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How do I Become a Priest Online?

By Josie Myers
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

There are several ways to become a priest online. Some are as easy as providing an electronic signature and some personal information. Others involve coursework in areas like Bible study, world religions, and ministry.

The quickest method is to sign up with an online church that offers free instant ordination. There are many online churches to choose from, and people who are interested in becoming a priest should be sure that the church is in good standing with the federal government and that it has official non-profit status. Applicants enter their name and basic information and are provided with an e-mail certification stating that they are an official minister of their chosen church. This process is extremely quick, and ministers can have their certification within minutes, which is a definite positive for those in emergency situations.

There are also online schools that offer coursework in ministry. Some will not allow ordination without completing coursework, while others offer it in addition to the ordination. Those who complete the courses receive special certifications in various religious and spiritual topics. Some schools even offer enough coursework to have an associate's or bachelor's degree, although only a handful are accredited universities.

Many of these online churches offer kits for those who are entering the ministry. For a one-time usage of the ordination, the kits may not be necessary, but those planning on a career in baptisms and weddings can find that these kits come in handy. They provide items like a clergy car tag for special parking, official printed certification, books with common prayers in them, and decorative marriage certificates for the couples the new minister may marry.

There is debate in the legal community about the validity of someone who becomes a priest online. In some US states, marriages have been overturned because the state refused to recognize marriages performed by an online minister, saying that these churches do not meet the qualifications necessary to be a recognized religious institution. These decisions have all been quickly followed by action by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which countered the state's argument by saying that this de-certification is unconstitutional and violates a citizen's freedom of religion.

For example, a 2007 decision in York County, Pennsylvania, overturned the validity of online ministers in that state. That decision was followed by the ACLU bringing test cases before various county courts in Pennsylvania, and in early 2009, the test cases once again validated online ministers there. Given the number of pending cases, it is always a good idea for those interested in seeking to become a priest online to check with their state laws to ensure any services they perform with an online ordination will be considered legal.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Belted — On Oct 14, 2012

I signed up to become a minister online so that I could perform a wedding ceremony for a couple that are good friends of mine.

I filled out a simple form and submitted it and for no cost I was ordained. I checked with the city clerk and they told me that I had all the qualifications I needed to perform a legal wedding. It went great and couldn't have been easier.

By Bakersdozen — On May 16, 2011

I'd feel altogether more comfortable having my wedding in a church with a fully trained priest officiating. I can't imagine how awful it would be to find out down the road that you are no longer considered to be legally married.

By Valencia — On May 13, 2011

@Potterspop - This is obviously a pretty emotive topic for you, and I respect that. But from a neutral standpoint I see it a little differently.

Technically, stand alone online courses are focused on ministers, as becoming a priest takes years of study at a seminary. I'm not sure that many people would care about training, so long as the person can marry them, or provide another service they require.

I'm also pretty sure most people who pay for this kind of certificate have good intentions. I've never heard of anyone misrepresenting their status, though I guess that lay people could make false assumptions about them.

By Potterspop — On May 11, 2011

I came across your article through a search after someone told me about this topic. To be honest I thought it was a joke. Now I see it is real I think it's crazy!

I just can't fathom how someone can be considered ordained by taking this kind of course. It's disturbing and an insult to religion.

Imagine if I said I'm going to become a midwife, nurse or doctor through an online course. I'm pretty sure people wouldn't want to be treated by me, or have me deliver their baby!

By anon38251 — On Jul 24, 2009

i took one look at man on pc about how to become a priest, how much it would cost, with his brand new suit on, thumbs up. I'm not a great believer of church, but i do believe in life after death..because i did something to channel this years ago, but ever since I've had bad luck all the way, so i thought if i can talk to someone about it, maybe I'd be free. thank you. yours sincerely D.P. Haddock.

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