Temple Institute in Jerusalem says plan by a controversial Brazilian Pentecostal church to build a mammoth $200 million Holy Temple replica is “self-aggrandizement.”
The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, headed by controversial Bishop Edir Macedo, has announced plans to build a giant replica of the First Temple in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is expected to cost $200 million, stand 55 meters (18 stories) high, and seat 10,000 people. Its plans also call for a parking lot for 1,000 cars, TV and radio studios, and classroom space for 1,300 pupils.
“It is going to be a knockout,” Macedo has been quoted as saying. “It is going to be beautiful, beautiful, beautiful – the most beautiful of all. The outside will be exactly the same as that which was built in Jerusalem.”
The Temple Institute in Jerusalem takes a different approach, calling it a “hubris-inspired act of self-aggrandizement… the equivalent of [yet another] destruction of the [Holy] Temple, even before it is [re-]built. This planned church is a mockery which stands in diametric opposition to everything that the Holy Temple of Jerusalem represents.”
The Universal Church has already paid $8 million to import stones from Israel. The Guardian reports that the church will be modeled on King Solomon’s Temple and will feature a replica Ark of the Covenant in the center of the sanctuary.
Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute writes, “We are witness today to the phenomenon of nations that seek to de-legitimize Israel's connection to Jerusalem. This planned mega-church represents the next logical step, the de-legitimization of the significance of Jerusalem altogether.”
“The Bible teaches that the essence of Jerusalem is the presence of G-d,” Rabbi Richman continues, quoting Isaiah’s prophecy: “It will happen in the end of days, that the mountain of the Temple of the L-rd will be firmly established at the head of the mountains…and all the nations will stream to it. Many peoples will go up and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd, to the Temple of the G-d of Jacob…for from Zion will the Torah come forth, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem.'
“Bishop Macedo’s planned mega-church," Rabbi Richman continued, "is a usurpation and abuse of the sacred space that is embodied by the Biblical concept and vision of the Holy Temple, and a gross expropriation of Judaism’s most sacred values. The Divine Presence of G-d cannot be copycatted and cannot simply be usurped and transplanted elsewhere. This is nothing more than the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God’s cynical and manipulative attempt to morph the Bible’s universal message into its own self-serving agenda.”
The Temple Institute, a non-profit educational and religious organization, is dedicated to every aspect of the Biblical commandment to build the Holy Temple of G-d on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. Its major focus is its efforts towards the beginning of the actual rebuilding of the Holy Temple.
In 1992, Bishop Macedo spent eleven days in jail on accusations of charlatanism. Last year, the Sao Paulo prosecution alleged that Macedo and other senior church clerics embezzled billions of donation dollars and used the money to buy property and cars. Macedo, a proponent of prosperity theology and owner of a $45 million private jet, has denied the charges.