In a video posted on YouTube in March, Universal Bishop Renato Cardoso appears asking for contributions to cover the costs of the church, which has been affected by the lack of believers during restrictions imposed by the Covid pandemic.
With the question "do you prefer emergency assistance or providential assistance?" the bishop encourages the donation of the government benefit provided to those who have lost income. Third in the hierarchy, Cardoso commands Universal in Brazil.
In the video, he says that it will not be possible to return the offerings. Still, they will multiply in the same way as narrated in the biblical episode in which Jesus Christ made loaves and fish proliferate during a pilgrimage with thousands of followers in the desert.
Churches like Universal, which support Jair Bolsonaro, preach the end of the distancing policy imposed by the governors to solve the problem of the financial crisis, which, according to their leaders, threatens the survival of the temples.
On social networks, pastors from Universal, the International Church of Graça de Deus and Associação Vitória em Cristo preach against social distancing, ask for tithes, defend early treatment against Covid based on chloroquine and ivermectin (both without proven efficacy), and dispute the effect of vaccines. For those who are contaminated, there are prayers and blessings promising healing from the disease.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon