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The “Universal Life Church Scam” Myth

Why People Believe the Universal Life Church is a Scam

The concept of the online church rankles many people throughout America. These ill-informed persons rarely, if ever, take the time to research the Universal Life Church before  calling it a scam. Their argument’s primary points, presented as our detractors make them (riddled with inaccuracies), can be found below. We’ll address and disprove all of these false accusations in “The Truth About the Universal Life Church Scam Myth” section found later in this post.

Reasons People Believe in the Supposed Universal Life Church Scam

There is no Universal Life Church scam, regardless of what ill-informed people may tell you.

There is no Universal Life Church scam, regardless of what ill-informed people may tell you.

How you get it – how can someone who gets a Universal Life Church ordination online possibly be allowed to have the same legal privileges as a person who got their ordination at a seminary or theological college?

The prices charged for ministerial documentation – how can a minister license cost $10 when it is just a piece of paper? More importantly, what does this “church” do with the funds it raises from the exorbitant amounts it charges for these forms of documentation? This “church” must really be a money-making scheme designed to line the pockets of false religious leaders.

The fact that anyone can get ordained – how can a church ordain anyone and everyone? No real church would allow this as murderers, sex offenders and people of loose morals could easily exploit their system and become ordained ministers, potentially putting them in a position of trust that would allow these evil people to more easily do harm.

Internet Rant About the Supposed “ULC Scam”

The following diatribe was posted on a message board in one of the far recesses of the internet, decrying the Universal Life Church ordination as nothing but a farce. While wholly inaccurate, the arguments made by this highly misinformed person are typical of those who believe in the Universal Life Church scam myth. Please read their post for yourself to see how the “ULC scam” believers think.

NOTE: the text from the original rant has been edited to correct spelling and grammatical mistakes. The content and sentiments of the tirade have not been changed from their original form, however.

Don't listen to what people with too little facts and too much anger will tell you about the so-called "Universal Life Church scam."

Don’t listen to what people with too little facts and too much anger will tell you about the so-called “Universal Life Church scam.”

Ordinary people hoping to become ordained ministers online are falling prey to a scam perpetrated by the Universal Life Church. The Universal Life Church scam revolves around offering ordinations to anyone who desires one, without providing any training whatsoever, for the purpose of scamming them out of money or helping them commit tax fraud.

The Universal Life Church ordination consists of a two minute online session that results in the person who wants to become ordained online becoming a “certified minister.” The laziness or lack of concern exhibited by those involved in the Universal Life Church scam has resulted in that “church” ordaining household pets, household appliances and even characters from cartoons. What does this say about the quality of their ordination? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

While the “ordination” is free, the worthless minister licenses that ministers must buy from the ULC are not. They cost up to $10, not including shipping and handling – just for a piece of paper! What we have here is a “church” that draws innocent people in with false promises of helping them get an ordination in minutes that will allow them to perform legally-recognized ceremonies but then requires them to buy over-priced pieces of paper that are ultimately worthless. Do you really think a county clerk would allow someone who got their “ordination” from a website to file for a marriage license? No, of course they wouldn’t.

What will happen when a person who seeks consoling from a minister speaks with one ordained by Universal Life Church? Will they receive the proper care and nurturing that comes from a true minister? The answer is no. Are couples that recently had their weddings performed by one of these fake ministers entered into a real, legal marriage? Of course not! Their wedding will forever be remembered as a sham.

The Universal Life Church ordination process also poses a dangerous threat to the country’s tax revenues in that less-than-honest people can use their online ordination to find a way to evade paying taxes. These tax breaks are designed to help real ministers, who are often paid little or nothing for their services, make ends meet. Abuse of tax codes is potentially even more heinous than taking people’s money and offering nothing in return.

It is an atrocity what this “online church” is doing, and people everywhere should be aware of the Universal Life Church scam. Honest people that intend to enter or start their own ministry to serve others should seek an ordination program through a legitimate theological college or seminary. In short, the Universal Life Church scam should be avoided at all costs; it is a disgrace to real churches, ministers and most importantly to God.

The Truth About the Universal Life Church Scam Myth

If you are a skeptic about the nature of the ULC or Universal Life Church ordinations, please take all of the things you hear about us with a grain of salt as many of these claims are inaccurate or based on wild speculation. While we cannot speak for all of the branches of the ULC, the following arguments in favor of online ordinations and online churches are all completely applicable to the Universal Life Church Monastery. Please take the time to read these points and we are sure that that you will realize that there is no such thing as a ULC scam.

Our Online Ministry is a Real Church

The ULC is just as real of a church as the Lutheran, Baptist and Catholic churches.

The ULC is just as real of a church as the Lutheran, Baptist and Catholic churches.

The most fundamental argument against those who believe that the Universal Life Church is a scam is to point to our non-profit corporation filing with the State of Washington. This filing, made with the Washington Secretary of State, is identical to those that Lutheran, Catholic and Baptist churches have filed with them. This means that, in the eyes of Washington State, the ULC has the exact same standing as other major churches and is thus not “fake,” as our detractors like to call us.

Our foreign corporation filings in eight other states, which also demonstrate how the Universal Life Church is recognized as a church, can be found here.

The Universal Life Church Ordination is Recognized Throughout the U.S.

Claims that our ordination is worthless inherently implies that nothing can be done with it. This is patently false as any Universal Life Church minister, from anywhere in the world, can legally officiate a wedding and perform other religious ceremonies in 48 U.S. states. Many thousands of weddings, including dozens personally witnessed by the ULC staff, have been officiated by our ministers. The loving, legally-recognized marriages that have resulted from these ceremonies are proof positive that our ordinations are anything but worthless.

Admittedly, ULC ministers have been rejected by county clerks in the past but these rejections are generally made on the basis of county clerks not knowing their own counties’ marriage laws or errors made on the ULC ministers’ parts.

We Are Not a For-Profit Organization

As previously mentioned, the Universal Life Church has a non-profit corporation standing with the State of Washington. It is thus illegal for our church to “line our pockets,” “make ourselves rich,” or do any of the other things that people who proliferate the Universal Life Church scam myth think we do.

Almost all of the money we make goes to paying rent and utilities for the buildings that house our church offices, compensate our staff and pay the myriad of other bills that are associated with keeping the ULC Monastery in operation. Any funds we have left over are donated to charities like the National Autism Association and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

While it is true that the ULC Monastery makes more money that it spends for every minister license it sells, the amount we charge must cover all of the expenses we incur. In this way, the $8 we earn for every ordination credential certificate is used to pay our rent, heating bill and employee wages (and so forth) in addition to the costs associated with making the credential. In this way, the prices found in the “Ministry Products” section of our site do not reflect greed or corruption on our part but rather represent what we must charge if we wish to continue to exist.

Abuse of Tax Codes is Illegal and are Not Church-Sponsored

Proponents of the "Universal Life Church scam" myth tend to fixate on misdeeds by a single branch of the ULC.

Proponents of the “Universal Life Church scam” myth tend to fixate on misdeeds by a single branch of the ULC.

The ULC from Modesto, California has been involved in a number of illegal ventures over its long lifespan, including a scheme that helped its ministers evade taxes. This scheme was highly illegal and the ULC Modesto, which is not affiliated with the Universal Life Church Monastery, was fined heavily by the IRS as a result. Of the many outcomes of this case, people ignorant of the true purpose of the Universal Life Church now unfairly associate all the branches with tax fraud.

The above scheme perpetrated by or involving the complicity of the ULC Modesto was both highly illegal and immoral and similar actions are not condoned by the ULC Monastery in any way, shape or form. The ULC Monastery does not aid those who are looking to find tax loopholes through its ordination and would gladly help government agents track down any of our ministers who somehow manage to succeed in finding and exploiting one. In short, people who violate tax codes are criminals and are not fit to hold a Universal Life Church ordination.

Becoming Ordained Online Does Not Cheapen the Ordination you receive when you do so

While its true that the ULC’s ordination process does not involve any education prior to the granting of our ordination, Universal Life Church ministers still research and learn about how to be a chaplain, how to perform a wedding, or how to officiate at a funeral (among other types of ceremonies) as needed after they have received their ordinations. In this way, people who get online ordinations from the ULC have the ability to be – and frequently are – highly skilled at the ministerial tasks they perform. For example, the wedding officiants at the dozens of weddings performed by ULC ministers that our staff has attended over the years have frequently – if not always – brought the couple and / or audience to tears through the beauty of the ceremony. These weddings officiants were able to do so through their self-taught ministerial skills, not by luck or overly-emotional audiences. In this way, the ULC knows that it doesn’t matter how someone receives their ordination as long as they are well-prepared when they perform their ministerial duties afterwards.


  1. Anthony says:

    So , if I just did the 2 minute process on the website , can I now legally marry my two friends at wherever they decide to marry ?? If not how do we make it legal , I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and want to do this for them from my heart so please elaborate on this 2 minute fill out online and tell me exactly if I’m legally ok.


  2. Jonathan Singer says:

    If this is not for real I want a Refund ASAP, if it is real ,all is good.
    Dr. Jonathan P. Singer Ph.D. jonathansinger195@ 6156362627 6157573801 Order #677826
    Thank You, Jonathan Singer, Ordained 10/25/2015

  3. Frances says:

    I am a ULC minister and have married several of my friends. These ceremonies were written in unison by me and the couples. They were beautiful and incredibly meaningful. Isn’t it better to be joined in marriage by a friend than a justice of the peace or notary public? I checked with my attorney friend as to the legality of the ULC docs and they are legit and the marriage is completely legal.

  4. jerry jones says:

    I have been ordained with the ULC since 2010.
    There is always a few maladaptives who do not/or will not
    understand that the U.S. Supreme court has ruled that.
    There will always be people who cannot or will not accept variations of any belief system other than there own.

  5. gustav holtzman says:

    The church is not only a scam it is replete with losers who couldn’t make it in any other walk of life.

  6. Josh says:

    I’m ordained with the original ulc church in Modesto, California, and I don’t know about the past but they tell you if you plan to start a church that you need apply for a tax exempt number. And even the ulc seminary tells the Minister’s if they plan to start a church to go through the proper legal channels and they provide the information needed to attain that information. I love the ulc in Modesto, California, they’ve been awesome to me. And the monastery is a break off of the original ulc but in no way is the monastery is affiliated with the ulc in Modesto, California.

    Red. Josh

  7. Rev. Jackson P Sayer says:

    The ULC does NOT ordain people online. The application is online, but the actual ordination is carried out by church officials several times a week. You can also mail in an application so that debunks the “online ordination” myth. Most people use the ULC ordination to do weddings for friends. There are some who who perform actual ministry as ULC Ministers and do good with their calling. A ULC Minister is just as legitimate as any other denomination’s ministers. If you feel the calling do good with it and prove the naysayers wrong!

  8. Andy Smith says:

    Hi my name is Andy Smith
    I want to know that you are who you say you are
    Because the State of OR Does not racaninze ur company
    It’s never heard of ur company and they have not received any information contained in this case . The state of Oregon needs more paper work saying that you are who you say you are . They say that you are not a licensed For anything that is legal in that line of work

  9. None of your Buisness says:

    LMAO! This is a complete joke!

  10. ULC says:

    Hi Andy,

    We are recognized across the United States, including in the State of Oregon.

    If you’d like more information or assistance, please call our office at (206) 285-1086 and a representative will be happy to walk you through the process.

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