I have been attending the Universal Church Kingdom of God for close to a month and although I am feeling better physically I have always sensed in my spirit that something is not right with this church.
First of all, I saw an advertisement on television stating that an English speaking "Service of Miracles" would be held every Sunday at 3 PM in which each person receives a "blessed rose." It is indicated in this service that we are to place the rose either in our home or place of employment. And then any evil that is there will go into the rose. After that we must bring it back the next Sunday and place it at the church cross. After that service they destroy all the roses by burning them. I think this could be a marketing attempt to have repeat attendance or perhaps a psychological mind game.
They also have rituals of hand washing with water and then touching whatever represents your financial life. Then it supposedly will be blessed.
I do believe in giving tithes and offerings. But they seem to use what I would call seduction tactics. They read stories from the bible about giving, which everyone listens attentively to. It seems we are told these stories though, to promote contributions. Once a scripture was actually reversed, which said essentially, "Freely you have received so freely give" to "freely you give and so freely you shall receive." When reversed its meaning was changed and a different suggestion implied.
During church services our Bishop cleverly starts requesting large amounts and then gradually declines. I believe he covers himself legally by saying, "Well, if you don't have money then put your hand on the bible and believe by faith."
Our church also has a "Campaign for Israel." We are to write our prayer requests on an envelope with the largest amount we can give enclosed and when they go to Jerusalem they will pray over them. But I believe God actually answers our prayers anywhere.
Another practice in our church is making a chain of prayers for 12 or 13 consecutive Thursdays or Fridays and being warned that if you break the chain you must start all over again. This seemed strange to me. There are many other techniques that are used to raise money. Too many to mention.
I questioned our bishop about all this, but he never gave me an answer. Instead, he avoided my questions and even suggested that I didn't want to be helped--simply because I questioned the methods used to obtain money and some of the rituals in the weekly prayer service. When I talked with the bishop he warned me to be careful how I spoke to him and to choose my words carefully.
While in the bishop's office I noticed a jar of salt crystals there and asked him about it. He hesitated to tell me, but finally admitted that this was "salt from the Dead Sea" [in Israel]. And if by faith someone adds water to this salt in their home evil and/or demons will be destroyed in that water. I know for a fact that this is also a ritual used in the occult or Voodoo. And our bishop is from Brazil [where such occult rituals are practiced]. I wonder if he is mixing the Gospel with the occult.
Another thing I noticed is that our bishop often tells people to look into his eyes and those that do seem to get results fast in their lives. Many times he has told me to look into his eyes, but I don't because he used to be a spiritualist in Brazil. Perhaps his heart is in the right place, but something just seems very strange.
The Universal Church Of The Kingdom Of God appears geared towards those who are suffering, depressed, low income, vulnerable and desperate. I am very concerned for myself and others. There are church branches located in New York, Brazil and all over the world.
I sincerely hope I am wrong about the church and perhaps just overly cautious. However, I just can't seem to shake this uneasy feeling.