December leafleting outside UCKG
February 1, 2011
Late Saturday morning on 18th December 2010, four people from HSG leafleted outside the UCKG Wood Green venue on the High Road. After we had been leafleting several minutes a person started taking pictures of us with his mobile phone – many pictures – probably trying to intimidate us, as he kept coming up close to us (about two feet away), continually taking pictures for over half an hour. He would not answer when asked why he was taking pictures, but was clearly from UCKG (someone who looked to be a staff member of UCKG came out and talked with him). This man also would not talk with us. We continued to hand out leaflets to passers by, and got a supportive response – including from local traders.
About an hour after we started, it started snowing more heavily and we decided to pack up. Having just finished leafleting, a policeman arrived and talked to the two people from UCKG. (His normal beat is Noel Park.) One of us went over to him, and he said something like “I’ll talk to you in a minute”. So we hung around nearby, just out of interest to see what he would say.
His general line was that we could just as easily leaflet somewhere else on Green Lanes and avoid possible conflict (ie. trying to move us on). He didn’t seem to register that we weren’t actually leafleting by then, nor did he ask us how long we would be leafleting for (which is the usual question). He had one of our leaflets in his hand (given him by the UCKG) and asked if we were saying that the UCKG was responsible for Victoria Climbie’s death. We said that of course we weren’t, and that the leaflet doesn’t say that. (It says “UCKG is the church that was involved in the Victoria Climbie scandal.” and goes on to explain exactly how they were involved.) He seemed very picky and argumentative, as if trying to get us to say something he could find fault with. He said that we were preaching our beliefs, just as the UCKG were, but we pointed out that we weren’t preaching but giving out factual information. He also implied that we had been targeting people going into the UCKG ‘church’ – probably having been told this by the two UCKG people – but we had simply been offering leaflets to everyone who passed by. (In fact hardly anyone went into the building; a small group – about 6 people – came out, late on during our leafleting, but they were not specifically targeted with leaflets.) He mentioned that there would be evidence from the council’s CCTV cameras. But that didn’t bother us since it would show that we were not specifically targeting church-goers.
The leaflet sets out some of the crucial facts about UCKG:
* Money collected in donations is portrayed as going to charity, but nearly all goes to the UCKG church itself.
* Considerable UCKG funds get sent to ‘bishop’ Edir Macedo, a billionaire and media owner in Brazil.
* There have been investigations of financial irregularities in UCKG in several countries, and several prosecutions.
* UCKG encourage people to ‘solve’ their problems by dependency on the church, praying and paying donations (eg. a tithe of 10% of their gross income), rather than seeking medical or financial help or supporting each other.
* One result of their approach is to ignore mistreatment of younger members of their congregation (Victoria Climbie was not the only casualty) and instead view them as being possessed by a devil.
Links: HSG’s UCKG leaflet