax purposes, and whether ordinations legally permit recipients to perform weddings in various jurisdictions. Lewis notes that the Internal Revenue Service has generally assumed a negative predisposition towards the ULC, and has sought to eliminate the organization's tax-exempt status.[3] A number of legal cases have addressed this question, as well as the ordination question, with varying results.

Four U.S. states expressly do not recognize ministers of the Universal Life Church as wedding celebrants, and in jurisdictions in which Universal Life Church ministers are not authorized to solemnize marriages, the solemnization of a marriage by a minister of the Universal Life Church (who is not otherwise authorized) may result in the validity of the marriage being questioned.[8] Professor Robert Rains, writing in the University of Miami Law Review, has warned that "even a reasonably intelligent (and suspicious) person could be readily misled by the ULC into believing that by becoming a ULC minister he can legally perform marriages throughout the United States, and beyond."[28] In Canada, ULC ministers are currently not authorized to solemnize marriage in any province or territory.[29] In places where being a ULC minister does not legally authorize a person to solemnize marriages, ULC ministers intending to do so must also meet other requirements, which might include registering as a notary public, justice of the peace, or marriage commissioner.


The ULC has occasionally been criticized for its openness and ease of ordination. Some people, usually as a joke, submit ordination requests for their pets.[30] The ULC has tried to curb the ordination of pets, but if the name on the application appears to be legitimate, the application will probably be submitted. The ULC website warns against fraudulent ordination requests, including attempts to ordain pets: "No one is rejected because of their name, but we must protect the integrity of the records against those who fraudulently submit requests for pets, obscene names, etc. Applying for ordination in the name of a fictitious person or animal, or the submission of a person's name without his or her permission is fraud, and may subject you to prosecution!" In , The New York Times wrote that the ULC "pumps out ordinations at an assembly-line pace, almost mocking a process that usually requires years of seminary study".[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Contact Universal Life Church". Modesto, CA: Universal Life Church. Archived from the original on January 28, Retrieved January 28,
  2. ^"ModestoBee.com". Archived from the original on August 2, Retrieved August 2,
  3. ^ abcdefgJames R. Lewis, The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions (), p.
  4. ^ abcdefgU.S. Department of the Army, Religious Requirements and Practices: A Handbook for Chaplains (), p. VII
  5. ^ abcdeHoesly, Dusty (October 23, ). "'Need a Minister? How About Your Brother?': The Universal Life Church between Religion and Non-Religion". Secularism and Nonreligion. 4 (1). doi/snr.be. ISSN&#;
  6. ^Wolfson, Sam (April 4, ). "The wedding singer: Adele and the rise of celebrity ministers". the Guardian. Archived from the original on February 12, Retrieved September 16,
  7. ^ ab"Couples Personalizing Role of Religion in Wedding Ceremonies". Archived from the original on September 16, Retrieved September 16,
  8. ^ abOswald v. Oswald, N.Y. Slip Op. (N.Y. App. Div. ); Ranieri v. Ranieri, N.Y.S.2d (N.Y. App. Div. ); State v. Lynch, S.E.2d (N.C. ); Cramer v. Commonwealth, S.E.2d (Va. ); Robert E. Rains, Marriage in the Time of Internet Ministers: I Now Pronounce You Married, But Who Am I To Do So?, 64 U. Miami L. Rev. , - 34 ().
  9. ^"Couples looking to marry in Alabama don't need a judge or church; a friend can do the job". Huntsville Real-Time News. January 13, Archived from the original on October 9, Retrieved October 9,
  10. ^"Center for Inquiry Inc v. Marion Circuit Court Clerk". Findlaw. March 31, Retrieved May 11,
  11. ^"MATTER OF LAST WILL & TEST. OF BLACKWELL, So. 2d - Miss: Supreme Court - Google Scholar". Archived from the original on September 30, Retrieved September 1,
  12. ^"O'Neill v Bucks County". Archived from the original on August 7, Retrieved August 28, &#;(&#;MB)
  13. ^"South Carolina Office of the Attorney General Opinion". Archived from the original on December 8, Retrieved September 24, &#;(&#;KB) (11 January ).
  14. ^"South Carolina Office of the Attorney General Opinion". Archived from the original on December 8, Retrieved September 24, &#;(&#;KB) (29 March )
  15. ^Ctr. for Inquiry, Inc. v. Warren, CIVIL ACTION NO. CVB at *20 (N.D. Tex., ).
  16. ^"Universal Life Church v. Utah, F. Supp. 2d ". Dist. Court, D. Utah. January 17, Archived from the original on September 30, Retrieved November 1,
  17. ^"Letter Opinion No. &#; Washington State". www.atg.wa.gov. Archived from the original on August 9, Retrieved August 12,
  18. ^Ashmore, Lewis (). The Modesto messiah: The famous mail-order minister. Universal Press. ISBN&#;.
  19. ^, Ashmore, Lewis (). The Modesto messiah&#;: the famous mail-order minister. Bakersfield, Calif.: Universal Press. ISBN&#;. OCLC&#;CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ abc"Inside the Universal Life Church, the Internet's one true religion - The Kernel". The Kernel. December 14, Archived from the original on September 16, Retrieved September 16,
  21. ^"Cramer v. Commonwealth". Justia Law. Archived from the original on September 16, Retrieved September 16,
  22. ^ ab"Universal Life Goes On". modbee. Archived from the original on September 16, Retrieved September 16,
  23. ^ abcLauren Bishop, Ordained for the Occasion, The Cincinnati Enquirer (April 14, ), p. A1, A9.
  24. ^Britto, Brittany. "The new normal: Friends, family presiding at weddings". baltimoresun.com. Archived from the original on April 11, Retrieved October 28,
  25. ^"Pa. judge nullifies weddings by online ministers". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 13, Retrieved December 27,
  26. ^"UI students serve as ordained ministers". The Daily Iowan. Archived from the original on November 13, Retrieved December 27,
  27. ^Hodges, Jane (June 12, ). "Chapel Bound: Getting Ordained Online". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on December 28, Retrieved December 27,
  28. ^Robert E. Rains, Marriage in the Time of Internet Ministers: I Now Pronounce You Married, But Who Am I To Do So?, 64 U. Miami L. Rev. , - 35 ().
  29. ^"Wedding Laws By State". Universal Life Church Online. Retrieved January 10,
  30. ^Cody Clark (Daily Herald). "You may now lick the bride: Canine clergyman helps household pets tie the knot". Pet Weds: Pet & Animal Nuptials. Archived from the original on December 22, Retrieved June 15,
  31. ^"Couples Personalizing Role of Religion in Wedding Ceremonies". The New York Times. June 26, Archived from the original on October 24, Retrieved August 29,

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Life_Church


Nine Symbols from Some of the World’s More Obscure Religions.

The world is an active contradiction. While the internet has connected the people of the globe in new and exciting ways, the planet still remains a vast and mysterious realm. Throughout human history, religion has most often been used to explain that which cannot be fully comprehended about the world. Though the major religions like Christianity and Islam often get the most attention from the masses, it is important to note there are upwards of 4, religions currently being practiced around the planet. Here are details on some of the more obscure religions.

Learning about some of the more obscure religions of the world can be fascinating. Some of these groups have origins dating back centuries, and others only popped up in recent decades. No matter when and where these groups came from, they each play a significant role in the everyday lives of their members.


Some religions have deep roots but have only taken off in modern history. This is the case with the religion of Ásatrú. Often referred to as Odinism, this set of beliefs can trace its beginnings back to ancient Scandinavia. The deities and traditions of this religion are Norse in origin, and its pantheon includes venerated figures like Thor and Odin. While much of this religion has ancient origins, Ásatrú usually refers specifically to a movement that took off in the United States in the s.

There are people who follow this faith in both America and Scandinavia, though there are significant differences in the way the religion is observed. The religion is not as popular as it once was in the United States, but there are still a significant number of people who currently follow this belief. Reports from the past decade state there are several thousand active believers in America, though it can be difficult to ascertain exact numbers when it comes to religious surveys and the number might actually be higher.


Some obscure religions remain on the fringes because they are small, but that is not always the case. Jainism is a religion many Westerners are unfamiliar with, even though there are more than five million people across the world who follow its path. This religion emerged from India, and it dates back so far, scholars are not certain about when it actually began. Records and writings suggest this religion might have begun thousands of years ago, though it is impossible to know for certain. Though its origins might be shrouded in mystery, its message is clear.

Jainists believe in walking a path of nonviolence. Respect for all living things is one of the most important beliefs associated with this religion. Those who follow Jainism must make certain vows in order to walk this path with truth. Usually, they will live chaste lives, honor truth, give up their possessions, and constantly work toward conquering all the passions that can tempt one in life. Though this religion began in India, it has spread across the world and has significant number of followers in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

A Rich Tapestry

Another interesting religious group that currently exists in the world is Jediism. This religious group follows the teachings of none other than filmmaker George Lucas and his “Star Wars” franchise. Those who follow this religion believe “the Force” is real and that it can be manipulated by a certain few. Though there are not many active followers of Jediism, those who do belong to this faith have gained significant media attention over the years. The most notable example of this is when many people listed their religion as “Jedi” during the census.

There are many fascinating religions being practiced across the world. While customs and traditions may vary, all religions have the common trait of helping people to make sense of the world around them. Whether ancient or modern, small in scale or a worldwide presence, each religion offers something meaningful to the men and women who follow it.

ÁsatrúJainismJediismObscure ReligionsSours: https://www.universallifechurch.org//07/11/some-of-the-worlds-more-obscure-religions/
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What is the Universal Life Church?


The Universal Life Church (ULC) is an online, non-denominational organization that offers ordinationso that individuals can operate as clergy, primarily for the purpose of officiating at weddings. The Universal Life Church espouses no traditional form of doctrine; rather, it promotes the mantra “we are all children of the same universe.”

Ordination with the Universal Life Church is as easy as filling out one’s name, state, and e-mail address online. A minister’s packet with ordination credentials from the ULC costs $ The pack includes the following:

• Ordination credential (minister’s license)
• 1 ULC wallet license
• 1 black clergy badge
• 1 parking hanger
• 1 minister window cling
• 1 press pass/parking placard
• 1 ULC bumper sticker with symbols
• 1 minister bumper sticker

The Universal Life Church website emphasizes that receiving an online ordination is usually for officiating weddings for family and friends, but it also mentions that officiating at weddings can be quite lucrative. The officiants can easily make $ per ceremony, and those who are really successful can make as much as $2, a week. The Universal Life Church is open to people of all faiths as long as they agree to the following: 1) do only that which is right and 2) all should be free to worship as they see fit.

By signing up through the Universal Life Church website, anyone 13 or older can become ordained in the Universal Life Church. Ordination is free, but, once ordained, the newly minted minister may need a variety of resources such as “Ministry in a Box,” which “includes everything an ordained minister will need to perform all of the functions of ministry that they could every [sic] possibly be asked to perform” (this resource is available for $ as of 2/13/17). The Universal Life Church makes available minster’s apparel and identification cards. One can get certificates designating the holder as a Jedi Knightor a god or goddess of Wicca. Blank certificates are also available that can be filled in with any religious title. Books on paganism, Wicca, Hinduism, Islam, Kabbalah, and even atheism are available for purchase. Except for the Jefferson Bible, which contains the life and morals of Jesus minus the miracles and divine claims, Bibles are not sold on the Universal Life Church website. However, the KJV is offered as a free download.

The Universal Life Church website claims that they have 20 million ordained ministers worldwide. Some of their more notable “ministers” are Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Lady Gaga, Richard Branson, and Paul McCartney.

Beyond the things already mentioned, the Universal Life Church “tenets of faith” are problematic. If we set aside for a moment all of the crucial issues that are not addressed in their statement (sin, salvation, God, and Christ, just to name a few), we still have the problem of how to know what is “right” (tenet #1). Without some universal standard, there will be great disagreement on the wrong that is to be avoided. Bible-believing Christians will say that homosexual marriageviolates God’s law and the natural order that God ordained. However, the Universal Life Church has issued the following “Ecclesiastical Proclamation”: “All persons with love for one another have a religious and constitutional right under the 1st Amendment of the United States, to the Sacrament of Marriage. Such is invoked under natural, primal, and religious law. Given this understanding, we hold that it is a denial of religious rights by the United States government to restrain our ministers from their constitutional right to perform the ritual of the Sacrament of Marriage to consenting adults, regardless of sexual design.” (This statement was released before the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.) According to the Universal Life Church, to deny marriage to same-sex couples would be wrong. By definition a Universal Life Church “minister” must be willing to perform same-sex marriage or be in violation of the first tenet—which then seems to be in conflict with the second tenet, which would allow everyone to worship as they see fit.

The Universal Life Church essentially gives legal cover for anyone to operate as a minister in whatever way he or she sees fit. Of course, true calling and gifting for ministry comes from God. Ordination is supposed to be the recognition by church leaders that, based on the evidence of one’s life and ministry, one has indeed been called and gifted to minister. The ULC provides an honorary ordination in much the same way that other organizations provide honorary doctorates or allow degrees to be purchased with little or no actual academic work. The Universal Life Church makes a mockery of true ordination.

The work of ministry is not to be taken lightly. Hebrews says, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” While this verse is directed to “church members,” it does emphasize that those who lead the church will have to give an account to God.

Here is the Universal Life Church logo:

Universal Life Church

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Questions about Cults and Religions

What is the Universal Life Church?
Sours: https://www.gotquestions.org/Universal-Life-Church.html

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