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Evangelical Church Investigated in Brazil for Forced Labor

08/09/2017 - 10h26

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ANA ESTELA OF SOUSA PINTO
FROM SÃO PAULO

The Labor Prosecutor's Office of São Paulo heard pastors Juarez and Solange Oliveira, founders of the Rhema Community Evangelical Ministry (Ministerio Evangelico Comunidade Rhema), regarding a forced labor investigation, on Tuesday (8).

In July, Associated Press news agency published statements from former members of the Rhema Community claiming they were forced to work in the American church Word of Faith Fellowship, in Spindale, North Carolina.

The churches deny the allegations.

CORRECTIONS

Evangelical churches encourage members to pitch in, according to researchers who study the subject. However, lack of material or psychological support and the emphasis on supernatural forces may make it easier to explore followers.

According to Mr. Corrêa (pseudonym), who left Rhema a year ago, the influence of Americans changed the Brazilian church. "It was a normal, pleasant Evangelical church. Then, they began to adopt harsh procedures."

According to him, it was then that the "corrections" began: scolding and public or private humiliation, including physical aggression.

PERSECUTION

"We are being victims of religious persecution," says Marta, 48, a teacher and pianist at the church. She has been to Spindale more than once since 1996.

The Labor Prosecutor's Office stated there are no conclusions about the labor nor about the activities of members in the USA.

The investigations will continue, with the Federal Police and the Ministry of Labor and Employment.

Translated by ANA BEATRIZ DEMARIA

Read the article in the original language

Zanone Fraissat/Folhapress
The Ministerio Evangelico Comunidade Rhema (Rhema Community Evangelical Ministry), in Franco da Rocha, in the greater Sao Paulo area
The Ministerio Evangelico Comunidade Rhema (Rhema Community Evangelical Ministry), in Franco da Rocha, in the greater Sao Paulo area

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