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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Universal it's not 

This blog has delved into various religious topics here and there, for both Christian and non-Christian movements. However, it hasn't really delved into the wealth of information about the Universal Life Church. Actually, churches.

Here's part of a statement from ulc.org, the Universal Life Church/ULC Monastery:

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.

As a ULC (Universal Life Church) minister, you can officiate one wedding ceremony or you can make weddings, funerals, baptisms, house blessings, etc. your business. You can even start your own ministry. The Universal Life Church is interfaith and non-denominational.

We have, online, free training for ministers, an online, one-year seminary program, where you can receive a diploma to enhance your knowledge and your credibility, and a monk program....

This site has ordained more than 400,000 ministers since 1995. It is the most extensive, most often visited Universal Life Church website on the internet, world-wide. We have tens of thousands of visitors every month. Come explore our world and visit us often.

I will be your personal minister and advisor, with your consent, at no charge to you. I am here for you each day and I recall a Scripture which says "there is a friend, which sticketh closer than a brother" and I wish to be that friend to you. What would I need to do for you for you to be that type of friend to me?

Brother Daniel Zimmerman

The top of the page says "We are one." So now let's visit ulc.net, the Universal Life Church Online:

Become ordained here today and begin your own ministry! As a legally ordained minister, you may perform weddings, funerals, baptisms and other functions of the clergy.

In existence since 1959, the Universal Life Church is headquartered in Modesto, California, and has congregations around the world. The sun never sets on the Universal Life Church. ULC ministers come from all walks of life and spiritual traditions. Our common thread is our adherence to the universal doctrine of religious freedom:

Do only that which is right.

Of course, there's also the Progressive Universal Life Church (which I guess makes the other ones regressive):

The Progressive Universal Life Church is a world-wide non-denominational inter-faith ministry dedicated to healing mind, spirit & body. We want to help you reach your full potential in life. We want to help you become all that God meant you to be! The PULC offers ordination, degree & diploma programs to help you in your spiritual journey. Order our ministerial certificate now and become a legally ordained minister with the right to use the title "Reverend".
The Progressive Universal Life Church welcomes all individuals, regardless of race, creed or ethnic background. Our members are from all religious faiths and All Parts of the World. We Pray You Will Join Us! God Bless You!

And there is the Military Corps of the Universal Life Church:

The Militant Corps of the ULC believes in the two principles of the Universal Life Church, as advocated by its founder and patron Kirby J. Hensley: All Are One, and That Which is Right.

However, we recognize that in the modern world all are NOT one, and people do NOT do that which is right.

Furthermore, we recognize that governments will not reform to meet such moral requirements uncoerced, as for them to push for Unity is to forfeit their power.

Therefore, the MCULC resolves to create a world in which the principles of Kirby J. Hensley are upheld, and to use all methods necessary and proper towards reaching that end, whether they are through governments, over governments, or around governments.

Once the world is liberated from Those That Divide and Those That Do That Which is Wrong, the MCULC foresees a united world peacefully governed by the ministers of the Universal Life Church.

Even 60 Minutes has gotten involved:

Correspondent Morley Safer remembered a guy named Kirby Hensley, who ran the Universal Life Church in California and was selling theology degrees. He was also a tax rebel.

“All you gotta do is call your garage or your house a church and you live tax-free,” says Hewitt.

Safer: Your paper, Universal Life, does go make a great deal of the whole question of tax exemption. … A lot of the ads in here, I must say, are kind of dubious, slightly, you know, con man…

Hensley: Oh, I'm sure there's a lot of the con man. Sure. I'm just as sure as I'm sitting here that…

Safer: Odd sorts of therapy.

Hensley: Why sure, I'm a con man.

Bringing it all back home. The Universal Life Church(es) tax exempt status was confirmed in 1985.

The Modesto Bee Metro

Saturday, October 26, 1985


Bee staff writer

The Rev. Kirby Hensley, embattled leader of the Modesto-based Universal Life Church, was 'whooping' with joy Friday following another court decision favoring his organization.

The latest victory came in the U.S. Appellate Court in Richmond, Va. The court reversed a $160,000 judgment against the church.

Hensley referred calls to attorney Michael K. Curtis of Greensboro, N.C., who handled the case and who described Hensley's gleeful reaction.

Curtis said the plaintiff in the suit was Sandra Lynch, who charged the church with fraudulently representing that the church could perform a valid marriage license.

Curtis said that, according to trial testimony, the woman and James Lynch began living together when both had other spouses. When one obtained a divorce, they were preparing to marry when Sandra Lynch's father, Charles E. "Red" Wilson, a mail-order Universal Life minister, persuaded them to wait until the second divorce came through, after which he would perform the wedding ceremony.

Wilson married them as a Universal Life minister in 1973.

Approximately five years later, Curtis said, Lynch left his wife and married again, whereupon Sandra Lynch charged him with bigamy. Lynch contended the Universal Life marriage was invalid, and this was sustained through the North Carolina Supreme Court. Sandra Lynch then sued the Universal Life Church, Curtis said, on the ground the ceremony was fraudulent. The jury awarded her $10,000 in actual damages and $150,000 in punitive damages.

Curtis said the federal court ruled that there was not a sufficient showing of fraud by the church. He also said her action did not fall within the statute of limitations.

He said there was extensive testimony that Wilson and other Universal Life ministers had researched the laws and found reasons to believe they could perform marriages. To clear up the matter, he said, the North Carolina Legislature passed a "curative law" to legalize all such previous marriages.

The decision is one in a long string Hensley has won against legal attacks on his church, including a number by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

At some point I'll look into the Gainesville Humanists position on the matter.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)


Well, the Universal Life Church is one church. The PULC is a different church. The ULC has several websites (The ulcseminary.org is one of them too). The ulc.org and ulc.net sites both send their ordinations to Headquarters, so we're all under the same umbrella. :)


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