A UK-based media organization ‘openDemocracy’ has claimed responsibility for the sudden closure of Pastor TB Joshua’s popular YouTube Channel Emmanuel TV, which had over 1,800,000 subscribers and 600,000,000 views.
In an article published to their website titled, ‘YouTube closes African channel promoting televangelist’s violent conversion therapy’, Kerry Cullinan explains how the American video-sharing site terminated Emmanuel TV “in response to our enquiries about TB Joshua’s controversial exorcisms”.
According to the report, the channel posted at least seven clips showing “the charismatic Christian televangelist engaging in exorcism to ‘cure’ gay and lesbian congregants of their sexual orientation by casting out ‘the demon of homosexuality’.”
Cullinan, however, acknowledges that after the Nigerian cleric’s prayers, the individuals concerned all testified that they no longer experienced same-sex attraction.
“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit hate speech and we remove flagged videos and comments that violate these policies. In this case we have terminated the channel,” a YouTube spokesperson told openDemocracy after they reported Joshua to the social media giant.
In his statement announcing the suspension, Joshua refuted the allegations of ‘Hate Speech’. “Our mission is to share the love of God with everyone – irrespective of race or religion – and we strongly oppose all forms of hate speech,” he wrote on Twitter.
In the description of the video which triggered the suspension, the cleric states, “God hates sin, not sinners. When the Bible says, ‘Do not judge so that you will not be judged’, it means we should hate sin, not the sinner because sinners can change… We should hate the act, not the people because our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the ‘spirit beings’ that cause all these acts.”
The announcement of Emmanuel TV’s removal has continued to elicit backlash from the pastor’s teeming supporters who have taken to social media to vent their indignation.
“How can praying for someone who freely came to your church to ask for God’s help with same-sex attraction now be classified as ‘Hate Speech’?” fumed Jennifer Ayre in a comment on Joshua’s official Facebook Page. “This is an affront to Christians worldwide!”
“I think it’s because YouTube is not making any money from Emmanuel TV because it’s the largest channel which doesn’t monetise its content,” asserted Hakeem Oladiran, referring to Joshua’s stance to not allow adverts on his clips, promote merchandise or engage in fund-raising campaigns.
“They can suspend the YouTube channel but they cannot suspend the truth,” tweeted Adey Henrietta, calling on Emmanuel TV to launch its own social media platform instead.
For two days, YouTube’s official Facebook Page has been inundated with requests to restore the popular Christian channel and complaints about the suspension.
openDemocracy, which describes itself as an “independent global media organisation” whose projects include championing “women’s and LGBTIQ voices”, also revealed they reported Joshua’s activities to Facebook and DSTV, which hosts Emmanuel TV on satellite in Africa.
Joshua’s Facebook Page, which has over 5.6 million followers, remains active although the company stated certain videos had been removed after openDemocracy’s queries.