What’s killing the church?

Here’s an observation: as Christianity fades in England and Wales, some evangelical religious groups are finding a niche, like the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. I guess stodgy old Anglicanism is losing its flavor. However, these new churches are poisoning the well, doing a fabulous job of producing disaffected ex-followers. You might wonder how that works.

UCKG is an evangelical, Pentecostal church, first started in Brazil. It now has a presence across the globe, including more than 50 full- and part-time branches in the UK, the most recent of which opened in Nottingham this month. Many are located in some of the most economically deprived parts of the country.

The church’s Brazilian founder, Edir Macedo, has been included on Forbes’ billionaires list. Twice this year he has flown into the UK, and around Europe, on private jets owned by the church. In Brazil, congregants’ donations were used to build a temple in São Paulo as tall as an 18-storey building.

You ought to be immediately suspicious of any church in which the head priest is a billionaire. I’d be giving the side-eye to any pastor who is even a millionaire, for that matter — how can you get wealthy honestly by preaching to the poor and needy? You can’t. The only way is by fleecing the flock.

As an atheist, though, what do I know? Maybe Jesus was just raking in the loaves and fishes, making a fortune with a chain of bakeries and fish and chip shops. Just like how Macedo might be working hard at honest labor, rather than begging his adherents to give him all their money.


  1. dstatton says

    An English wag once said, “I support the Church of England as a bulwark against religion. As a former Episcopalian, I get the point.

  2. rorschach says

    “some evangelical religious groups are finding a niche”

    And political influence. Very interesting to see how in Australia the conservative party is currently being stacked with Pentecostal candidates who hold absolute cringe fringe views and are cookers before the lord.

  3. robro says

    Something about “religion is the opiate of the people” comes to mind.

    My Anglophile spouse calls the COE a non-religion. Not surprising that some enterprising preachers step into the vacuum.

    Religion has been a Ponzi scheme for a long time. I’m confident that the pharaohs made gods of themselves because of power and wealth. In keeping with that, Octavian declared himself a god. It doesn’t take a lot of reading about the rise of the Hasmoneans, particularly the last of them, and their Herodian successors to get the impression that someone in Palestine may have had a great money making scheme in mind: invent a religion with some roots in a sketchy past, build a temple, watch the world beat a path to its door with their pockets filled with gold to buy salvation. They weren’t alone in the ancient world.

    Humans have not evolved intellectually or emotionally much from that state.

  4. moonslicer says

    And everywhere Evangelicals go, hatred of LGBT people is sure to follow, if it’s not in the lead.

    @ #1 dstatton: That’s brilliant.

  5. seachange says

    is laughing gently “cookers before the lord” is almost a googlewhack. It’s not two words, but it gets no results for me. Is this actual strine, or autocorrupt?

  6. kingoftown says

    There are strong links between the Plymouth Brethren and suspicious PPE contracts during the pandemic:


    Wrightbus is another example. It’s a large bus manufacturer, if you’ve been to London you’ve probably been in one of their buses. Money was siphoned from the company by the founder’s son Pastor Jeff Wright to create an enormous cult compound near their factory in Northern Ireland.


  7. gijoel says

    @2 A Ponzi schemes takes some of the money they get to pay off previous sponsors. None of the money this scammer gets goes to anyone but himself.

  8. euclide says

    Since only the poor can go to heaven, he’s helping his flock by taking their money. What a nice guy to sacrifice himself so much.

    More seriously, the main issue is the tax exemption for these swindlers. Taking the money of you followers is shitty but not paying tax means taking money from everyone in the country, believer or not.

  9. StevoR says

    @ ^ submoron : Hmm .. Disraeli? Wikichecks :


    That was quite a while ago..Though I guess in relative British history timeframe a century plus ain’t quite so much..Though the British Tories (if that’s not a tautology) do seem to have devolved since then. Wonder what he’d make of Truss and Bojo – or Rishi Sunak?

  10. submoron says

    @ SteveoR. Well that was the source that I found. Wik8ipedia says that Maud Roydon ‘used’ it and I see that the Oxford dictionary of quotations gives her as the source so I stand corrected. I’ll read that Wikipedia entry later as I’m back from a retinal camera session and this reply took over five minutes to type.

  11. StevoR says

    PS. Hope you recover as fast and as well as possible with that retinal stuff. Sounds nasty.Would’ve added this morning typing # 16^ but was in a hurry.