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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
[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.

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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. Joel Osteen

    There seems to be some confusion. I renounced Dippity-Do in favor of Fop hair pomade. I had faith in Dippity-Do, but I lost it.

    April 10, 2013 at 2:51 am |
    • Austin

      Maybe that is natural oil he does look indigenous.

      April 10, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  2. TedM

    I'll believe in Jesus when you show me his birth certificate with God listed as his father. And don't try to use one of those fake Hawaii birth certificates either!

    April 10, 2013 at 2:43 am |
    • encisoc

      or you can die and find out that way lol...

      April 10, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • Larry

      encisoc
      Or, you could just as easily find out that Hades, Anubis, or the Valkyrie are real after you die. If you want to play the afterlife game there's way more gods than just yours to worry about potentially offending.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  3. Cousinjoesh

    This page is filled with radicals and their radical comments and views

    April 10, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • Larry

      I'm only following Jesus' example. He was a radical too, going in opposition to the overly pious, overly conservative, hypocritical, religious types of his time, right?

      April 10, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • El Duderino

      Totally radical, dude!

      April 10, 2013 at 2:43 am |
  4. Thea

    Hi Dr. Lametu,I contacted you in regards of my lover. He no longer wants to associate with the other woman anymore. He left her and came back to me and it was like a miracle to me and i couldn't believe it. But he came back and appologised to me and even promised to divorce his wife and marry me. Dr. Lametu i promise you that once he marry me, i will buy you a car as a special present just to show you how grateful iam. Thank you once again! Ancientspiritualtemple@gmail.com

    April 10, 2013 at 12:34 am |
  5. bobk52

    Get off your knees & walk my brothers & sisters!

    April 10, 2013 at 12:29 am |
  6. clarity

    Jeffy, in some posts below, and some others evidently want to understand why Christians often strike a nerve with atheists/non-religious.

    Well, here are a few things to consider in what I call the over 40,000 denominations of insanity:

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one (over 4,000,000 members) in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of Lutheran CMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Some believe Obama is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain people or positions. As we read about each day, this unnatural practice continues to cause problems for the religious institutions that advise/employ it. Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but pretend not to understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create more extreme divisions as time goes by, constantly subjecting others in its crossfire.

    April 10, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Sarahfalin

      Zeus loves you all

      April 10, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  7. John Popper plays a mean Harmonica

    The atheists on here are hilarious. You're atheist, why the heck do you care? (Coming from an atheist)

    April 10, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Crusades. Inquisition. Holocaust. Pedophilia. Creationism. Climate-change denial. Bilking grandma out of her disability check. Prayer in schools. General dooshbaggery.

      And, above all else, the continuous promotion of FAITH — world's worst decision-making system — as something to be glorified and emulated instead of ashamed of and avoided at all costs.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • Colin

      Because the sky-fairy fiction still permeates so much of usa society. The more Christians we can help get above their silly superst.itions the weaker the better.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • HitchedBritches

      Well, if we all lived in a vacuum and our beliefs were effectively harmless, then I'd be all for "Live and let Live."

      April 10, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • Shane

      I'm fine with people believing what they want, but when those beliefs are attempted to be forced on others then I have a problem with it.
      I mean hell, they are still trying to put Christianity back in the schools.

      April 10, 2013 at 1:22 am |
    • Andrew

      Because athiests love to sermon as much as christians...

      April 10, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • R. M. Goodswell

      Seems the OP missed history class and has lagged behind in current affairs:

      disclaimers in text books, Shrub creating The Dept. for inter faith Relations? chaired by Clergy? as if the bs religious lobbies and think tanks in Washington weren't bad enough....then theres the whole 9/11 thing – sparked 2 wars that , along with the bankers and real estate bs just about ripped this country apart (it still may) .

      Ignore Religion at your own peril.

      April 10, 2013 at 4:08 am |
  8. Robin Jones

    Osteen always wears that smug snake-oil salesman grin because he's always thinking about his bank account and laughing about the fools who keep it filled for him.

    April 10, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  9. Dyslexic doG

    enjoy it while it lasts Christians. Another 10 or 20 generations and the human race will look on your God and Jesus the same way as we look on Zeus and Thor and Ra (and santa claus and the tooth fairy) today. What a giggle!

    April 9, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Des

      Don't bank on it buddy, this world probably doesn't even have 50 years left, so good luck with that. The sad thing is Jesus died for you sad people and all u do is spit in his face, and guess what, he keeps standing there with open arms waiting for you to accept him, and will gladly welcome you and embrace you and love you. There's no "if" when it comes to Christ's existence. But keep blaspheming his name and you will literally have hell to pay. Matthew 10:33 "But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."

      April 10, 2013 at 3:50 am |
    • Larry

      Des
      Prometheus created man from clay and he stole fire from the gods for our use. For being our savior he was sentenced to the eternal torment of being bound to a rock, where each day an eagle feeds on his liver, which then grows back to be eaten again the next day. I bet you've never even prayed to him once in thanks for that sacrifice, have you? Ingrate!

      April 10, 2013 at 8:27 am |
  10. JeffJ

    why would he leave his church? it is a gold mine.

    Joel Osteen is not a Christian, he's a businessman and a darn good one.

    April 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      and he gets his money tax free!

      April 9, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • albie

      No kidding - its high time to tax churches and use the money for something that actually helps humanityh

      April 10, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Cousinjoesh

      Agreed

      April 10, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • sam stone

      his salary is taxed

      April 10, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • Austin

      Sam I noticed last night you had came up with a question for me about free will, do you remember what it was?

      April 10, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Lisa

      sam stone
      I thought someone here said that he doesn't even take a salary from his church; that he gets all his money from his book sales?

      April 10, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    When did I realize I was God?

    Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized that I was talking to myself ...

    April 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
  12. albie

    love it – the site got this part spot on: "the Bible as “a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times” - you think this guy lives in squalor? What a ridiculous religion.

    April 9, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Amen!!!

      April 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • JeffJ

      really? you must have a PHD in world history and an expert on historical authenticity?

      nnahhh of course not. you are just another bitter little ex-altar/choir boy who was touched by some priest and now hate everything Christian.

      I didn't know trailer parks have wifi nowadays.

      April 9, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • albie

      that was weak Jeff, try again

      April 10, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • JeffJ

      *shrug* you dont deserve anything better. not like you can actually comprehend anything.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Pete

      JeffJ
      There's enough good biblical scholarship out there for anyone interested enough to read it that pretty much says that the Bible isn't trustworthy history as we now understand that to be. The NT authors were all writing something like fan fiction for specific audiences already familiar with the characters and basic story.

      As time went on way past the immediate return that Christ was supposed to make, and witnesses were all dying out, these stories became valuable. After a couple hundred years they were considered to be the Christian's own scripture, but they needed some councils to set the canon, and to reject all the other similar books. There were several apocalypses, acts, and about 50 gospels all together. Revelation almost didn't make the cut. Some Church Fathers saw no value in it and thought it's message was too Jewish by that time.

      Really, there are a lot of great books on this stuff.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • clarity

      Wow – that was powerful, JeffJ. Anything other brilliant tid bits?

      April 10, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Shane

      Lets see JeffJ

      No evidence of a mass Jewish enslavement in Egypt (there is however evidence of a small Jewish army that fought for Egypt that did own some Egyptian slaves) but this was well after when Moses supposedly departed. (not even going to go near they supposidly built the pyramids since the Bible never stated that and we know for a fact that they didn't).
      No records of the plagues in Egypt, something that would have been recorded
      No records of a mass exodus (something the Egyptians would have noticed)
      No record anywhere else of the miracles that Jesus did. This should have caught the eye of someone who could write.
      No evidence of a global flood, not to mention the impossibility of it (animals wouldn't fit, not enough water, etc).
      No evidence of nephilim (the evidence that does show up has been proven fake).
      People don't live to be 900
      Tower of Babel story makes no sense at all.
      Many of the prophecies in the Bible were not fulfilled

      This isn't to say that some of the stories weren't accurate at least on some levels. But it definitely is not an infallible history of the Jews, much less of the Earth.

      April 10, 2013 at 1:19 am |
  13. RichardSRussell

    Wanna know who's REALLY raking in the big bux? Joel Osteen's orthodontist.

    April 9, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Akira

      He should be sued for malpractice.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • Pete

      More like his botox provider. I swear that the man has no other facial expression. You could probably tell him that his mother died and he'd still be smiling like the Joker.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • Akira

      Pete: true! He does have that same face going 24/7, doesn't he?

      Which Joker?

      April 10, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • Pete

      Akira
      70s classic Batman comic book Joker. The one who always laughed like this: HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa!

      April 10, 2013 at 12:20 am |
  14. albie

    love it – the site got this part spot on: "the Bible as “a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times”

    April 9, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  15. Shane

    The post might have been a hoax, but the part that said
    “a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times”

    Is definitely true.

    April 9, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  16. Reality

    Dear Joel,

    What was true in 1000 CE is still true today:

    "The Two Universal Sects

    They all err—Moslems, Jews,
    Christians, and Zoroastrians:

    Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
    One, man intelligent without religion,
    The second, religious without intellect. "

    Al-Ma'arri
    , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

    Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."

    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/resalat-al-ghufran#ixzz1lI6DuZmZ and http://www.humanistictexts.org/al_ma'arri.htm

    Death's Debt is Paid in Full

    Death's debt is then and there

    Paid down by dying men;

    But it is a promise bare
    T
    hat they shall rise again.

    Al-Ma'arri

    April 9, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
  17. RichardSRussell

    People who don't want their beliefs laffed at shouldn't believe such funny things.

    April 9, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
  18. blake

    Joel Osteen does not have an orthodox faith to renounce. His consistent proclamation of a prosperity gospel is inconsistent with the clear teaching of the Bible and historical Christianity. II Timothy 4:3-4 describes Osteen's teachings well.

    April 9, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Colin

      You realize II Timothy is a forgery, right? I love it when Christians cite forged scripture. It shows how woefully ignorant they are of their own book.

      April 9, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • j

      Ummm...its a forgery because you read a book authored in the last few years that said it was? uhhh...ok, moron.

      April 9, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Colin

      J. No,it is a forgery because it refers to events that occurred well after Paul's death. Paul wrote his letters in 50s C.E. The 3 Pastoral Letters, First Timoth, Second Timoth and Ti.tus all refer to established churches in the Mediterranean that did not happen until decades or centuries after Paul wrote.

      April 9, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • JeffJ

      @ colin

      another self-proclaimed expert on theology and historical authenticity? wow i didnt know all you great PHD experts frequent such forums.

      *rolls eyes*

      April 9, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
    • Colin

      Jeff- nothing I said is even controversial! It is well accpeted by biblical historians. Of the 13 Pauline Epistles, 3 are accpeted forgeries, 3 are disputed as forgeries or legitimate and 7 are widely accepted as legitimate. This isn't new or contraversial, it is well accepted.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • Pete

      Colin
      Jeff probably still believes that Moses wrote The Pentateuch, even the detailed part on his own death in Deuteronomy 34:5-9.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • lol??

      Socialists are well accepted and lost. Abortionists are well accepted and lost. Just not chosen.

      April 10, 2013 at 6:24 am |
    • lol??

      petester,

      Deuteronomy 34:5
      King James Version (KJV)
      5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.

      Jesus had no problem with the scriptures. Why do you? Not chosen?

      April 10, 2013 at 6:36 am |
  19. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    what else one must expect from hindu atheists, ignorant self centered, they obey hindu Monkey, stupid secular, self centered as their one of hindu fabricated gods, and claim to be his children. They belong in a Zoo, not among human. They pray to a Enoch who ra ped his sister to justify hinduism, racism.

    April 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
  20. B Gallant

    I am the lead consultant and owner of BMG Enterprises (www.bmgent.net) in Newburgh, Indiana, and have been getting hate email falsely accusing me of creating this website. I just want everyone to know that my company had no part in this, and we would never use our gifts to slander anyone; even on April fools.
    Sincerely,
    Ben Gallant
    BMG Enterprises

    April 9, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • albie

      hate? from christians? never!

      April 9, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • JeffJ

      @ albie

      By your response then it is suffice to say then you were on the receiving end of hate from Christians? Some Christians betrayed you? Hurt you? So now you are angry with Christians? God? Because of the hypocrisy of the church?

      If I hate all black men because a black man robbed me once at gun point, wouldn't that make me a racist bigot?

      April 10, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • JeffJ

      like I've said Albie you don't deserve anything better.

      I'm not going to apologize on behalf of Christians or God. You chose to be angry, you chose to be bitter and you chose the path you set for yourself, it is your belief.

      For the sake of argument, let's say God is real. Let's say paradise is real. Then you basically forfeited it all because of what some people did. *shrug* why should I feel sorry for you?

      April 10, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • clarity

      And Jeffy, evidently you chose to remain "shruggy" and dumb. Do you have any other words of wisdom for us, Jeffy?

      April 10, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Larry

      JeffJ

      Why not, for the sake of argument, let's say your God isn't real. Then all the Christian opposition towards gay rights, against evolution and other faith positions is just simple stupidity, ignorance, and bigotry. Then they basically forfeited any chance of being judged by future generations any better than we now judge those who were slave owners. Let's say that "reality" is real, OK?

      Well, as fun as this has been, it's past my nighty night time, so ... Good night, folks.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:59 am |
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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.