What are the specific requirements for ordination Utah?
January 27, 2013 1:20 PM   Subscribe

There are plenty of websites that ordain laypersons as ministers, but we want to a.) Find a legitimate ordination website, and b.) make sure that we can do this in Utah in Grand County. We would like a relative to marry us and she is not currently ordained.

We're getting married! Yay! We are residents of another state planning on a wedding in Grand County, Utah, at a national park. According to the this website for ordination, we need someone who qualifies as one of the following: "minister, rabbi, or priest of any religious denomination who are in regular communion with any religious society." This is the line that we are confused by. We can't find how the county clerk's office determines this qualification. And if I call to ask, they might just deny it outright.

Has anyone had any experience with ordination of a layperson in Utah?
Or advice for ascertaining the legitimacy of an ordination website?
posted by luciddream928 to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Regular communion" sounds like you need to be an active member of a religious society - not simply have a piece of paper saying you are a member. This seems to be confirmed by this question and answer on a different "ask the random public website" which cited a 2001 law

30-1-6.1. Ordination by Internet not valid.
Certification, licensure, ordination, or any other endorsement received by a person through application over the Internet or by mail that purports to give that person religious authority is not valid for the purposes of Subsection 30-1-6(1)(a). [this is the subsection quoted in your link]

In addition, Utah law provides in pertinent part: "If any person not authorized solemnizes a marriage under pretense of having authority… he shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison not exceeding three years." Utah Code Ann. §30-1-14 (1998).
posted by metahawk at 1:32 PM on January 27, 2013

There was a court case in 2002 where the Utah statute saying that Internet ordinations are illegal for purposes of marrying people was ruled as unconstitutional by the judge. A summary here.
posted by JanetLand at 1:33 PM on January 27, 2013

I think the difficulty is parsing what you mean by "legitimate" ordination website.

If by "legitimate", you mean "is legally able to issue documents stating that the person in question is ordained", then take your pick. The Universal Life Church is the one that folks I know have gone to.

On the other hand, if you mean "ordination as the result of study and examination by a governing body" then you're going to have a harder time.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:34 PM on January 27, 2013

More to the point, have the thing done "officially" by a "justice of the peace" type and then have your ceremony with the officiant of your choice.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:36 PM on January 27, 2013

And here's the repeal of 30-1-6.1.
posted by JanetLand at 1:37 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another option is come in under the Native American section of ordination law by registering with these people:First Nation Ministry. I have no experience with them and frankly, if it was my marriage and I would do the justice of peace thing and then have whoever I wanted officiate at the "real" religious ceremony. (I would wait to act married/ exchange rings etc. until the public ceremony.)
posted by metahawk at 1:41 PM on January 27, 2013

Thanks JanetLand - I saw that case too but didn't see the ruling on it. Thanks for that!
DWRoelands - I was thinking of the Universal Life Church. Did your friends get married in Utah?
posted by luciddream928 at 2:22 PM on January 27, 2013

We can't find how the county clerk's office determines this qualification. And if I call to ask, they might just deny it outright.

This is one of those questions that the thing you stipulate you don't want to do is the one thing that will give you the definitive answer. If you don't verify with the jurisdiction that your marriage will be legal, and the ordination of your friend isn't viewed as legitimate officiation, your marriage may not be legally recognized--either in Utah or your home state.

On the other hand, if you call the county clerk when they open tomorrow, you'll know immediately whether your marriage would be legally recognized.

Having said that, here is the ULC's page on states they know don't recognize marriages performed by officiants ordained by them.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 2:29 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

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