As is being widely reported, Bishop David Oyedepo has come under fire after a video was posted to YouTube showing him slapping a young girl across the face during a public “deliverance” service at his Faith Tabernacle mega-church in Ota, a suburb in Lagos.
The video shows the young girl telling Oyedepo that she was a “witch for Jesus”, and this – along with the fact that she’s a young girl unlikely to respond in kind – was what provoked Oyedepo to violence. It’s not clear what she meant by her self-identification: perhaps she’s a member of some syncretic religious group (unlikely), or perhaps she’s developed her own ideas based on the cultural mix around her. However, it’s also possible that she’s simply someone who was accused of being a witch and was acting out the role expected of her – I’ve noted other incidents of this. A follow-up video shows Oyedepo boasting that the girl had later come to him to ask for his forgiveness for being a witch.
Oyedepo’s behaviour is particularly troubling given the context of on-going violence against children accused of witchcraft in Nigeria and elsewhere and his status within African Neo-Pentecostalism. Oyedepo is not just another successful evangelist: according to Forbes he is “Nigeria’s wealthiest preacher”, and he enjoys international connections. In particular, he is close to Kenneth Copeland, who is a major player in the US Christian Right; Copeland has spoken at Oyedepo’s church, and Oyedepo has addressed Kenneth Copeland Ministries in the USA. According to Copeland’s newsletter,
In 2008, David Oyedepo was an honored speaker at KCM’s Ministers’ Conference. “I give glory to God for Kenneth and Gloria Copeland,” Oyedepo says. “The revelation through their books taught me how to walk in kingdom prosperity, and now countless thousands are walking in that revelation as well.”
Oyedepo also attends events in London (where his son has a franchise church) – about a year ago, I saw an advert for him on the side of a taxi passing along Aldwych.
- “Nigeria’s Wealthiest Preacher” Bishop David Oyedepo Slaps Girl in Church (barthsnotes.com)
- Nigerian ‘Bishop’ slaps teenage girl in church after accusing her of witchcraft (freethinker.co.uk)
- Video: Popular Bishop David Oyedepo Assaults Young Woman During Church Service (madnewsuk.com)
- Preaching prosperity (bbc.co.uk)
- Nigerian Pastor Slaps The Mess Out Of A Woman “You Are-A-Foul-Devil!” [Video] (bossip.com)
- South African Constitutional Court: New Chief Justice belongs to anti-gay Mega Church (oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com)
- Ka-Ching in the Ka-Church (tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com)