Today, I learned something amazing: In the U.S., if your religious organization’s income is ordinarily expected to be $5,000 per year or less, YOU DON’T HAVE TO FILE FOR TAX EXEMPT STATUS!
What this means is that The Atheopagan Society is ALREADY a tax-exempt nonprofit. We have some steps we have to take, like formally convening the Society Council and filing some documents with the state, but we don’t have to mess with convincing IRS that we are a “real” religion until we have much higher income than is projected to be needed for the first year or two, at least.
And so–like any religious nonprofit, anywhere–we can ordain people.
Now, Atheopaganism doesn’t believe in religious hierarchy. We view “degrees” and “levels” and “priesthood” and other muckity-muckiting as creating the context for abuse, coercion, and dysfunction.
In our view, all people are naturally born equal and endowed with the right to control their own spiritual life, and thus that all those who feel so called should have access to ordination. Being an “Atheopagan cleric” isn’t about an elevated status: it’s just about claiming some of your power and rights.
And now you can be an Atheopagan cleric, just by affirming your support for the 13 Atheopagan Principles. Go to the Society homepage, click the button, and proceed from there.
Doing so will enter you into the database of Atheopagan clerics, and will also register you to receive occasional issues of The Atheopagan Voice, an e-newsletter for clerics with resources, articles, and useful links (you can always opt out of The Voice if you choose).
I’ve done a number of weddings, and I’ve officiated at an adoption ritual. But they were always using my Universal Life Church credential, and frankly, I’m looking forward to being able to say at the next wedding I do, “by the power vested in me as an Atheopagan cleric, I pronounce you (enter genders and numbers here)”. What a day that will be!
Over time, we will develop resources for clerics: guides to developing and officiating at the various rites of passage, and trainings in ritual skills. Hopefully, the pandemic will recede and we may be able to convene live convocations of clerics sometime in the future.
But for now, don’t let the government tell you that you have to have a funny hat or a tab collar to lead a wedding ritual. You have as much right to do so as anyone.
Sorry, we don’t have a funny hat. But you can pick one, if you like!