Angola orders Brazil evangelical churches to close

The UCKG, Brazil's biggest evangelical church, inaugurated this temple in Sao Paulo in 2014. (Getty Images)
The UCKG, Brazil’s biggest evangelical church, inaugurated this temple in Sao Paulo in 2014. (Getty Images)

Angolan prosecutors have seized several temples belonging to one of Brazil’s biggest churches over alleged fraud and criminal activities in the southwest African country.

The evangelical Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), which claims 8 million members in Brazil, is present in over 100 countries worldwide and has churches in at least a dozen African states.

Last year, around 300 Angolan UCKG bishops broke away from the Brazilian leadership, denouncing practices contrary to the “African and Angolan reality” and accusing the church of fiscal evasion.

Their claims prompted the Angolan Attorney General’s office to open criminal proceedings against the UCKG in December.

On Friday, prosecutor-general Alvaro Da Silva Joao announced the seizure of seven UCKG temples in Angola.

“These apprehensions result from the fact that in the records there are enough indications of the practice of crimes of criminal association, tax fraud, illicit export of capital, abuse of trust and other simial illegal acts,” Joao said in a statement.

UCKG officials were not immediately available to comment on the takeover of their properties.

They have previously denied the Angolan bishops’ accusations, describing them as “defamatory”.

Tensions escalated in June, when a group of ex-UCKG members took command of over 80 temples in the capital Luanda and surrounding provinces.

Founded by Brazilian evangelical bishop Edir Macedo in 1977, UCKG has raised controversy for allegedly engaging in criminal activities across the world, including illegal adoption networks in Portugal and other lusophone countries.

Macedo, who amassed a fortune through the organisation, was arrested in 1992 on charges of charlatanism and swindling that were later annulled.