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?...