Quantcast
Connect with us

Celebrity pastor under fire after worshippers die in rush for ‘holy water’

Published

on

TB Joshua promises to pay medical expenses from fatal stampede at Synagogue Church of All Nations in Ghana, says Afua Hirsch

It’s the middle of a working day, in the middle of the week, but the trickle of worshippers at the Synagogue Church of All Nations is quickly becoming a flood. Around 1,000 people sit silently on plastic chairs cooled by dozens of floor fans at the church – a building reminiscent of an aircraft hangar just off Accra’s industrial Spintex Road – watching its founder delivering a sermon on his own dedicated 24 hour TV channel, Emmanuel TV.

ADVERTISEMENT

Temitope Balogun Joshua, popularly known as TB Johsua, founder of the Synagogue Church empire, is one of the biggest celebrities west Africa. His regular Sunday services in Nigeria boasts attendance rates of around 15,000 and the Nigerian government has reported that the number of worshippers travelling to the church in Lagos have significantly boosted tourism to Nigeria.

But he is an increasingly controversial figure in Ghana, after a deadly stampede at the Synagogue Church last Sunday left four people dead and at least 30 injured.

The worshippers were hoping to obtain holy “new anointing water”, which Emmanuel TV had announced would be distributed for free. “The anointing water usually costs 80 cedis, but we learned that on Sunday it would be given out for free,” said Joseph Adanvor, 52, who witnessed the fatal stampede. “I have never seen anything like it before. People had come from Togo, Benin, even from Kenya. They tried to close the church but people were climbing over the walls and breaking in. The police and army were there but they couldn’t control the crowds.”

The police, who are investigating the deaths, said that they had not anticipated the number of people who would attend the church, with worshippers arriving from as early as 2am. “All of us were caught by surprise,” police spokesman Freeman Tetteh told the BBC world service. ” No one knew the crowd will be so huge.”

The church declined to comment to the Guardian but earlier announced that it would pay the medical expenses for those injured in the incident. Reverend Sam Mc-Caanan told journalists that the church was “devastated”. “We have to do a thorough work around this to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The stampede came two weeks after Nigeria-based Joshua made a rare personal appearance Ghana, prompting tens of thousands of people to travel to the 1,500 capacity church to catch a glimpse of the self-styled “prophet”. The event created a crisis for the security services, bringing large parts of the capital Accra to a standstill.

Joshua is one of the most prominent pastors in Africa with a growing number of followers around the world. The church has branches in London and Athens, as well as Accra, and Ghana’s late president John Atta Mills, who died last year, was a prominent follower, whilst a host of other public figures and celebrities claim to have been healed by the pastor. But he has attracted controversy for his significant wealth – with American magazine Forbes estimating that the pastor was worth up to $15 million, and for the sale of products including anointing water and car stickers to people hoping to free themselves from poverty. “I personally believe there is a level of exploitation going on here, with churches selling things like anointing water and car stickers,” said Apostle Samuel Yaw Antwi, General Secretary of the Ghana Charismatic and Pentecostal Council. “Jesus Christ never sold any of these things.”

Belief in the healing powers of pastors and special oils and waters which they claim to have blessed is widespread in Ghana, with products often sold for a profit. “I myself have bought the anointing water, and I have seen the miracles it performs,” said Adanvor. “My father was suffering from pain in his leg. When I sprayed the water, and after praying, the pain went away.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s like in Jesus’ time,” Adanvor added. “He did a lot of miracles so a lot of people followed him. Now we see that God can manifest again. When people come to the church, if they pray and they believe, they are healed.”

In addition to purchasing anointing water and other products, members of the church tithe by contributing 10% of their monthly income, and also give offerings at church services. However, worshippers say that the church is popular because it does not demand payment for healing – a practice common among other churches in the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The problem we have in this country is the type of Christianity people are practicing whereby, instead of seeking to know God through his work and a relationship with the holy spirit which is assured to every Christian, are running after signs of miracles,” said Apostle Samuel Yaw Antwi, General Secretary of the Ghana Charismatic and Pentecostal Council.

“People want instant solutions to their problems, just like they want instant coffee. If anybody comes along offering instant answers to financial or health challenges, people want to go for it. But the Bible warns Christians about that.”

© Guardian News and Media 2013

ADVERTISEMENT

[Photo of TB Joshua via Flickr user briggz5d]


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

So long, Steve King: 9-term white supremacist GOP congressman from Iowa loses primary

Published

on

U.S. Congressman Steve King, a nine-term Republican of Iowa, has just lost his primary to a GOP challenger. It's a huge fall from grace: In 2014 The Des Moines Register labeled the former earth-moving company founder a "presidential kingmaker."

But his racist, white nationalist, white supremacist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, homophobic, transphobic, biphobic remarks and disturbing ties to far right radical European politicians – including one he endorsed who has ties to a neo-Nazi, finally caught up with him.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

When the president’s son-in-law truly was a great success

Published

on

For many Americans, the idea of the president tasking his son-in-law with solving national, even international, crises, seems problematic, if not absurd. But it happened once before and turned out to be the kind of “great success story” our current first family wants us to believe in again. Slightly over a century ago, as the US mobilized for the First World War, the nation faced devastating breakdowns of its financial and transport systems. In response, President Woodrow Wilson leaned heavily on his talented and experienced Treasury Secretary, William McAdoo, who just happened to be his son-in-law. Looking back at this episode tells us a lot about what makes for successful emergency management at the highest levels of government.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Here are 7 ways Donald Trump is just like Henry Ford — and why that’s not good for American democracy

Published

on

On May 21, speaking at the Ford Motor Company’s Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Donald Trump paid his latest homage to Henry Ford, lauding the family’s “good bloodlines” with Ford’s great grandson sitting in the front row.

Ford, like Trump, was obsessed with bloodlines—with the idea that race and genetic origins determined who counted as the “best people.”

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image