Religious organisations based in the USA have never been slow to take advantage of new information technologies - the opportunities presented by the multiplicity of television channels in the USA is the most obvious recent example - and it's therefore not surprising that the Internet is now the latest focus of attention for them. One Church in particular, the Universal Life Church, has gone far beyond using the Internet for mere publicity: it's actually possible to become an ordained minister of the Church just by completing and submitting an Internet Web form.
The Church, with currently more than fourteen million ministers around the world, makes extensive use of a variety of technologies to greatly enhance what they term - in California-speak - the Church's "publication and media outreaches".
Somewhat unusually, the Church of Universal Life, itself a denomination in its own right, makes no attempt to impose a particular set of beliefs; on the contrary, the Church believes that every person has the right to decide his or her own faith and creed. The Church makes no charge for ordinations - ordinations can even be carried out by calling a toll-free number - although donations are accepted.
This Ordination Certificate is a perfectly legal Minister's Credential; it bears the State Seal and the signature of the president of the church. The bearer becomes a legally ordained minister under the law and is therefore licensed by the State of California to conduct all ministerial services such as baptisms, marriages and funerals.
One of the attractions of becoming a Minister which unfortunately doesn't extend to this side of the Atlantic is entitlement to discounts: on air travel and other public transport, from a number of retailers, and even on admission to amusement parks.
Visit the Universal Life Church at: http://ulc.org/ulc/ or their newsgroup alt.religion-universal-life.