Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo wins lawsuit brought by Universal Church

On Thursday, March 1, a São Paulo court ruled that the newspaper publishing company Folha de Manhã does not have to pay damages to the Universal Church of God's Kingdom, reported the newspaper O Globo. Folha de Manhã publishes the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

In the lawsuit against the newspaper company, a member of the church claimed to have been offended by the editorial titled “Intimidation is Faith,” published Feb. 19, 2008, in which Folha de S. Paulo referred to the Church as a "sect," "faction," “commercial fundamentalism,” “blasphemous,” and “hypocrites,” according to the Migalhas news site.

The article criticized the legal harassment by the supporters of the Church after a report that questioned the accumulating wealth of the main leader of the Church. As a result of the story, the Sao Paulo newspaper became the target of more than 100 lawsuits, a strategy used also in the case against Congresso em Foco. So far, 90 percent of the lawsuits have been ruled in favor of Folha.

In the ruling, civil judge Francisco Loureiro said that "the issuance of value judgements in the media is widely accepted these days,” reported Globo.

Folha applauded this decision. “The court reaffirmed the right to criticize and the freedom to express opinions, as they are fundamental for a consolidated democratic state,” said lawyer Tais Borja Gasparian, who represented Folha, according to the Jus Brasil website.