Prayer drive-thru

Event promoted by Igreja Universal by the beach in Florianópolis. Picture taken by Reyes/Flickr.

Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus, a fast-growing native Brazilian Pentecostal church that is extremely popular, is inovating again. Last year, its founder, self-proclaimed bishop Edir Macedo, announced that he is going to build a replica of the  Temple of King Salomon that will be able to accommodate 10,000 people  in the city of São Paulo. Recently, Macedo also introduced the concept of “prayer drive-thru”. I have seen it in operation and that’s how it works: a couple of elegant man in suits and ties stay in front of the temple and wait for passing-by cars  to stop. They enter the drive-thru area and are approached by one preacher, Bible in hand, for five minutes of prayer and, maybe, a donation.

Founded in 1977, Universal has today 5,000 churches around Brazil and a few others in two dozen countries. Despite its many controversies (a bishop kicked a statue of the Virgin Mary on a TV program, the church was involved in lawsuits concerning tax evasion and frauds against followers), it grows non-stop, in part because their many radio and TV channels and huge communication skills.