February 15, 2013
List of Richest Pastors in Brazil Prompts White House Petition
(UPDATED) Top-earner: UCKG founder Edir Macedo, whose autobiography just made U.S. debut.
Update (Feb. 18): The New York Times reports on the long lines (and controversy) for the release of Macedo's autobiography.
According to Forbes, "prosperity theology" has allowed some pastors to hit the financial jackpot. Forbes reports that Edir Macedo, founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), is worth nearly $1 billion. Last Saturday, his autobiography made its American debut.
The news prompted disgruntled Americans to file a petition with the White House, asking the U.S. and Brazilian governments to investigate Macedo for "scandals allegedly draining money away specifically based for charity."
Other richest pastors in Brazil include UCKG's Valdemiro Santiago (estimated net worth: $220 million compared to Macedo's $950 million); Silas Malafaia, the former leader of Brazil's largest Pentecostal church ($150 million); and social-media savvy R.R. Soares, founder of the International Church of the Grace of God and regular contributor on Brazilian television ($125 million).
Malafaia is filing suit against Forbes for its "shameless" report.
CT has regularly reported on the UCKG, including it recently being banned from activities in Angola for 60 days after a stampede at a UCKG-sponsored New Year's Eve vigil killed 16 people. CT also has reported on the rise of Pentecostalism and the evangelical voting bloc in Brazil, as well as on Brazil's Christian roots.