Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be able to marry people, but I remember being told that the only people that could do so were ministers and boat captains. I wasn’t about to spend time in a seminary or learn to pilot a boat, so my childhood aspiration has been left unmet until now.
Thanks to the great democratic medium known as the Internet, I got to peruse the multitude of churches that have loose enough ethics to allow even the worst of sinners to join their ranks. Below are just a few of the places where I am now recognized as a man of the cloth.
Universal Life Church Monastery – This is the big daddy of them all. With a purported membership of more than 20 million, the ULC says it’s the only church that lets you legally officiate weddings, baptisms, and funerals without requiring any allegiance to any particular religion. This raises the question of how many illegal baptisms are taking place … but I’ll take whatever makes me look more official. Better yet, by joinin – g the ULC, I now have the authority to absolve others of their sins! So the next time you see me downing my fifth Manhattan at the Alibi and you’re feeling guilty about fucking what’s-her-face without telling her about your herpes “problem,” stop by and I’ll make things right as rain. I even take tithes and offerings. All the church asks is that I promote the freedom of religion and do that which is right. In fact, they encouraged me to join even if I don’t believe in any higher power. This is one I definitely had to join.
Rose Ministries – Found at openordination.org, Rose Ministries requires a payment of at least $29.95 to become an ordained minister. The only upside would be getting a load of swag that makes you look like you know what you’re doing. Honestly though, the thing looked like a scam, so I don’t recommend this one.
Spiritual Humanism – (spiritualhumanism.org) While the aforementioned two have some sort of tenuous connection to the Judeo-Christian faith, the Spiritual Humanists focus more on the practice of one’s freedom to spiritually and rationally grow in any way they deem necessary. I do appreciate the broader, deity- free scope of this church, and I like that the website uses quotes from Carl Sagan rather than the Bible. Other than that … pretty bland. I joined anyway.
These are just a few of the sites that will allow you exploit all the loopholes of the First Amendment. I’d go with the Universal Life Church, almost solely based on the fact that you can absolve sins. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the experience of becoming ordained by at least two organizations over the Internet in a completely impersonal setting, it’s that there’s always a way to cheapen things that are important to people. And it doesn’t really make their spiritual or religious experiences cheap in and of themselves, it just further indemnifies the idea that the intensity and realness of any religious experience or communion lies solely in the one experiencing it. I can spend seven years in rabbinical school or I can go to a website — it really amounts to the same thing.
I’m just happy I get to be called Brother Duke. I’d be happy to officiate anybody’s wedding, funeral or baptism, as long as I’m compensated with a plate of barbecue ribs, and I get to write the vows. I am now booking appointments at firstname.lastname@example.org.