Joan Rivers and Universal Life Church Ordination

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by potpourri, Sep 5, 2014.

  1. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    So let's look at a real-world example.

    US Navy officers may hold the rank of "Commodore", and are frequently addressed that way.
    L. Ron Hubbard held the rank of "Commodore" in the Scientology Sea Organization, and was frequently addressed that way.

    I personally would be more inclined to address the naval officer as "Commodore", and less inclined to address L. Ron Hubbard that way.
    But you see no distinction ?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  2. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Sure, I see a big distinction. And like you I wouldn't necessarily address someone in a particular way just because that was their preference. But that doesn't mean that I think Hubbard should have been forbidden from referring to himself that way.
  3. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    That's fine, and in fact I agree.

    Just wanted to clarify that you weren't being literal when you stated (in Post #40 above) that you "couldn't care less" about the use of military titles. Obviously, if you accept that some uses are more appropriate than others, then there must be something that you care about. In fact, it follows that some uses of military titles could be completely inappropriate (even criminal), such as deliberate impersonation of military or law enforcement personnel.
  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Well, whether I care about someone's use of this sort of title, and whether I would respect it are not quite the same thing. But we seem to agree on the big picture, and yes, it would be fair to say that I'm not usually Captain Literal.
  5. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    CalDog I think that you really take many things too serious. You seem to dwell on the fact that when someone uses a title if it is used in a secular fashion, then somehow the same standards should be applied to when it comes to those that use the same titles in a religions way. There is a vast array of difference and what I have been trying to demonstrate and get across is it is the way in which the person uses the title or credentials.

    In example, if I were to get an ordination and a Doctor of Divinity from Universal Life Church and receive them and I use them for purely religious purposes and nothing more I'm not violating or causing any harm to someone else because I'm using them in the correct manner. If a person asks me how I got these credentials and I answer them honestly that I got them from the Universal Life Church and it is for religious reasons, I still have caused no harm to anyone else. In this example, Universal Life Church has stated that these are to be used for religious reasons, and I as the recipient have used them according to that criteria.

    If I get the credentials from Universal Life Church, and then decide well I'm a "Doctor," and make the choice to make it as though I'm a different type of doctor such as a medical one, then I have violated and decided to go beyond the scope of what the credentials were issued for. If a person asks me how I'm a "Doctor," and I start saying that I earned it and make up all kinds of stories then I'm again violating what it was intended for, and being dishonest.

    You see, people may not agree with the unorthodox way that the Universal Life Church operates, but if a person is honest in how they obtained the credentials they can't argue with them. The past debates have been posts of people that have obtained credentials from the Universal Life Church and other religious entities and tried to make them more than it being a religious matter by trying to say that they earned them or that their Doctor of Divinity is the same as an academic degree when it clearly isn't. This is why you see none of the main contributors in the past disputing what I'm saying if the credentials are used within the confines that have been established by the Universal Life Church and the recipient in a religious manner.

    CalDog you also seem to emphasize the use of titles of religious and that if those are used in a secular way that somehow these are confusing to others and therefore you aren't sure that religious entities should be able to use them because of the confusion, and if they do, that there needs to be the same standards. You miss the boat of the purpose behind the titles. Are they religious or secular?

    In this example that I'm about to give sure anyone can cross the line. You seem to state on the part of the religious ones going beyond the title or the use thereof. Let's say that there is a "Captain," in the Salvation Army. If they state in all whatever duties they do that their a "Captain," in the Salvation Army and only stay within the confines of those duties this person is making no violation and causing no harm. Likewise, if a "Captain," from a police unit comes to the Salvation Army, if someone is confused as to them being a "Captain" of what? They can say I'm a "Captain," for the police department and as long as they remain in that duty and not go beyond it they too have caused no harm at all. Now if the "Captain" from the Salvation Army impersonates and makes it like their the "Captain" of a police department they have violated it, or the same for the "Captain" of the police unit who says their a "Captain," for the Salvation Army. See it's the intent and how the person uses it whether they do it the right or wrong way.

    CalDog you say you understand there's a religious exemption, but you still keep going on these tangents about the secular side when if it is clearly stated it marks the distinction but you still feel like there has to be a secular involvement and from what I take from you it's that you feel like if a secular part has certain titles then the religious or other entities of purpose shouldn't be allowed to for fear of confusion and so forth.

    So if we applied your logic it would be that if the title "Doctor," is used in a secular way, then the religious entities would have to come up with the same standards or be under secular standards when clearly there is a separation of purpose and if that happens then you would have interference from government and secular on religious freedoms, and you need to clearly understand that boundaries and the government has no business to tell other religions what they can and can't do, let alone to interfere with titles and such. As I have stated before if the religious entity or person were to go beyond the intended purpose of the credentials then this would be a violation of the religious exemption and I would say then it is crossing beyond what it was intended.
  6. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Your writing style is long and unclear. Mine is short and to the point. Here are my points:

    1. I don't really care if unaccredited religious entities hand out academic, religious, or military titles, as long as those titles are used for exclusively religious purposes. You seem to agree.

    2. However, there is a potential for abuse if such titles are not used for exclusively religious purposes. Now, it might not be possible to use titles like "Reverend" or "Bishop" in a non-religious way. But it might be possible to use titles like "Doctor" or "General" in a non-religious way that could be misleading. Again, you seem to agree.

    3. Since there is a potential for abuse, it would be good to have a system for correcting such abuse, if it does occur. Government intervention seems like the obvious possibility. Maybe you disagree, but you have not offered any alternative suggestions for correcting abuse.

    If you disagree with any of these points, that's fine. But please keep your answer short.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  7. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    It may not be illegal to use the degree for religious purposes, but there are cases where it could be unethical. First, you assume that someone will ask you how you got your degree. I bet that many people won't even bother to ask. In order to be upfront and ethical, you would have to advertise that you purchased the honorary degree; otherwise, people could assume that you are an expert in your religion. Even if you just advertise that it's an honorary degree, the assumption could be that you made some type of significant achievement that earned you that honor. Advertising to have any kind of religious doctorate could cause harm even if only used for religious purposes. For religious counseling, which could be exempt from licensing requirements depending on the state, someone could look at your doctorate as proof that you met some rigorous educational standards. If you're someone who has no training in counseling in or out of a religious setting and you bought a religious credential to make yourself appear more credible, then you could end up doing harm to the people you serve. What other religious purpose does buying a degree serve other than novelty or making oneself appear more credible?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  8. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    CalDog thanks for the kind missive about my writing style. I'm glad that you feel that you have much better writing skills. Take a pat on the back! Most people actually say they like my writing so who knows?

    Why don't we stay on topic and make it what it was about originally instead of going on tangents? I will state the following:

    Universal Life Church gives credentials such as ordinations, certificates, and degrees for religious purposes. A person orders the credentials and uses them for that stated purpose for religious reasons and no more. How is that abuse, neglect, or a violation?

    CalDog, I make no apologies that we have a system of liberties such as freedom of religion, speech, etc. If the title thing bothers you that religious entities use them and you can't tell the difference of them; if the person has explained them and stays within the confides of what their role is whether religious or secular again I ask you, how is that abuse, neglect or a violation?

    I have given example after example and you go off on this tangent of what should the government do? That wasn't the original post CalDog, it was about the Universal Life Church and it's right to exist for religious liberty for the entity and those that are part of it. I make no shame in defending the right of freedom of religion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  9. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    The same question could be posed when it comes to being a minister? How is that any different from that of the degree?

    A person could feel that you are telling them that your a minister or wedding officiant and the same questions could be raised. The point is on the intent of the entity and the purchaser. If those are both honest there is no infringement.

    If a person decides to go beyond the intended purpose of the credentials now we have ethical and other issues, but again you miss the boat and are jumping to something that if the entity or individual doesn't go beyond the scope, I would then again ask you, "how is it abuse, neglect, or a violation?"

    You see even people who have argued about this before, they can't disagree with what I'm saying because the bigger picture here is the umbrella of the protection of freedom of religion. Try to mess with it and you will lose. It's a human right in a democratic society even the 1974 case proves it no matter how unorthodox.
  10. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    In this case, the ordination serves a legal purpose. You don't need the ordination for religious purposes. Anyone can be a minister. If you want to be a minister within an established religious organization, then a ULC ordination will most likely do nothing for you. If you don't want to be associated with an established organization, then you can start up your own church or whatever without being ordained. You can even come up with your own ordination process.

    The scope of the Doctor of Divinity purchased from ULC is novelty. It doesn't qualify anyone for anything.

    I'm not arguing legality and rights; I'm arguing ethics.
  11. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    OK so it is unethical for an entity such as the Universal Life Church to sell ordinations, certificates, and degrees for religious reasons, and for an individual to use them under that criteria? Unethical? I wonder what other word will be used next. You and CalDog don't answer my questions directly.

    Your solution is for someone to start a church and to forget about the Universal Life Church. How would this be any better? That's just a way to conveniently dodge the issue.

    You ask how can an ordination and a Doctor of Divinity be of any use to anyone? Take the titles if you use them for what I'm doing to defend religious liberty the title of "Dr.," gives it knowledge of the issue concerning a basic human right, and the "Rev.," gives it a religious connotation that demonstrates care and concern for others, so if used it can be used for the better good. How is that unethical?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2014
  12. potpourri

    potpourri New Member

    They are having an honest debate but Philosophy is dealing with the issues. The others are simply not.
  13. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Technically, ULC does not sell ordinations; they sell certificates proving ordination. I think the ethical burden falls mostly on the individual. If someone wants to buy a novelty item, I see no problem with someone selling it. However, I think it is unethical for someone to use the ordination or degree as proof that they are somehow a religious expert because it's not proof anything except that you have a credit or debit card.

    It's cheaper than paying for something you don't need. One situation is not really better than the other except the person who starts the church without the ULC ordination won't be claiming a meaningless credential. Like I said before, the ULC ordination is really only valuable for legal purposes.

    Why not just have a friend, family member, or associate make you a diploma for a Doctor of Divinity? It's practically the same thing and cheaper. The bolded part doesn't even make sense.
  14. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    You offer no formidable solution and neglect to answer the questions that I have raised. Conceivably I feel that I have given good answers and you conveniently dodge them. Your solution makes no sense whatsoever.
  15. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    I do not presume to speak for Dr. Bear, but Dr. Levicoff finds this so-called debate thoroughly boring, a re-hash of potpourri (so to speak) on one of the oldest mills in existence.

    Dr. Levicoff is retired from this field and, unlike the protagonists in this thread, moved on from discussing ULC a long time ago.

    Love to all.
  16. potpourri

    potpourri New Member

    Are you Dr. Levicoff? You may find it boring and my handle as Potpourri too but people have the right to have a debate. Philosophy has given good answers and they have been thorough. All you so-called experts have failed to prove Philosophy wrong.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2014
  17. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    potpouri: "Dr. John Bear has referred to Universal Life Church as a mill as too Dr. Steve Levicoff. Surprisingly neither one says a thing about it now."

    John Bear: Who is surprised? Not me. I've referred to more than 3,000 'schools' as degree mills over the years. Surely I don't need to keep saying this.
    July 17, 1987: They all still are.
    July 18, 1987: Still are.
    July 19, 1987: Yup, they still are.
  18. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I did attempt to answer the questions that made sense. You just refuse to clarify your nonsensical questions and can't comprehend my answers. You don't need the ULC ordination or Doctor of Divinity for religious purposes. It doesn't get any clearer than that. You have failed to refute that statement. Other than for legal purposes for officiating weddings, they are novelty items that can be purchased by anyone with a credit or debit card. They do absolutely nothing for religious purposes except make people think you've done something of value when you haven't. You didn't ask for a solution to anything. Go back and read your posts. If you're looking for a solution to open up your own church, then just do it. You don't need to be ordained by anyone; that's also part of religious freedom.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2014
  19. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Do you have anything valuable to add to the discussion, or are you just a Philosophy cheerleader?
  20. philosophy

    philosophy New Member

    "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

    Voltaire had it right and we can use the same reasoning when it comes to the Universal Life Church, I may not agree with the unorthodox way that it does ordinations, certificates, and degrees, but it has the right to exist, and I will defend its right based upon the right of freedom of religion.

    1974 case Universal Life Church, Inc., v. the United States of America:

    These are excerpts from that case:

    "Certainly the ordination of ministers and the chartering of churches are accepted activities of religious organizations... The fact that the plaintiff distributed ministers' credentials and Honorary Doctor of Divinity certificates is of no moment. Such activity may be analogized to mass conversions at a typical revival or religious crusade."

    "Neither this Court, nor any branch of this Government, will consider the merits or fallacies of a religion. Nor will the Court compare the beliefs, dogmas, and practices of a newly organized religion with those of an older, more established religion. Nor will the Court praise or condemn a religion, however excellent or fanatical or preposterous it may seem. WERE THE COURT TO DO SO, IT WOULD IMFRINGE UPON THE GUARANTEES OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT."

    Why did I have this debate and as Dr. Levicoff, or someone writing on his behalf stated the word "boring." It is because this has been the first time that a debate has been exercised where the facts have been presented in a powerful way. These are some of the actual answers that some have stated as alternatives to the Universal Life Church (not exact quotes but in summation to what has been stated):

    1. Start your own church and just have a certificate made that has your name on it for credentials e.g., ordination, certificates, or Doctor of Divinity;

    2. No problem with ordination but the Doctor of Divinity is a novelty item and serves no purpose;

    3. People have applied for credentials using their pets name and making a mockery out of the process (hahahaha);

    4. In previous debates it has been taken from an academic side rather than looking at the religious one.

    and it could go on.

    My point is that as Dr. Levicoff or whomever spoke for them and referred to it as "boring," it only has been so because no one has been able to challenge me on the following and taken from a different perspective. And I don't apologize for defending the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. If you consider defending the First Amendment as "boring," where is your sense of civic duty? In my answer, "We have rules of law and liberties that should be protected."

    The Universal Life Church is a religious entity, and claims to be nothing more than that. If the Universal Life Church operates as a religious entity, it is therefore, entitled to religious exemption. If the religious entity and the bearer (individuals) that are part of it operate religious in manner, how is this an abuse, neglect, or a violation? It is not.

    The only answers that previous posters have supplied have dodged the issues by bringing up other topics or examples that have nothing to do with that which has been debated. It all comes down to intent and motive. If they operate as they should there is no abuse, neglect, or violation.

    This is why Dr. Levicoff or whomever spoke for them referred to the debate as, "boring," so as to resign to it and not accept that there is a fundamental right we are talking about which is the First Amendment and religious liberty. And when Dr. Bear gave his example, he did so only giving an example of how someone had claimed to be something different from that which was authorized. This isn't the fault of the Universal Life Church. The Universal Life Church operated under a religious part. The individual, in this case, "Tony Russo," decided to make himself a sex therapist and pose as someone different.

    Point blank bottom line: Two words 'Intent," and "Motive."

    "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
    ~Mark Twain

    When a person is asked how they got their credentials from the Universal Life Church if they tell the truth and say that they got them because they believe in freedom of religion, and they use it for that purpose how is that abuse, neglect, or unethical? As Mark Twain states if one is honest they don't have anything to worry about.

    You see, I presented this in a vastly different aspect from the previous debates and when one makes the argument in this fashion, there is no way to challenge it unless you change the angle or the intent and motive of either the entity or the person. If they do as the Universal Life Church states, "Do that which is right." How can you argue with that?

    I believe in religious liberty and the rights that we have in a democratic society. If we took the standards of what the many thought in these previous debates the Universal Life Church and other causes wouldn't have the right to exist. I believe in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and in freedom of religion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2014

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