Thursday, August 06, 2009

Weddings 101 - On Hiring An Officiant

In this first guest post Phillip Waring explains what goes into becoming a wedding officiant. Thanks Phil, for leading off this new series.

The Wedding Officiant: Clergy, Judge or Justice?
By Phillip Waring, Arizona Ministers

Weddings, mitzvahs, memorial services, christenings, communion, baby namings, funerals, and other significant celebrations are all performed by the clergy of many genuine faiths. However, men & women performing wedding ceremonies are regulated by Arizona State Law.

Only judges, justices and clergy of religious societies are authorized to perform legally binding wedding ceremonies in The State of Arizona. The marriage agreement or covenant is solemnized, or sealed, by the spoken word of a judge, justice or clergyman. Clergy and judges may ‘pronounce a couple legally married,’ and by law, only a judge can ‘pronounce a couple divorced’ from their marriage.

Arizona State Law makes it perfectly clear that people purporting to be clergy, whose self-proclaimed authority to perform weddings comes from the internet, are deceiving the public and are illegal.

No one can log on to a computer to become an authentic judge or justice. That would be illegal. Anyone impersonating a judge will likely stand in court before a real one!

No one can log on to a computer to become an authentic clergyman. That would be illegal, but because of ‘separation of church and state’ laws, no judge is allowed to confront those who do it.

Websites advertising to be churches offer free and for fee ordinations for people who want to skip training and verification of their religious intent. Many boast the fact that they are of no faith, but can still get away with authorizing fraudulent people to perform legal weddings.

Ordination is an “appointment to lead and solemnize” from a verifiable religious sect. Downloading or buying a certificate of ordination does not constitute a real ordination. No legitimate religious sect would vest this important authority in such a cavalier manner. Because the law shields those who abuse the privilege, mere peddlers become ‘ordained ministers’ whose only calling is to perform weddings for their own selfish gain.

Fake clergy hide under a veil of falsehood by proclaiming to be ‘wedding officiants,’ because they know they are not real ministers and become embarrassed when confronted about it. Arizona State Law does not authorize ‘officiants’ to perform marriage ceremonies. By law, officiants are judges, justices and clergy of religious sects.

Therefore, there are unscrupulous individuals impersonating clergy in order to trick unsuspecting couples into giving them money to perform their wedding ceremony. To refer them as legitimate clergy perpetuates the hoax, and in fact, demonstrates a lack of respect for unwitting couples and genuine clergy of faith. This may be a good time to consider the credentials or lack of credentials of those referred to couples as a minister.

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