Critics Call for Ousting of Nigerian Pastor TB Joshua After Stampede Kills 4
Although well-known Nigerian pastor T.B. Joshua has reportedly promised to pay for the medical expenses of those injured during the stampede at his Synagogue Church of All Nations in Ghana, some are demanding that the pastor step down from his post and close the church after Sunday's incident, which left four dead as thousands stormed the church's altar to receive holy water.
The controversy began on Sunday, when thousands of Ghanaians gathered at the Synagogue Church of All Nations on Spintex Road in the country's capital, Accra, to receive free holy water, which is normally sold for a small fee.
The church, which is built to house 15,000 people, could not contain the 45,000 which gathered to receive the holy water, believed to carry healing properties.
A stampede ensued, resulting in four dead and over 30 injured.
The holy water was advertised by the church's pastor, T.B. Joshua, who has become known as a charismatic preacher throughout Africa, especially in Ghana and Nigeria, where he earned the support of Ghana's late president, John Atta Mills, before he passed away last year.
Although Joshua has accumulated followers around the world through his church network, he has also been criticized for exploiting his followers by selling items such as holy water and bumper stickers which, according to the product's packaging, are for the "salvation of your soul."
Additionally, Joshua's church has reportedly claimed that it can perform miracles, such as cure blindness.
Now, some are calling for Joshua to claim full responsibility for Sunday's incident and step down from his post as leader of Synagogue Church of All Nations.
Nii Ayiku, a resident of Ghana, wrote a letter to the country's president, John Dramani Mahama, imploring him to remove Joshua from his post.
In his letter, Ayiku argues that Joshua is taking advantage of the people of Ghana by falsely promising that his holy water carries healing properties.
"T.B. Joshua claimed his 'anointing water' would alleviate poverty in Ghana and provide solutions to all the problems Ghanaians are facing, and some gullible people believed this nonsense and now we see the result: Four Ghanaians dead, and many others wounded. If this is not an insult on the intelligence of Ghanaians, what else?" Ayiku wrote for SpyGhana.com.
Additionally, an opinion piece for AllAfrica.com encouraged Christians to stop following Joshua after Sunday's tragedy.
"Don't put your hope in this water; don't put your hope in a man who sets himself up as a false Christ," the opinion article read.
Apostle Samuel Yaw Antwi, general secretary of the Ghana Charismatic and Pentecostal Council, told The Guardian that he believes Christians in Ghana need to stop chasing after miracles and rather form a relationship with Jesus Christ.
"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," Antwi told The Guardian.
"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," Antwi added.
The church has apologized for Sunday's incident, but there has been no mention of Joshua stepping down as leader of the church.
"We are devastated, it's very unfortunate and we are very sorry," the church's Rev. Sam McCaanan told local radio station Citi News, according to BBC.