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Religion & Society

Temitope Balogun Joshua (1963 - 2021)

By Abel Smithline

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Pentecostalist, televangelist, and philanthropist, these words succinctly sum up how Pastor T.B. Joshua lived his life. The controversial leader and founder of Synagogue Church of all Nation (SCOAN), a megachurch that operates Emmanuel TV television station. T.B. Joshua is popularly known across Latin America and Africa with a significant social media presence with 3,000,000 fans on Facebook. Before the suspension of his YouTube channel in 2021 for alleged homophobic hate speech, Emmanuel TV had more than 1,000,000 subscribers. It was the most viewed Christian ministry on the platform before YouTube suspended the channel in 2021 for alleged homophobic hate speech.

In 2011, he was ranked by Forbes to be the third-richest pastor in Nigeria. However, the church quickly dismissed that to be true. Nevertheless, he was a controversial figure and was officially blacklisted by the government of Cameroon in 2010. A significant attraction for many people across the world were the various miracles in the forms of economic prosperity, and divine healing reportedly received in his church or remotely through his prayers. Many personalities and celebrities were visitors to his church. For example,  South African opposition party leader Julius Malema, Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and international footballer Joseph Yobo. Famous Nigerian actor Jim Iyke reportedly visited him in search of healing. This was an essential way through which he contributed to the advancement of the Pentecostal movement in Africa.

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The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) doesn't identify with other denominations, and that singular fact has protected the church from interdenominational tussles. People of "all nations," irrespective of their affiliations, find it accessible and open. Little wonder he had a large following.

Controversies

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In 1996, T.B. Joshua was arrested and subsequently kept behind the bar for 13 days by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) when an informant tipped them off that Joshua was dealing drugs within his church premises. 18 ‘armed’ officers and six soldiers stormed The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos to effect the arrest and thoroughly search the church premises. However, Joshua’s innocence was established, and he was released after 13 days. One of the most controversial pastors, T.B. Joshua, has been the subject of several accusations, most recently from an ex-worker at The SCOAN named Bisola Johnson, who claimed she was ‘raped.’ However, Johnson confessed to mental health disease in a previous video and was found to have defrauded a US businessman, casting aspersions over her credibility. “Nothing makes you better than your enemy when you reply to them. Leave the battle for God,” TB Joshua admonished in a Facebook post while sharing the throwback clip.

Joshua was known for making predictions about world events and for his claims to cure various ailments. Most recently, he claimed to cure people of COVID-19. He also claims to make people prosper throughmiracles. Critics question his claims and say he profits from people seeking hope. He incorrectly predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 US election. After this prophecy failed to materialize, with Donald Trump winning the election, Joshua stated that he was referring to Clinton's win in the popular vote and any misinterpretation was due to a lack of "spiritual understanding."TBJ 10

On 12 September 2014, the guest house of the church collapsed, killing more than 100 people, most of them foreigners who were in Nigeria to attend his services. While authorities say the building collapsed because of structural defects, TB Joshua argued that the building was blown up by a small plane that he claimed flew over it shortly before it came down. 

 
 Humanitarian Works
 
TB Joshua’s philanthropic acts depicted the Synagogue Church of All Nations in a good light. By giving to the poor, he portrayed his ministry as a movement concerned not only with the spiritual welfare of the people but also with their physical prosperity.
A Forbes blogger reported that Joshua spent an estimated $20 million on "education, healthcare and rehabilitation programs for former Niger Delta militants." SCOAN has a 'scholarship program' which caters to the academic needs of students in their thousands, ranging from primary to tertiary education. There is also a rehabilitation program for sex workers who come to the church for 'deliverance. 
 
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In Ghana, T.B Joshua is a household name due to his various donations to increase the standard of the less- privileged in the country. For example, the man of God bequeathed thousands of bags of rice to support the Ghana Prisons Service in feeding inmates. Lately, he also gave various gift items to Krachi West District Hospital in that country. Meanwhile, way back in June 2015, during devastating flooding in Accra, theGhanaian capital, the cleric’s humanitarian team had promptly responded with relief items comprising over 1,000 bags of rice, cooking oil, soap, mattresses, pillows, and other relief items worth over US$40,000.
 
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Personal Life
 
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In 1990, he married his adorable wife, Evelyn Joshua. She has three children with T.B. Joshua. Their first child, Sarah, is a graduate of the London School of Economics, where she studied Law. Promise, their second child is currently studying international relations at the London School of Economics. Not much is known about their third child. The famous televangelist died on 5June 2021 after one of his evening services in Lagos, Nigeria, just oneweek before his 58th birthday. No cause of death was given.

 

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THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS AT THE VATICAN, ITALY.

 
By KING Oakwood
Email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
 
The Vatican in Italy is also known as the Vatican City. It is regarded as the smallest sovereign state in the world. It has its own stamps, it issues passports and license plates. It operates media outlets and has its own flag and anthem. It has a population of citizens in the country. Though, several other visitors are coming into the city daily. Vatican City is house to some of the most prestigious, memorable, and famous buildings. Hence, it is the greatest motivation for the visitors. Some of the notable places in Vatican City is the St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums. Also, visitors are enticed to check out Vatican Gardens, Mosaic Studios, or the underground archeological excavations. This article shall examine a bit of the history of Vatican City in Italy and importantly, the current happenings in the Vatican. 
 
The currency of Vatican City is the Euro after they switched from lira. According to Wikipedia, The euro is the official currency of Vatican City, although Vatican City is not a member of the Eurozone or the European Union. In 2000, Italy and the Vatican City both signed a contract which allowed the Vatican to adopt the euro as its official currency as well, despite the Vatican notbeing a member of the European Union or Eurozone.
 
 
It is worthy of mentioning to say that Benito Mussolini signed Vatican City into existence. The Vatican became independent from Italy with the Lateran Treaty. The dispute between the Italian government and the Catholic Church ended in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Pacts, which allowed the Vatican to exist as its own sovereign state and compensated the church $92 million (more than $1 billion in the current exchange rate) for the Papal States. The Vatican used the payment as seed money to re-grow its coffers. Benito Mussolini, the head of the Italian government, signed the treaty on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III. The Holy See is the central governing body of the Catholic Church. A sovereign entity recognized by international law, consisting of the Pope and the Roman Curia.
 
 
The Vatican City operates an absolute monarchy with the Pope as its political and spiritual head. Vatican City government lacks taxation as a crucial government function. The politics of Vatican City is within the confines of a theocratic absolute elective monarchy, in which the Pope, being the leader of the Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome, exercises ex officio supreme legislative, executive, and judicial power over the Vatican. The style of monarchical government run in the Vatican is a rare case of a non-hereditary monarchy.
The Vatican budget comprises of the Vatican Museums. Her economy is run financially by the sales of stamps, coins, medals, and tourist mementos; by fees for admission to museums; and by publications sales. It is a mildly industrialized economy. Industries in the Vatican include printing, the production of mosaics, and the manufacture of staff uniforms. Also, there is the popular Vatican Pharmacy.
 
On the 23rd of October 2020, the Vatican issued a Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on Plenary Indulgences for the deceased faithful in the current pandemic. A decree was issued to limit the number of faithful worshipers in the gathering of worship because of the laws of social distancing issued by the competent government in the decree due to the covid-19 protocols. 
 
 
According to CTV, on 4th November 2020, the Vatican announced that the Pope returns to a private library for the audience as Coronavirus surges in the Vatican City. The Pope, Pope Francis, advised people to follow recommendations from governments and health authorities to prevent coronavirus infections as he returned to his private library for his Wednesday general audience amid a surge of infections in Europe. In other news, there is a possibility for the Vatican to reenter a semi-lockdown mode again. The Holy See announced that it was shutting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel to the public until at least Dec. 3. At the end of the Pope's time out on Wednesday with the audience, the Pope offered prayers for the victims of recent attacks in Europe. He cited the deadly Nice church attack and the Vienna shooting and denounced how some use violence and hatred to disrupt fraternity among people.
According to Catholic World Report, based on the news released on their site on November 6th, 2020. It was reported, that a search was carried out, on key figures in the Vatican financial scandal. It read Rome financial police executed a search warrant that week against three figures tied to the Vatican’s London property scandal.
 
In the report of Catholic World Report, "The homes, cars, and safety deposit boxes of Raffaele Mincione, Enrico Crasso, and Fabrizio Tirabassi were reportedly raided on the order of a Rome judge on Thursday, as part of the Vatican investigation into alleged fraud, money laundering, and extortion in connection to a luxury property development." In the same report, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos, the offices of three companies connected to Mincione, Crasso, and Tirabassi in Rome, Milan, and Genoa also searched.
 
 
The report further stressed how the pope asked for the management and administration of the funds and investments to be given instead to APSA, which functions as the Holy See treasury and sovereign wealth manager, and also administers payroll and operating expenses for Vatican City.
The Pope's decision was outlined in an August 25th, 2020 letter to Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In the letter, made public November 5th in the same year, the pope asked for “particular attention” to be paid to two specific financial matters: “investments made in London” and the Centurion global investment fund. Pope Francis requested that the Vatican “exit as soon as possible” from the investments, or “at least dispose of them in such a way as to eliminate all reputational risks.”
 
Conclusion
 
The above report is on history and current happenings in and around the Vatican, Italy. Vatican City is undoubtedly a historical place to visit. Though it is the smallest country in the world, it still holds some of the memorable histories of the past. They operate a theocratic system of government with a blend of monarchical dimensions it is not devoid of the hassles in larger countries of the world. There is crime, politics, and businesses in Vatican City, Italy. 
Early this month, precisely November 5, the Pope moves against the secretariat of the state. Over a financial scandal. Though, the letter was delivered, on the 25th of August. Pope Francis has given the Vatican secretariat of state three months to transfer all of its financial holdings to another Vatican office following its bungled management of hundreds of millions of euros in donations and investments that are now the subject of a corruption investigation leveled against the secretariat of state.
Francis summoned the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, his deputy, as well as the Vatican’s top finance officials for a meeting on Wednesday and gave them a three-month deadline to complete the transfer, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said. Pope Francis cited the reputational risks incurred by the department’s previous investments in speculative operations that have cost the Holy See tens of millions of euros, some of it from Peter Pence’s donations from the faithful.
This scandal has exposed the incompetence of the Vatican’s monsignors in managing money since they signed away voting shares in the deal and agreed to pay exorbitant fees needlessly to Italians who were known in business circles for their shady dealings.
One of the current news from the Vatican Pope Francis shared his experience with Corona Virus: "I know first-hand what coronavirus patients are going through." Pope Francis said he relates directly to COVID-19 sufferers given his near-fatal brush with death from a respiratory disease decades ago. Mr. Francis was hospitalized in his native Argentina in August 1957, when he came down with a lung infection. He was in his second year of seminary, aged 20. “For months, I did not know who I was if I was going to live or die. Not even doctors knew whether I would make it,” the 83-year-old pope recalled in a forthcoming book. “One day I asked my mother, hugging her, to tell me if I was going to die. “I know from experience how coronavirus patients attached to a ventilator are feeling while fighting to breathe,” he added.
The above quotes from a book due to be released Dec. 1, titled “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” a book the Pope co-wrote with his English biographer, Austen Ivereigh, due to come out on Dec. 1.
Another news from the Vatican that is currently turning heads is the news that Pope Francis indicates support for same-sex civil unions based on a report from BBC. Pope Francis has said that he thinks same-sex couples should be allowed to have "civil unions". He made the comments, which observers say are his clearest remarks yet on gay relationships, in a documentary directed by Evgeny Afineevsky.
"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family," he said in the film, which premiered on Wednesday. "They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it. "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered." He added that he "stood up for that", apparently referring to his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires when, although opposing same-sex marriages in law, he supported some legal protections for same-sex couples. In another report base on public opinions, the conservatives fear that, since the Pope backed same-sex marriage that it may be legalized to conduct such a wedding in the church by the priest. The report also has it that, though the Pope backed same-sex marriages, it does not change the church doctrine.
 
November 20, the Vatican investigates Brazilian model Instagram photo likes. The Vatican has said it is investigating after the Pope's official Instagram account "liked" a photo of a scantily clad Brazilian model. There was a media uproar as a result of the emergence of the news. The Papal Press office told the BBC that "as far as we know the 'like' did not come from the Holy See." The Vatican was working with Instagram to establish where it came from, it added. The image has been unlike the account. Pope Francis' official Instagram account has 7.4 million followers worldwide.
There has been a new development since then from sources close to the Vatican press office. They told the Catholic News Agency on Tuesday that the accounts were "managed by a team of employees" and an internal investigation was now underway.
 
 
In another news on the BBC website on November 29 titled Wilton Gregory: Pope appoints first African American cardinal.  The news read; Pope Francis has appointed 13 new cardinals, including the first African American man to hold the role. Wilton Gregory was installed at a ceremony held in the Vatican, with participants donning face masks and some appearing via video link. The 72-year-old Archbishop of Washington DC was announced as one of the new cardinals last month. The African-American, Wilton Gregory, being a cardinal gives him the right to elect the next Pope. This is historical that a black man will be among the cardinals that will elect the next Pope. 
Cardinal Gregory is an ordained priest since the age of 25, he replaced Cardinal Donald Wuerl as Archbishop of Washington in May 2019. There is no doubt that Gregory, was appointed as the archbishop of Washington for being a prominent voice in the fight to root out abuse within the Church in the US. Before being announced as the cardinal, Wilton Gregory was the president of the US bishops' conference. He persuaded Church leaders to adopt tougher penalties for abusers in 2002. Cardinal Gregory is known to be critical of President Donald Trump. Over his use of rhetoric and constant visits to religious sites.
 
 
 
References 
1. "Vatican Issues Euro Coins Featuring Pope Francis". KMBZ, 4 March 2014. (accessed 10 March 2014)
2. Shea, Alison. "Researching the Law of the Vatican City State". Hauser Global Law School Program. New York University School of Law. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
3. Alessandro Speciale, "The Vatican Tribunal as a model of efficiency" inCatholic.net
4. Lizzie Davis (29 July 2013). "Pope Francis signals openness towards gay priests". The Guardian.
5. https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2020/11/06/searches-carried-out-on-key-figures-in-vatican-financial-scandal 
6. https://www.ctvnews.ca/mobile/world/pope-returns-to-private-library-for-audience-as-virus-surges-1.5174102 
7. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55115243 
8. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54627625 
 
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