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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

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.”

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. blf83

    Osteen is a fraud, but he believes he is real – all the way to the bank and his mansion.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  2. nuclear mike

    Why won't jJsus just call this guy home and remove the money makers from the e-temples?

    April 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  3. Mark

    I'm an atheist, but I'll watch Osteen once in awhile. He's not pushy,
    he talks positive. There are plenty of other religious nuts to knock.

    April 10, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  4. ally buster

    That weirdo is a pretty boy only interested in fat middle-aged women's pocket books-

    April 10, 2013 at 8:54 am |
  5. Bible Clown©

    I agree with, um, nearly everybody. This guy gives real Christians a black eye and takes up too much space on Earth. Maybe he ought to leave public Christianity and try practicing it without any pay or applause, the way real people have to?

    April 10, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • tv22

      Or perhaps God wants us to use our talents to the fullest so we can contribute time, talents and money to the church?

      April 10, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "we can contribute time, talents and money to the church?" Probably not. Jesus barely mentioned churches. They weren't an important part of His message. Churches are all about St. Peter passing the collection plate so he wouldn't have to go back to fishing.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  6. Austin

    20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

    24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

    25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

    April 10, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Larry

      So, Jesus is asking God to glorify him so that he amy glorify God in return, right? Is there anything here that specifically says that Jesus is God? If God knew him since before the creation of the world that could just be a function of God's omniscience. Is there anything in this that indicates that Jesus thought of himself as an equal part of God?

      April 10, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • clarity

      Is there anything of John that we can assign to some specific author?

      April 10, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Larry

      Calling it the Gospel of John is a tradition only. The author calls himself "the disciple whom Jesus loved", but that could be anybody, or just the author's own perception of himself. John 21:2 mentions the sons of Zebedee in a way that makes it apparent that the author is not John, one of these sons. So, like the rest of the gospels, nobody really knows who wrote them.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • fintastic

      @austin......... quoting mythology again austin?

      April 10, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  7. RAL

    Unfortunately it is true you can argue Religion & Politics to no end. Each beleive or in this instance or don't and nothing can change thier minds, You either have faith or don't. Trying to explain Religion the Bible or any part of Christian beleifs is tough enough for someone well schooled someone like me after saying my Faith is something I feel have and beleive trying to define it to a person who must see feel or have definate proof will be fruitless.
    I have is the MaturnityWard..All women going into delivery cry out OMG and other referenced tro the Almighty! There isn't an Atheist amung them!!

    April 10, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Prehistoric shark captured on film

      Chomp Chomp

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mneDhOtVEQw&w=640&h=360]

      April 10, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Larry

      Some good evidence for there being a god would change my mind. Folks like William Lane Craig, however, have stated that no evidence could ever convince them that God isn't real because he feels the Holy Spirit in his gut, or something.

      Who's more open-minded now?

      April 10, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "All women going into delivery cry out OMG and other referenced tro the Almighty! There isn't an Atheist amung them!!"
      It's an old saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. But you know, most injured and dying men call out the name of excrement as often as god, and many of them call for their mamas or papas as they die. If you are going to claim that kind of thing as a revelation or proof, God's name is either "Mommy" or "Oh Shift!"

      April 10, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Science

      or I have heard this from the birthing room many many times .....................gfys !

      April 10, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • lol??

      Bible Clown©, mommmmmie was the fist to ___________up. got a MOM tatoo ?

      April 10, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "no evidence could ever convince them that God isn't real because he feels the Holy Spirit in his gut"

      I totally understand. I must admit that I have "faith" in the laws of physics, and I know deep down inside that Gravity is real. I can feel it tugging at me, and when I slow down suddenly, I can feel Inertia as well. I believe deep inside that the universe doesn't have a silly human face that frowns and throws thunderbolts and wants to be paid ten percent of my earnings in order to make me live forever. Why would it have that? The universe works on rules. The only exception is human thought, which defies logic, defeats reality, and defines eternal love.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Saraswati

      People use whatever expression is common in their culture. In Finland people call out Perkele, an ancient Finnish god; that sure as heck doesn't mean they believe in him.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Larry

      Saraswati
      FYI I believe the work "heck" comes from the Greek underworld goddess Hecate. People originally would say "Go to Heck" like they also said "Go to Hades", and now way "Go to Hell."

      April 10, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  8. Austin

    13 “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. 14 For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work270 and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money in it. 19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ 23 His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 25:13-30). 271

    April 10, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • clarity

      Is there anything from Matthew that we can assign to some specific author?

      April 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Specific author? I think William Tyndale wrote a lot of the Bible and then the "King James Translators" made it more poetic. There were some ancient scrolls and stuff, but they jazzed it up to make it more exciting for the people. Made a lot of money over the years.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • PaulB

      If nobody knows the "time or the hour" why is it that you suppose every generation of Christians since Jesus died was absolutely convinced that he was returning any minute? Sounds like he was warning people against thinking this way.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • fintastic

      "His many the be was alent away and said, and said, 25 sow and sayings. Enter thered, ‘Sir, you wents wered, ‘Well been wherest worthless, and lazy slavestings. I withful will put your. 19 After a master? 27 The more. 14 For thew the outer and same a long whered, ‘Sir, you wents answere two thew 25 so I had received my more, even faith the mone way, the of master.’ 26 But you ent five talent outer’s mone withful slave! So you done talent who had receiven who had received two, and has teeth’”

      April 10, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  9. Andrew

    It is too bad. He seems like a nice guy and he could have helped prove that you don't need to believe in mythical gods to be good.

    April 10, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Austin

      Psalm 111:10 ►

      The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • kentuckian

      It is okay, you have the right to burn in hell whether you believe it's true or not, just don't infringe on my right to believe!

      April 10, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " just don't infringe on my right to believe!" See, that's a sore point. You want to claim that learning about science and the world takes away your faith. How can you believe in an ancient god if cellphones can bounce a signal off a satellite? Where is your faith if it turns out we actually evolved? HINT: if we did, God knows about it already, and STILL sent Jesus on down to save you, so it doesn't matter. If your faith can be destroyed by two gay people picking out china patterns, then it wasn't worth much.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Larry

      Austin
      By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
      Confucius

      April 10, 2013 at 9:45 am |
  10. lol??

    Science cheerleader,

    You are so RECKLESS.

    "............The Shoe-fitting fluoroscopes, also sold under the names X-ray Shoe Fitter, Pedoscope and Foot-o-scope, were X-ray fluoroscope machines installed in shoe stores from the 1920s until about the 1970s in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.[1]....." wiki

    You trying to hurry-up evilution with mutations?? BUSTED.

    "Rev 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth."

    You think you own the earth and it's your little test tube?? BUSTED!!

    "....and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth....." creep.

    April 10, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • Science

      lol?? remember to take – out of se-x in the url

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/08/detroit-archdiocese-dials-back-no-communion-for-same-se-x-marriage-supporters/comment-page-9/#comments

      April 10, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • ?

      Don't take anything out.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Science

      For the url to work............ when copying to paste...............need to delete –

      April 10, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • lol??

      Why wouldn't man live to be 900 years old with the canopy over earth and its protection from the sun's mutation power before the flood?

      SORRY Science, BUSTED.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Science

      lol?? the hairy sun next ?

      GAVE it up

      April 10, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • clarity

      lol?? = RUSTED

      April 10, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Foot fluoroscopes" were a horrible idea. Nobody's recommending we go back to that. We used to spray DDT all over our houses to kill fleas and mosquitoes, too. Progress needs to be tempered with wisdom.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • lol??

      what you people don't understand, and you can't with all the mutations, is that adam and eve were much more intelligent than you. you can't pick yer parents, SORRY.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  11. Karloff

    Osteen is sleazy no matter what he believes. A truth will be revealed that will be his downfall. Someone who can sneer and smile at the same time is hiding something.

    April 10, 2013 at 7:36 am |
  12. mattski

    I'm not afraid to "parish". Let me know when that becomes a verb.

    April 10, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Maybe he got that from his "perish priest?"

      April 10, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  13. nuclear mike

    Guess he has not been getting enough press coverage or his offering money is in decline to have someone create some news about him to keep the money coming in....

    April 10, 2013 at 7:23 am |
    • Must be nice

      The only problem I see with Joel and his wife Victoria is they live very high on the hog. Their new home is worth $10.5 million and one of the more expensive mansions in River Oaks. Any man of God should not go overboard with his life style and the Osteen's have taken it to beyond the norm to a level worthy of a king. It just doesn't fit the preacher image.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • the beast

      The fact of the matter is, Joel Osteen doesn't take a dime from the church, he lives off the income from his book sales. That much is fact and it's on public record. It's better to be well informed and post here, than it is to be misinformed and post lies. Regardless of what you think of organized religion, Joel Osteen is the real deal as far as I'm concerned. He's the last to be pushy or preachy and he's never confrontational. Religion and faith are and should be a very personal and private thing.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " he lives off the income from his book sales. " I betcha his book sales are somehow tax-free, and he lives in a mansion owned by his ministry, tax-free, and drives big shiny cars owned by his ministry, tax-free. He uses credit cards that are his ministry's, because he is on the Lord's business. He's just Donald Trump with a Bible and less Orangutan DNA.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  14. alloy555

    Based on what a true Christian is, he never was one anyway. (no judgement, just calling it the way it is)

    April 10, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • lilyq

      Let us know when you have your 10th birthday.

      April 10, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Please enlighten us as to what the tartan of a true christian looks like.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • JJ

      Oh, the ever so rare True Christian®. Have you ever met one?

      April 10, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • midwest rail

      " Have you ever met one ? " On these boards, only once....

      April 10, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      I generally practice most of the Christian virtues myself. I'm not a liar or thief, I love my wife and family and don't steal paperclips from my job, and my job actually helps people instead of, for example, buying a failing company and firing all the workers. Except for thinking Jesus was probably a really sharp and articulate rabbi who got killed long ago for his ideas, I'd make a good Christian. But hey, I don't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster either.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  15. Reality

    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."

    April 10, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • Pablo

      Of course there is another obvious category. Those without religion or intelligence.

      April 10, 2013 at 7:09 am |
    • Reality

      Since we are expanding the criteria:

      Man with religion and with beyond stupid beliefs:

      To wit:

      Again from 1000 CE:

      "Death's debt is then and there
      Paid down by dying men;
      But it is a promise bare
      That they shall rise again."

      Al-Ma'arri

      Added details available upon request.

      April 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  16. Pablo

    You can't believe it just because you saw it on the web. There is a lot of misinformation out there.

    April 10, 2013 at 7:04 am |
  17. Science

    As the ark sinks..............soon ethics will beat it up. !

    Hey faith........................soon ......................ethics will beat it up maybe ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising
    questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

    "Bringing back a hominid raises the question, 'Is it a person?' If we bring back a mammoth or pigeon, there's a very good existing ethical and legal framework for how to treat research animals. We don't have very good ethical considerations of creating and keeping a person in a lab," said Sherkow. "That's a far cry from the type of de-extinction programs going on now, but it highlights the slippery slope problem that ethicists are famous for considering."

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

    April 10, 2013 at 4:50 am |
    • Pablo

      How about engineering a person through DNA manipulation? This includes a persons innate personality as well as physical characteristics. In other words, science will be designing and creating a person. Will they have a soul? Or another questions, does anyone?

      April 10, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • lol??

      When are you going to stop polluting the world and clean up your mess? Do SOMETHING with nuclear waste, please, and quit daydreaming. Americultians created environmental rules so the factories ended up in China. They abort plenty of girls there. Rumour has it some of the bodies have three breasts.

      April 10, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • Science

      Soul/sole on bottom of shoe can be replaced or repaired

      April 10, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      The problem of course, is that you risk making a damaged or retarded child who will one day wail "Why was I ever BORN?" Maybe a resurgent Neanderthal would be a rock star or talk show host, or maybe he'd be a moody and dangerous janitor. We don't know, and he'd be a real person with feelings.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • lol??

      BC, you paraphrasing Joe Dirt?

      April 10, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  18. Michael S.

    Stay or leave the rip-off that he uses as a basic for those many spin-offs, Osteen is never more happy than when he can make another big deposit into his own accounts, the money coming from the many Osteen can convince to ignore what Jesus taught against; love of the material world. Osteen only preaches the greed for material wealth gospel and he is, and will always be, true to his chosen God Mammon.

    April 10, 2013 at 4:26 am |
    • mark

      His responses to the hoax and your judgement and phony knowledge of his finances shows who is the more mature and loving person.

      April 10, 2013 at 6:19 am |
  19. Bill

    Why would he leave his faith? It's made him so much money.

    April 10, 2013 at 4:17 am |
    • Praise Jesus VI

      Live Righteously-–> get the cash!!

      Joel Osteen, Stuart Copland, Mike (thousand dollar seed) Murdock, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham (and son), the Haggards, Jerry Falwell Benny Hinn ect ect.... all these great men, all righteous, God fearing men – hense the Lord Jesus has bless them all!!

      April 10, 2013 at 4:31 am |
    • Praise Jesus VI

      Kenneth Copeland - sorry had wicked rock musicians on my mind - and im a creationist I im allowed to be incorrect, and twist the hell out of things.. cause what do I care, im saved!

      April 10, 2013 at 4:39 am |
    • Alley Loo Ya

      Yeayah, Brother!

      (fyi, it's "etc" for "et cetera", not "ect")

      (and "hence")

      April 10, 2013 at 4:39 am |
    • Praise Jesus VI

      Oh.... its what I say it is -Im with the Church....

      Think theres some penance in your future, mocker! Remember Galileo?! he may have been right too ..but he learned, didn't he?!

      yeah....thought so.....

      April 10, 2013 at 4:53 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Galileo?! he may have been right too ..but he learned, didn't he?!" Nope. He went out of the church snarling "Nevertheless, it STILL MOVES." And it still does.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  20. miscreantsall

    Well who cares but: THIS PART is immutable; "The post describes the Bible as “a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times” And no Christian seems to understand that and or ignores that!!!!

    You don't have to become an atheist to get that!!!

    April 10, 2013 at 3:22 am |
    • mark

      Bottom line you will see God someday and you will either enter his kingdom or you will parish for unbelief. Good luck!

      April 10, 2013 at 6:21 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "you will see God someday and you will either enter his kingdom or you will parish for unbelief"

      Scientific evidence please. Your imaginary friend is a vindictive ass demanding worship but yet stating that idolatry is a sin-rather contradictory. 2.18 billion christards in this world...so what happens to the numerous others who don't believe?

      April 10, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • mark

      Not demanding worship asking for it. He gives us free choice. By the way you'll find out about the fate of the others soon enough. Scientific evidence for moral law, and hope please.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Larry

      mark
      Just like the local hood doesn't demand you pay him protection money, he simply asks for it and, if you happen to get beat up, or your store gets burn down after you say "No", well that isn't his fault. After all, he gave you a choice. It's your fault that you chose badly, right?

      Moral law comes from people reaching a consensus and it was always important for humans, in evolutionary terms, because rules are necessary for social animals such as ourselves to have in order to live in large groups. Chimps, wolves, and every other social animal has rules to live by. We're just intelligent enough to modify our rules to fit modern circ.umstances. Well, some of us are, anyway.

      April 10, 2013 at 11:50 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.