Departed Nigerian Christian televangelist and leader of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) Temitope Balogun Joshua, who died last Saturday at 57, will be remembered for “criminal negligence”, “involuntary homicide”, and propagating, nurturing and ultimately leaving behind a legacy of queerphobia.
According to openDemocracy, there are at least eight video clips that showed the prosperity-gospel preacher pushing anti-homosexual agendas on the lectern. The independent global media organisation accused the deceased cleric of gaslighting sexual minority groups in his flock as he engaged in;
“violent exorcism to ‘cure’ gay and lesbian congregants of their sexual orientation by casting out ‘the demon of homosexuality’.”
Just under two months ago (April), YouTube closed TB Joshua Ministries’ YouTube channel, which had over 1.8 million subscribers, for contravening the platform’s community guidelines due to anti-LGBTQ+ content after openDemocracy raised alarms to the American online video sharing and social media platform over his homosexual conversion therapies.
“Reparative” or “conversion” therapy is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that targets queer people and is offered by certain therapists and religious counsellors. It is a false claim and a misguided attempt that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Various mainstream medical and mental health organizations have repeatedly rejected such practices, but due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ+ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy.
By the time of his death, there were growing calls and pressure on South-African based pan-African broadcaster the MultiChoice Group to suspend Joshua’s Emmanuel TV channel from DStv because of his church’s dangerous gay conversion therapy practices.
Last week the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) joined the bandwagon of MultiChoice Group’s critics, telling the broadcaster that it has a responsibility to ensure that it does not broadcast depictions of “violent ‘conversion therapy’ and hate speech against LGBT persons amounting to discrimination and human rights abuses.” While the ICJ noted MultiChoice’s assertion that Emmanuel TV is a third-party channel and consequently it has no editorial control or oversight over the content of the channel, it argues “that MultiChoice has a duty to not broadcast material that is discriminatory and in contravention of the South African Constitution.”
Urging MultiChoice to update its internal policies “to bring them in line with human rights standards, the South African Constitution, and local laws on non-discrimination,” the commission further insisted the broadcaster investigate the channel’s content and exclude Emmanuel TV as part of MultiChoice’s package to the public, or alternatively, to heavily condition its contract with Emmanuel TV to disallow the broadcast of offensive materials.
Meanwhile, SCOAN has been tight-lipped regarding the quinquagenarian cleric’s cause of death.
Often portrayed as an “impostor” who belonged to a group of “occults” that had infiltrated Christianity, TB Joshua was ostracised by both the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), albeit being no different from the other televangelists who have held Africa in their clutch with their prosperity messages.
Beyond the continent, an assistant professor in the African Studies Department at the University of Texas Abimbola Adelakun told BBC that Joshua was “rough”, “crude”.
“His methods were unorthodox,” he said while conceding him for being the first to utilise the internet and satellite broadcast to sell his ministry to an international audience when Nigeria’s broadcast regulator banned TV stations from airing the miracles of pastors on live TV in 2004.
Because SCOAN was him and he was the church, Gbenga Osinaike, a publisher of Church Times Nigeria, said it is “hard to see the church going on without him,” .