Universal Church of the Kingdom of God
|Universal Church of the Kingdom of God|
Worship in 2005, Catedral Mundial da Fé
|Theology||Neopentecostal with a prosperity theology element|
|Region||180 countries approx. in 2012|
|Headquarters||São Paulo, Brazil|
|Founder||Edir Macedo and R. R. Soares|
|Origin||July 9, 1977|
|Members||1.8M - 7M (in Brazil), 3M - 8.2M (worldwide)|
The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG, from Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus [iˈɡɾeʒɐ univeʁˈsaw du ˈʁejnu dʒi ˈdews] (IURD) is a Neopentecostal Christian denomination with its headquarters at the Temple of Solomon in São Paulo, Brazil. It was founded on July 9, 1977 in Rio de Janeiro by Edir Macedo.
In 1999 it had 8 million members in Brazil, and had established temples in the United Kingdom and, since 1992, set up temples in Africa and in India, with a 1999 total of more than 12 million members worldwide. By 2013 UCKG had congregations in the New York City borough of Brooklyn and other US locations.
In 2017 the Church was accused of adopting children in Portugal and taking them abroad illegally. The Church has frequently been accused of illegal activities and corruption, including money laundering, charlatanism, and witchcraft, and intolerance towards other religions. It has been subject to bans in several African countries. A London UCKG pastor in 2000 arranged a service to cast out the devil when his help was sought for an ill and badly injured child whose guardians thought her possessed; she died and her guardians were convicted of murder. There have been accusations that the Church extracts money from poor members for the benefit of its leaders.
Beginning and split with R. R. Soares
Edir Macedo's 2012 book Nada a Perder (Nothing to Lose) covers the early history of the Church. It was founded in 1977 by Macedo and his brother-in-law R. R. Soares in Rio de Janeiro.
Macedo converted to Evangelism at Igreja Cristã de Nova Vida, a Pentecostal church founded by the Canadian bishop Walter Robert McAlister. In 1968 he met Soares, who also joined. Macedo wanted to become a minister of that church, but was not accepted by its leaders, and decided to change to another denomination. Soares became interested in another church, called Casa da Bênção, and invited Macedo. In that church they considered that they saw possession by and deliverance from demons for the first time, but only Soares was consecrated as a pastor.
Edir Macedo still wanted to start his ministry; in 1975 Soares and another pastor invited him to inaugurate the Cruzada do Caminho Eterno, which was a kind of embryo of the Universal Church. The services were held in some cinemas they rented for a few hours. To increase the number of members Macedo began to preach in a gazebo at the main square of the Méier neighborhood.
In 1977 Macedo rented the building of a former funeral home, officially the first temple of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and also the beginning of the dispute between its founders Macedo and Soares, because Soares thought the rent was too high.
In 1980 Macedo went to New York state to start the ministry in the United States, but soon returned to Brazil to solve administrative problems with Soares. Some of Macedo's principles clashed with those of Soares, such as, according to Macedo, the hiring of pastors from other denominations while Macedo was planning a completely fresh denomination, financial management, and the centralization of the image of the "Missionary R. R. Soares". They decided to call a vote for the leadership among the 15 pastors UCKG had at the time; Macedo won by twelve votes to three.
UCKG expanded to Portugal in 1989, the first European location for the UCKG. Their proselytism was aggressive, and they were accused of charlatanism and commercial interests that put into question their claims to be a religious organisation. During the 1990s they were very visible and energetic, attacked the Catholic Church, and amassed contributions sufficient to build a "gigantic" temple in Porto. In 1995, a scandal ensued after the attempted purchase of the well-known theatre Coliseu do Porto to transform it into a temple. The Church then began expanding into Eastern Europe.
In 1989 Macedo and the Church purchased Rede Record, which by 2013 was Brazil's second-largest television network. In 2009 the Workers' Party (PT) government in Brazil bought advertising from Rede Record, which it had formerly limited to Catholic publications, in new venues, and paid for public service messages in UCKG media outlets.
The church follows prosperity theology, asserting that faith and commitment to a church are rewarded with wealth. and in the late 1990s started trying to change its image of being associated with only the poorest people. In 1998 Macedo appointed his nephew Marcelo Crivella as a bishop. Crivella said, "We want to win the middle class." In 1992, Crivella began a mission in Africa, resulting in the creation of multiple UCKG temples. Crivella returned to Brazil in 1998, and was given a four-bedroom condominium in an exclusive development, where Macedo also lives. He is married to Sylvia Jane, with three children who attend a Methodist school in Río de Janeiro.
Some observers of the time thought that Crivella was being promoted as a competitor to the popular Catholic priest-singer, Marcelo Rossi, who had sold over 4 million albums. In 1999 Crivella was reported to have signed a contract with Sony Music to make three albums, one in Spanish. The first CD, The Messenger of Solidarity, sold 1.3 million copies that year.
Crivella was the only pastor whom Macedo authorized to hold large events in stadiums. He has been effective at attracting crowds: the first time appearing at the Nilson Nelson gymnasium in Brasilia, with a capacity for 25,000 people; he filled the Estádio Fonte Nova in Salvador, and the Mineiro in Belo Horizonte. In October 1999, Crivella packed the Maracanã football stadium in Río de Janeiro. By the end of that year, Crivella planned to have sung "in the largest football stadiums in the country" according to weekly news magazine Veja.
Information in the second decade of the 21st century shows that the UCKG is encouraging blood donation by its members; in various regions hundreds of donations have been made, with numbers significantly higher (e.g. by 28%) than before UCKG's involvement.
In 2002 Bishop Crivella was elected a federal Senator for the state of Rio de Janeiro, as a candidate for the Liberal Party. In 2005 he switched his affiliation to the Brazilian Republican Party, of which he was a founder. The party has been described as a vehicle to run candidates for the UCKG. As of 2015 Marcos Pereira was head of the party. Other prominent members are Bishop Marcelo Crivella of the UCKG, former vice-president José Alencar, and journalist Celso Russomanno.
Crivella also ran for mayor of Rio de Janeiro in 2004 and 2008, both times unsuccessfully, and for governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro in 2006 and 2014. In 2016 Crivella was elected mayor of Rio de Janeiro, assuming office on January 1, 2017.
Reports in 2009 from a Brazilian governmental investigation of money laundering estimated that the Church received R$1.4 billion per year in tithes, collected in 4,500 temples in 1,500 cities in Brazil. From 2003 to 2008, deposits for the Universal Church of the Kingdom God in Brazil reached R$3.9 billion.
As of 2015 UCKG's founder Edir Macedo had a personal fortune estimated at US$1.1 billion.
Investigation by The Times in 2011 into the UCKG's UK accounts found that donations declared for the financial year 2009-10 were £9,700,000, of which more than £7m was used to purchase fixed assets. Over the previous 16 years it had built up £33,700,000 in fixed assets, and had claimed almost £8m in taxpayer subsidies since 2003.
UCKG reports and financial statements give a picture of the organisation. The 28 February 2014 accounts of the UK UCKG HelpCentre (registered charity 1043985) give an overview of the organisation's aims, and detailed accounts as submitted to Companies House. The report says that "the charity exists to advance the Christian faith and for such charitable purposes as the Trustees shall from time to time decide. ... It is committed to helping people to discover their potential and live life to the full as well as working to expand and reach out to as many people as possible with the message of the Gospel. This is done through evangelism, advertising campaigns and the opening of new branches. The charity also provides financial support to its sister churches in developing nations via the issue of loans presented as programme related investments in the balance sheet."
A complete list of charitable activities stated is:
- Provision of Church Services: the charity's primary activity.
- Support for Overseas Churches: loans and donations to our sister churches.
- Training Centre: providing vocational in London.
- Children's Biblical Centre
- Bookshop: run by the charity
- Delight Cafe: with proceeds going to the work of the HelpCentre.
- Pilgrimage to Israel
- One-off events:
Income: Total voluntary income £14,139,298, of which £12,073,881 from donations from church services, plus £1,646,936 from the government as gift aid reclaim (taxpayer subsidy). From fundraising and investment about £850,000. Support costs (staff, electricity, etc.) £1,304,695.
Charitable expenditure: total £10,661,372, of which £9,607,636 on provision of church services.
According to Forbes magazine, as of 2015 UCKG's founder Edir Macedo had a personal fortune estimated at US$1.1 billion, largely from his ownership of Rede Record, the second largest broadcaster in Brazil. The church's continuing growth, and controversies since Macedo purchased Rede Record, attracted frequent media attention. In addition, claims against the church together with government efforts related to other investigations have caused a review of its operations. In 2013 Macedo acquired a 49% stake in privately held bank Banco Renner, which charges some of the highest interest rates in Brazil; the source of funding to buy the bank is unclear, and some reports alleged that he used church funds.
- That the baptism of the Holy Spirit empowers believers for service and endows them with supernatural gifts.
- That ministries of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher are divinely ordained.
- That Jesus Christ appointed two ordinances to be observed as acts of obedience:
- In divine healing as described in the Christian Bible. The translation recommended by the UCKG is the 1982 New King James Bible (NKJB; different from the original King James Bible, KJB); they say "it is the most true to the original we’ve found so far. Also be aware of the Jehovah's Witness version."
- That people can be sanctified (become holy) during their lifetime.
- The UCKG does not believe that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is sufficient enough to work in the congregant's life today; it teaches that a member of the church has to make a "total and complete" sacrifice of what they depend on to God through the church (for example, a month's pay, or savings) twice a year without telling anybody; they commonly refer this as the "Campaign of Israel."
The UCKG also considers that "hard work, perseverance and faithfulness to God" will produce earnings for people, a doctrine called prosperity theology, and that a tithe of expected earnings should be given to the Church. They offer the "promise of the psalm" (Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd): peace, healing, protection, prosperity and favour.
A 2015 academic paper by Ilana van Wyk, author of the 2014 book The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa analyses "Prosperity and the work of luck in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God" in South Africa, where the UCKG has a very significant presence. She found, based on long-term fieldwork, that the traditional Protestant doctrine of frugality and ability to work hard had been largely replaced by the prosperity gospel at the heart of popular Protestantism, with the pursuit of "blessings" superseding older concerns over secular vocations and hard work. She found that in churches such as the UCKG members were urged to demand "miracle jobs" and reject humble vocations and low pay, regardless of qualifications, skills or experience. Complementing her book, the paper examines the role of good and bad luck in the lives of believers, how it attempts to regulate the flow of money, and its relationship to older notions of prosperity, fate and good fortune. Further findings are in her book (see Bibliography), discussed in an interview at its launch.
The church has been accused of intolerance and demonisation of African-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda, with aggressive speech and attacks on temples. In 2005 a Brazilian court ordered that Macedo's book Orixás, Caboclos e Guias: Deuses ou Demônios? be removed from stores as prejudiced and attacking the religious freedom of members of religions of African origin; the judgement was reversed on freedom-of-expression grounds after a year of litigation.
Tithing and offerings
The UCKG considers that the first ten percent of all of a person's gross income before deductions "belongs to God" as a tithe, quoting the Bible as authority. The first tithe should include 10% of everything owned at the time. The Church gives very detailed instructions on what is to be paid, when, and to whom, distinguishing between rules for salaried workers, business owners, the self-employed, pensioners, and the unemployed, including beggars. Guidance is given for money received as a loan, gifts, benefits, and the sale of property. The tithe is to be paid to the Church as soon as possible; it is not acceptable to defer payment in time of need—this is compared with being unfaithful to your wife now, but being faithful later. If payment is deferred for any reason, then it must be increased by a fifth, on supposed Biblical authority. The UCKG says "the Biblical way of tithing is to bring the tithe onto the altar of the church (see Deuteronomy 14:25)", but accept payment by debit order, "if you must".
The Church is very clear that "You must tithe everything that comes to your hands ... wages [gross, not after deductions], overtime pay, bonuses, unemployment benefit, child support, business profits/profit from business, pensions, allowances, interest earned on an account, inheritance, prizes, commission, sales, gifts, etc."
The Church's position is that failure to give tithes is robbing God: "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me." (Malachi 3:8,9). They say that tithe has a direct impact on salvation. The question is posed "How can tithe benefit my finances if after giving I am left with less than before?"; the answer is described as "the miracle of tithe": "when you tithe you can count on God's protection upon your money ... He promised to bless you with more than you can have room for ... When you tithe, you remove yourself from under the curse of those who rob God." A clear distinction is made between tithe, which is an obligation, and an offering. Tithe is to be paid before an offering, without deducting the offering from the 10% tithe. Tithe is said to mean faithfulness, submission and obedience; and offering to mean love, faith, thanksgiving, and sacrifice.
The Church offer a Financial Seminar "for people who are in pursuit of financial growth, independence, stability and as well opportunities in the financial world (Jobs, Promotions, Recognition and the like), people who do not accept failure, poverty, misery, loses [sic] and want a turn over in their life because they believe that they are worthy of much more."
Tithes are stated to be used so "the Church can pay its existing expenses and plan to expand the work of God", quoting "That there may be food in My House." (Malachi 3:10). This also means that tithes must not be paid to a charity for the needy instead of the Church, because their primary purpose is to maintain the house of God. "The responsibility rests with the church authorities to decide whether after the needs of God's House have been met to use the remainder in aid of the poor."
Relations with other religions
A UN report published in 2009 by Brazil's Committee Against Religious Intolerance (CCIR) stated that Pentecostal churches in general, and the UCKG in particular, was harassing and attacking, sometimes violently, people of other faiths and spreading religious intolerance. The UCKG was "demonizing" especially Afro-Brazilian syncretic religions such as Umbanda and Candomblé; "Jews are portrayed as 'the killers of Christ', Catholics as 'devil worshippers', traditional Protestants as 'false Christians' and Muslims as 'demonic'", the report said. Spiritists were also reported to have been the subject of attacks. The UN Committee is made up of the leaders of 18 religious and human rights groups. The committee's chairman said "Fascism and Nazism started this way, from demonizing other groups".
Although it is reported that UCKG attacks Jews because they "killed Jesus", in June 2014 bishop Edir Macedo, accepting the repudiated notion of Jewish deicide, said in his personal blog "Thank God for the Jews!", giving four reasons: Jesus said that Salvation is of the Jews (John 4.22), for lessons that can be learnt from their history, for rejecting him, and for sacrificing him: "Who would have the courage to sacrifice Someone so pure, so holy, so noble, so fair, so merciful, so Great? ... Without realizing it, the Jews did the will of God the Father and offered Jesus as a sin Offering, the scapegoat. They implemented the Law so our sins could be forgiven."
A 1995 incident in Brazil known as the "Kicking of the Saint" attracted unfavorable publicity for the Church. Violent public protests against UCKG temples followed a 12 October 1995 incident in which UCKG-owned Rede Record broadcast a video of UCKG Bishop Sérgio Von Helder kicking and insulting a Catholic figure of Our Lady Aparecida, whose feast day is 12 October. Facing legal charges, Von Helde fled the country but was later tried and convicted of religious discrimination and desecration of a national sacred treasure; he was sentenced to two years in prison. Edir Macedo apologized for Von Helder's actions, but accused Rede Globo, Brazil's largest television network, of "manipulating public sentiment" by repeatedly showing a video of the incident.
A researcher who participated in many UCKG church services in various parts of Rio de Janeiro published a dissertation finding that the Church promoted a language of war, giving moral justification for worshippers' battles with non-believers, and that it also claimed to be the victim, discriminated against for spreading hate and demanding that its intolerance be tolerated. The UCKG was highly competitive for territory, and denounced Afro-Brazilian religions.
The church has frequently been accused of illegal activities, including money laundering, charlatanism, and witchcraft. A book by ex-pastor Mario Justino reports a system of goals for the pastors, with those who collect more money receiving awards such as bigger houses, better cars, and holidays. The church is accused of extracting money from its often poor congregants, and using it to enrich UCKG leaders rather than assisting the needy. Accusations of charlatanism are the most frequent. The church has been under formal investigation in Belgium. Newspapers in the US, UK, Brazil and Zambia have reported on charges of abuses by the church.
In August 2012 a man had an epileptic fit at a São Paulo, Brazil UCKG service. He told the pastors, and went to the back of the temple to take his medicine. The pastors attacked and punched him, saying he was "possessed by the spirits of darkness". The Church was ordered to pay R$10,000 compensation; it appealed, but the ruling was confirmed by the São Paulo Court of Justice.
In December 2012 the UCKG was ordered by a court in Lajeado, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil to pay R$20,000, confirmed on appeal, in compensation for coercing a businesswoman and her partner to make donations they could not afford. The couple were in financial difficulties, and had been led to believe that UCKG blessings would help them. The judge determined that the donations (car, jewellery, home appliances, a mobile phone and a printer) were induced, to prove faith and subject to the threat of withholding the blessings needed. The inducement, to the couple and the rest of the congregation, was that the more money was donated, the more Jesus would give in return.
Charges of fraud and money laundering
In August 2009, a judge accepted prosecution charges against Bishop Edir Macedo and nine other UCKG leaders who were charged with fraud against the church and its followers. According to The Guardian, government prosecutors accused the men of laundering more than US$2 billion in donations from 2001 to 2009, and using much of it for personal gain, buying property, jewelry and cars; the newspaper also reported, "A $45m (£27m) executive jet, reportedly owned by Bishop Macedo, has become the most visible symbol of the scandal."
Following a 10-year investigation, the São Paulo prosecutor reported the operation works in the following manner: donations were gathered from followers, and placed in private banks in both New York (via Invest Holding, a private lending bank) and London. The money is sent through Cable Invest, a private bank located in the Cayman Islands. Finally it is sent to Brazil though Brazilian lending companies "Cremo" and "Unimetro", lender banks that divide the funds among Rede Record (UCKG owned television network) executives, who in turn supply more money to UCKG officials.
On October 19, 2010, the São Paulo Justice Court (TJ-SP) by a majority vote annulled all charges made by the São Paulo Public Ministry against the UCKG and its principal representatives. The judges ruled that the São Paulo prosecutors did not have jurisdiction to investigate the case, as the accusations were of a type that fell into the federal jurisdiction.
Accusations in the United States
The UCKG was first inaugurated in New York City around mid 1986. By the early 1990s the organization had grown considerably as far as the west coast.
Francisco Martinez case: In 1995, Francisco Martinez started out as an energetic member who volunteered for church activities in the Houston area. He passed out gospel pamphlets to people on the street. Due to his service, the church administration made him a "church collaborator", giving him responsibility to do errands under the order of the pastor Carlos Moncada. Martinez was sent to the grocery to buy items to be used in church services, including olive oil. But, the congregation was told it was "Holy Oil" imported from Israel. He bought wooden crosses made by a local shop, and said the church's claimed Holy Water was delivered by trucks labeled as carrying natural spring water.
Martinez contributed to church investments for future projects. In July 1998 he contributed an estimated $30,000 (U.S. Dollars) to the church; he says that Moncada's administrators later told him that such donation would bring him many godly blessings and that by giving it was "a way in which God could see that in his heart and good character was one that was ideal to obtain blessings from the lord". He then told reporters that the church had pressured him into making such substantial "donation".
In February 1999, Martinez filed a lawsuit against the church in a Houston court for an estimated $2.1 million (U.S. Dollars) for the principal, interest and damages. The court ruled in his favor and gave the church 90 days to pay the settlement. By May 1999, the organization offered him $1.4 million of the judgment. It is unknown whether Martinez accepted any payment or not. In May 2000, Martinez spoke to local media KTRK ABC 13 and KTMD Telemundo 47 (then known as KTMD 48). He said that the church forced him to do illicit acts and non-church related activities that involved money laundering, fraud and "trash talk" related to other members.
When Carlos Moncada was interviewed and questioned about the oil, he said the church used olive oil imported from Israel. Questioned about the use of church collections, he declined to answer. UCKG performs exorcisms for members. Martinez says; "That was all drama." Former church members in Houston accused the Houston branch of similar acts. The reports made headlines throughout the United States.
Victoria and Jesus Lorenzo case: Victoria Lorenzo and her husband Jesus were a married couple who joined the Houston UCKG in 1996. When, in August 1999, they raised questions with representatives of the state attorney's office about the church's fund-raising tactics, officials said that church members make their donations voluntarily, so there was no legal violation.
Victoria and Jesus Lorenzo left the church in late 1999 after having given $60,000 in a period of 3 years as members of the church. They lost their office-cleaning business and then their home, and had to declare bankruptcy. They complained that in their time of need, the church did not offer them any help.
"Holy Oil of Psalm 23, blessed in six destinations in Israel" as described above was still being used by the UCKG in 2012; it is praised and described as being distributed in London, UK, in the UCKG's UK Web site.
In 1992, Bishop Macedo, the founder and leader of the Church, was prosecuted for tax evasion in the state of São Paulo and imprisoned for 11 days. No charges against him were proved and the case was archived.
Victoria Climbié's death (UK)
Victoria Climbié was an eight-year-old child whose cruel death in the UK led to major changes in child protection policies. She died from abuse and neglect while living with her great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and the aunt's boyfriend. Victoria was seen by dozens of social workers, nurses, doctors and police officers before she died, and by a pastor of the UCKG, but all failed to spot or stop the abuse. Kouao and her boyfriend were charged with child cruelty and murder. During police interviews, both claimed that Victoria was possessed by evil spirits. They were both convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Victoria's murder led to a public inquiry which investigated the role of social services, the National Health Service, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and the police in her death.
In February 2000 UCKG Pastor Álvaro Lima saw the girl and expressed the view that she was possessed by an evil spirit, saying in a written statement to the inquiry that Victoria had told him "that Satan controlled her life, that Satan had told her to burn her body". He advised Kouao to bring Victoria back to the church a week later, saying later he suspected she was being abused, but he did not notify any officials. He prayed for her with an assistant. He saw her again several days later with her mother, and advised Kouao to take the girl to the hospital, where she died of her abuse. The UCKG had been planning to hold a service to "cast out the devil" from her, on the day she died.
Belgian parliamentary inquiry
In 1997 the Belgian Parliament Inquiry Committee on Cults described the UCKG as a dangerous cult, and recommended its formal proscription. The report said that "[The Church] claims that the Kingdom of God is down here [on Earth] and that it [the church] can offer a solution to every possible problem, depression, unemployment, family and financial problems. In fact, [the UCKG] is apparently a truly criminal association, whose only purpose is enrichment." The Belgian report generated controversy for varied reasons, and the Parliament ultimately rejected most of it.
Accusations in African countries
In 1998, UCKG was banned from Zambia under the accusation of "unchristian practices". The ban was lifted after the church appealed to the Supreme Court. In November 2005 it was again banned from Zambia under the accusation of promoting satanic rituals, and the work permits for its pastors were revoked. The ban was again lifted after appeal to Justice. Zambia is a Christian country by its 1996 constitution.
Also in 2005, UCKG was banned from Madagascar, after members were arrested for burning a Bible and other religious objects in public. The church was banned with the argument that it had been licensed in 1998 as a "foreign society" and not a "cult society". In later years the UCKG (in Malagasy, Fiangonan’ny Vondrona Kristian’ny Fanahy Masina (FVKFM)) encouraged blood donation by its members; in one campaign 300 donors were recruited, far more than before the involvement of UCKG.
UCKG was suspended for 60 days in Angola in February 2013 after an incident at the Citadela Desportiva in December 2012, which resulted in the death of several people. The Aid Organs of the Presidency of the Republic also recommended that similar churches which have not been recognised by the state be banned, including "Igrejas Mundial do Poder de Deus", "Mundial do Reino de Deus", "Mundial Internacional", "Mundial da Promessa de Deus", "Mundial Renovada" and "Igreja Evangélica Pentecostal Nova Jerusalém" be suspended. In Brazil this news was published with a response from local religious leaders.
UCKG and film promotion
The Ten Commandments is a film released in 2016 by UCKG-controlled Rede Record in association with Paris Filmes. It is an adaptation of the eponymous television series presented by Rede Record in 2015. The adaptation was written by Vivian de Oliveira and directed by Alexandre Avancini, with the same cast as the soap opera.
During pre-order the film broke several records. In two weeks more than 2 million tickets were sold, and it was also shown at more screens in Brazil, over 1,000, than any previous film. However, it was poorly received by critics.
The UCKG was criticised for heavily promoting the film at their services, and asking those attending for money to buy tickets for those who could not afford them; pastors at church services distributed envelopes with the Ten Commandments logo, and asked for them to be filled with money and returned to help the "cause", interspersed with stressing the importance of tithing 10% of salary, plus extra donations, every month.
The film was widely released, but a news report in São Paulo showed empty screening rooms at the premiere of the film, despite the tickets sold at the box office. It was reported that in Recife a single buyer associated with the UCKG bought all the tickets for all showings of the film in its first two weeks, more than 20,700 tickets. UCKG officially denied the negative reports about the film.
In 2018 the film Nada a Perder (Nothing to Lose), the story of Edir Macedo, part-funded and promoted by Macedo's Record channel, was similarly reported to be the biggest-selling Brazilian film, but to be playing to rows of empty seats night after night; in one case two sold-out performances played to a totally empty cinema, and to a woman and her two children. A UCKG spokesman said that it was a lie and fake news propagated by media with "a long history of attacks against Universal and the Christian faith" that the film was showing to empty cinemas. He said that the church had "never" bought tickets for the film, but there had been "an initiative so that the biggest number of people possible could see the film—taking needy populations and residents of poor neighbourhoods, the excluded and those who never had access to a cinema where they live".
Illegal child adoption scheme in Portugal
In December 2017, the Portuguese UCKG was accused of running an illegal child adoption network. Children were allegedly taken from their biological mothers and illegally taken to foreign countries for adoption. The investigation continued as of April 2018; the Portuguese judicial authorities had by then ruled that children were not taken illegally from their parents, but that there were indications of crime in the subsequent process of adoption.
- (BBC News)Latin America: "Brazil's multinational 'commercial church'", BBC
- Roberta Paixão (11 March 1999). ""O sucessor de Edir Macedo"" [The successor of Macedo]. Veja (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 25 October 2013.
- "JACOB, C.R.; HEES, D.R.; WANIEZ, P.; BRUSTLEIN, V. Atlas da Filiação Religiosa e Indicadores Sociais no Brasil, São Paulo: PUC-Rio - Edições Loyola, 2003. ISBN 85-15-02719-4"
- Phillips, Tom (2009-08-13), "Brazilian evangelical leader charged with fraud", The Guardian, London, retrieved 24 August 2009
- A Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus em Portugal, Claudia Swatowiski, XIV Congresso Brasileiro de Sociologia, 28 a 31 de julho de 2009, Rio de Janeiro (RJ)
- André Ricardo de Souza (2005). Igreja in concert: padres cantores, mídia e marketing [The Church in concert: fathers, cantors, media and marketing] (in Portuguese). Annablume. p. 25. ISBN 978-85-7419-513-1. "in 1992 Edir Macedo was imprisoned accused of charlatanism, quackery, and larceny by fraud"
- "Prosperity" in the 1990s: Ethnography of the work commitment between worshippers and God in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Scielo (in Portuguese)
- Frayssinet, Fabiana (3 July 2009). "RELIGION-BRAZIL: Intolerance Denounced At UN". Interpress Service.
- Emilio Sant Anna & Ricardo Muniz, State of S.Paulo (15 November 2008). "Aos cem anos, umbanda ainda sofre preconceito - Vida & Estilo - Estadão". Vida-estilo.estadao.com (in Portuguese). Retrieved 28 December 2015.
- Victoria's life of horror", BBC, 12 January 2001, retrieved 23 April 2010
- House of Commons Health Committee, The Victoria Climbié Inquiry Report, Sixth Report of Session 2002–03
- "Ex-Member Bids Farewell To 60G – And Her Faith", New York Post, 23 July 2000, posted at Freedom of Mind
- Macedo 2012
- Macedo 2012, pp. 159–164
- Macedo 2012, pp. 187–189
- Macedo 2012, pp. 200–202
- Macedo 2012, pp. 210–214
- Macedo 2012, pp. 214–217
- "Igreja também procurou Dilma para manter pacto inalterado", Estado de São Paulo, 25 February 2013 (in Portuguese)
- https://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09SAOPAULO660.html IURD Cables, WikiLeaks, 10/11/2009
- "The World's Billionaires: 2015 Ranking - #1638 Edir Macedo & family". Forbes. 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
The bulk of Macedo's fortune stems from his ownership of Rede Record, Brazil's second-largest broadcaster, which he acquired in 1990 from entertainer Silvio Santos.
- "Save a life - Donate blood". UCKG South Africa. 30 March 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. A blood drive in Soweto in 2011, encouraging UCKG members to donate blood
- lcvmada. "Santé - Don de sang de la communauté FVKFMA" [Health: Blood donation by the FVKFMA community]. La Coueur et la voix de Madagascar (in Malagasy and French). Archived from the original on 20 March 2013.
- bizcommunity.com, South Africa: information provided by UCKG: members in the Pretoria area commit to becoming regular blood donors, 30 August 2012. "The number of active blood donors has increased by 28% since the first blood drive held at the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) in the Pretoria region. This year the churches in Pretoria, Mamelodi and Soshanguve invited members to donate life-saving blood and more than six hundred people attended the three blood drives."
- O Globo:A Igreja Universal e o custo da megalomania, 20 October 2014
- "Longe do PP, Celso Russomanno diz que eleitorado de Maluf é bem-vindo". JB. 8 May 2012.
- Watts, Jonathan (2016-10-31). "Brazil's religious right on the march as bishop elected mayor of Rio". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
- "Policia: Inquéritos contra a Universal foram arquivados, diz advogado" [Investigations were filed against Universal, says lawyer]. Terra (in Portuguese). 11 August 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- The Times: Church that coaxes people into debt gets public subsidy, 2 April 2011. (subscription required) Quoted in Malcolm Redfellow’s Home Service
- "Charity Commission Web page for 1043985 - THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, with links to accounts". Apps.charitycommission.gov.uk. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
- UCKG website, "What we believe" lists many points, most of them common to all Pentecostal doctrines
- "How to Read the Bible". UCKG. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016.
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.Sanctify: to make (a person) holy, to purify or free from sin
- "7 Steps to Being Blessed in the Campaign of Israel". Uckg.ca. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
- "Campaign of Israel - Articles, Messages". Blogs.universal.org. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
- Justino, Mario (1995). Nos Bastidores do Reino (PDF) (in Portuguese). São Paulo, SP, Brasil: Geração Editorial. ISBN 8586028061. (in Portuguese)
- "Tithers must be like eagles". UCKG. July 2013. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. "We are encouraging you to put God to the test and, during this month of July, give the tithe of what you can 'see yourself' earning, as through your hard work, perseverance and faithfulness to God, you believe you deserve."
- "Yellow rose- for prosperity". UKCG Web. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
- UCKG Web site: Could one drop of oil really make a difference?, 17 May 2012
- van Wyk, Ilana (2015). "Prosperity and the work of luck in the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, South Africa". Critical African Studies. 7 (3): 262–279. doi:10.1080/21681392.2015.1050216. ISSN 2168-1392.
- "Mysterious Money Ministry: Ilana van Wyk's A Church of Strangers Launches at UCT". Wits University Press - Books Live. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
- State Agency (10 November 2005). "Teor preconceituoso faz Justiça proibir livro de Edir Macedo - Cultura - Estadão". Cultura.estadao.com (in Portuguese). Retrieved 28 December 2015.
- e diretores da Record são processados por descaminho
- TRF libera circulação do livro de Edir Macedo
- "The Right Way to Tithe, booklet and Web page". UCKG. Archived from the original on 23 March 2015. Reference for all the UCKG guidance on tithing. Material in "double quotes" in Tithing and offerings section is quoted verbatim.
- UCKG: Tithe the first fruits - booklet (43pp), retrieved 13 February 2017
- "Monday Chain of Prayer". UCKG. Archived from the original on 23 March 2015.
- Day 8 of the 40 Day Fast of Jesus. Edir Macedo blog
- "On Faith", Washington Post, 24 November 2006
- "Evangelical Christianity thriving in Brazil", Latin American (interdenominational Christian) Missio
- Jack Epstein, "A Skirmish in Brazil's Holy War", San Francisco Chronicle, 5 November 1995
- Neace, Sarah Rachelle (2016). "Religious Tension in Brazil: The Rise of Militant Pentecostalism and Implications for Afro-Brazilian Religions". Gradworks.umi.com. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- Leonard, Jim (8 May 2009). Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (PDF). Ankeny, Iowa: Faith Baptist Theological Seminary. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. In English, with attachments in Portuguese.
- 1997 report "Belgian Parliamentary Report on UCKG" (in Dutch and French), Apologetics Index
- "ONE HELL OF A WAY TO RAISE MONEY - HOLY-ROLLER CHURCH CASHES IN ON FAITHFUL", New York Post, 23 July 2000
- "The exorcists", The Guardian, 15 January 2001
- brazzil.com: "Praise the Lord and pass the catch-up", Brazzil, 1995
- "AFP: Satanism claims lead to riot", Religion News blog, 27 November 2005
- Bahia Noticias: Igreja Universal é condenada por agredir fiel epilético confundido com ‘possessão demoníaca’, 20 August 2012
- Bahia Noticias: Igreja Universal é condenada a pagar R$ 20 mil de indenização por coagir casal a fazer doações, 6 December 2012
- Odiario.com: IURD por coagir fiéis a fazer doação é condenada a pagar R$ 20 mil por TJ-RS
- "Accusations against UCKG recognised as illegal", Universo Politico, 24 October 2010 (in Portuguese)
- IURD Help Centre Evento: Exorcismo There are symptoms that clearly indicate that our lives are directly or indirectly going to be affected by evil, and we consequently have urgent need of a session of exorcism! (in Portuguese)
- Inquéritos contra a Universal foram arquivados, diz advogado
- From Victoria Climbié Inquiry Report, cited below: "who ended her days the victim of almost unimaginable cruelty"
- "Pastor prayed for 'possessed' Victoria", BBC, 6 December 2001, retrieved 23 April 2010
- .pdf file with text in French and Dutch
- Vote of the Belgian Parliament on the report of the Enquête (Commission) on Cults (pdf), Session of May 7, 1997
- "'Satanic' church banned in Zambia". BBC News. 30 November 2005.
- The Namibian, from Namibia Press Agency - Agence France-Presse: Zambia revokes work permits of Brazilian pastors 'linked to Satanism', 5 December 2005
- "Zambia 'Satanic' church ban lifted". BBC News. 29 December 2005.
- "Madagascar bans Bible-burning sect". Archived from the original on 10 March 2014.
- Redvers, Louise. "Tragedy puts controversial Angolan church on spot". The M&G Online. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
- "Government suspends Universal Church". Agencia Angola Press. 3 February 2013.
- Folha (Brazil): Angola suspends activities of UCKG and six other churches, São Paulo, 5 February 2013 (in Portuguese)
- "Após sucesso de audiência, 'Os Dez Mandamentos' vai virar filme" [After audience success, "The Ten Commandments" is to be filmes]. Televisão - O Dia (in Portuguese). 24 November 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Cinemark abre pré-venda de ingressos para "Os Dez Mandamentos"" [Cinemark opens pre-sale of tickets for "The Ten Commandments"]. A Tribuna (in Portuguese). 1 January 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Filme 'Os Dez Mandamentos' supera 2 milhões de ingressos na pré-venda" [Film "The Ten Commandments" sells over 2 million tickets in pre-sales]. Veja.abril.com (in Portuguese). 20 January 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "'Os Dez Mandamentos' vai estrear em número recorde de salas" ["The Ten Commandments to have first showing in record number of cinemas]. Veja.abril.com (in Portuguese). 12 January 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "'Os Dez Mandamentos - O Filme', o milagre da multiplicação dos ingressos" ["The Ten Commandments - the Film", the miracle of multiplying income]. El Pais, Brazil (in Portuguese). 29 January 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Universal pede dinheiro a fiéis para lotar cinemas de Os Dez Mandamentos" [Universal asks faithful for money to fill theaters showing The Ten Commandments]. Notícias da TV (in Portuguese). 18 January 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- Felipe Branco Cruz and Renata Nogueira (28 January 2016). ""Os Dez Mandamentos" estreia com lugares vagos em sessões esgotadas" ["The Ten Commandments" shows to vacant seats in sold-out sessions]. Notícias - UOL Cinema (in Portuguese). Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- Felipe Branco Cruz (19 January 2016). "No Recife, único comprador adquire 22 mil ingressos de "Os Dez Mandamentos"" [In Recife a single purchasrer buys 22,000 tickets for "The Ten Commandments"]. Notícias - UOL Cinema (in Portuguese). Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- UCKG Social Communications Department (26 January 2016). ""Os Dez Mandamentos - O filme": Universal desmente acusações da Imprensa" ["The Ten Commandments - the Film": Universal [Church] denies Press accusations]. Universal.org (in Portuguese). Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Record e Paris Filmes divulgam nota sobre a lotação dos cinemas na estreia de "Os Dez Mandamentos – O filme"" [Rede Record and Paris Filmes publish note on attendance at cinemas showing "The Ten Commandments - the Film"]. Universal.org (UCKG) (in Portuguese). 28 January 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- Dom Phillips (17 May 2018). "'It is strange': Brazilian church blockbuster plays to empty cinemas". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
- ""O Segredo dos Deuses": TVI revela rede de adoções ilegais de crianças da IURD em Portugal" [The secrets of the gods: TVI reveals illegal child adoption network of Portuguese UCKG]. www.tvi24.iol.pt (in Portuguese). 11 December 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
- Correia, Gonçalo (7 April 2018). "IURD. Justiça nega rede de adoção ilegal ou 'irregularidades na retirada das crianças aos pais'" [UCKG. Judicial authorities deny illegal adoption network or "irregularities in the withdrawal of children from parents"]. Observador (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2018-04-07.
- Macedo, Edir (2012). Nada a perder [Nothing to Lose] (in Portuguese). 1. São Paulo: Planeta. ISBN 9788576658931.
- van Wyk, Ilana (May 2014). The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa - A Church of Strangers (1st edition). New York: The International African Library, International African Institute, London and Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107057241. The first English-language book on the UCKG outside of Brazil. A review by David Lehmann, University of Cambridge says that the book describes "a new, antisocial form of Christianity in which the definitions of church and religious practice are fundamentally redefined. Illustrates how expectations of material efficacy shaped Christianity in this locale". The review says that the UCKG rituals are often condemned as empty or manipulative, but the book shows that they are locally meaningful, demand sincerity to work, have limits and are informed by local ideas about human bodies, agency and ontological balance, concluding "Some of the case material is deeply distressing, but the analytical fruits will be with us for a long time to come." The UCKG said in a press release that it did "not condone the seemingly one-sided, biased report which is fraught with factually incorrect statements and sweeping generalisations which are contained both in the book and in Van Wyk’s interviews".
- van Wyk, Ilana (2015). A Church of Strangers - The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits University Press. ISBN 9781868148097. This is a 2nd, paperback, edition of van Wyk's book, with title and subtitle swapped; there are excerpts from reviews on the publisher's Web site.
UCKG Web sites
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.|
- UCKG official English language website (United Kingdom)
- Official US website (Portuguese and English languages)
- "Press release: The UCKG's statement on Ilana van Wyk's book". UCKG. 22 October 2015. Archived from the original on 21 February 2016.