Thursday, 28 July 2011

How to sidestep bad publicity

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Brazilian televangelist Edir Macedo
The Guardian reports that Bishop Edir Macedo, one of Latin America's leading televangelists and head of Brazil's Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, has initiated a three-week "media fast" among followers, urging them to steer clear of newspapers, TV and online social media.

"It will be a fast from each and every kind of secular information," Macedo announced. "TV, internet, newspapers, magazines, radios … from everything that is not Godly." For the opening three weeks of August, Macedo's congregation will be encouraged, in the bishop's words, to "abstain from all forms of media and entertainment ... from all the trash of this world."

Now, leaving aside the "not godly" aspect, I have to say Macedo's media fast is something I could actually get on board with. OK, so maybe three weeks would be a bit too long, but I'm sure we could all benefit from a bit of time away from Facebook, Twitter and the rest.

So full credit to Macedo? Maybe, although the bishop's critics have pointed out that the call for a media fast may be motivated less by spiritual, and more by pragmatic concerns. As is noted in the Guardian report, Macdeo has called two media fasts in the past, and both have coincided with him receiving negative press attention in Brazil, including allegations of financial irregularities.

So why the need for a fast next month? Over to the Guardian:
"Earlier this month the Universal Church came under attack after claims that a nine-year-old boy had been coerced into selling his toys during one televised service. As his mother underwent a violent exorcism on stage, the boy told the preacher he hoped selling his toys and donating the proceeds to the church would stop his parents fighting at home."
You have to agree, if you were a millionaire televangelist, that's certainly a story you'd want your followers to avoid.
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