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The Universal Life Church Is Not A Scam

August 3rd, 2012

Universal Life Church scam

The Universal Life Church is no scam, despite what many ill-informed people want to believe.

A common misconception about the Universal Life Church is that it is a scam, a ruse meant to make money for unscrupulous “church” leaders. Online ministry naysayers frequently claim that ordinations acquired over the internet and without any formal religious training must be invalid and not legally recognized, or that organizations like the ULC are merely running a diploma mill in order to provide a cover with some semblance of legitimacy so that they can rake in money from naive yet innocent men and women hoping to get their ministers license. Despite the volume or tenacity of claims like these, accusations of online ministry fraud are absolutely incorrect (for the ULC Monastery, at any rate).

The following diatribe was written by a person who has it out for the Universal Life Church. We do not know if they were harmed by some branch of the ULC, if they are offended by the concept of online ordination, or had some other reason to attack online churches in such a manner. However, we do know that this person is misinformed and their claim that the Universal Life Church is a scam is completely unfounded.

Please read their rant for yourself, then consider our response, and decide for yourself whether or not the ULC is guilty of fraud as this person seems to suggest we are.

Internet Rant: The Universal Life Church Is A Scam

The Universal Life Church preys upon honest people who seek ordination and provides an avenue for less honest honest to commit tax fraud. Beware of this scam!

ULC makes a joke out of ordination by ordaining pets, refrigerators, cartoon characters, you name it! People study for years to become ordained ministers, but in just minutes any person or thing can get their Universal Life Church ordination. Just think of the potential for harm! What if an ill person seeks counseling and happens to receive it from an untrained “minister” who was roped in by the Universal Life Church scam? Imagine a loving couple who decides to get married only to find out afterward that the whole ceremony was a sham, and the invalid certificate was purchased from the same “church” who provided the two-minute ordination? Good people are in danger of having their dreams mocked and crushed.

Why would anyone seek ordination through Universal Life Church? Some people are participating in the Universal Life Church fraud, becoming ordained “ministers” just to defraud the government by taking advantage of tax deductions meant to take a burden off real ministers who provide their services for very little monetary compensation. Others are suckered in by the ease of ULC ordinations and “degrees.”

Someone out there is lining their pockets with funds obtained by scamming folks out of hundreds of dollars for meaningless sheets of paper decorated with the word “master” or “doctor.” Universal Life Church claims the motto: “Do only that which is right”. Obviously they don’t practice what they preach.

Why The Universal Life Church Is Not A Scam

Universal Life Church Ordinations Are Not Worthless

Anyone who has ever talked with a person who received their ULC minister license can tell you that our online ordination is not worthless. Thousands upon thousands of weddings have been performed by the ULC Monastery’s ministers, of which our staff has collectively witnessed more than a hundred. There are even a couple of well-documented legally-recognized wedding ceremonies that appeared on television when they were performed by some of our entertainer ministers, like Conan O’Brien and Rob Dyrdek, that anyone can see. Other people have used their ministers license to do chaplaincy work or perform a wedding or baptism. Accusations like this make the ULC staff laugh, as it is obvious our accusers haven’t done any research before they make them.

ULC Ministers And Tax Fraud

The ULC Monastery Staff concedes that it is entirely possible that some of the people who have become ordained online through it have committed tax fraud. These people, if they exist, are not ministers; they are criminals. Terrible actions of individual members within an extreme minority of an organization are not representative of these organizations as a whole, and it is irresponsible to suggest and believe otherwise. Catholics are not all child molesters due to the evil actions of a relatively small group of priests, just as not all US soldiers are bloodthirsty killers just because a squad of sadistic American soldiers killed Afghan civilians for sport. If there are ULC “ministers” who commit tax fraud, rest assured that they do so because of personal greed and not because our organizations condones and/or facilitates it.

The Universal Life Church Is A Non-Profit Organization

Again, the obvious inaccuracy of these accusations show that the people who make them are lazy and do not do any research.

The ULC Monastery’s non-profit corporation filings for Washington State, and foreign corporation information for the eight other states that require them, are all easily found online. They show that our organization is a not-for-profit corporation and is thus legally unable to make a profit. All the money that we collect is used to pay our staff, internet hosting fees, rent, utilities, for the supplies we offer, and so on. Any money that is left over at the end of the quarter is promptly donated; a list of charities the ULC Monastery has donated to can be found here. Our organization would be shut down if were we to be investigated by the IRS and found to be pocketing money, so the ULC is greatly incentivized to not commit fraud even if it were interested in doing such a thing.

Non-ministers sometimes point to the cost of the ministerial products we sell and claim that only an organization interested in profit could charge $7 or $18 for pieces of paper (like the ordination credential certificate and letter of good standing certificates we sell). These people are correct; the paper and other materials used to print these documents do not cost $7 and $18. However, it is vital to remember that these prices are set while considering a number of costs that we must cover in order to remain in operation. For example, the amount of money that is devoted to paying rent for the office building the ULC works out of per ordination credential it sells far exceeds the amount of money spent on the paper it is printed on (which is not cheap). In short, our online church only has one form of income and thus must cover all of its costs using it; we sell ordination credential certificates for $7 out of necessity, not out of greed.

Please let us know if this (admittedly lengthy) article does not allay all of your concerns about the Universal Life Church.


  1. Rev. Carole A. Sawyer says:

    I have been ordained by ULC for several years and have never attempted to defraud anyone. I know that foreign ideas tend to scare people, and I also know there will always be people who will shout about some imagined form of injustice. These are the people that those of us at ULC must pray for, as they are in dire need. Bigotry in any aspect is still bigotry, so no further comment is necessary. I refuse to dignify bigoted ignorance, but rather offer a suggestion. Open your mind, look at ULC’s site, and remember, as in all walks of life you will always have those who would try to manipulate situations for their own gain, but that does not mean everyone would commit such an abomination.

  2. Rev Richard Leroy Chambers says:

    I want to thank you. Without the finance I can not afford to go to a collage. I do want to learn more, and I do, every day through the love of God. If every one Had to go to a collage there would be a shortage of ministers to preach the word of God. The disciples were appointed by Jesus. They had no training. So once again I want to say thank you, and thank God for this opportunity to sever God.

  3. Rev Cr Doc Fazzio Ph D says:

    The ULC is not a scam.I have performed at least three weddings and recorded them legally in parish courthouses.Freedom of religion was won by many veterans against Hitler in Worl WarII .Now the conservative right is trying all they can to abolish it.Guns churches smoking bans what next no gum chewing in public????

    • Daryn Mingus says:

      LOL we won freedom of religion and our Gun Rights in the American Revolution , WWII didn’t threaten freedom of religion , Hitler didn’t want to invade the U.S. because he knew it would be impossible , also it’s not the Right thats trying to ban guns and freedom of religion , its the Liberal Left.

  4. Kate Darling says:

    I don’t think that the Universal Life Church is a scam but it is very hard to respect or take it seriously. But what can I say ..? People want a piece of paper..
    But genuine religious organizations generally have seminaries involving professional training and educational requirements and as such the ordinations conferred by such groups generally ensure that the clergy are actually qualified. There are similar places that give people doctorate degrees and what is totally funny is that someone will put such credentials on their resumes when applying for jobs. I always laugh when people say they are ordained with the Universal Life Church and I mean that in a nice way as it is a total joke and not worth anything in terms of professional training or spirituality.

    • Rev Howard Slayton says:

      Some folks attend a seminary to become a minister, that’s true. I have been ordained by ULC for 24 years now. And for all of that time I have been a Bible student, and read books on counseling, and various pastoral ministries. I’ve taken correspondence courses from the Southern Baptist Seminary in Nashville. I happen to have several degrees from the universal life church but they all came with a course of instruction and the degrees I have are within the scope of my being a minister. I have a Masters Degree in Religion, a Doctor of Biblical Studies, and a Doctor of Divinity. I also have a SOUL Clinic License (Science of Understanding Life) which is a pastoral counseling course which I had to read 2 psychology books. I have a large library of books on ministry subjects that I use daily. So to say I am untrained is simply incorrect. As long as I’m breathing, I will continue to study pastoral subjects. I was a Boy Scout and our motto was Be Prepared. I feel called to the ministry and I didn’t have $10,000 to spend on seminary school. Rev Howard

  5. rev. jason horman says:

    @kate darling: no you don’t mean it in a “nice way” as the very next words committed to your comment are: ” it is a total joke and not worth anything in terms of…”
    now understand that with this next question i am not calling every priest a pervert… but rather am proving a point with your lack of respect with regards to our calling…

    Q: how many child molesting catholic priests have gone to seminary schools and are considered “professionals”?…
    A: all of them… every single one of them…

    as ulc states it in regards to a tax-evading minister… they aren’t ministers, they are criminals…
    in that same light, a child molesting priest (catholic or otherwise) is not a professional, a priest, he is a sexual predator and a criminal

  6. I received my Ph.d in Holistic ministries from the American Institute of Holistic Theology. At the time I could only take ordination in places as ULC. My ministry is real and I have done much with my ministry work. I have married people which I love to do. I am also a registered expressive art therapist with a masters from the school of the art institute of chicago, a real masters which entitles me to practive therapy. I feel obtaining my Ph.d in HT expanded my awareness which benefited my practice as a therapist and holistic minister. I’m also gay and not all denominational ministries will not accept my sexuality. ULC does and I can practice within my scope of both therpaist and minister, the best of two worlds for me.

  7. Rev. Kerri OBrien says:

    Kate .. I agree with Jason.. you don’t mean what you said in a nice way.. or you wouldn’t laugh and/or say it..

    I have been ordained for several years… I do not need to go to college and get a degree to share and live my spirituality… I chose to go through the ULC instead of getting my license in psychology or another profession to reach out to people because I do not want the government to tell me that I can not share God and spirituality. As a counselor through the ULC I am able to talk about God and spirituality.

    There are criminals in all walks of life.. But most people who get ordained have a true and honest calling from God. I take my ordination seriously and am not going to try to prove to people that it is real. Sorry you feel that it is a joke… you have the right to your opinion but we are not suppose to throw stones when we live in a glass house ourselves.

    Rev Kurt F has a good point about being able to practice within a scope of both therapist and minister… God Bless!

  8. This is for all, but in response to Kate Darling and Rev. Jason Horman, particularly.

    It also begins with a comment toward the ULC posted reply.


    I was more inclined to read this article than most others, but found a much stronger desire to address the commentary.

    Before I get into it, I want to let you know that I am 21 years old, attending Hendrix College (a private liberal arts school in Conway, Arkansas), and I am double-majoring in Psychology and Philosophy.

    I think we may need to redirect the focus of the debate, as using examples of specific religious denominations and their stereotyped leaders, is irrelevant to those of us who are ULC ordained. Let me explain.

    ULC responder, whether the suggestion of perversion in another group of people is meant to generalize the group or not, it is inappropriate to use on a public forum and especially to use in defense of what ULC does. It is also an irrelevant comparison because the concept of ULC is that it is NOT a denominational organization, with strict rules and a strong background, nor is it as well-known or formally recognized by the general public, as an individual religious sect. People are uninformed because there is very little public pride and sources of awareness from ULC for individuals to access any legitimate, non-rumor based information. The public knows, at the very least, the transgressions of more widely established denominations and organizations, which are made publicly available, after societal exposure teaches religious history in a very limited way.

    Kate Darling, first, I’d like to say that it takes some guts to be the one to oppose others, and more so to receive rudeness in return for your commentary, whether others perceive you as being rude or not. I respect your opinion and actually, wish that you used slightly more clear, formal evidence/explanation for your thoughts because they are valid and reflect many people’s views. If you end up seeing this, I hope you’ll consider maybe typing out a bulleted list or 20 paragraphs, whatever you want, and clarifying each point a little more and letting me know what you think seminary school provides and the difference in the intentions of the individuals who attend schooling, and those of individuals ordained through ULC (positives and negatives – if you have them about either or both). I am being completely sincere, as I have been skeptical prior to, during, and throughout my ordination (in quotes, if you’d like – “ordination”), but I found their regulations for receiving tax benefits to alleviate that concern a good amount, I know they have to charge for SOME thing in order to afford running an organization, but I respect them for not forcing payment to simply say, “I’m ordained”. I ordered a package of the Ministerial Guide that discusses our jobs and the services we can offer and I am learning a lot. It’s been months since my ordination, around six months, and I am still not ready to perform weddings, baptisms, or any full worship service. I do feel comfortable in my abilities to perform cleansing rituals and specifically, spiritual guidance counseling. If you are up for talking a little, I’d love to hear some of the things that we both have probably considered, regarding ULC, so let me know and we can get in touch.

    Rev. Jason Horman, your response to Kate Darling is, in my opinion, rude, unhelpful for teaching others about us (ULC) and for learning to listen to the controversial issues that can help us learn what we need to research, compile evidence, and provide to inform and address their concerns with respect and an open-mind. No matter how people respond or talk about ULC and the members, part of our job is to learn how to properly address anything said, and being the bigger person. To me, telling someone that, whatever they said they meant (“…I mean that in a nice way as it is a total joke and not worth anything in terms of professional training or spirituality.”), was NOT what THEY meant (“@kate darling: no you don’t mean it in a “nice way” as the very next words committed to your comment are: ” it is a total joke and not worth anything in terms of…” …but rather am proving a point with your lack of respect with regards to our calling…”), is very disrespectful, shows your own lack of knowledge regarding “our calling”, and is not stated as your own opinion (which is all it is), but rather as fact, meaning that YOU claim to KNOW what SHE meant. I believe that you need to look at ways to express an opinion, maybe take a second after reading a comment that offends you so much and really think about the most constructive way to respond, as I’ve demonstrated in this post (“In my opinion…”, “I think…”, “I believe…”, etc.), and then respond and help yourself understand their views, encourage a respectful conversation, and help them understand ULC rules, claims, and your individual purpose for your views to show them that many of us want to use this opportunity for good and to expand minds, hearts, and religious tolerance.

    Thanks guys and gals,

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