T.B. Joshua, a famous Nigerian televangelist has entreated his followers to “pray for YouTube” for shutting down his account after he posted videos on his channel claiming to ‘cure’ gay individuals of his congregation of their sexuality.
“I got to understand what happened to YouTube when I noticed the viewers complaining… I want you to help me pray for YouTube… Don’t see them the other way around; see them as friends. We need to be strong,” T.B. Joshua stated in a sermon posted on the ministry’s Facebook web page at the weekend.
The YouTube channel of The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), run by T.B. Joshua was deactivated a week ago and can no longer be viewed by its almost two million subscribers.
OpenDemocracy, a media rights group primarily based in the UK, informed CNN that it sent a message to YouTube on 8 April, asking if the conversion therapy videos did not violate its policies?
“We observed at least seven videos. In one video, T.B. Joshua slapped a lady and her companion whom he referred to as her ‘second’ (partner) at least sixteen times,” stated Lydia Namubiru, OpenDemocracy’s Africa Editor.
“He stated he was casting the ‘spirit of woman’ out of her,” Namubiru stated as she narrated the content of the video flagged to YouTube and Facebook by her organization. The lady later informed Joshua that she no longer felt affection for her companion due to his intervention, Namubiru said.
“In another, a younger person is slapped numerous times and his dreadlocks are shaven off before he testifies that he is no longer attracted to men,” Namubiru added.
A YouTube spokesperson made a statement Wednesday stating that SCOAN’s channel was taken offline many times breaching its policies against hate speech.
“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibits hate speech and we put off flagged videos and feedback that violate these policies. In this case, the channel has accrued three strikes and has been terminated,” the announcement said.
Emmanuel TV, the broadcast arm of the church, airs in Africa on DSTV, a satellite provider owned by the South African company MultiChoice.
SCOAN plays host to dozens of global guests, and local celebrities, who go to the worship center for prayers.
In 2011, Joshua was listed by Forbes as the third-richest pastor in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of between $10 – $15 million.
In an announcement posted on Facebook last week, T.B. Joshua Ministries stated it would appeal the decision by YouTube to suspend its channel.
“Emmanuel TV’s mission is to share the love of God with all, irrespective of race or religion and we strongly oppose all types of hate speech! We have had a long and fruitful relationship with YouTube and trust this decision was made in a haste, we are making every effort to appeal this decision and see the channel restored,” the announcement said.
The Lagos-based megachurch additionally asked millions of its followers to protest on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube in opposition to YouTube’s action.
Reacting to Joshua’s doctrinal methods, a spokesman for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella body of Christian groups in the country, informed CNN that the association “does not interfere in how churches are run or how anyone operates their worship centers.”
The YouTube sanction poses a huge blow to Joshua, whose ministrations and humanitarian outreaches in many regions of the world are showcased on the popular video platform.
T.B. Joshua gained popularity in the late 1990s following the growth of “prosperity gospel” a Pentecostal doctrine that hinges good health and monetary blessing on the depth of faith an individual is able to demonstrate.
He, however, suffered countrywide infamy in 2014, after a building on SCOAN’s premises collapsed, killing over 100 individuals, most of whom were foreigners from South Africa, Chinese local media, CCTV reported at the time.