Universal Church of the Kingdom of God
   The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God began in July 1977, when Edir Macedo (b. 1945), a new Pentecostal believer in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, decided to set up an independent chapel and become an evangelist. His broadcasts from radio stations in Rio and Sào Paulo brought success, and Macedo created his own radio stations and daily newspapers, culminating in 1990 with the purchase of the TV Record network. His church, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus, IURD), thus commands a vast media empire that now reaches Europe and Africa. The church has grown to more than 6 million members scattered in more than 45 countries. The TV Record network has emerged as the primary competitor of TV Globo, which has become the church's most vocal critic. Meanwhile, the church has been growing rapidly in Portugal and in southern Africa.
   The Universal Church follows the teachings of other Brazilian Pentecostal churches, but has absorbed some influences from the Word of Faith movement and has become an integral part of the Deliverance movement of the last generation by its preaching of spiritual warfare. Macedo teaches that demons are the cause of most illnesses, unhappiness, and poverty. The church regularly offers exorcisms to counter their effects. Macedo has also included an element of anti-Catholicism in his teachings, and was forced into an official apology to Catholic Church leaders in 1995 when Sérgio Von Helder, the Universal Church's bishop for Sào Paulo, kicked a statue of the Virgin Mary during a TV show.
   Worship is noisy and spontaneous. Services are usually held in former movie theaters. in Hollywood, California, the church purchased the historic One Million Dollar Theater on Hollywood Boulevard and converted it into a church center.
   Further reading:
   ■ E. Macedo, Aliança com Deus (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Grâfica Universal, 1993)
   ■ ----, Apocalipse hoje (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Grâfica Universal, 1990)
   ■ ----, Vida com abundância (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Grâfica Universal, 1990)
   ■ Anders Ruuth, Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus. Gudsrikets Universella Kyrka, en brasiliansk kyrkobildning (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1995).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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