dimanche 25 septembre 2016

Question: Am I a Minister?

I was in another chat room recently when one of the members mentioned he was a minister. This was rather remarkable (meaning "worthy of remarks) given the nature of the chat room, which I won't get into, but it requires being at least 18 years of age to participate. Anyway, turns out that he was "ordained" by some non-conventional church in California who will basically ordain anybody for a fee and his minister-ship (if that's even a word) had been upheld in court.

Now my personal opinion about the legal status of ministers is that it shouldn't be up to our US of A government to recognize them or not, since our Constitution states that no religion shall be granted special privileges (paraphrased--I'm not going to look up the wording now), but if the State decides what is and isn't a religion, then those churches that are legally recognized as churches have the tax-exempt privilege that those not legally recognized are denied; and how is that not granting special privilege to State-favored religions?

But that's my personal opinion and political viewpoint, and the fact that we live with is that the USA does favor and recognize some religions, including the Church of Scientology. Right or wrong, they are legally a church and their ministers are legally recognized as ministers. So correct me if I'm wrong, but the CofS considers its auditors as ministers---is that right? So a Scientology or Dianetics auditor can officiate at a wedding and it will be legally binding--is that right?

Now I come to my real question: Back around '76-'77, I received my certificate and was officially recognized (by the church) as a Dianetics Auditor. That was, IIRC, around the time that some auditors were starting to wear clerical collars (in FCDC, anyway). Shortly after that, I did a Doubt Formula and "cycled out" of participation in any further courses or auditing, but I did technically do Dianetics auditing and....well, I never joined staff, so I didn't consider myself a "real" auditor...except that....

I distinctly remember reading an HCOPL (I think it was) that "posted" all Dianetics and Scientology grads as Field Staff Members. It wasn't legally binding and they couldn't order me to come in (not back then anyway) and do specific tasks, but Abby Bregman (sp?) once tried to use that HCOPL to push me to take on more volunteer tasks. I was one of the many non-staff volunteers that supported FCDC selling books, manning personality test tables for fresh meat, and generally doing grunt work in the office.

So technically, the CoS _did_ list me as "staff"--I was an FSM. And an auditor. And I've never been Declared nor formally renounced being a Scientologist.

So...am I technically a minister under the laws of the USA? Or do I have the necessary credentials (assuming I can dig up my Dianetics Auditor Certif) to register as a minister in some states?

Being serious, I know I'm probably not a Member in Good Standing with the Cherch, since I haven't paid them any money in half a lifetime, but _legally_ if a person is once "ordained"/certified as a minister, does he lose that ministership by not paying dues, or is it something that's permanent unless formally retracted by his/her church? I have heard cases of former ministers conducting legal weddings even though they hadn't participated in their ordaining church in decades. Who knows how that works, legally? Does the CoS itself have any requirements to maintain standing as a minister?
Question: Am I a Minister?

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