Could a wave of Christian Zionism soon hit Latin America’s most important country? The NYT reports that a Brazilian Pentecostal Christian denomination called the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has built a huge replica of Solomon’s Temple in Sao Paulo, closely modeled after Biblical descriptions of the structure. The money for the church came from the Church’s founder, media mogul Edir Macedo. An Israeli flag flies nearby, Macedo walks around wearing a skull cap, and menorahs are found throughout the building. The Church’s spokeswoman told the Times, “There is just one biblical faith; it is impossible to disassociate Christianity from its Jewish roots.”The Universal Church isn’t the only well-financed evangelical group in the country, where the historically dominant Catholic Church has ceded ground somewhat in recent years:
Large evangelical churches, particularly Pentecostal institutions like the Universal Church, are also wielding greater political clout across Brazil, reflecting a sizable evangelical voting bloc in Congress and the efforts of candidates across the political spectrum to appeal to evangelical voters in the presidential elections this year.
Brazil’s leftist president, Dilma Rousseff, is expected to be here for the inauguration of the temple, underscoring how she draws support for her governing coalition from a bloc of conservative evangelical leaders, including Mr. Macedo’s nephew, Marcelo Crivella, a Universal Church pastor and gospel singer who until recently was the minister of fishing.
When you put its political, economic, and demographic strength together, Brazilian evangelicalism looks poised to play a major role in the country’s future. If the Universal Church is any indication, pro-Jewish sentiment and activism could rise along with it.