I now pronounce thee . Minister

By Rev. Jon Roig

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Getting married anytime soon? Need someone

to preside over a loved one's funeral? Baptism

services required? Look no further, for I am a licensed minister in the Universal Life Church, the "Mother of all Mail-Order Ministries." I can take care of those things for you Ÿ I can even handle Godfather/Godmother issues.

And you can too Ÿ all you have to do is send in your buck and you'll get a little certificate to prove it. So what if I had to fill mine out myself? I'm a minister!

The ULC, as they call it, claims to be responsible for more marriages in the state of California then all other religions combined. The Rolling Stones, President Johnson, Supreme Court Justice Douglas and Johnny Carson are members. Have you ever seen those Dorritos commercials with Ann Richards, the ex-Governor of Texas? She's a member, too. But those are just the celebrity members Ÿ the church, which was founded in 1959, now has 17 million members worldwide.

"We don't ask questions. I don't sit in judgment," says ULC founder and leader Rev. Kirby Hensley in an article for the Houston Post. "If you want to be a minister, that's good enough for me."

But the fun doesn't have to stop there: all sorts of special titles are available by mail (for a small donation, of course). Have you ever wanted to be a Bishop, Universal Rabbi, Brahman, or a Deacon? They look great on a rÇsumÇ, and they're yours for only five bucks.

Various degrees are also available from the church Ÿ they range in price from $20 for a bachelor's to $100 for a full Ph.D. in religion. If you order now, a Common Law degree will run you $295 instead of the regular $495. The program is even accredited by the Universal Bar Association

No, this is not a joke . well, to some people it might be Ÿ but there's room for everyone in the ULC. You can check it out for yourself on the web: The ULC has a site at http://www.ybi.com/ulc/index.html, while Arizona's own ULC affiliated Steps of Zion Church has a site at http://www.primenet.com/~ottinge/index.html. You can even be ordained on-line on the web at http://ybi.com/ulc/ordain.html Ÿ what other church can claim that it'll make you a minister faster than you can get a Quarter Poundert at McDonalds? The church can also be reached by phone at 1-800-311-2991 or by mail at: Universal Life Church, 601 Third Street, Modesto, Ca, 95351.

According to Daniel Zimmerman, a local Tucson ULC figure, "Life really comes down to three issues, Freedom, Food, and Sex and when you have all you want . that's heaven... and when you don't . that's hell."

"It makes sense, I guess. Why the heck not?" says anthropology junior Josh Roffler. "It's as good as reason as any."

Now, I know what you're thinking Ÿ this is just too good to be true. Is this legal? "YES, we have had many battles with the government, especially the IRS, in the '80s due to the misuse of the church as a tax dodge by thousands of our members. Those days and court battles with the IRS are behind us now," explains Zimmerman via e-mail. "Our credentials are just pieces of paper, though they are legal and fully authorize individuals to perform all sacerdotal duties as are accepted by THEIR BELIEFS. We hope to empower people and we do."

The Universal Life Church doctrine is simple: "The church has two tenets: the absolute right of freedom of religion and to do that which is right. Anything else (within the law) is allowed. ... The Universal Life Church will not stand between you and your God and recognizes that each person must choose his own path. Each person in the ULC is free to follow any path as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. "

Now that's my kinda religion. Made to order and cheap as hell! And yes, I'd like fries with that.

Read Next Article