Belgian Parliamentary Report Part I, Section III

Parliamentary Inquiry for the purpose of establishing policy in combating unlawful practices of sects and of the dangers of such for the community and individuals, especially adolescents

Translated from a report given to the Belgium Parliament / April 28, 1997
by Mr. Duquesne and Mr. Willems

Note: This information provided at closed-session hearings (usually by members, former members and/or their families). This is not an official translation.


Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD)

Edir Macedo, a former lottery worker, founded this Brazilian organization in 1977 in Rio de Janeiro, who elected himself bishop and now lives in the United States. This church is said to have been born out of the Pentecostal movement. It has the name "Igreja Universalo do Reino de Deus" (IURD). The church claims that the Kingdom of God is here on earth and that it can offer a solution for all manner of ills, depressions, joblessness, family- and financial problems. However, an extreme form of religious merchandizing.

This church recently established itself in Antwerp, the first two years in Hotel Prince. For the past year it has been renting space from cinema Rubens at 200,000 francs a month.

Every Sunday a meeting takes place at which "blessed" envelopes are handed to the members, based on what it is they want to ask from God. Next they are asked to put a donation into the envelope that is comparable to the worth of their wish (a new car, to be saved from a sorrowful situation, and to find work).

Rates are set for each of such issues, ostensibly based on the Bible. The leaders of the church take the envelopes to Israel, the Holy Land, where they claim to pray for their followers. However, upon their return they report they have no firm results. Therefore new "blessed" envelopes are handed out to the members, with the request for an additional gift.

A few weeks back, they started to use a new kind of envelope. For a basic gift of 1,000 Belgian francs large sums of money or a villa is promised...

According to sources, over the past 20 years Macedo has built up a fortune...[and he is reportedly a wealthy man].

In Belgium at present in Belgium there are only about 20 members. These are mostly colored women from Portuguese-speaking countries.

The church also has an address in Brussels, Chaussee de Charleroi 236, but the organization is officially seated in Luxembourg under the name "Communauté chrétienne du Saint-Esprit."

The church has many supporters in Brazil. In 1986 it managed to bring together 250,000 people in football stadium Maracana. They were asked to donate money, as well as to take off their glasses because glasses were said to be of the devil... The leaders of this movement also claims to be able to heal aids.

In Brazil, the church recruits mainly among common people - the ones that are down and out, have no work, are homeless and do not have much education. The number of followers in Brazil have diminished from 3 to 2 million.

The IURD own 2,000 temples, 22 radio stations and 16 television stations. [...] The church also has influence with newspapers and other publications, and even founded a bank: "Banco Credito Metropolitano." However, the bank has many problems with the central bank, which has reported 213 incidents for which the bank was fined 13 million real (1 real = 33 Belgian francs). The bank is said to be facing bankruptcy.

The IURD spreads its propaganda mainly via radio and TV (partly due to the high number of illiterates in Brazil), and is aggressively opposed to other Christian movements which it portrays as manifestations of the devil.

Seven members of the Brazilian parliament and countless elected officials in state-parliaments belong to the church. The church asked members to contribute 10% of their income...

The organization is present throughout the world: Los Angeles, New York, Manila, and Tokyo. It is also active in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, and France, where it publishes the magazine "Tibune Universelle." In France a complaint was filed over the suicide of a young recruit from Martinique who had donated 40,000 Belgian francs in order to find a job in Paris. His attempts were fruitless.

...Though the activities of the IURD in Belgium are marginal, the witness notes that de church has elected to [be] based...near the big international ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam...

Note: After this report was published the IURD filed a lawsuit. During 2005 the First Civil Section of the Court of Appeals in Brussels ruled that certain statements and comments within this 1997 report were "baseless and negligently made." Those specific comments and statements have been edited out and deleted from the above article.

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