It started in the US with the Universal Life Church. They had court cases that went all the way, to the US supreme court. And they won that battle, on the grounds of freedom of religion. Since then, some interesting developments were made. They never trademarked or copyrighted the name Universal Life Church. Now two popular spinoffs have taken place, with the same name:
- The Universal Life Church Monastery, headquartered in Oregon.
- The Universal Life Church in Florida, which claims to be entirely Christian. But they seem confused on what they are. You can either be an independent Protestant minister or an independent Catholic priest, through them.
Anyway, other groups have since followed suit – both secular and Christian. Some of the Christian ones are sincere, like the United Christian Faith Ministries (i.e. UCFM). And some secular ones are sincere, like the American Marriage Ministries (i.e. The TV comedian Steven Colbert is ordained by them). I encourage folks to Google or Bing “Christian online ordination” or “online ordination”.
I also have ordinations from three sources, which I don't use – but they are valid for life.
- The original Universal Life Church in Modesto, California
- World Christianship Ministries, which have a very flexible – but brief – statement of faith (which I'm in accord with, by the way).
- American Marriage Ministries (i.e. I like the leadership, which includes a Jewish Rabbi and a Protestant minister).
None of these organizations will kick me out, for my views on this forum. But are online ordinations a good or bad thing?