Religion, a business model in Brazil: the devil joins the fight between Edir Macedo(Universal) and Valdemiro(World Church of God)

The arch-enemies today Edir Macedo, of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and Valdemiro Santiago, the Worldwide Church of God’s Power, called the devil to help them in battle waging for the soul and generosity of the faithful. Recently, in his TV show, Macedo “interrogated” the devil that supposedly embodied in a devout, “confessed” to be installed in the rival church and be responsible for the acclaimed cures that Valdemiro says he did. The interviews with the devil to discredit the competition began to be recurrent in the programming of Rede Record. The head of the World Church, in turn, refuted the charges with equal finesse: in his program on Channel 21, he stated that “cancer” of Macedo is the work of the devil. To answer that, Macedo took her doctor to the TV to certify that he does not suffer from the disease and also exhibited in the program Sunday Spectacular, the Rede Record, a report on the three farms valued at 50 million purchase by Valdemiro.

Edir Macedo holds a supposedly abducted by the Devil Universal churchgoer

The intensification of the war of preachers takes place at a time when Universal, from Macedo, lost revenue and faithfuls in droves to the World, of Valdemiro. It is estimated that in fourteen years, the latter has reached more than 20% of the followers of Universal. For a long time Valdemiro was a member of the Universal. Valdemiro turned down by the Macedo for a position of greater visibility in the organization, broke with the chief and founded his own church. Skillfully, he stepped back and rescued the primitive model that gave rise to the phenomenon of Universal: the fight against Lucifer and the promise of cures and miracles of every kind – pillars Macedo later replaced by the “theology of prosperity”. By adopting this strategy, Valdemiro happened to meet a niche of followers that Macedo had neglected with the maturation of his business, the public with less purchasing power and high credulity. His followers spend hours standing in queues to be able to touch his body or take up some of his sweat towels or rags that are distributed in the church. Valdemiro fosters the belief that his perspiration has the power to perform miracles.

With full safes, Valdemiro started harassing members of the Universal. Offering salaries and commissions higher than those paid by Edir Macedo, he attracted representatives of the rival in Argentina, England and Africa. To professionalize his businesses, he cannibalized executives from TV Record and Renner Bank, controlled by the Universal Church. The strangling of Macedo’s accounts by the competition has affected the operations of the Record TV with late payments, as it happened last year. The picture of deteriorating finances of Macedo became even more clear when the Brazilian Justice confiscated the Record TV headquearters in Rio de Janeiro to guarantee payment of debts to the Universal Kingdom of God.

Valdemiro, from the Worldwide Church of God

The bad phase does not end there. In September, the Attorney General, denounced Macedo for the crimes of embezzlement, tax evasion, money laundering and forgery. Prosecutors accuse him of laundering outside money he received from his the faithfuls and then dump it in the Record TV accounts. By casting suspicion on how Valdemiro acquired his farms, Macedo wanst to show that the former disciple also has his bumps with the law. Valdemiro also has been screwed into other mischiefs. In 2003, the head of the World Church was ordered to pay food baskets for illegal possession of weapons. He was caught in a police bust with a shotgun, two rifles and ammunition. In 2010, three of his ministers were arrested in Mato Grosso do Sul carrying seven M-15 rifles. In a statement to police, the driver said that the fate of arms was the city of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro.

The crisis triggered by the World Churc, forced Macedo to redesign the administration of his business. One of the measures was to lower the requirements for the opening of new churches. Prior to opening a franchise, the interested preacher had to demonstrate a potential for raising a minimum of 150 000 reais per month, to be achieved in six months. Now, that level dropped to 50 thousand reais. The commission that each preacher was entitled to on the total collected beyond the original goal was 10%. Macedo now doubled it. What he does not give up is the efficiency. Preachers who do not meet the targets within the contract period are transferred or lose control of the franchise. This change, which points to a new model for Universal, is part of a strategy to replace the building of megatempels by spraying smaller churches in the country, with cheaper maintenance and closer to the house of the faithfuls. With that, he hopes to lower its operating costs and prevent other sheeps from straying. Preachers and close aides of the two leaders say these are just the first movements of a war without forecasted end.


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Joe Cloud
Dutch, American, Brazilian... lived there for 5 years and owns property in Brazil. Out of the country for a few years now and would like to go back, however current circumstances tell me it's not the right time.

Published by Joe Cloud

Dutch, American, Brazilian... lived there for 5 years and owns property in Brazil. Out of the country for a few years now and would like to go back, however current circumstances tell me it's not the right time.