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Scandals rock Evangelical churches in Brazil

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]mirandaflynn)


"Estevam Hernandes-Filho and his wife, Sonia -- who oversee more than 1,000 churches in Brazil and several in Florida -- were under house arrest in Miami, accused of carrying more than $56,000 in undeclared cash. Some of the money had been stuffed between the pages of their Bible, according to U.S. customs agents who detained the couple last month at the Miami airport."

"Between 1980 and 2000, the number of those who identified themselves as evangelicals in national census counts doubled, to more than 26 million people in this country of about 185 million."

"According to prosecutors, the $56,467 they carried was part of a personal fortune collected from church donations that has attracted the attention of state tax collectors since 2002. Lemos, the prosecutor, said the church owns a ranch where the family keeps a stable of horses, and Brazilian media outlets have reported that they own at least four houses, 14 cars and shares in a resort. Sao Paulo's state government alleges that they owe more than $3 million in back taxes."

"Other churches in Brazil that allegedly practice what critics label "prosperity theology" -- or a connection between monetary donations and spiritual blessings -- have also been touched by scandal in recent years."

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