Universal Church of the Kingdom of God
Edir Bezerra Macedo is the leader of two institutions of great power in Brazil: Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (‘The Universal Church of God’s Kingdom’ - IURD) and Record Communication Group. Macedo attended the Catholic Church and Umbanda cults before converting himself to the Protestant Church, at 18 years old, in the Nova Vida (‘New Life’) Church. It was also there that he met and married Ester Eunice Rangel, in 1971. He was consecrated minister in another church, Casa da Bênção (‘House of Blessing’), in 1974. In 1975, he founded the church Cruzada do Caminho Eterno (‘The Eternal Path Crusade’ - Salão da Fé), also in Rio de Janeiro, along with his brother-in-law Romildo Ribeiro Soares (also known as “R.R. Soares”), Roberto Augusto Lopes abd the brothers Samuel and Fidélis Coutinho. Two years later, the former three broke up with ‘Caminho Eterno’ and founded Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (IURD), in the Abolição area, in Rio de Janeiro (RJ).
Disputes over the leadership of the institution lead to a break up between Macedo and R.R. Soares, who, in 1980, founded Igreja Internacional da Graça de Deus (‘The God’s Grace International Church’) and became one of the main Brazilian television preachers. Roberto Augusto Lopes, on the other hand, remained at IURD until 1987, when he returned to Nova Vida Church and left Macedo as the only leader of the new denomination. Since the beginning, Macedo invested in the expansion of IURD not only in the national territory, but in other Latin American, North American and African countries. Nowadays, IURD is the fourth Brazilian evangelical denomination in number of followers (1,87 million), behind Assembleia de Deus (‘God’s Assembly’ - 12,3 million), Batista (Baptiste - 3,7 million) and Congregação Cristã do Brasil ( Brazil’s Christian Congregation - 2,2 million), according to IBGE data from 2010.
Since the beginning of the church's history, Macedo invested in communication mediums. He, just like other evangelical leaderships, renting broadcast time in the grids of Radio and TV stations (Metropolitana RJ Radio, the extinct Tupi TV and Band). In 1984, however, he bought his first station, Copacabana AM Radio, in Rio de Janeiro and, in 1989, Record TV, in São Paulo, then owned by Sílvio Santos and the Machado de Carvalho Family. In the same year, Macedo changed he headquarters of the church to São Paulo. In 1992, the church founded the freely distributed weekly newspaper Folha Universal, that nowadays enjoys a 1,8 million copies circulation.
The creation of IURD dates back to a moment of Brazilian Evangelical Church, when churches, which usually chose to stay away from non-religious activities and subjects, started to get involved in the media and in politics. In 1986, the evangelical followers elected 18 candidates to public offices and in the 1988 Constituent , the so-called “evangelical bench” played a major role. They also had a critical role in the concession of radio and TV stations to churches and their leaders, a role exercised by the National Congress.
The participation of the church in the National Congress has been increasing, with the number of Federal Deputies elected being: 3 in 1990; 4 in 1994; 13 in 1998; 16 in 2002. In that year, they also elected a senator, Marcelo Crivella, Macedo’s nephew, under Partido Liberal (‘Liberal Party’ - PL). The main political articulator for IURD in the 1990s was the former bishop ex-bispo Carlos Alberto Rodrigues Pinto, federal deputy for PL, arrested for corruption and money laundry in the mensalão scandal and suspended from the church by their Ministers’ Council in 2004. He resumed his activities for the church in 2009, leading the Antena Nova Radio (Hallelujah).
Most of the politicians connected to IURD moved to the Municipalista Renovador Party (PMR), later renamed Partido Republicano Brasileiro (‘Brazilian Republican Party -PRB) in 2006. The first president of the party was then vice-president José Alencar,who had been elected in the coalition with president Lula (PT).
In 2006, the church elected only 4 federal deputies, shaken by corruption denunciations. But its political power would grow again: in 2010, they elected 9 deputies; in 2011, the bishop Marcos Pereira was elected president of PRB; in 2016, the party elected Marcelo Crivella as the mayor of Rio de Janeiro City. The current party bench has 23 federal deputies, of which 17 have connections to communication enterprises and 14 with Record Network.
In the 2000s, IURD started investing in big temples, in brazil and abroad, and, in 2014, inaugurated the Templo de Salomão (‘Solomon’s temple’), in São Paulo, with the presence of politicians such as then-President of the Republic Dilma Rousseff (PT) and the vice-president Michel Temer (PMDB), the Governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alkmin (PSDB) and the Mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad (PT). The temple has eneough room for 10 thousand people seating and was built in a 100 thousand square meters area, where there are also biblical schools with capacity to host around 1.300 children, TV and Radio studios, auditoriums, parking lots and housing fo the ministers, at a cost of 680 million reais.
Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus
Religious, Media, Education, Food, Finances, Health
Other Print Outlets
Free newspapers Folha Universal and Folhinha Universal (for children)
Other Radio Outlets
Rede Aleluia (1,4%)
Other Online Outlets
Portal Universal; WebTV Universal; Portal EBI Universal, for children, distributing content in many languages to Brasil, Argentina, Uruguai, Paraguai, Bolívia, Chile, Colômbia, Venezuela, México, Panamá, República Dominicana, EUA, Portugal, Espanha, Inglaterra, Jamaica, Japão, Letônia.
Editora Gráfica Universal
Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (IURD) – global church, present in about 200 countries.
Edir Macedo - leading bishop of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. He is uncle of Marcelo Crivella, licensed bishop of the same church, current mayor of Rio de Janeiro (Brazilian Republican Party - PRB), former senator and former Minister of Fis
Sede nacional São Paulo - SP - Templo de Salomão - Av. Celso Garcia, 605 - Brás - CEP 03015-000 - São Paulo - São Paulo - Brasil - (11) 3573-3535 - www.universal.org.br
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