During a meeting with the Itamaraty command, the Evangelical Parliamentary Front demanded, on Monday (17), that the Jair Bolsonaro government put in place a categorical defense of the universal Church of the Kingdom of God in the crisis of the institution in Angola.
Since the end of 2019, the Universal Church has been experiencing a rupture in the African country, where there was a rebellion of Angolan pastors against the Brazilian command of the denomination. Led by Bishop Edir Macedo, Universal is linked to the Republican Party and controls TV Record.
Rebel clerics have taken control of Universal’s temples across the country and accused the church of tax evasion, among other irregularities.
The last chapter of the crisis occurred in mid-May, when 34 Brazilians linked to Universal’s missionary work received notification from authorities in Luanda that they would be expelled.
Nine left for Brazil on May 11.
Foreign Minister Carlos França summoned the Angolan ambassador to Brasilia, Florêncio Mariano da Conceição e Almeida, to give explanations. In diplomatic language, the gesture indicates dissatisfaction.
The Angolan government’s action angered evangelical parliamentarians, who began to mobilize the Bolsonaro government. The message was given during a meeting of the religious bench with France, at the Itamaraty Palace.
“The problem of Universal is also our problem”, declared the president of the parliamentary front, the deputy Cezinha de Madureira (PSD-SP). He is a member of the Madureira Ministry of the Assembly of God.
“President Bolsonaro has already raised the issue, but we believe the government can do a little more,” he adds.
MP Milton Vieira (Republicanos-SP), who is pastor of the Universal Church, follows the same line. “The government must take a close look and come up with a diplomatic solution. The most important thing for a country is its people, not a trade balance. The Brazilians in Angola could not have been expelled in this way, and the Brazilian government must provide a response ”.
According to participants, during the meeting, the Chancellor said he discussed the matter with Bolsonaro. France informed that Bolsonaro should call the President of Angola, João Manuel Lourenço, and request that a delegation of parliamentarians and leaders of Universal be received in the country.
The delegation is organized by MP Marcos Pereira (Republicanos-SP), who chairs the party.
The chancellor also said at the meeting that he would pay close attention to the matter, but that Brazil would not be able to get involved in legal disputes in Angola over control of the church’s temples.
The Bolsonaro government has already indicated its support for Universal in the conflict. In July of last year, Bolsonaro addressed a letter to the Angolan president expressing “his concern at the recent episodes” of “invasions of temples and other facilities of the IURD (Universal Church of the Kingdom of God)”.
“There are also reports of assaults against members of the IURD, who in some cases have reportedly been evicted from their homes,” Bolsonaro wrote.
Also at the end of 2019, former Chancellor Ernesto Araújo traveled to five African countries and defended Universal while in Angola.
But evangelical leaders internally believe that efforts have been timid and that the country has not used political and economic pressure to assert the interests of the Church on Angolan territory.
In internal discussions, they also remember that Bolsonaro has broad support from evangelical churches and therefore he should be more involved in an issue that affects one of the most important neo-Pentecostal churches in Brazil.
The parliamentary front’s discontent with the Bolsonaro government occurs just as the last Datafolha identified that the president and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva are linked in that electorate’s preference.
The poll showed that in the first round of the election, 35% of evangelicals would vote for Lula. Bolsonaro got 34%. In a possible second round between the two, each receives 45% of the voting intentions, again according to the poll.