A controversial Christian church that claims demons are behind headaches and depression are setting up a base in Belfast.

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God will soon have a presence in Belfast, after receiving planning permission from the council. 

Known as the UCKG, the questionable Brazilian church is banned in several countries.

The church, founded in 1977 by self-styled Bishop Edir Macedo, will be establishing itself in Equality House in the Donegall Pass area.

Largely considered a cult by many, the UCKG has around 12 million members in 200 countries according to The Irish Independent.

 As per UCKG.ie, the church has had a small presence in the Republic of Ireland since 2003. 

Macedo held a one-week long service and with interest growing, decided to open the first dedicated UCKG church in Phibsboro, Dublin, the following year.

An additional UCKG HelpCentre was opened in April 2011 in Dublin 8 and in Cork City in 2016.

Services in Ireland are led by Pastor Alexsandro Borges, who is supported by a team of senior pastors plus administrative and pastoral support staff.

One of the church's more controversial beliefs is that all members must donate a 10 percent portion of their income back into the church in a practice known as "tithing".

It should be noted that founder Edir Macedo is a billionaire, according to Forbes Magazine.

Edir Macedo (Image via Flickr)

Edir Macedo (Image via Flickr)

The UCKG was banned in Zambia for its involvement in "satanic rituals".
In 1997 the Advertising Standards Authority banned a church poster that claimed,

“Constant headaches, depression, insomnia, fears, bad luck, strange diseases… These are just a few symptoms caused by demons.”

A subsequent poster that claimed "blessing oil" could cure heart problems was also banned. 

In the worst controversy surrounding the church's ethics, an 8-year-old girl was killed by her guardians in London.

Victoria Climbie was taken to a UCKG centre in February 2000 for an “exorcism” by her great-aunt, Marie Therese Kouao.

Edir Macedo leads a service (Image via Flickr)

Edir Macedo leads a service (Image via Flickr)

Kouao was later found guilty of her murder in January 2001. The church was cleared of any wrongdoing, however the Charity Commission recommended the UCKG implement child protection policies in the future.

In December 2017, Portugal’s Attorney General’s Office opened an inquiry into the alleged illegal adoption of babies arranged by a centre run by the UCKG as a Portuguese journalist alleged that at least ten children were stolen from their biological mothers in the 1990s from a UCKG reception centre in Lisbon.

An investigation into the matter is ongoing.