Temitope Balogun Joshua, or T.B. Joshua as he is more reverently known, called on his followers during a service on Sunday to “pray for YouTube” after the video platform suspended his channel over allegations of hate speech and violence towards the members of the LGBT+ community.
The founder of a Christian megachurch in Lagos called The Synagogue of Church of All Nations, T.B. Joshua is Africa’s most influential pastor and televangelist, rising to popularity for his “miracles” and “resurrections.”
He also has a social media presence of over 5.6 million fans on Facebook and had amassed over 1.8 million subscribers and 600 million views on his YouTube channel, enough to earn him the title of being the most viewed Christian ministry, before it was blocked.
In one of the videos in his now-shuttered YouTube channel, T.B. Joshua is seen carrying out one of his “conversion therapies,” where he hits a woman violently several times to “cure” her of her sexuality while her female partner watches. The video was watched more than 1.5 million times.
“I want you to help me pray for YouTube,” said the charismatic figure during a Sunday service broadcasted on Facebook.
OpenDemocracy, a UK-based website that seeks to “challenge power and encourage democratic debate,” claims it was behind the closure.
“In response to our enquiries about TB Joshua’s controversial exorcisms, YouTube terminated his channel,” it said on its website.
“Between 2016 and January 2020, he posted on YouTube at least eight clips showing violent exorcisms to ‘cure’ gay and lesbian congregants of their sexual orientation by casting out “the demon of homosexuality,” OpenDemocracy wrote.
In response, T.B. Joshua said that he had appealed YouTube’s decision which he thinks was “made in haste.”
In 2014, a new law set prison terms of up to 14 years for those found guilty of “homosexual acts.” While it has never been used, homosexuality is still widely condemned in Africa’s most populous country.
Often called “The Prophet” or “The Man of God,” T.B. Joshua claimed to have predicted several global disasters, including the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370, and the 2015 Paris attacks by ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Forbes estimates his fortune at around $150 million.
Following the suspension, the Nigerian pastor has opened a new YouTube page. In just 24 hours, the new channel had already garnered over 27,000 subscribers.