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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.”

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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. shannon

    Christianity is like kindergarden – with stories and characters for the masses to understand....but they are stories based on ancient stories based on pagan rituals based on the cycles of the seasons, planets, etc, stars, holy trinity, 12 disciples, death and rebirth of the setting son (whoops sun) that returns or comes again. Based all on antiquity – made human for our ancient selves to grasp. Now we're growing out of it and are starting to see the truth. I think Joel Osteen is in an earlier stage of consciousness and probably believes his own hype. Otherwise he wouldn't be so corrupt and greedy.

    April 10, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  2. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Joel Osteen is a Muslim wannabe, copy cat in pain, shafted by original Joel. nothing but Islam ism immorality, faith of muslims immoral s believers of muslims secularism filthy self center ism, dog ism by faith. Islam, sever form of mental sickness ism, blow ism, filthy goat copulate ism, mohammad taka taka goat ism, wipe ass with hands filthy secular goon

    April 10, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  3. chaz

    to say the Bible is full of flaws is Blasphemy. That joke will get you sent straight to hell, no stopping at go.

    for all who are disbelievers: I feel sorry for you, but more room in Heaven for me and my wife

    April 10, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      It's a work of fiction; there is no evidence of a god. You and your wife will rot the same as the rest of us.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • JWT

      Why would you feel sorry for non-believers ? They are correct in their thinking about the non-existance of any of the gods. Since they do not believe in your version of a god nothing of your god is of any relevance to them.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Science

      hey chaz you must not have read this....................................

      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says
      By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...
      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/17/heaven-is-a-fairy-story-scientist-stephen-hawking-says/

      April 10, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • James

      I cannot count the number of sins you just committed just based on that ignorant statement. God does not enjoy prideful spiteful individuals thinking they are better than everyone else. Heaven has plenty of room for a great deal of good hard-working Christians. I certainly hope you do not behave this way outside of the Internet. Keep a kind heart and serve God, that is the way, not loud angry pride. Are you without sin? You know you're not. Ask for forgiveness and it will be given, but thinking your infallible, that's even worse.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • The bible is perfect without any moral lapses

      And Moses said unto them “Have ye saved all the women alive?... Now therefore Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him, but all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” Num 31:1-2, 9-11, 14-18

      April 10, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Larry

      James
      Heaven doesn't work without a Hell for nonbelievers to go to though, right? I think an actual good God would just let everyone else die and wink out of existence rather than torture them for exercising the free will he supposedly gave them in the first place.

      April 10, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • numbnut

      The crazies like you and Janie usually are hiding something, and use God and Jesus as a mask to hide whatever evil lurks inside of you.

      April 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  4. Bible Clown©

    Is Joel Osteen actually a species of giant mouse that walks on its hind legs?

    April 10, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • PaulB

      He does strike a startling resemblance to Chuck E. Cheese, doesn't he?

      April 10, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  5. Mark

    Keep sending me that money folks. It was a prank. I spoke to Jesus, God, and all the Saints, and they still need your support. Send your check to PO Box...

    April 10, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  6. Bible Clown©

    See, the thing is, who really cares? He's a guy who takes old ladies for rides on his motorcycle and swindles them out of their money, just like in The Producers. Get back to me when he gets struck down by lightning or eaten by bears.

    April 10, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • lol??

      Hello mother, hello father,
      Here I am at Camp Grenada.
      Camp is very entertaining,
      And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining!

      I went hiking with Joyce Fivey,
      He developed poison ivy.
      You remember Lennard Skynard,
      He got tomain poisoning last night after dinner!

      All the counselors hate the waiters,
      And the lake has alligators!
      And the head coach wants no sissies,
      So he reads to us from something called 'Ulysses'.

      No, I don't want (this should scare ya),
      But my bunkmate has malaria!
      You remember Geoffrey Hardy,
      They're about to organize a searching party!

      Take me home, oh mother, father.
      Take me home, I hate Grenada.
      Don't leave me out in the forest,
      Where I might get eaten by a bear!

      source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/

      April 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  7. Sophia

    It was an obvious hoax from the beginning. If he renounced his 'faith', it would cut off his income stream. This man will most certainly be preaching his way to his grave.

    April 10, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  8. Jay

    Why the shocker - Joel Osteen renounced 'faith' along time ago when he opted to ditch orthodoxy for heresy and "motivational" coaching.

    April 10, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  9. Bible Clown©

    I know what I heard, and I heard he was leaving Christianity. You cannot deny the truth when you hear it, and I have heard the truth. Praise be to whatever anyhow, I guess.

    April 10, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  10. lolita from rhode island

    too bad

    April 10, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  11. palintwit

    While having my morning coffee I read the paper and watched the news on television and also the internet. Nowhere did I see anything about Sarah Palin being run over by a bus, falling out of a hot air balloon, or even being horribly mangled in an accident involving farm equipment. *bummer*

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

      So much for the power of prayer, eh?

      Just joking! Silly woman is so full of hot air that falling out of a balloon wouldn't hurt her at all.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Sarah who, now?

      April 10, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • Trugh

      I pity you poor leftist that spew your hatred on every post

      April 10, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • PaulB

      Trugh
      It's not so much "hatred" as well-deserved ridicule. There are very good reasons why people don't like Palin. I'd rather make a joke of it than dwell too much on the possibility of her holding another public office. That thought is just too scary and depressing for such a lovely Spring day.

      April 10, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "spew your hatred" of Sarah Palin? Are you kidding? You have to care about someone to hate them. She's no more real than Jessica Rabbit. I don't "hate" Jar-Jar Binks, either.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  12. sucker

    i've got my ticket to heaven – Dire Straits

    April 10, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • Lollipop

      I've got my two tickets to paradise – Eddie Money

      April 10, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Dan Allen

      I've got a Ticket to Ride,. – The Beatles

      April 10, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • CosmicC

      Just give me a ticket for an aeroplane.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  13. lol??

    You think adam and eve weren't horrified when cain killed abel? It gets worse. 21st century man is PROUD to do the killin'.

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

      Cain killed Abel because God liked Abel's blood sacrifice more than Cain's plant one, right? I guess that's why Jesus never said "Blessed are the vegans."

      April 10, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      So ethics existed before christianity?

      April 10, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • CosmicC

      In the Bible Cain slew Abel and East of Eden he was cast
      You're born into this life paying for the sins of somebody else's past
      Daddy worked his whole life for nothing but the pain
      Now he walks these empty rooms looking for something to blame
      You inherit the sins you inherit the flames
      – The Boss

      April 10, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Bob Dylan

      God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"
      Abe says, "Man you must be puttin' me on"
      God says, "No", Abe say "What?"
      God say "You can do what you want Abe but
      The next time you see me comin' you better run"
      Well Abe said, "Where do you want this killin' done?"
      God say, "Out on Highway 61"

      April 10, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • lol??

      You guys socie metrose*xuals? A father would love both his sons. Don't know about the XX's.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  14. flaitguy

    I knew he would. He really never was a christian. It was all a hoax albeit a funny one.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  15. Seattle Sue

    As far as Joel Os teen and other wealthy preachers are concerned, I personally can not care less what they are doing.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  16. Tracy

    We see what types of folks read CNN!

    April 10, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Pretty low down cave people. There's this one named Tracy, for example – oops. Do ya think she heard me?

      April 10, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • PaulB

      Yeah, not exactly the same as the racist, bigoted people who read Fox News but, if you really try, I bet you can lure some of them here.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Trugh

      Look in the mirror , there you will find the racist bigoted person you so loath

      April 10, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • calvin

      I guess that puts you in the same category!!!

      April 10, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • PaulB

      If that's aimed at me, what does disagreeing with Christian doctrine have to do with being a racist, or a bigot? It's a discussion about religious belief, not race, and you aren't "bigoted" just because you disagree with someone.

      April 10, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  17. Mack

    It would have been great if this was true. It really would have shaken some peoples' worlds and caused many to re-examine the fairy tales they have somehow deemed true.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Tracy

      buffoon!

      April 10, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Texmex01

      Wow Tracy, you sure showed him....

      April 10, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "buffoon" He sings bass in a comic opera? You got proof of this?

      April 10, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Pete

      I'm just impressed that Tracy could even spell "buffoon".

      April 10, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • numbnut

      You guys are killin' me today. LOL!!

      April 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  18. Michael

    Too bad the story wasn't true. Maybe his leaving would have awakened a few Christians to the fact that Christianity is a myth based religion – nothing but a rehash of several pagan, myth based religions that came before it. There is not one single, original, unique tenant or story in Christianity. The Garden of Eden, the Ten Commandments, the Great Flood, the Virgin Birth, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, ascending to heaven... All borrowed from previous religions... Don't believe me? Research the origins of Christianity and the Bible for yourself.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " Maybe his leaving would have awakened a few Christians" They would have assumed he'd found a new and more profitable scheme, like Amway or Enron, and wanted in on it.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Jim

      Except the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood and the Ten Commandments all PRE-DATE Christianity. After that, your cedibility went down the toilet.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • brandon

      Michael there is to much physical evidence of the bible . Way to many NDE where people are aithiest come to find out Jesus really does exist and so does hell. The Red Sea did part physical evidence. Prophecy is coming to past . The biggest 1 right now is knowledge will icrease itself ,before christ return's . When u pass away there will be a bible at your funeral singing bibile hymal's.Just remember when you dream it's seem's like u are really there,but your still sleeping in your bed . If u make it to heaven to be with jesus your spirit will go back to the lord .But your body is asleep dead!! But thank GOD he will give u a new body. Remember your spirit is still concsious of what's going ,it's like still being alive .

      April 10, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Michael

      Jim, yes, those myths do predate Christianity, but they were a part of other pagan religions well before they became a part of the Christian religion. Christianity "borrowed" those myths, and claimed them for their own, but they are not original.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Gee Brandon, you base it on people having NDEs? Didja know a lot of people meet Buddha or the Ba'ab or their dead dog from the ninth grade during NDEs? And lots of them enter Heaven and see all their dead relatives walking around up there, despite the bible assuring us that all the dead are dead until Judgment Day, and Heaven is empty right now. Getting brain-damaged might make you more religious, but I'm not in a hurry. You go first.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Michael

      Brandon, Jesus says in Matthew 16:28 and in Luke 9:27 that he would return during the generation of those to whom he was speaking. Well, if that happened, nobody knew it! Do your research. Mark wrote the first "gospel" some 70 years after the supposed death of Jesus. He never even met Jesus, yet, 70 years later, he is able to quote him, page after page? I hate to point out the obvious, but the truth is, Mark made it all up. Did you know Mark never claimed that Jesus was born of a virgin? Matthew and Luke copied Mark, word for word in many places, but added that little part of the myth. And that myth has been a part of pagan myths for other gods before your supposed god. Brandon, think and research for yourself. Do some research into the pagan origins of Christianity, and you'll find out that I'm right.

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

      brandon
      You consider the hallucinations coming from oxygen-deprived people experiencing NDEs to be credible evidence for God? Next you'll be claiming that someone out in the desert for 40 days without food or water wouldn't be seeing weird things.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • shannon

      ....i think you're right. Christianity is like kindergarden – with stories and characters for the masses to understand....but they are stories based on ancient stories based on pagan rituals based on the cycles of the seasons, planets, etc, stars, holy trinity, 12 disciples, death and rebirth of the setting son (whoops sun) that returns or comes again. Based all on antiquity – made human for our ancient selves to grasp. Now we're growing out of it and are starting to see the truth. I'm on the same journey.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  19. Oh well....

    Joel seems like a nice fellow..always smiling...always happy...and he has some beautiful suits... he's living large and enjoyng life...keep sending him your hard earned money...you won't need it afterwards.....

    April 10, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  20. Roddy Hovey

    For those that can't understand science, you have religion.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • (EA) FÓSILES, FOSILIZACIÓN Y PALEONTOLOGÍA.

      Fossils work too !

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw1cRg9oKTc&w=640&h=360]

      April 10, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • njfr

      For those that can't understand religion, you have science.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Magnificent New Channel - MUST SEE!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW3PBK6GOv0&w=640&h=360]

      April 10, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Billy

      RE: Magnificent new channel – LOL – this is the fundie son of the fundie who is serving time for tax evasion.

      April 10, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Billy

      And both idiot creationist garbage fundies to boot; lol.

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

      njfr
      More like, if you can't force yourself to believe (or pretend to believe) in religion, there's always good, old, reliable science.

      April 10, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Mark

      Right Larry because science takes us right back to a whoops, theory.

      April 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Larry

      Mark

      theory |ˈθēərē; ˈθi(ə)rē|
      noun ( pl. -ries)
      a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained : Darwin's theory of evolution.
      • a set of principles on which the practice of an activity is based : a theory of education | music theory.
      • an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action : my theory would be that the place has been seriously mismanaged.
      • Mathematics a collection of propositions to illustrate the principles of a subject.

      I think you misunderstand the vast difference between how science uses the term "theory" and its colloquial use.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGAK7yJpa5U&w=640&h=360]

      April 10, 2013 at 3:11 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.