By Mark David Blum, Esq.
I have been a duly ordained Minister in the Universal Life Church since 1999. Two criteria were demanded of me to achieve that status. First, I had to promise to be good and I have done all I can toward that aim. Second, I had to send them my email address. Upon receiving my ordination papers, I named my as-of-yet-unbuilt Cathedral the Church of the Holy Clasper. (Think about it; you will get it). Though I have not yet registered my Ordination with any local government, I am nonetheless very protective of my Ministerial rights and duties.
No man such as myself could ever be satisfied following just one church. To be absolutely sure that I can prove that I am a true man of God, I sought acceptance and ordination in a second Church. A handful of years ago, I was duly ordained into the Church of the Latter-Day Dude. Every morning, I don the holy robe of terri and drink of the sacred beverage. The only rule of that church I dare to daily break is my refusal to use fresh creamer when preparing the sacrificial beverage. In my congregation, we see it that if the Big Dude wanted our holiest beverages to be white, He would have so created. Nothing should ever come between a human being and the holy and sacrificial beverage. It is like taking a shower with your clothes on. Still, I maintain my status as Minister of the Church and similarly very protective of my Ministerial rights and duties.
In a court of law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a judge said that because a ULC Minister, “was not a member of the Universal Life Church before he received his ordination, that he did not have a congregation he met with regularly and did not have a place of worship”, that an otherwise lawful marriage over which he presided seven months earlier was void and illegal. The Judge wrote the ULC Minister’s Ordination, "makes a mockery out of the whole marriage system." Currently, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is considering legislation that would exclude churches or congregations that offer ordinations by mail or through electronic means.
Where is the outrage? Where does a judge have the right to singlehandedly scale Mr. Jefferson’s wall and summarily declare the internal procedures of a particular church to be a “mockery”? The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and judges who sit therein are making a mockery of our laws and Separation of Church and State and rights to free expression, association, and to follow whatever Church we so choose; or none at all. Nobody is protesting. There are no marches. Our First Amendment is circling the drain and you all think this is a joke.
Let’s take a step backwards. I was born a Jew, raised a Jew, did ‘time’ as a Jew, and lived as a Jew for many years. Through the eyes of a Jew, anybody who believes that Messiah has already returned to earth with God’s message is a cultist and heretic. Be it Jesus or Mohammed: Jews see Christians and Muslims as being religious nuts following the teachings of some self proclaimed Messiah. Christians are really weird because their tale includes an incredible conception and holy irrational resurrection. At least in Islam, Mohammed was seen as a human being and not the son of God.
Since the days these new cults were born, each has branched out and created multiple offshoots. Catholics and Christians are the same as Mormons and Moonies. All follow a basic concept; the resurrection. While they wear crosses around their necks to celebrate Christ, we Jews see those crosses as celebrations of a weapon of execution of thousands. Why not just wear little Nazi insignias; it means the same thing.
But I do not judge my fellow human being. If they want to follow the teachings of Christ or Mohammed or L. Ron Hubbard; such is their choice. Should they choose to marry and raise a family and live in accordance with such a belief system, who am I to object? Certainly it is not my place to scream “child abuse” when young people are taught to love Jihad and hate Jews. I am not the one to judge how many wives a person has or wants or desires. I do not believe in atheists because to be an atheist, you first have to believe in God and if you do not, then you cannot envision yourself as being a-theist.
Back to the land of Hillbillies: I cannot tell you of the ire and rage I feel toward this judge in York County, Pennsylvania. To sit on her bench and summarily decide whether a person is or is not a true believer in a particular church or its dogma and then to pass judgment on whether that dogma is “legitimate” is offensive. If she is a Christian and she wants to play by the same rules, this Jew judge would call her marriage ceremony a mockery and a lifetime of misery. Just as assuredly, the Dude would not approve.
Marriage serves both a religious and a secular role. It defines who we are as individuals and serves to maintain social order and peace. At the same time, to encourage such behavior, society has conferred certain rights and benefits to those who would choose to so marry.
Presently, Wiccan Priestesses can perform marriages and in some states homosexuals have marital rights. Sitting on the bench in a Court of law and calling a duly ordained Minister and his Church a mockery, is itself a mockery of the law. It matters not whether the relationship was sanctioned by God, by a Judge, by a Mayor, by Elvis in Vegas, or by a Captain at sea, a marriage is not a mockery because of who presided over it. A marriage is a mockery because of the behavior of its participants. Senators Craig and Vitter along with Congressman Foley can explain better how much of a mockery are Christian marriages sanctioned by a Priest. So too could the Boston Diocese.
The bottom line is that no judge sitting in any court of law has the lawful right to judge the value system of any church or its ministers. Tolerating a single instance of this mockery of the First Amendment puts every religion at risk of judicial oversight and review. More importantly, it creates a new judicial power to put its stamp of judicial approval on religions and declare what is a true Church and what is not.
I, for one, am not yet ready to surrender that liberty to a fat old judge. Likewise, I will never confer upon my government the authority or power to review my religious tenets and judge them mockery-proof. Today, it is the ULC. Tomorrow, it could be Christianity. As a Jew, you can take my word for that; history proves me right. The Dude is behind me 100%.
Speak now, or forever lose your right to speak your peace.