home
RSS
April 9th, 2013
11:20 AM ET

Elaborate hoax: No, Joel Osteen has not renounced his faith

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – Joel Osteen, the popular megachurch pastor from Houston, is the target of an Internet hoax that falsely reported the Christian leader was leaving his church and renouncing his faith.

On a website designed to mimic Osteen’s official website, the pranksters posted “A special message from Pastor Joel.” The post describes the Bible as “a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times” and announces that Osteen plans to leave his Lakewood Church.

Osteen and church staff  labeled the website a fraud and said the idea that he was leaving the faith was a "false rumor."

According to the website's registration, Lucas Skass with BMG Enterprises LLC, who lists his residence in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, purchased the domain name on April 1 of this year – April Fools Day.

Calls to the number listed for Skass, as well as people associated with BMG Enterprises LLC, have gone unanswered.

"I am leaving the Christian faith," says a big banner near the top of the page.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

In addition to the announcement, the website posted a fake screenshot of CNN.com that included a falsified headline about Osteen’s supposed decision. The pranksters also launched an associated Twitter account that has since been suspended.

The website - http://www.joelostenministries.com/ - spells Osteen’s name wrong and comes with an elaborate disclaimer.

“This site is the property of Pastor Joel Osten and Joel Osten Ministries. It bears no relation to ‘Joel Osteen’ or ‘Lakewood Church,’" the disclaimer reads. “Any implication or relation to 'Joel Osteen' and the 'Lakewood Church' is purely coincidental. 'Joel Osteen' is not in any way involved or related to this site and references to 'Joel Osteen' are, again, entirely coincidental.”

In an interview with ABC News, Osteen dismissed the prank.

“You know, I’m really not angry. I don’t feel like a victim,” Osteen said. “I feel too blessed, that life is too short to let things like this get you down.”

He continued: “You can’t stop everything from happening, but you can choose to say, ‘God, it’s in your hands.’ I’m going to move forward. I’m going stay full of joy and I’m going to enjoy this day.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Though Osteen dismissed the hoax, many on Twitter fell for it and were shocked by the announcement.

When one person on Twitter asked Osteen directly whether he was leaving the church, someone managing Osteen’s Twitter account responded by knocking down the false report.

Osteen has led the 45,000-person church since 1999, after his father, the founder of Lakewood Church, stepped down. He is one of the most recognizable faces in American Christianity and his ministry says Osteen’s sermons reach some 10 million people a week in over 100 countries.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Pastors

soundoff (1,629 Responses)
  1. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Way of Osteen is not of way of truth absolute, but based on hindu dog ism, filthy secular ism, self center ism. hindu dogma, fabricated secular ism is nothing more than hinduism racism of hindu dark ages, but with a new rapper called Christianity. Way of hindu Pundits, crooked shamans to hind fool humanity in to hindu gentile ism, racist slavery
    hindu impostor has as much right to be hindu secular, filthy crook to make up story and spread it to hind ,fool others, as much as Osteen from a poppet to hind fool naive in to hindu Mithra ism, racist savior ism of hindu dark ages, sold under new label Christianity. Way of hindu Pundits criminal crooks to run their business of hinduism corruption of truth absolute called religions.
    Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity. Please visit Limitisthetruth.com to learn hinduism criminality of hindus, criminals against humanity

    April 9, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      also turn off virus blocker

      April 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  2. heywood

    Of course hes not leaving, way too much money selling religion like pork bellies to walk away.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  3. guitarfreak831

    @Richard Cranium

    You mad, bro?

    April 9, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • sam

      You 12, bro?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • guitarfreak831

      12...the average IQ of this comment board.

      "I believe this way and everyone who believes otherwise is inferior to me."

      April 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • sam

      Ah, you caught on to that. Congrats.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  4. Bai Ling

    What man or woman among you can look upon my perky pencil tip nipples and say "nay, I do not care for a taste?" Choose the god you love.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Dippy

      And this false prophet gets true profits.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Dippy

      Sorry. Should be reply to Joe Plumber.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  5. Joe Plumber

    Another false profit. But he has great teeth!

    April 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • sam

      "False Profits: The Joel Osteen Story."

      April 9, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • One one

      They are all false prophets. But at least he smiles a lot.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Mark

      One one
      They are all false prophets, then there is no such thing as a "prophet", is there?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  6. One one

    Lots of Ostend bashing here. But is what he is doing really any different from what thousands of other shamans do every Sunday in churches or on TV ?

    April 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Mark

      He's actually trying to give people positive reasons to believe in God, as opposed to stirring up terror in potential consequences of not believing in God. That's a huge difference between him and the rest of the pack, which is why a lot of them call him a heretic.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • sam

      If he keeps watering it down, then over time even fewer people will have any idea what they actually believe. And that's how religion dies.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • heywood

      Mark
      Right, believe because he had breakfast this morning with him and he said you can be saved, no questions asked, just send money, money, money, money. I need a new vacation houlse and i also need an extension for my church so i can invite more people to give me money

      April 9, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  7. mike

    And give up all of that tax free money, yeah right!

    April 9, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  8. Wendy

    Taking advice about what Jesus taught from a rich Christian is like taking health and dieting advice from some fat slob with a hamburger in his hand.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • BJJschecter

      Very well put

      April 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Joey

      "Never trust a millionaire quoting the Sermon on the Mount" – from a song I heard somewhere

      April 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  9. One one

    He is basically a motivational speaker who sprinkles in Christian religion frosting. He only dwells on the happy face aspects of christianity like big daddy loves you and eternal paradise in heaven. He avoids the nasty stuff like burning in hell for not keeping the faith.

    Apparently it's a successful business model. People are buying what he is selling.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • sam

      People mostly just want to hear that everything's going to be ok, even if it's a lie.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Wendy

      Most big time preachers are only carnival barkers, salesmen, or entertainers who just sprinkle in enough Christian stuff to get their Christian audiences to open their wallets.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  10. Mark

    Of all the TV preachers out there I actually like Osteen the best. Instead of trying to scare people out of leaving Christianity with the usual (and tired) method of beating people with a Bible, he tries to remind people of why they love being Christians, and how to improve upon that love. I'm not a Christian, but I simply cannot understand why any of them would criticize anyone who is trying to put a kinder, gentler face on their faith. Especially if you're going to complain that people don't like Christians afterwards. It just doesn't make any sense.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • sam

      That would be great...if he was sincere.

      And, of course, there's the argument that he's not really christian....but that chestnut comes from other christians, so. Whatever.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Joel OilSheen

      Why thank you. Please give me some MONEY nice person so I can put more grease in my hair.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Mark

      sam
      Pragmatically, it doesn't really matter to me whether he's sincere, or not. He's minting Christians in his own image, and I'd rather be surrounded by Christians who are primarily proud of all the good things about their faith than the ones who are judgmental and angry at anyone who doesn't share their fear-driven view of the world.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  11. shawbrooke

    A hoax intended to affect someone's reputation is slander. The government needs to find out who this was and take legal action.

    This is taking the politics of disinformation to a ridiculous level. BTW, disinformation is a communist strategy. The country needs to know who is behind this, before this person or group targets someone else. Maybe it's a sick individual. Maybe not.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Joel OilSheen

      No one should hinder my slimeball pitches that I use to take your MONEY. Grease my hair.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Pete

      They had a disclaimer, for anyone who actually bothered to read it.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • sam

      You need to loosen that foil hat. You're not getting enough oxygen.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Akira

      Like I said before, anyone who gets past that disclaimer and dismisses it deserves to be punked.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  12. TOPPERG

    sheeple will always fall for the modern day jimmy swaggerts and jim bakers of the world....it is so stinkin funny that they actually buy that crap...

    April 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  13. justin credible

    a couple things amaze me about this nonsense:
    TV evangelists that still exist and that people take seriously. check out the home, the cars, etc...that this scammer dude has. im sure he has lots and lots and lots of things that come from working hard (20% of the equation) and the other half come from foolish people sending this guy gifts of money and contributing/donating (80% of the equation) to the crap that comes out of his mouth. hes no different than jim/tammy baker, sarah palin, octomom, and tan-mom...exploiting something(s) about him to gain notoriety, money, and fame.....
    organized religion just seems silly, fairy tale like, and mostly made up nonsense....but believe what you want about him

    April 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Joel OilSheen

      You just wish you had as much grease in your hair.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  14. David

    Joel Osteen hasn't been a Christian for years. I don't know exactly what to call his particular cult, but it isn't Christian.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Dano

      Cue the No True Scotsmen theme music...

      April 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • sam

      Does the No True Scotsmen theme music include a lot of bagpipes, or am I thinking of another song?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  15. ClumBaby

    Too bad it was a hoax. That was some of the most enlightened verbage to ever come from Joel. What a shame.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  16. Todd E

    Joel Osteen is not much of a Christian, so he would not have much to renounce. You should watch him sputter and stammer through his interview with Larry King where he can't even bring himself to say that a belief in Christ is the only way to heaven. He does not teach from the Word, his sermons are merely admonitions on the power of positive thinking. He's a New Age philosopher wearing the uniform of pseudo-Christianity.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • David

      Exactly.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Joel OilSheen

      May you slip on my oil slick that drips from my hair.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Ken

      ... so that means that he is preaching a kinder and gentler form of Christianity than you prefer, I assume?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Dano

      Todd, cue the No True Scotsmen theme music...

      April 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Quoter

      "I'm going to let God be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell."

      – Joel Osteen

      April 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Quoter

      "I'm not the judge. You know, God didn't tell me to go around judging everybody."

      -JO

      April 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • One one

      In one of his interviews with L. King he got into a jam. King asked him if people like him who do not believe Jesus is the savior and son of god would be sent to hell. Ostend refused to answer and intimated that maybe not. That response got him into hot water with the fundies, many of which are his loyal customers.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Joel OilSheen

      God can do the judging when I'm dust, but right now I want your MONEY.

      I need to keep my hair well greased.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Quoter

      "I don't like to beat people down. They need to be lifted up."

      -JO

      April 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Quoter

      "I don't argue when people say that my message is simple, but I believe Jesus' message was simple."

      – JO

      April 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Joel OilSheen

      I lift people up, by their ankles so I can shake them for MONEY to fall out that I can use to buy more grease for my hair.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Akira

      God money I'll do anything for you.
      God money just tell me what you want me to.
      God money nail me up against the wall.
      God money don't want everything he wants it all.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  17. Gatormania

    Has Joel ever told the story of how and why Jesus died on the cross...? Your "Best Life" is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior...

    April 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Todd E

      In most of his sermons that I've watched, he's never quoted anything from scripture.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Joel OilSheen

      I love telling that story. Dumb sheeple actually fall for it.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  18. Joel OilSheen

    I have a special baseball pitch of my own, and it's called the slimeball.

    It's named for the sales pitches that I've been using for years to get MONEY from all you stupid deluded sheeple. Thanks for the MONEY. Now I can buy even more grease for my hair.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Akira

      *with thanks to sam for the suggestion...

      God money's not looking for the cure.
      God money's not concerned with the sick amongst the pure.
      God money let's go dancing on the backs of the bruised.
      God money's not one to choose

      April 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Dano

      Luv it...

      April 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • sam

      @Akira It just FITS SO WELL.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  19. lol??

    bad man josell..............

    In a little cafe just the other side of the border
    She was just sitting there givin' me looks that made my mouth water
    So I started walking her way
    She belonged to bad man, Jose
    And I knew, yes I knew I should leave
    When I heard her say, yeah

    Come a little bit closer
    You're my kind of man
    So big and so strong
    Come a little bit closer
    I'm all alone
    And the night is so long

    So we started to dance
    In my arms, she felt so inviting
    That I just couldn't resist
    Just one little kiss so exciting
    Then I heard the guitar player say
    "Vamoose, Jose's on his way"
    Then I knew, yes I knew I should run
    But then I heard her say, yeah

    Come a little bit closer
    You're my kind of man
    So big and so strong
    Come a little bit closer
    I'm all alone
    And the night is so long

    April 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  20. Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

    Only an Idiot would respond to my question with another question....Are you able to answer the question or not?

    April 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Joel OilSheen

      What was your question?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • David

      Of course, only a true idiot would be unable to hit the reply function, and then complain about someone not replying correctly.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • sam

      Only an idiot can't figure out how to reply to the goddamn original thread, poe!

      April 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • JJ

      How embarrassing.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.