One of the world’s largest and most controversial Pentecostal churches has been given permission to build a $200m (Â£130m) replica of Solomon’s Temple in Brazil’s economic capital, SÃ£o Paulo.
The 10,000 capacity “mega-church”, which is the brainchild of Brazil’s Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, will also house a replica of the Ark of the Covenant and be built according to “biblical orientations”.
According to the Estado de SÃ£o Paulo newspaper, planning permission was granted this week and church officials say it should be completed in four years.
The 55-metre high temple, the equivalent of an 18-storey building, would tower over central SÃ£o Paulo and be “twice the height of [Rio’s] Christ the Redeemer statue”, the blog [by leader and founder, Bishop Edir Macedo] said.
Founded in Brazil in 1977, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God claims an estimated 8 million followers in 180 countries worldwide, with a TV channel and a free newspaper, the Folha Universal, which it says has a weekly print run of 2.5m. The church claims its leader’s blog receives up to 4m hits a month.
The church supports so-called “prosperity theology” — by which acts of faith including donations are rewarded with material wealth.
In 2009, SÃ£o Paulo’s public prosecutor accused 10 senior members of the church, including Macedo, of siphoning off billions of dollars of donations to buy cars and property. Macedo, who denied the charges, owns a $45m private jet.
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