‘Cult’ church to set up base in Belfast

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A controversial church regarded by some as a “cult” is coming to Belfast, after receiving planning permission from the council for a place of worship in the city.

The Universal Church of God (UCKG), which is banned in several countries, will be establishing itself in Equality House in the Donegall Pass area.

Founded in Brazil in 1977 by self-styled Bishop Edir Macedo, the UCKG has around 12 million members in 200 countries.

Over the years, however, it has also been involved in several controversies.

The church places a strong emphasis on money and employs “tithing”, a practice whereby members of their congregation do nate a fraction of their income to the church.

“The tithe is 10% of all income, and it belongs to God. This is a very ancient practice followed by God-fearing people everywhere,” according to the UCKG website. This has led to accusations of charlatanism against the church and, according to Forbes magazine, has also made Bishop Macedo a billionaire.