Wanted: lost souls who believe their misfortune is caused by a curse. Must be prepared to hand over 10pc of their earnings to a religious charity.
This is the basic premise of a church which is offering to help cure ills in your work, love and financial life.
The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) describes itself as a charity and ‘spiritual centre’. It has been operating in Ireland for three years and has just launched an aggressive recruitment drive to increase its membership.
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UCKG is posting leaflets to households and has taken out newspaper ads.
Based in Phibsboro in Dublin and led by Brazilian Pastor Alvaro Lima, members are offered help with banishing the ‘curse’ which is stopping them from being successful in their life.
Those who attend are asked for donations at the first meeting and are then requested to give 10pc of all they earn to the organisation. Envelopes are given for people to donate a ‘gift of love’ at the next meeting.
When asked for further details, Pastor Lima said he would not give any information about the organisation over the phone. “We don’t release information because sometimes the press misuse it,” he said. “They don’t use it in the right way.”
He refused to clarify what the donations were used for, saying only that the information would only be given in a private meeting.
But the group’s official website states: “Tithing is part of the financial giving of many Christian churches to support the work of the ministry and pay for the upkeep of buildings. People are free to choose whether to give or not.
“It is a voluntary contribution made in keeping with the vast majority of other evangelical churches. We are no different in this.”
The organisation came under the media spotlight in February 2000 when Victoria (Anna) Climbie was starved and tortured to death in the UK.
Her aunt and guardian, Marie Therese Kouao, thought that she was possessed by the devil.
She was brought to a UCKG meeting and Kouao was told they would pray and fast for the child and that she should be brought back the following Friday
Pastor Lima was working at the church in question and said the day before the exorcism, Kouao phoned saying that Anna felt like a block of ice. When the child was brought to the church, the pastor tried but failed to detect a pulse. He told them to take her to hospital.
Kouao and her boyfriend, Carl Manning, were jailed for life in January 2001 for the murder. UCKG was later cleared by a probe of misleading the public by offering exorcisms and cures.