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Privileges of the Clergy and Ordained Ministers

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Did you know these members have special privileges?

Did you know these members have special privileges?

What Are the Benefits of Being an Ordained Minister?

Ordination sets a minister apart from the laity. With ordination comes a different role in the church's life and a different place in society.

A minister receives ordination from his church, either from an individual congregation or a larger organization. With ordination comes a licensing that is recognized not just by the church but also by secular government agencies.

Benefits of Being an Ordained Minister

  1. Can Perform Exclusive Various Religious Rituals
  2. Elevated Religious Clothing
  3. Clergy Privilege
  4. Officiate Weddings
  5. Special Parking Passes and Privileges
  6. Various Tax Breaks
An example of a Sunday Mass service.

An example of a Sunday Mass service.

1. Can Perform Exclusive Various Religious Rituals

Some denominations have rituals that can only be performed by clergy. For example, in the Roman Catholic Church, only priests can say Mass. Priest are also the only ones who can hear confessions and grant absolution of sins.

Similarly, in the Episcopal Church laity can lead morning and evening prayers, but only the clergy can lead the Eucharist. In most churches, the clergy do the bulk of the preaching.

Clergy dress in both the Catholic and Orthodox tradition has always been very different from lay fashion.

Clergy dress in both the Catholic and Orthodox tradition has always been very different from lay fashion.

2. Elevated Religious Fashion

Not all churches use ecclesiastical dress, but those who do usually reserve certain outfits for clergy members.

The clerical collar, for example, is worn only by ordained ministers. In some traditions, seminarians can wear a clerical collar with a black stripe down the center. But generally, a clerical collar, both the small tab collar and the circular "dog collar," marks someone who is ordained.

Conversations will stay between you and your minister.

Conversations will stay between you and your minister.

3. Clergy Privilege

"Clergy privilege" is a legal term. It means that if a person confesses a crime to a minister or priest, that confession cannot be used against the person in any legal matter.

In other words, the clergy is not only required by their church to keep the contents of a confession or counseling session confidential, but they are also exempt from having to testify on any matter they learned about while functioning in a private religious capacity.

Make sure your officiant is legit and a real minister before getting married.

Make sure your officiant is legit and a real minister before getting married.

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4. Officiate Weddings

States typically require that the clergy conduct all religious wedding ceremonies. The requirements differ from state to state, but usually, the minister must be ordained by a church and submit credentials to the state or local government.

For example, in Minnesota, ministers must submit copies of their ordination certificate or license to the registrar of the county in which they work. The registrar gives each minister a certificate that authorizes that minister to perform weddings.

This is an example of a parking space reserved for clergy members only.

This is an example of a parking space reserved for clergy members only.

5. Special Parking Passes and Privileges

Some cities and some hospitals allow ministers special parking privileges. Typically, in these special cases, a minister may park in no-parking zones or may exceed the time limit for a parking place.

New York City, for example, acknowledges that clergy sometimes have to respond to emergencies and should not have to circle the block looking for parking. Special permits displayed on the dashboard allow ministers to park illegally without being ticketed or towed.

Want a tax break? Join the church.

Want a tax break? Join the church.

6. Various Tax Breaks

In the United States, clergy members are allowed some special privileges when they pay their income tax.

For example, if the minister gets a housing allowance, he does not have to include that housing allowance as part of his gross income for tax purposes. If the minister has an ethical or religious objection to Social Security, he can opt out.

In other words, clergy don't have to pay self employment taxes if they don't want to receive Social Security benefits.

Sources

Questions & Answers

Question: May I use my clergy parking pass in any circumstance?

Answer: The use of clergy parking passes is dictated by the city or county issuing the passes. Each governmental entity has its own unique criteria for its use. So the answer to your question is "it depends on where you live."

Question: If government became tyrannical, what duties would ministers have?

Answer: The easy answer is "whatever duties the government allows them." A perhaps more nuanced answer would look at recent totalitarian governments. For example, in Nazi Germany, the government tried to fold all protestant churches into the state. Clergy was expected to lend support to Nazi ideology and further the Nazi agenda. Similarly, in Italy during World War II, clergy were expected to hand over Jewish neighbors. Many resisted. Clergy rank and privileges in both countries depended on compliance. For more information: https://www.facinghistory.org/holocaust-and-human-... and https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/art...

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