Locals and religious leaders in the Israeli city of Nazareth have kicked against a planned visit by the founder of The Synagogue Church of All Nations, Temitope Balogun Joshua (popularly known as T.B Joshua).
Mr Joshua, a popular Nigerian televangelist whose church owns Emmanuel Television, is billed to host the ‘Nazareth Meeting with TB Joshua’ on June 23 and 24 at Mount Precipice.
But the planned visit has elicited severe criticisms from both religious and political leaders in Nazareth who have demanded the cancellation of the event and called residents to boycott it, Israeli medium, Haaretz, has reported.
The news medium quoted church officials in Nazareth as urging the clerics in the city to avoid any mention of the visit in their sermons.
“We beg you to not play in the hands of those organising this type of festival which is an affront to the principles of Christianity, and our national identity, and deals a blow to the social fabric of a city like Nazareth,” the officials wrote, according to the paper.
Most of the churches in Nazareth have supported the officials’ position, according to the Haaretz, except for the Catholic Church who argued that religious persons from outside Israel should not be stopped from visiting and holding prayers like thousands of pilgrims do.
Muslims in the city and elsewhere also joined in the demand for the cancellation of Mr Joshua’s event, the Haaretz added.
The newspaper also quoted the Hadash and Youth for Change parties in Nazareth as demanding a meeting about the decision to invite Mr Joshua to hold an event in the city at a city facility against the wishes of a majority of residents.
“We have asked to take an in-depth look at this issue, at why a city like Nazareth would receive such a person who is denied entry to many countries on grounds of criminal suspicions and given his links to the extreme right in Israel,” Haaretz quoted the group as saying.
“What’s more, the man is known to have grown wealthy in a way that has raised many questions and therefore we view such a visit as an illegitimate step which contaminates the city and its historic heritage, and we absolutely reject the mayor’s claims that such an event would bring $1 million to the city and would see such a sum were it to actually materialise as an illegitimate contribution that would contaminate the city.”
Despite the protests, Mr Joshua’s church has continued a daily countdown to the “historic event” on social media calling on people seeking healing, deliverance, or breakthrough to register to attend.
The event is billed to be broadcast on Emmanuel Television and live-streamed to millions of Mr Joshua’s followers on Facebook and YouTube subscribers.
Efforts to reach Mr Joshua’s church for comments on Friday morning were unsuccessful.
On Wednesday, the church using its social media pages invited people with “health-related challenge” or using “medical support/aid” in Nazareth to meet with the Emmanuel TV team before the day of the event.
“Please ensure you bring your medical report or any medical aid you are using,” the invitation added.
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