There is a diversity of universal Churches that preach the teachings of the Kingdom of God among the most named we can mention the very common call Stop suffering , it was founded a few years ago. We invite the reader to learn more about her.
This Church had its foundation on July 9, 1977 and it was by Edir Macedo in the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It is called the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD); it emerged and was treated as a religious organization.
We must also say that it has different names in some Latin American countries, among some of its names are the Crusade of the Eternal Path, Strong Prayer to the Holy Spirit, Universal Grace. It is also well known with the name that is passed on television called, Stop Suffering.
As for the rules and statutes that govern the grouping of the church, they say they are on a par with the foundations established in the Bible, so some of their doctrines are similar to that of neo-Pentecostalism.
Before its creation, its founder, Edir Macedo, worked as a cashier at the National Lottery. The beginning of him within the church occurs when four members of the evangelical church called NOVA VIDA, in which his own brother-in-law participated in life.
Not being in agreement with things, they had the ideology of founding a new branch, which they called “Church of Grace”, in which Edir Macedo was entered as treasurer. Over time, the foundation of the Crusade of the Eternal Path and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God was created.
In 1974, the evangelical Church called Church of Grace was founded, it was carried out by four pastors belonging to the NOVA VIDA evangelical church. In 1977 the latter was divided into two phases:
The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which is headed by Edir Macedo Bezerra.
International Church of the Grace of God led by Romildo Ribeiro Soares
Without the economic conditions necessary to rent a place, the first meetings were held in the street in an amphitheater in the garden of the Meier neighborhood in Rio. At that time, the ceremonies began to be frequented by a large number of people in such a way that, slowly, Macedo was allowed to rent the first places.
The meetings began to take place in a place that had originally been a funeral parlor in the Abolição neighborhood, in the northern part of Rio de Janeiro. At that time the teaching was carried out by ten “workers”, a name by which people who aspired to become pastors of the Church were known. They posted evangelistic flyers on poles and invited people to worship.
The Church grew rapidly and a warehouse that was previously a furniture factory became the meeting place for the riles that gradually increased. In this way the Church became the great Temple with a capacity at the beginning of fifteen hundred people. Later years it became necessary to expand the place to accommodate 2000 people.
Macedo himself, founder of the Church, accepted on different occasions that: “when we rented the shed, it was treated as a crazy act, since renting the premises was very expensive.” As for this, it served for the Church to become what it is today, as it is a Church that expands day by day.
The plans of the Church at all times were great. From the preaching in the amphitheater of Meier, by the founder Macedo, he constantly said frequently that the Universal Church had the objective of teaching the gospel of Jesus worldwide. For this it would be necessary to use the media.
Macedo achieved his goal with total leadership, and through the radio, television, books, movies that the Church produced throughout history. Initially “El Despertar de la Fe” with a duration of 15 minutes was broadcast by the Metropolitan Radio. The same program was then broadcast by Tupí, Channel Six in Rio de Janeiro. Its transmission was also repeated in São Paulo and other States.
Later, the Church rented space and took over the management of other stations, thus creating a radio and television network that showed their work.
The so-called workers of the previous era, some of whom are bishops today, slept in the Church itself. From very early hours they were ready and waiting for the people who needed spiritual support and guidance. The opening of the second Church was that of Father Miguel Crivella, which was transformed from a shack to a true “shed of faith.”
After this, the other churches of Grajaú, Inhaúma, Duque de Caxias, Nova Iguaçu, among others, were inaugurated. They are currently throughout Brazil. The inauguration of the churches occurs in three each Sunday. Until 1998, there were more than three thousand tempos throughout Brazil.
As for this growth, the Church resolved, apart from the inauguration of a greater number of temples and the expansion of existing ones, the construction of cathedrals in the states in order to function as headquarters. In São Paulo, apart from the Cathedral of Faith, there were nine other Cathedrals that were built in different areas, taking into account the metropolitan region and the interior. In Rio de Janeiro is the main Cathedral, world headquarters of the Church, the “Temple of Glory of the People of Israel”.
Likewise, and not content with the growth that it already had, the founders of the Church themselves made the decision to create branches at the level of other countries. In relation to the first foreign headquarters of the «Universal Church», it was founded in the United States, it was erected in a large shed in Mount Vermont, New York, by Bishop Macedo himself.
From this very moment he left for Manhattan, Brooklyn, as well as other neighborhoods of New York, and arrived at other cities and states of North America. In California alone, the Church already has dozens of temples. There was another inaugurated in Los Angeles called “Cathedral of Faith” in that place the Million Dollar Theater used to function with a capacity for two thousand five hundred people.
After the United States, it branched out to Canada and Mexico, and in this way it reached almost all the countries of Latin and Central America and the Caribbean. The Church reached Paraguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador.
The Church began to function in Portugal, branching out to France, Spain, Italy and England. After the transformations that occurred within the political scene after the fall of the Berlin wall, they served as an entrance to the solid Germany. The beginning of Eastern Europe and the end of communism, gained access to Russia and Romania. Also the Church conquered places like Holland, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Belgium
Not even the African continent was set aside at any time. For the reason of being one of the most needy, he came to know of the work that the Universal Church was doing, this in 1992. The first temple was opened in South Africa and Johannesburg. At the present time it is located in Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Kenya, Leshoto, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Malawi and Uganda.
On the Asian continent, the Church reached as far as Japan, the Philippines, and India. In the year two thousand it was already operating in more than forty-five countries with more than twelve million people.
As for the main authority that governs the structure of the Church, it falls on the main bishop and its founder Edir Macedo; those who follow him are the bishops who are in charge of the churches of each country, later the pastors follow, who are the leaders of the church in the provinces and lead the meetings, encounters in the same way and finally meet the “workers”, who are the so-called collaborators who participate as active members in the meetings of the Church.
In some newspapers in Brazil you can read some news such as: “The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, had its annual income of seven hundred and thirty-five million, more than any private company.”
In relation to the religious economic empire in which the Church is found; Edir Macedo is found, being a former Rio de Janeiro lottery cashier, who, as we said in previous paragraphs, was the founder of the Church in 1977, proclaiming himself bishop.
The Church became one of the largest Churches in the world with a number of eight million people in Brazil. Apart from the above, the Church includes nine thousand six hundred pastors, four thousand seven hundred temples which are founded in one hundred and seventy-two countries, according to the data of the same Church, all this is collected by the Diario el Comercio.
Likewise, the Council of Financial Activities of the city of Sao Paulo makes an estimate that the Church’s patrimony covers two million dollars. Every income he has is used in the maintenance and construction of more churches. In less than 20 years, Macedo managed to convert a small rented place in a neighborhood in the city of Rio, into one of the most large.
The members of the Church are instructed, but not obligated to deliver the tithe and the delivery of offerings to the Church.
The doctrinal principles of the Church are basically those of the Pentecostal churches. They are based on both the Old and New Testament times of the Bible. In the same way, it presents very peculiar characteristics. An example of this is that they use physical elements such as oil, salt, soap, etc. All these elements are brought from Israel itself for purely religious purposes.
Among the main thoughts and theories are the Gospel of the Kingdom, exorcisms, the blessing of economic life, the healing and restoration of families. They practice the custom of the Holy Supper on Sundays, monthly they do it with bread, grape juice that simulates wine.
All this ritual is performed with the sole purpose of remembering the ceremony in which the bread signifies the body of Christ and likewise the juice represents the blood of Christ that I shed for all of humanity so that we might be forgiven of our sins.
Legal problems of Edir Macedo
In 1992, Edir Macedo was imprisoned for 11 days in Brazil for the crime of fraud and charlatanism. However, Macedo was exonerated of such assertions on that date. In 1996 he begins the investigation due to the way of raising funds, fraud in international currency exchange, tax evasion, as well as the link to drug traffickers.
Apart from all this, he also faces investigations in eight more countries and is arrested with a large sum of dollars being investigated by the Federal Supreme Court, for reasons that he appears in management positions of several television and radio companies which belong to the church.
In 2002, the Church launched the first party to separate itself from the Liberal Party (PL) that made up the coalition of the government of Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva. In 2009, Party members began talks with the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to use the media for a political campaign.
Macedo’s debts to the IURD
According to certain financial files of the Church, the founder Macedo in 1994 had a debt of twenty-one billion reais to the Church, almost the amount of twenty-three million dollars, money he obtained by making long-term loans. and without interest.
Likewise, the auditors of the case also maintain the existence of several companies that, although not in the name of the Church, have shareholders that are related to it.
Among these institutions, the most recognized is the data processor Uni Line, which provides services to the Church and is close to Carlos Alberto Rodríguez Pinto and deputy Odenir Laprovita Vieira (PPB), who is accused in the process of obtaining official form of the Récord network and later deliver it to Edir Macedo.
The complaints increase the national limitation, since in other countries companies that are related to the Church itself are found, and present suspicions regarding money laundering. Some of them include Invest Holding Limited; it is a partner of the Banco Metropolitano belonging to the Universal Group; which is located in the Cayman Islands.
World Church of the Power of God
In the year 1998 Valdemiro Santiago, who until that time served as bishop of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, founded the World Church of the Power of God.
The latter is a neo-Pentecostal Christian group which was founded in the city of Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil, on March 3 of the same year, 1998; it is founded by the aforementioned Apostle Valdemiro Santiago and the opponents of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
Dispute with the Catholic Church
The Church has created a divergence with the Catholic Church, not only due to differences in doctrine but also due to political issues with its founder Edir Macedo, who declared that “the Catholic Church is a shame for the Third World” and that the Holy Father is ” purely political. This divergence has been practiced in many ways and has even caused electoral contests.
Attack on the sphinx of the Virgin
On October 12, 1995, there was a mishap at the time when Catholics were celebrating Our Lady of the Conception, which was Aparecida, the bishop of the Universal Church at that time, Sergio Von Helde, at that time kicked and punches an image of the Virgin, at the time of “the programs Awakening of Faith” and “Word of Life”, of Red Record.
Von Helde was reported to the court, due to the insult to the faith and ideology of others.
Expulsion of the Portuguese Evangelical Alliance
The Church was separated from the Portuguese Evangelical Alliance in 1992, for reasons of economic exploitation against low-income people, a fact that it represents based on the differences in relation to such a decision.
The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which is known in Peru as well as in many other countries due to the television program Stop Suffering, was treated as a sect by the National Union of Evangelical Churches of Peru, according to Raquel Gago, Executive Director of the entity.
When dealing with the issue of the complaint by the association to commit crimes and launder money against the directors of the Church, Director Gago expresses that such activity is a “way to exploit the faith.” During a meeting held at the Ministry of Justice, Gago points out that the institution that it deigns to represent proposes the withdrawal of the group from the register of expressions other than Catholic.
Controversies with other religious groups
Likewise, the Church is also the protagonist of many differences and conflicts with other religious groups, especially those of Afro-Brazilian culture such as Candomblé and Umbanda.
Edir Macedo and other pastors of the Church were accused of intolerance of beliefs, even though he himself professed them. In 2005, the Department of Justice ordered the abandonment of the entire copy of the book “Orishas, mestizos and Guides: Gods or Demons?”, which were written by Macedo himself, according to the insulting content.
The founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Edir Macedo, is not the only Brazilian evangelical representative to be accused of embezzling funds. The founding couple of the Iglesia Renacer en Cristo, which has the Brazilian soccer star Kaká among its members, was arrested in 2007 for failing to declare an amount greater than five hundred thousand dollars in cash entered in the United States.
Arrest of legislator of the organization with a millionaire sum
The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God requested immunity from Brazilian drug traffickers. This was the headline given on April 15, 2010, by the newspaper El País, in an article by Juan Arias, which determines from the city of Rio, the request of the entity founded by Edir Macedo.
Likewise, the Universal Church of the Brazilian Kingdom of God itself in 2008 asked the member pastors to agree with the Brazilian drug traffickers so that they do not harm the members, nor the parishioners, places of worship of the institution. This can be seen projected in a video which details a video conference between a bishop of the Church and the public fact made by the Diario Folha de São Paulo
Journalists and investigation
On one occasion, journalists from Diario La República approached the temple of Trujillo in order to know the version of the serious fact of the complaint that weighed on the leaders in Brazil, due to the improper use of the economic income of the members or faithful. However, they were attacked by the security person for taking pictures of the temple.
In this way we see how the beginning of the Universal Church in the United Kingdom has been, and because of all the divergences that have been going on since its founding and subsequent progress and growth in other countries around the world and in the stages already mentioned throughout throughout this article.