(RNN) – Those who want to become legally ordained as ministers don't have to go to a seminary. There are a number of options online. All a prospective minister needs, in most cases, is an open mind and wallet.
The nondenominational church, consisting of people from different faiths, has ordained more than 200 million ministers online, according to its website.
Ordained ministers possess the legal status to officiate at marriages, including same-sex rites where applicable, as well as baptisms, funerals and burials. The church advises those seeking to perform weddings to check to ensure the rites adhere to the laws of the state.
Although ordination is free, credentialing products are available for a fee.
Universal Life Church celebrity ministers have included Conan O'Brien, Fran Drescher, Sharon Stone, Sir Ian McKellan (who presided over Patrick Stewart's wedding recently), Glenn Beck, Hugh Hefner and all four Beatles.
It has been noted that the ULC has splintered, with dissident groups also offering ordination in the church's name.
For a fee, the nondenominational church offers a number of services for those who seek to heed a divine calling, including an honorary doctorate of divinity. Ordination is also offered for a fee, depending on the package, the cheapest of which is $30 for a year's membership. Lifetime ordination is $250.
The church said, in defense of its fees, that it keeps a permanent record of those it ordains.
The American Fellowship Church has helped thousands in all faiths become legally ordained ministers since 1975, bestowing on them all the rights and responsibilities of ministerial work.
Becoming a minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster - or a Pastafarian - costs $20, which includes a certificate. Those ordained are added to the church's official registry.
The church emerged in reaction to a collision of science and faith in public schools.
It has its own creation myth, involving pasta, meatballs and pirates, which was detailed in a letter drafted in May 2005 in response to the Kansas School Board. The board deliberated over whether to teach intelligent design alongside evolution in public school science classes.
Some fundamentalist Christians favor intelligent design, which espouses a faith-based interpretation of the creation of the world, over the theory of evolution, the widely accepted scientific explanation for the development of life on earth.
"By design, the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma," the church's website declares.
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