He had married people in his small North Carolina Community for years and there never seemed to be a problem, but then the bottom fell out. In a divorce proceeding of a young couple, the man’s attorney decided to check the legality of the Minister’s Credentials. During a thorough examination it was determined that the Minister had been ordained by someone who was not legally authorized to do so.
The ruling led to an annulment of the young couple’s marriage and since there was no legal wedding ceremony, alimony was denied. This prompted a stir among others whose ceremony was officiated by this Minister.
This modern trend of “Spiritual fathers,” and young Ministers desirous of their “Spiritual father’s” blessing, has generated a huge number of illegally ordained clergy. A formal ordination ceremony may qualify one to do pulpit ministry, but it does not necessarily mean the credentials are legally recognized by law or the IRS. Unless the credentials are legally recognized, the Minister has not only placed others in unique positions, but also himself (especially if he has taken advantage of tax benefits available to Ministers).
According to one report, as much as 86% of Ministers in the USA have credentials that are not legally recognized.
Just because someone prayed over you, gave you a piece of paper, and said you were called to preach doesn’t mean those credentials are legally valid. In some states someone performing wedding ceremonies without legal credentials, may result in time in jail. If the credentials you have do not require the below listed criteria, your credentials are illegal.