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April 9th, 2013
11:20 AM ET

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

By Dan Merica, CNN
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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.

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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.”

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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. John

    Why would he leave? He makes millions of dollars off of this.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  2. John the Historian

    Osteen is too worried about the collection plate at the end of the date. Too bad he is not tolerant of Gays and Lesbians. When does he denounce hate ? When will he support equal rights ? I would love to see a picture of his mansion home.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  3. DJ

    This is NOT news. Joel left the faith years ago.

    Sold out to be a motivational speaker.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  4. Altreg01

    Mega church=mega money

    April 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  5. lol??

    Well, it's one for the money, two for the show
    Three to get ready now go cat go
    But don't you, step on my blue suede shoes
    You Can do anything
    But lay off of my blue suede shoes
    You can knock me down, step on my face
    Slander my name all over the place
    Do anything that you wanna do
    But uh uh honey lay off of my shoes
    You can do anything
    But lay off of my blue suede shoes
    You can burn my house, you can steal my car
    Drink my liquor from an old fruit jar
    Do anything that you wanna do
    But uh uh honey lay off of my shoes
    But don't you, step on my blue suede shoes
    Well, you can do anything
    But lay off of my blue suede shoes
    Well, it's one for the money, two for the show
    Three to get ready, now go cat go
    But don't you, step on my blue suede shoes
    You can do anything
    But lay off of my blue suede shoes

    April 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • sam

      I like big butts and I cannot lie
      You other brothers can't deny
      When a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist and that round thing in your face you get
      Sprung
      Wanna pull up tough 'cause you noticed that butt was stuffed
      Beef in the jeans she's wearin'
      I'm hooked and I can't stop starin'
      Oh baby, I wanna get witcha
      And take yo pictcha

      April 9, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  6. the real Tom

    What's REALLY disgusting is seeing that pinhead wearing the curly W jersey. It's a travesty.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      nO SIGN OF A HINDU IN LOVE WITH HINDU HIND LOVE ISM.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      tRUE LOVE COMES FROM GOAT HINDS

      April 9, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  7. Andrew

    Renounce the cash cow? NEVER!!!

    April 9, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      I doubt it. Rich big government slugs like John Kerry enjoy feeding at the public trough.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  8. Frank

    I am a born again Christian. If Osteen or any other Christian i knew or heard about were to denounce the Lord and fall away, it would not have any effect of my relationship with the Lord. This is a perfect example of why we should NEVER follow men. We must follow God, not man. People will disapoint us and let us down, God will never do that. We must have our feet planted firmly on the ROCK-Jesus Christ or we are surely on shifting sand. God bless.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Age of Reason

      ....God is God, but "JESUS CHRIST" never existed! We should worship GOD, not the fairy tale "JESUS"!

      April 9, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Frank

      You said, "If Osteen or any other Christian i knew or heard about were to denounce the Lord and fall away, it would not have any effect of my relationship with the Lord."
      Imaginary friends do tend to stick with you, don't they?

      You said, "This is a perfect example of why we should NEVER follow men."
      Considering that likely everything you think you know about your god is from something other people wrote or said, good luck with that.

      You said, "We must follow God, not man. People will disapoint us and let us down, God will never do that."
      That is the benefit of being able to shape your imaginary friend just the way you like him to be.

      You said, "We must have our feet planted firmly on the ROCK-Jesus Christ or we are surely on shifting sand."
      I'll pick rational thought, thank you very much.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Larry

      God will never do that because that's part of your definition of God, right? Convenient way of distancing any doubts, or problems you may discover about believing in God from the idea of God itself. Puts all the fault on you not understanding properly instead of upon the concept itself. That would be another man-made teaching, the same kind that you claim not to follow, right?

      April 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • DJ

      I agree, but lets face it. . . Joel left the faith years ago. . . He is pretty, hollywood, and very little substance.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • FreddyCanuck

      God never lets you down? So, you have no problem with him letting people kill little children? I mean, if you're going to give Him credit for everything good that happens, you necessarily muyst give Him credit for all the bad, too.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • steveinco

      You and I are on opposite sides of the religious fence, but that is very well put.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      Age of Reason – most of the debate centers on whether Jesus rose for the dead. There is little real debate on whether Jesus lived.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  9. Robin Jones

    Osteen's constant, pasted-on, smug "I know everything" smile is common in deeply disturbed persons and snake-oil salesmen.

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

      Robin, would it be bad for me to say that I not only agree with him resembling a used car salesman, but that I would like to see that pasted on smile in a mug shot? It would be bad? Oh, never mind!

      April 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  10. lovetravel

    I understand. All those megachurch and pastor are after everyone money. They make too much yet noone isn't say nothing but when it come to people need job it is less. I am for people to stop get excited about being make big buck, and who give to them we do. I don't know why pastor can't do anything to help us be better in sharp. Joel know what he doing and don't seem to care. I will say it again all those pastor that have more than 20 thousand member are just full of crap, they want your help and you did it so don't complain at all.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Mark

      I'll agree that, in any organization, the bigger it gets the less likely that the guy at the top knows about everyone's personal situation down below. I've heard this a thousand times before, that mega-churches don't really cater to the individual like the traditional, 50 or so family congregations did. Too bad that those smaller churches can't put on the same razzle-dazzle show that the big boys can, eh?

      April 9, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      How do you know any pastors of mega-churches are in it for the money? Based on what? Large churches like that are not my cup of tea but I see no reason to make accusations like that without any evidence

      April 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  11. Age of Reason

    ...I don't think that I would purchase a used car from this phoney, smiling fraud!

    Thomas Jefferson summoned it up best..."There will come a day when the belief in a savior coming out of the womb of a virgin is a credible as Minerva coming out of the head of Jupiter!"

    "JESUS CHRIST" was a phony mythical political construct who NEVER existed!

    April 9, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • On Second Thought

      So, your quoting a slave-owner for religious advice?

      April 9, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Dwayne

      You are in for a rude awakening one day. One day you WILL stand face with the ONE you say doesn't exist. What will your comment be then?

      April 9, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • sam

      Dwayne...you can't talk to people that don't exist.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      Sam – if you don't believe in Christ and accept that he exists I doubt you will be afforded much "face" time with Jesus Christ when you die. That's unfortunate. The evidence is not in your favor however. There is overwhelming evidence that Jesus DID rise from the dead. You have many people that allowed themselves to be burned and eaten alive and you can bet they believed it. Hundreds of people saw the resurrected Jesus and miracles including raising Larazeth from the dead. ."why? because it is written in some old book?". Read the 3 gospels. You will see slight variations in the accounts. If it was a hoax the accounts would have been coordinated. Some will say those are errors. No, the variance in the accounts are proof of real eye-witness accounts. Some may say "maybe Jesus fainted and didn't really die and was revived later". The Romans were quite good at torture and executions. You can rest assured he was dead. And if he wasn't you expect us to believe Jesus moved several tons of stone by himself and got out in front of 16 Roman soldiers? Anyone that helped him would have been executed. The 11 disciples scattered. they were afraid. It happened. It was real. You need to at least consider all the evidence. Your life depends on it. If you fairly consider the evidence and then reject it then at least it is based on a rationale objection and not just ignorant bias. Good evening.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • G to the T

      Jon – I think you should probably read a couple of books biblical scholarship...

      April 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  12. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    NO ONE IS MORE HAPPY WITH HINDU CROOK OSTEEN THAN HINDU LUCIFER, FILTHY ATHEIST OF ALL, EVERY HINDU SELF CENTERED PRAYS TO AS HIS GOD.

    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 6:55 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      and turn off virus pro tection

      April 9, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • STFU

      Stop barking you dog, your religion Islam and your country Pakistan both are loser of the century.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  13. Enoch

    How could people fall for this. Clearly, Osteen likes the proceeds from fleecing his flock too much to ever leave his "church".

    April 9, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Akira

      Come inside, the show's about to start
      guaranteed to blow your head apart
      Rest assured you'll get your money's worth
      The greatest show it happens a hell-of-alot.

      You've got to see the show, it's a dynamo.
      You've got to see the show, it's rock and roll
      Right before your eyes,
      We'll pull laughter from the skies
      And he laughs until he cries,
      then he dies, then he dies

      April 9, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  14. gb333

    Why would he renounce his faith?

    He makes so much money off of it.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  15. One one

    This will probably work out to his advantage.

    As the saying goes; I don't care what you say about me as long as you spell my name correctly.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Mark

      They didn't spell his name correctly on the site, and still people were taken in by it.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  16. ME

    Why would he leave that gravy train gig?

    April 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  17. Hundreds of times? HOW ABOUT THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS OF TIMES?

    "the Bible is “a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times”

    WRONG!

    The Bible is “a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent FANTASY book that has been altered hundreds of thousands of times, ever time a Christian doesn't like something – all he has to do is re-write the Bible, start up a new sect of Christianity, and voila! Pick and Choose to your heart's content!”

    April 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  18. Tom

    In America anything can be sold. The people behind him are taking advantage of the system. Meaning exploiting people especially blacks and hispanics (mostly uneducate).

    April 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  19. Jim

    aaaahhhh...more children with nothing intelligent or productive to do we see...

    April 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  20. Colin

    I will believe that atheists are as gullible as Christians the day I hear of thousands of atheists lining up every Sunday like obsequious sheep to be fleeced by an atheist peddling "life advice."

    April 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • One one

      LOL, good point.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
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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.