Following the lead of President Jair Bolsonaro, preachers in Brazil are competing to define the coronavirus. But empty church pews around the country suggest the faithful aren’t buying their stories.
The coronavirus is divine punishment, according to Valdemiro Santiago, head of the Universal Church of God’s Power. And in a recent video, Pastor Edir Macedo called the COVID-19 pandemic Satan’s work, claiming incorrectly that the virus was powerless against those who were not afraid of it. Macedo is the founder of the powerful Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD), a worldwide network of evangelical churches. The multimillionaire also owns one of Brazil’s most influential television channels.
But the loudest voice in the crowd over the past couple of weeks has been that of Pastor Silas Malafaia, who is considered by many to be President Jair Bolsonaro’s spiritual teacher. Like Bolsonaro, the leader of the Assembly of God Victory in Christ Church is extremely critical of the current economic shutdown.
“Will the coronavirus kill people? Yes, but even more people will die if there is social disorder. Churches are essential for those desperate, fearful and depressed people who have been turned away from hospitals,” said Malafaia recently.
Suggested reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times