Writing this blog from the not-so-mean streets of leafy England, it is easy to overlook TB Joshua’s capacity for violence. But in Nigeria, and even as far afield as South Africa, TB Joshua is a Big Man. $10-15 million can buy you any number of thugs who will happily teach your critics a lesson or make them disappear. Several people have told us stories of mysterious disappearances, and of people being forced to flee Nigeria with their lives because they had been targeted by TB Joshua. One former SCOAN insider has said he wants to speak out against TB Joshua but fears for his family in Nigeria. We would emphasize that not all ex-disciples have mentioned this as a concern. But the recent documentary ‘Nigeria’s Millionaire Preachers’ by Seyi Rhodes show that other churches in Lagos do not hesitate to use physical force to discourage scrutiny or criticism. Does TB Joshua hold himself to higher standards than other Nigerian megapastors? Unfortunately, he has not given us much reason to think so.
We can only speculate on TB Joshua’s capacity for violence. But we can be sure of this. If you are thinking about publicly criticising TB Joshua, there is a high likelihood you will be called one or more of the following names:
“uncircumsized baboon” (I didn’t even realise there were circumsized baboons- you learn something new every day)
These are all quotes from a blog called Watch Prophet TB Joshua, and its sister blog Watch TB Joshua, which started at the same time and often repeats exactly the same posts. Reading these blogs has been alternately upsetting and reassuring.
It is upsetting because people we know and respect have been attacked in the most vile way. We have been shocked at just how nasty and low the response has been. Frustratingly, though not surprisingly, it is not the writers, administrators and main contributors of this blog who have been targets for personal attack. Instead, a young woman who briefly commented on the blog earlier in the year (as well as her husband to a lesser extent, who has contributed two guest posts) has been repeatedly and viciously insulted. We know this couple and we know how little they have had to do with this blog. We believe that even SCOAN know that they are not behind it (in this early post, the authors of the blog argued that this blog was unreliable because we had never been to SCOAN!) but have chosen to smear them anyway because they have spoken out about SCOAN in the past, in a letter to fellow SCOAN members on leaving.
However, it is also reassuring to read these blogs. They are so ridiculous and incompetently thrown together that only blind supporters of SCOAN would be convinced by their posts- and nothing would convince those people otherwise anyway. Identical posts have appear on three different websites including the “TBJ Fans” blog which is written by SCOAN London insiders and allows you to register for the prayer line there. The writer of these blogs does not even try to hide the fact that they are a SCOAN insider.
It will be very clear to any readers that these blogs are the work of fanatical disciples who have a lot of time on their hands and are very good at copy-pasting and following orders, but not a lot else. The sheer vindictiveness and unchristian sentiment expressed in these blogs will be enough to put a lot of people off SCOAN. This is a good thing. (You will notice that our blog never attacks individuals in such a way)
(Incidentally, there are many other blogs thrown together by SCOAN insiders in a desperate attempt to ‘drown out’ criticism of TB Joshua with sheer volume of identical positive testimonies and ‘Emmanuel TV’ clips. Here’s a few more: http://tbjwatch.wordpress.com, http://tbjoshuatestimonies.wordpress.com/, http://tbjfansuk.wordpress.com/, http://watchprophettbjoshua.com/ (they actually paid for the .com address!) If we were competing on quantity of posts, we could never keep up, since we have jobs and families and TB Joshua is thankfully not the main focus of our lives. But we are confident that people will see through these transparent and futile attempts by TB Joshua to control his reputation on the internet).
In conclusion, that’s why ex-disciples might want to stay anonymous. As for the TB Joshua Watch team, SCOAN don’t have so much on us, since we haven’t been disciples. So they certainly don’t have a video of, say, me as an 18 year old confessing all my intimate and embarrassing sins that they can use to blackmail me into silence (that might sound pathetic, but it’s something they’ve used to try to blackmail ex-disciples very recently). But seeing the reactions of SCOAN to our blog (which are quite flattering in a way, but still pretty unpleasant), the decision to stay anonymous was probably a wise one.