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.