T B Joshua died yesterday weeks after he was suspended by YouTube in April for hate speech.
Described by the BBC as “one of Africa’s most influential evangelists,” the Nigerian preacher died of yet-to-be-disclosed causes seven days before his 58th birthday.
A post on his Facebook page, which has more than five million followers, said:
God has taken His servant.
In April, YouTube suspended his account due to allegations of hate speech after a rights body filed a complaint over videos showing the preacher conducting prayers to “cure” gay people.
Facebook has also removed at least one of the offending posts showing a woman being slapped while Joshua says he is casting out a “demonic spirit”.
The preacher said he was appealing against YouTube’s decision.
UK-based openDemocracy filed a complaint after reviewing seven videos posted on TB Joshua Ministries’ YouTube channel between 2016 and 2020, which show the preacher conducting prayers to “cure” gay people.
A YouTube spokesperson told openDemocracy that the channel had been closed because its policy:
Prohibits content which alleges that someone is mentally ill, diseased, or inferior because of their membership in a protected group including sexual orientation.
A post on T B Joshua Ministries Facebook account said:
We have had a long and fruitful relationship with YouTube and believe this decision was made in haste.
The video is an update of a prayer session of a woman called Okoye, first broadcast in 2018. In it Joshua slaps and pushes Okoye and an unnamed woman at least 16 times and tells Okoye:
There is a spirit disturbing you. She has transplanted herself into you. It is the spirit of woman.
The video which was viewed more than 1.5 million before the YouTube channel was taken down, later shows her testifying before the congregation that “the spirit of woman” had been destroying her life but she had been healed after the preacher’s prayers.
She declares that she had stopped having “affection” to women and:
Now I have affections for men.
The founder of the Synagogue, Church of All Nations was one of Nigeria’s most popular televangelists. Tens of thousands of people attend his weekly services in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos.
His rise to prominence in the late 1990s coincided with the explosion of “miracle” programmes performed on national TV by various pastors.
His ministry professes to heal all manner of illnesses including HIV/Aids and attracts people from all over the world.
Known as the “Prophet” by his followers, Joshua ran the Christian television station Emmanuel TV and often toured Africa, the US, the UK and South America.
In 2014, one of his churches collapsed, killing at least 116 people, including many South Africans.
A coroner in a Lagos court said “the church was culpable because of criminal negligence” but he never faced any charges.
A YouTuber claims that, although his cause of death has not been revealed by news outlets, he died of heart failure.
This report claims that Joshua had recently predicted his death.