Nigerian Pastor's YouTube Channel Yanked after Footage of Assaults, 'Gay Cure' Claims

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday April 21, 2021

T.B. Joshua
T.B. Joshua  (Source:Associated Press)

YouTube shut down a Nigerian pastor's channel following complaints about videos that showed congregants being assaulted in the name of driving out "demons" that supposedly made them gay, Africa News reports.

The channel in question, Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), is run by prominent Nigerian televangelist T.B. Joshua. Africa News noted that SCOAN "is one of the most subscribed Christian channels on YouTube worldwide with over 1.8 million subscribers."

Though, the platform shuttered SCOAN following a complaint from British media watchdog OpenDemocracy, which reported instances of physical abuse taking place in videos posted to the channel.

"In one video, a woman was seen being severely beaten to get her free from the 'demon of homosexuality,'" Africa News reported.

In another, according to CNN, the group noted how a young man was "slapped several times, and his dreadlocks shaven, before he testifies he is no longer attracted to men."

The group was as concerned with the anti-LGBTQ message as the documented acts of physical assault. CNN reported that YouTube, in an email sent to OpenDemocracy after the channel was removed, referred to claims of "curing" LGBTQ people by supposedly making them heterosexual as "hate speech," and said, "We reviewed the videos flagged to us and took appropriate action, which resulted in the termination of the channel."

YouTube was not the only social media platform to take action against the pastor and his videos. "Facebook also removed several videos from its page, which has over 5.6 million subscribers, for violating the company's policy prohibiting 'attacks on people based on their sexual orientation or gender,'" Africa News said.

Social media's act of censoring content, otherwise called free speech, has become a topic of heated debate. The speech and content the platforms prohibit almost entirely stands against progressive ideals, enraging American's who often point to double standards in social media's blatant partisan censorship.

This is extremely controversial; while progressives applaud the platforms for standing up for what they happen to believe, many moderates and conservatives cite that our constitution protects the vast majority of ALL speech...yes, even speech that progressives dislike.

The moves sparked pushback from the country's religious conservatives, noted media reports.

"Nigeria is among the religious countries in Africa, and such acts of homosexuality are punishable by 14 years in prison," Africa News recounted.

T.J. Ministries responded by claiming in a statement that its "mission is to share the love of God with everyone - irrespective of race or religion - and we strongly oppose all forms of hate speech!

"We have had a long and fruitful relationship with YouTube and believe this decision was made in a haste," the statement added.

"I want you to help me pray for YouTube," the pastor told his followers in a sermon posted on Facebook. "Don't see them the other way around; see them as friends. We need to be strong."

However, CNN added, "The Lagos-based megachurch also called on millions of its followers to protest on social media -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube -- against YouTube's action."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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