Sunday, August 26, 2007

Uruguay, Religion and Taxes

Uruguay, Iglesia Univeral del Reino de Dios, ex Trocadero

Right after the economic crisis of 2002 a Brazilian Pentecostal church, called Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios, spread all over the country, like a virus. They launched a very aggressive mediatic campaign including one hour spots in Uruguay air channels on a daily basis. Their slogan is Pare de Sufrir (stop suffering).

They are highly criticized for their methods, even among other Christian groups, since they grant special powers to physical objects, and they sell them. For example they launch campaigns like: "Buy the blessed candle" (and you will have God's blessing) or "Touch the mantle of discharge", of course only after you "donate" a reasonable fee.

They operate as a multinational corporation, they are huge in Brazil, and they have presence all over South American countries, including Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and of course Brazil.

In Uruguay they usually took for temples what used to be cinemas. Probably the most popular case, is what used to be "El Cine Trocadero", a beautiful building in the middle of 18 de Julio, where now stands a branch of this church. This was yet another sad consequence of the economic crisis of 2002, another change in the urban landscape, where we traded cinemas & culture, for sects. It's the perfect business since religious activities are exempt of certain taxes in this country.

Under the new law, started in July 2007, the new IRPF tax, where do religious group's activities stand? Nobody was certain, until the first days of this month when all the religious groups received with surprise an increased bill (now they have to pay aportes patronales).

Catholic, Protestant, and Hebrew religious groups are planning to sue the government. They claim to be exempt and this taxing could be called unconstitutional, depending on the interpretation of the new law.

Now, I wonder, if I were the government, how could I do to tax sects like the Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios which are clearly profit based and leave other true non profit organizations alone?

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15 comments:

Ypoque said...

do many people attend the Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios?

Anonymous said...

Silly question I bet - but do they do anything practical (hospitals say?) to stop the suffering?

Glad to see you have restarted blogging after a pause!

Wembley

gabouy said...

ypoque, I don't know the figures but when I walk by I always see a small crowd in there.

wembley, no, as far as I know they don't do any kind of social work. I even heard stories about them hiring people in Rivera, right in the border with Brazil, to work as ushers, and preachers, people who were not even christians. It's a corporation.

thanks,
gabo

Anonymous said...

hola, ta muy bueno este blog o blogg no se, estoy mas para los fotolog, jeje, soy uruguayo y hace una hora que estoy leyendo este blog, me enconto tu muy acertada descripcion de la navidad en uruguay, bueno te queria felicitar y hacerte acordar que el futbol (aunque barranca abajo) es parte importante de la cultura uruguaya :D

Carlos said...

La verdad es que ya es hora que saquen a estos ladrones, tienen espacio en TV y todo!

Anonymous said...

Not to offend any Christians or other religious types, but how much of a nuisance is Christianity in the lives of the average Uruguayan? Here is the US, it is God is directly our moron president to invade countries (Iran is next) and churches are really making themselves a real pest in most communities. I was wondering if it was same there.

My family and I are considering relocating out of the US due to a Central or South American country.

gabouy said...

ok, I´d say Uruguay is more of an atheist country in practice, there is not a very strong christian or religious presence in the everyday life of the average uruguayan.

catholics are supposed to be the largest religious group, but for the most part it´s a cultural & traditional thing.

but this is of course, only my opinion.

regards,
gabo

MONICA said...

people really i don t know what there reading why dont you go for your self and seee if it is satanic as how they say...all they do help everyone to have a better life by casting out demons because everybody have demons until you are deliverated...more then anything the catholic church is just worried and jealous because its always been the leader...andnow universal is on top...why do you complain why do you write all this ...your not doing any harm to the churc but to god...stop writting false coments on the church leave it alone if you can because there not doing anything to tyou...who ever ants to go and seek the lord let them,but dont be stupid and write all this false about the pastore bishop macedo...really how sickening the world can be...ofcourse it the end of days were people are being munipilated by coments here about the church when they dont even know..STOP BECASUE YOU KNOW THE TRUTH...

MARCY said...

I AGREE THIS RIDICOULLY THERE NOT SATANIC THIS IS JUST WRITTEN TO TO STOP PEOPLE GOING AND TO THOSE NO TO GO..NOBODY IS FORCE IF THEY GO ITS BECASE THEY DESIRE god IN THERE LIFE.I CAN'T COMENT ANYMORE IAM JUST SUPRISE HOW HURTFUL MEDIA CAN BE HOW CAN PEPOLE PUBLISH THIS. DONT BLAME THEM THEY ONLY HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OF CORSE NOT ALL CHURHES HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OR HEALS...BUT REEALLY HOW IGNORANT CAN YOU BE WHEN THE BIBLE IT SELF SAYS IT...AND YOUR STILL BLIND..BUT THATS HOW PEOPLE ARE!! BUT REALLY NO BODY WILL CLOSE THIS CHURCHES BEACUSE ITS gOD WHO HAS PUT THEM THERE AND WHEN THEY DO CLOSE AT ALL TIMES ITS BECAUSE ITS GOING TO HAPPEN AS IT SAY IN REBELATION SO NO SUPRISE.JUST KEEP ON THE COMENTS ...WRITE WHAT EVR UOU DESIRE ABOUT IT...ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE YOU

Andrew said...

Can anyone here let me know if the following information is correct?

Thanks, Ampers.

--------------------------------------
I now live in an officially secular state. The state tolerates religion but Prez Batlle who secularised us in 1919 had a wicked sense of humour and imposed a special tax on any church with assets over a certain value excluding the value of the church itself.

Any church with assets exceeding the limit is subject to a special tax at 40% on its assets per annum which is ring fenced and distributed to the poor in line with the instructions provided by JC Himself.

There are exceptions for church owned public parks, old folks homes and similar which can be demonstrated to provide a public service but it effectively prevents churches from accumulating capital, owning investment land, property, industries, shares etc.

Anonymous said...

It is pathetic , the sad reality is that those groups profit from lower class people. And they have vast experience from this in Brazil where most of them are based. Politically they are reactionaries since they do not promote any action in society. I am happy they are taxed. As per older religion, let them pay as well!! Everybody is equal against the state (and god if you happen to believe in it).

Anonymous said...

it seems that monica is a real fanatic isn't she?

Anonymous said...

If these churches are not helping the community they should be taxed just like anything else. What else do they do but try to make people feel guilty, xenophobic and homophobic...let them pay for their lie!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, that makes me realy ashamed of being brazilian...

Anonymous said...

True churches of God should not sell anything claiming is blessed....we get the blessings by keeping the commandments and praying (when we ask for something in particular).
Las iglesias que claman ser de Dios no deben de vender nada como bendicion. Recibimos las bendiciones cumpliendo los mandamientos y orando (pidiendo por algo en particular).
Vero