What Makes Rose Ministries Ordinations Legal?

Are We Legal?

The short answer is "Yes". Our ordinations are accepted in all 50 states. Some localities do require additional credentials, such as a Statement of Good Standing, which we provide as necessary.

What Makes our Ordinations Legitimate?

First let’s touch on the legal, and then we can address the spiritual. Legally, the constitution of the U.S. prevents the government from regulating the practice of religion this includes prohibiting an establishment of criteria for ordination.

The landmark case, further establishing the legal legitimacy of ordination by mail is the decision of 1974 by the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, Civil No. S-1954, in which the judge ruled:

  "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 impinge upon the guarantees of the first amendment."  
The judge went on to say that online ordinations were analogous to "to mass conversions at a typical revival or religious crusade" and was therefore a valid practice permitted under the U.S. Constitution.

That said many of the large denominations may not recognize your ordination. Some of them do not even recognize ordinations by other major denominations! That is their right, and in no way affects the legal status of your ordination. How you conduct yourself will, in large part, determine how well you are accepted by other churches.

Spiritually, neither Jesus, nor his disciples, nor any of the founding fathers of the Christian church, were formally ordained. The Bible commends all to go forth and spread the word. It does not specify that this responsibility is only for the ordained. Ordination is a function of organized religion to ensure that those speaking for that particular religion or sect are authorized and qualified to do so. If (when?) you have a large organization -- you will want that control too!

Some localities, in order to register as a wedding officiate, will require that the clergy member establish a local congregation. Though your congregation may be just you and the wedding party initially, that is a congregation.

Does the IRS have a Role?

Some would have you believe that the Internal Revenue Service determines the legitimacy or legality of a ministry and its ordinations. Nothing could be further from the truth. The IRS only determines whether an organization qualifies for tax exemption, nothing more. Not all organizations will qualify. Not all organizations choose to request tax exempt status. Not qualifying or applying for a tax exemption does not establish your legal status. The IRS definitely does not decide "right to ordain". The constitution, as the U.S. District Court ruled, establishes that Rose Ministries has the right to ordain, according to our requirements and beliefs.

Conclusion

Our society has come to recognize this practice by organized religion and has even codified requirements for ordination in order for an individual to be authorized for certain practices or privileges (notably officiating a wedding).

Organized denominations, generally, do not allow for individuals to express their personal beliefs and feelings towards religion. Rather, they understandably prefer that the canon of their organization be perpetuated. Hopefully, we fulfill that role, enabling individuals to pursue truth as they are led.

Rev. Bill Hall

  
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