Monday, 1 November 2010

Children, evangelism, and a $50m private jet

Pentecostalism is a strange branch of Christianity. I once went to a Pentecostal service (OK, I'm not proud, my partner dragged me for company for her aunt), and I was bombarded with tales of miracle healing, lots of people speaking in tongues, and some very persistent people who were intent on converting me. It was like I had a flashing neon "UNBELIEVER" sign on my head. They didn't get very far.

It seems to be doing well in Brazil, though, according to the Guardian.
Brazil – and much of Latin America and the Caribbean — is in the midst of what believers proudly call an "evangelical revolution". According to the IBGE, Brazil's census board, the country's Catholic population fell from around 89% in 1980 to 74% in 2000, while its Pentecostal flock grew from 3% to 10%. Brazilian churches are opening branches from Buenos Aires to Port-au-Prince.
I'm not sure what to make of that. Surely it's a good thing that the old, bloodsucking, cannibalistic Catholic cult is losing ground?
The name Jesus is stamped behind the pulpit in thick blue lettering. But at the Pentecostal Church of the Miracle the headline act is not the Son of God but a six-year-old girl in a pink dress.
On the street outside, anxious followers quiz dapper evangelical doormen: "Is she here? Is she here?"
 "She" is Alani dos Santos, a "child healer" better known as the Missionarinha or Little Missionary, who is reputedly capable of healing the sickest of congregants with a touch of her hands. Twice a week, bandage-clad and cancer-ridden believers pack this cramped "temple" in search of a miracle.
OK then, maybe it's not much better in the preposterous claims stakes. Well then, isn't it good that the population is coming together in a time of global economic crisis?
While many question why Brazil's poorest citizens should pay a tenth of their meagre wages to churches, Jacob said the decision was often pragmatic.
"Some people come here in wheelchairs and leave running," one preacher boasted, shortly before the collection was announced and dozens of golden envelopes filled with bundles of R$20 notes (worth about £7).
Um. They won't have much left in that case. So are the church leaders setting a good example?

Bishop Edir Macedo, the leader of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and head of one of Brazil's largest TV networks, is widely considered to be the wealthiest bishop on Earth.
Brazilian newspapers estimate that Macedo's estate is worth about $2bn and includes a 35-bedroom mansion in São Paulo and a $50m private jet. Macedo, who claims about eight million followers worldwide, is thought to live in Westchester county, New York state, where the Clinton family were recently reported to be negotiating an $11m mansion.
Fantastic. I'm glad he's doing so well for himself. At least the political leaders in the country will bring some measure of sanity to proceedings.
The tendency is even likely to play a role in Sunday's presidential election run-off, with the two candidates, Dilma Rousseff and José Serra, openly courting the denomination on issues such as gay marriage and abortion.
Oh dear.


  1. I presume Bishop Macedo does not preach on the text "The meek shall inherit the earth" too often.

  2. From 15 years ago:

    Mr Brindeiro charged that a videotape made by Mr Magno while he was still in the church - showing Mr Macedo and other pastors mocking their congregations as suckers and making obscene gestures - was "clear evidence of extortion of the church's followers."

    The video, repeatedly broadcast by the rival Globo television network over the Christmas holidays, showed Mr Macedo instructing collection-gatherers - who are on a percentage bonus scheme - how to get more cash out of their followers. He says: "Do you get the idea? Tell them, if they want to be part of the work of God, now's their chance. Otherwise, they'll go to hell. Either they contribute or they go down."

    I can't imagine that it does feature a great deal, no.

    1. please show this video on you tube ad let the congregation and others see this for ourselves, if you do not show this , who is going to believe you when there is so much brainwashing?

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