THE HISTORY OF THE INCORPORATION
This is Rev. Hensley's interpretation
and remembrances of what took place in the last 35 years. He is
going to ad-lib this message from memory, and try to tell you
the best he can about the church.
Rev. Hensley is the founder and the
President of the Universal Life Church. He incorporated it in
1962. We then worked under the corporation for nearly 30 years.
About 1985 Robert Embeau, who is Vice
President, and I began to realize that there was something very
wrong. We were being hit from lawyers from every direction. I
decided that we had to do something. I decided to call a board
meeting and talk about what was hurting us, and what to do about
it. I told the board members that the corporation is what's hurting
Many church groups were getting into
trouble with the IRS and many other things. People were suing
At the board meeting I suggested to
the board that we drop the incorporation. But, that is a whole
lot of work and problems. I asked the board to organize a new
ULC called the "Universal Life Church" So, we did. But,
we didn't use the unincorporated for a while.
Then the IRS made a big statement to
the news media. They said that they had pulled the Universal Life
Church Inc. tax exempt status.
THEN THE WAR BEGAN
I will try to tell I you from my memory
about some of the things that the corporation has went through.
But, before I tell you some of these negative things, I would
like to tell you something positive to think about.
We have taken the heart, the life, the
soul, the spirit, and the mind out of the corporation and put
it in the unincorporated. Now, the unincorporated is doing wonderful
and has no problems.
You will ask 'What is the corporation
It is still dealing with the IRS The
IRS wants about 3.5 million dollars. The corporation is in bankruptcy
court. It does look like we will settle it in the near future.
We hope so. They have all property tied up, except our local church
building and things.
Now I would like to begin to tell you
about the Universal Life Church, which I have told you about many
My first troubles started shortly after
the church was incorporated. A newspaper in San Francisco ran
a story about a boy getting a minister license to get out of the
army. The news began to break. I started ordaining people by the
hundreds and then thousands.
At this time, the IRS went down and
took about $10,000 out of the church's bank account. The Attorney
General also got in on it. They put out a warrant for my arrest
and threw me in jail for giving a Doctor of Divinity.
Then we started our lawsuit. You will
see in this book, judge Battins decision, where we won the case.
At first we lost the case in the state court system, but, we won
with victory in the federal courts. We also beat the IRS They
had to pay us back the $10,000 plus interest.
The Education Department of the State
of California had a policeman in San Jose get a Doctor of Divinity
degree from the Universal Life Church. When they got the degree
they turned around and sued me, and put me in jail. We fought
them all through the courts and won in victory.
All the news sources began running the
All the television and radio stations
began announcing it. Colleges from all across the country were
calling me, to speak for them.
But, then the IRS began to come down
on many of the churches. The Church of Harmony, which was one
of our groups, started ordaining people by the thousands.
I began to get on some of the big talk
The Snyder Show out of Los Angeles was
one of the first ones. KGO talk show out of San Francisco was
another big one. Also, nearly everyone in one whole county of
New York became ministers of Universal Life Church. it went on
until about 1969 or 1970. We had a big convention in Idaho with
an attendance of over 125,000 people. A lot of news media from
all over the country covered the meeting. We had 42 bands playing.
The music never stopped for 3 days.
I can't tell you all the details. I don't have the time or space,
but, it was a great one!
The National Enquirer did a front page
story on us. 60 Minutes had us on their talk show. And we were
also on the Donahue Show. On and on it went.
I went to Arizona and incorporated the
church and filed it there also. I came back to Modesto. A news
reporter called me and told me they had a warrant out for my arrest.
I jumped in my car and went to Arizona, to the District Attorney's
office. I asked him why he had a warrant out on me. He didn't
tell me, he called the Sheriff to come and get me. He came and
put me in jail. They wanted a $5,000 bond to get me out. I had
$10,000across the street in the bank, but, they wouldn't let me
get it. They made me pay the Bail bondsman $500 to get out on
Then they set a court date. When I went
back to court, they said that I had filed a false statement about
the church. In court, one of the Secretaries for the state said
that I did not file a false statement, that it was true.
But before the trial, they offered to
turn me loose if I signed a paper stating that I would not sue
them. But, I didn't sign the paper and I didn't sue them.
I should have!
The Grand jury in the state of Washington
wanted to sue one of our preachers. Robert Embeau and I were subpoenaed
and went to the Grand Jury.. They called Robert in first. He thought
they were going to put us in jail. Then I went in before the jury.
This two-bit lawyer asked me if I would give him all the papers
on this preacher. I told him he couldn't have them. He told me
he would have me held contempt of court. I told him that I didn't
give a damn what he did. He made me very mad. I said to him "if
you think that I'm going to come down here with a bunch of Baptist,
Catholics, and Pentecostals to let them judge my church, you are
crazy!" The whole Grand Jury wanted in on this act.
The lawyer said to me "I'll take
you up to the judge's office and we will let him decide what to
do.' I told him 0. K. We went up to the judge's off ice. The judge
asked the lawyer what he wanted and the lawyer told him that he
wanted all the papers on this preacher. I was willing to give
him the financial records only, nothing else.
The Judge said to me "can I see
the papers?" I gave him the papers. The Judge went through
them and separated them into two stacks. He said to the lawyer
'you can have these.' Then he gave me back my papers, which I
didn't want the lawyer to have.
He dismissed me in court and wanted
nothing more to do with me. I never heard from him again.
A state Senator in North Carolina got
a ministers license from the Universal Life Church and married
a couple. A few years later, the woman separated and got married
again, without getting a divorce from the first husband. The state
began to say that she was never really married in the first place,
that the Senator wasn't a real minister. So, they sued the church
for a million dollars.
We went to North Carolina and fought
the case through the courts. At that time N. Carolina passed a
new law. A law stating that all the people who had been married
by U.L.C. were legally married. North Carolina won the case against
us at first, but, we appealed it through the Federal Courts and
In Modesto they sued us and said we
weren't a church, and that we should pay taxes. They said we were
too liberal. They sent a tax man over to investigate us. When
we went to court, the man testified and said that he believed
we were a church, like other churches. We have meetings, a church
building, pews, and an organ, like all other churches. The city
still said that we weren't a real church because we didn't believe
like they did. We appealed this case also. We won in the Federal
Mississippi had also taken us on and
said we weren't a church. We went to court and won the case. on
and on we have had these sort of cases.
Arizona took us on. A boy in prison
had married a couple and the county claimed that it wasn't a legal
marriage. In the courtroom, the sheriff testified that he had
a Secretary write to U.L.C. in Modesto and get a Ministers license
for his dog. I told the judge that he had only sent in a name
and that he didn't state it was for a dog. I told the judge this.
The judge chewed him out and said that the joke was on the sheriff.
Lewis Ashmore wanted to make a movie
about Rev. Hensley and the Universal Life Church. He raised the
money and made the movie. You see, people had donated money and
took it off of their income taxes. If the movie was to be a big
success, then he would give all these people their money back.
One man sued the church corporation for $75,000. We went to court,
fought them and won the case in the court. We didn't have to pay
We had a case in Denver. We fought through
the courts a long time, but, won this case also. I went to Chicago
to a trial once, which we also won. On and on it goes.
I was in two big cases in Florida. One
of them was in Miami. We thought we had it won. A lawyer came
to take a deposition and I thought the woman with him was on our
side, but, she was working for the preacher that was suing us.
Our lawyer at that time thought so too, and did nothing about
They got judgment against me and it
cost us about $200,000. Of course, there are hundreds more small
lawsuits, where we have been in court all over the country.
This is the big one with the IRS About
5 or 6 years ago the IRS said they were going to pull our tax-exempt
status. They said the reason was that my intent was to ordain
ministers so they could get a tax write-off, which isn't true.
The case got into the Federal Courts.
They filed a lot of motions against us. I talked to our lawyer
about it. He said we would appeal it in Washington. Our lawyer
at the time didn't do enough work on the case, and we lost it.
That is what we were fighting then.
We are still fighting them in the Federal
There is many other cases I would like
to tell you about but, I don't have the time or space in this
book. If you have become a minister in the last 5 or 6 years,
then you would not be concerned with this because you are under
Here are some of the things that have
happened in the last few years. The corporation has continued
in the courts until now. We don't know what will be the final
end of the corporation.
We have given you this information about
what has happened, because we don't want to deceive anyone. I
would like to quote you a verse of scripture from the Bible, which
is found in Ephesians. Paul said - we wrestle against principalities
We have fought the state through-out
the country. We will not yield to their dictations. So, we fought
the system. We feel that the people have the first rights, the
church organization has the second, and the state has the third
rights. The church and the state were created by men and women
for men and women. Therefore, we have allowed the church and the
state to dictate our freedom. We are no longer willing to let
the state dictate our lives.