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. Salero21

    😀 😀 Atheists are so dumb that not even that can they do well!

    April 9, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • clarity

      Good evening, Salero21. Let's pick up where we last left off. You were going to tell me the authors of the Gospels, I believe. I looked, but I didn't see an answer on that question from you. Are you having a problem with that one?

      April 9, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • somedude

      They can usually form sentences though.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Salero21

      That I was going to tell you that! Really, and when did that happen? Besides being an ignorant and stupid atheist; are you also a hypocrite, a lazy and a liar? The question you need to ask yourself is; who's the Gospel real author? To you it will be a surprise as it was for me once.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • clarity

      Still trying to evade the question I see, Salero21. That's OK, don't feel bad. It's not a comfortable question for Christians to deal with, so I understand. But you might just try being more honest about it rather than running, ducking and trying to divert the attention away from getting to the truth of the matter. Maybe one day you'll wake up and give someone that honest answer. We can only hope.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • clarity

      For the courtesy of other readers, check out the article "Atheism's Money Man" to see where Salero just, once again, falls flat on being able to come up with any kind of real answer to this question. I would think it would be an easy one for a Christian.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • the real Tom

      I think it's a hoot that Salero still thinks emoticons are novel.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  2. ally buster

    Totally fake, total bozo, a pretty boy who preys upon fat 30's women-

    April 9, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • ally buster

      He convinces these fat old women that he is their savior. Then the COMMERCIALS take place....

      Joel is GAY! His boyfriend is named Norman and lives in Orlando~

      April 9, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  3. nobikiniatoll

    "Religion has convinced people that there's an invisible man... living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn't want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money." - George Carlin

    April 9, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • lol??

      George of the Jungle?

      April 9, 2013 at 8:50 pm |

    if mohammad copulates with male goats, why is it any one's problem? It is just an art from ca 1800, what's a big deal goons?

    L0033076 Credit: Wellcome Library, London
    A man copulating with a goat or deer.
    Gouache 19th century
    Published: [S.l.], [18–?]
    Size: gouache 15.6 x 8.5 cm.
    Collection: Iconographic Collections
    Library reference no.: ICV No 51428 and External Reference 47694i
    Full Bibliographic Record: Link to Wellcome Library Catalogue


    April 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

      Spewed from hindu immoral mind of hindu secular s, filthy self centered by faith, hindu filthy dog ism, filthy secular ism base of hindu illegality called hinduism, racism.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • snarkosaurus

      Dude. Take deep breaths. In. Out. You'll be OK, really.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Ticktockman

      Did the goat consent, at least?

      April 9, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  5. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I suppose it's possible that God will offer Joel his own show. Jesus has been at it for a while and we've all seen what he can do.

    April 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  6. Tychi

    We could only hope that he would get smart, but that would be too good to be true.

    April 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • JJ

      What do you mean? He is smart, or at least got a good business sense. He has a large flock of gullible Christian sheep looking for someone to tell them that they are ok and willing to pay big bucks for it. They NEED him. You just have to be willing to blow sunshine up their ass and laugh all the way to the bank.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm |

    Mohammad goat copulate ism, p!ss be upon him

    April 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Quest ion

      How in the world can that be?

      I think Islam is the Foundation of the American Constipation. 😛

      Why are americans so darn Fat?

      April 9, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  8. #1__Osteen__hater

    his.....face......Don't look into it,He'll steal YOUIR SOUL

    true story

    April 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  9. toadfun

    all this pseudo-love for Osteen breaks the second commandment

    April 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  10. #1__Christ__Fan

    why would he renounce his Christian faith.

    It's a huge MONEY maker for him.Dude's a millianiar cause he just talks about Jesus all the time.

    HOW DARE him make a PROFIT doing what I could do for free reading a Bible(minus cost of Bible).I can be my own Pastor,Minister,and Priest,and my own Pope.Cause I INTERPRETATE the Bible MYSELF!!!!!!! Noone Can do what I can do in MY SOUL>

    April 9, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Answer

      So you're only a fan.

      Wave the flag of the retarded. Go freaks go.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  11. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I can't quite place it. Joel Osteen reminds me of some sort of reptile I've seen before. Not really important I guess, but a reptile brain would explain why he doesn't have the cognitive maneuvering too to escape his faith.

    April 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • the real Tom

      It's one of those nasty critters in "Jurassic Park" that got Neumann.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  12. bendernr

    @hawaiiguest @Leslie @Age of Reason

    The writings of those around during this time period who DID NOT, I repeat DID NOT believe Jesus was God are the sources that prove Jesus existed. http://www.provethebible.net/T2-Divin/D-0201.htm Read section 2.2, if you are still skeptical and don't believe this post, then look up those books yourself in a library. The facts are there...just because you read some blogs or listened to some people yelling on youtube about no facts of Jesus existence doesn't make it true. You sir are the one with no facts. Writings from various cultures throughout the world during this time period confirm the events of the Bible and Jesus Christ existence, are you going to keep ignoring the facts that are right in front of you?

    April 9, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Answer

      "The writings of those around during this time period who DID NOT, I repeat DID NOT believe Jesus was God are the sources that prove Jesus existed." <<-


      So even if you said it today then it proves that your jeebus existed because you've given yourselves that ridiculous analogy.
      So funny.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • tony

      We all believe he existed, just not his claim to be the son of God. Don't you think it more likely he merely thought he was the son of God? He could prove his royal heritage, and I think he clung onto that during childhood and perhaps suffered from bipolar disorder. A lot of really good people, and really revolutionary and innovative people are bipolar. The symptoms are very, very similar in that a person who suffers from it can have days that are extremely bad and days that are extremely good. They can have periods of intense mental activity that leads to some quantum-leap innovations (all of his religious teachings were innovations at the time). They also can believe they are a "savior" or a "superman" sent to help the less fortunate when they are in their manic state. These are all symptoms Jesus exhibited. Have you ever heard the expression "...that guy is crazy, he thinks he is Jesus Christ."?

      April 9, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  13. BlackDynamiteNYC

    That dude is one helluva Hustle Man!
    He's not renouncing that racket anytime soon.

    The GOP will get the White House before he stops Hustlin'.....

    April 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  14. Starman

    lol I knew it was fake.. give up his cash cow.. come on... lol... we know he doesn't believe in god... that's old news. Mans a marketing genius, fleecing low IQ people out of their money is easy for him.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  15. MGP

    You can't renounce something you don't have. Joel Osteen is a conman and a businessman, so faith has nothing to do with it.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  16. bryanbro

    He has made too much money to turn away from his 'faith'.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  17. NPRJim

    Come3 n folks, can there be any question that this guy is 100% gay?

    April 9, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  18. josh

    No one knows who you are either.

    April 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  19. Ronnie Harper

    Why would he give up a tax-free life, fleecing the poor and disadvantaged while masquerading and feeling so much like a do-gooder?

    April 9, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  20. Age of Reason

    ..."No one knows if this jesus christ existed, and if he did, NOTHING is known about him!"
    Why I am not a christian Bertrand Russell 1928

    April 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • josh

      Oh, my apologies, I meant to reply to this posting and again I say, no one knows who you are.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Leslie B.

      Not true that Jesus did not exist. There are other writings from that time that mention him.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Such as? If you contemporary accounts outside the bible, that could hold weight to him being alive. But then again you would have to ignore that the name Yeshua (which was later changed to Jesus) was fairly common during that time, and that wouldn't add any weight to the supernatural claims made in the bible.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • sg

      I read the bible daily and it reinforces my faith. Jesus was here and there is no denying it. Jesus came for us and he loves you

      April 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Merely asserting your doctrine over and over doesn't support your point. The Christian god is not loving, and shows throughout your book, there is no evidence of what you're saying, and I will deny your Jesus until you can actual provide the evidence to back up your self-serving doctrine.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Akira

      Sigh ism.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • clarity

      LOL @Akira.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • josephus

      @ leslie

      Go look me up, I am an Ex-Jew Roman historian. My accounts are the only early accounts of Christianity outside the old testamant. I never mention Jesus existing, but mention early Christians who worship someone names Jesus. I was born around the time Jesus was supposed to have died, and the people I wrote about were first century Christians. Do not mistake my writings for first hand accounts for Jesus please.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • clarity

      Oops, sorry, Josephus, but I should let you know that it appears someone tampered with your writings. Sorry to bear the bad news.

      April 9, 2013 at 8:57 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.