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YouTube Removes Official Channel of TB Joshua’s Megachurch after Open Democracy’s Reports

It comes after openDemocracy identified and reported more than 50 abusive videos amplifying abuse against Joshua’s accusers on the video platform.

YouTube has taken down Emmanuel TV, the main channel run by TB Joshua’s megachurch empire, amid allegations the late preacher had for decades groomed and raped multiple former leaders of his ministry.

It comes after openDemocracy identified and reported more than 50 abusive videos amplifying abuse against Joshua’s accusers on the video platform.

It is the second time in three years that openDemocracy’s reporting has led to YouTube suspending content from the late preacher’s Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). In 2021 the Google-owned tech company took down another channel controlled by the church after deciding that it was violating its user guidelines due to broadcasts of anti-LGBTIQ hate speech. As a result, the ministry lost the ability to broadcast to its then 1.8 million subscribers.

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Joshua died in 2021, but his wife and successor Evelyn Joshua launched a replacement shortly afterwards.

YouTube told openDemocracy: “The flagged channel was terminated for violating our hate speech policies.”

SCOAN did not reply to a request for comment.

YouTube has policies against cyberbullying and harassment, and specifically forbids harassment against survivors of sexual violence.

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The BBC World Service in partnership with openDemocracy broadcast earlier this month a three-part documentary in which whistleblowers who were once senior members of SCOAN went on the record with allegations of sexual and psychological torture, financial fraud and criminal negligence by Joshua.

As part of the backlash against these abuse survivors, YouTube accounts promoting SCOAN broadcast and shared archival video footage depicting several of these whistleblowers’ experiences while they were church members. These videos, filmed originally by the church’s Emmanuel TV media department, showcased some of the women who participated in the investigative documentary undergoing humiliating rituals and confessing to alleged moral wrongdoing.

The apparent intention behind sharing these clips is to discredit the survivors. Those who spoke with openDemocracy said SCOAN habitually employed psychological manipulation, near starvation and isolation against members and that the church videotaped “confessions” as a sort of blackmail. Survivors said these clips were kept to threaten ex-disciples with exposure or reputational damage if they ever decided to make their experiences public.

“The idea was to have so much humiliation filmed on tape that you are both aware of it,” said Ajoke, one of Joshua’s daughters, in an interview with openDemocracy.

“You fear it so much and are constantly shamed by it. So much so that it’s like your voice has been shut down by it.”

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