Fifty Brazilian religious from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God based in Angola have been informed by local authorities to leave the country in the coming days.
The permanence visas of these missionaries have expired and will not be renewed, according to the Angolan Migration and Foreigners Service.
The announcement is part of another chapter in the clash between the Brazilian leadership of Universal (founded and led by Bishop Edir Macedo) and Angolan bishops and pastors who have rebelled since late 2019, beginning to challenge the general command of the church.
The National Institute of Religious Affairs (Inar), an Angolan government body, has given a favorable opinion to local leaders to take control of Universal in the country. The Brazilian wing is trying to overturn this decision in court.
The Brazilian bishops and pastors of Universal, who do not accept the so-called Angolan “reform” in the church, were then ordered to leave the country. A first group – made up of seven couples of pastors – received the press release on Friday (9). Brazilian pastor Valdir de Sousa released the information.
“We have received a notification of abandonment from the country and we have eight days to leave Angola,” Souza told Radio Nacional de Angola, explaining that the new leadership of the local church will no longer renew the “letters of appeal for Brazilian missionaries “.
The Brazilian management of Universal, through its spokesperson in Angola, Ivone Teixeira, and Jornal da Record, of TV Record, a broadcaster owned by Bishop Edir Macedo, confirmed the “expulsion” of the Brazilians.
According to Record, the number of missionaries affected by the measure reached 100. The broadcaster, in its news bulletins, attacked the rival group Universal. For the record, the church of Edir Macedo has been “the victim of a religious coup d’etat, for more than a year, by former pastors, dissident bishops and people who are not part of the institution, but who have financial, religious and even political interests “. . The broadcaster accuses Angolan church leaders of “theft, extortion, adultery and attacks on minors”.
Edir Macedo turned to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in an attempt to turn the situation around Angola, but to no avail. Bolsonaro, who had the support of the bishop in his campaign for the presidency, sent a letter, in July last year, to his Angolan colleague, João Lourenço, expressing his concern over the conflicts between clerics in the country. and asking for the protection of the Brazilians.
Congressman and son of the president, Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP), posted the letter on Twitter. Not to mention Universal or Brazil, Angolan President João Lourenço recently criticized, in a speech, attempts to interfere in Angola’s internal decisions.
Brazilian Ambassador to Angola Rafael Vidal told Agência Lusa that Universal’s issues in the country are not an interstate issue. “Iurd in Angola is an Angolan church with Brazilian citizens. It is a great institution which has a presence all over the world. And, in Angola, it is a church subject to the regulations and standards of religious institutions provided by the Angolan state, which is a rule of law, ”he said.
For the Brazilian ambassador, the controversy concerns “a Brazilian institution which has gone through an internal crisis and which, following this crisis, has given rise to decisions by regulatory bodies such as Inar, concerning the functioning of the Church”.
These are issues related to “Angola’s legal system and the regulation of religious activity” and “are not on the bilateral agenda between governments and states,” he explained. Rafael Vidal, however, guaranteed that Brazil “closely follows all issues involving Brazilian citizens.”
The rebellion of Angolan bishops and pastors of Universal began in November 2019, with the publication of a manifesto criticizing Brazilian leaders.
Local leaders have accused Brazilians of alleged crimes such as currency evasion, illicit expatriation of capital, racism and discrimination. The complaints have been transmitted to the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Angola and are awaiting a court decision.
In June of last year, local bishops and pastors took command of Universal’s temples across the country and made a definitive break with former chief Edir Macedo.
The group elected a new leadership at a general assembly and claims to have control of almost all of the church’s 300 temples in Angola. The Brazilian wing, in a note signed by Bishop Antonio Miguel Ferraz, said the new leaders are not the “legitimate representatives” of the church. He also said that members of the so-called “reform” were reportedly expelled “due to the practice of illegal acts and violation of the code of moral conduct”.