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. JSmith

    Come on, the guy is raking in way too much money off the backs of his servants to walk away from it.

    April 9, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  2. calvin

    His faith is in Man not God. He can never give straight answers regarding God's Word!!! His faith is in the what man thinks. His faith is in the Money he gets!!! I watched a show with Roma Downey, her husband and Joel with his wife where Roma and her husband praised God very highly. Joel can never come right out and Praise Jesus, he can only give you nice little pretty words of nothing!!!! Sorry to sound judgemental!! But he is really a joke to me!!! God help those who follows his ministry!!

    April 9, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • JSmith

      Ah yes, another Christian who thinks they got it right and another Christian is wrong! You people are a joke and it stands out loud and clear.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  3. In the Know

    Sources tell me that Osteen has changed hair products and it's the manufacturers of the products he used to use that are spreading these lies. Evidently, based on supply differences, it will severely impact oil sales between two competing global giants as well.

    April 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • pastapharian

      lol. A Middle East connection with religious undertones. Very nice.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  4. pastapharian

    So many sheep, so much money.

    April 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  5. pastapharian

    I would never trust anyone who smiles that much. He's like a living version of Ned Flanders.

    April 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • JJ

      If you had a flock of sheep who kept you in several mansions and cars you would be smiling too.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • sam stone

      flanders is sincere

      April 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • pastapharian

      Good points JJ and Sam. I would trust Flanders. I wouldn't trust Olsteen for a second. Creeps me out – I can't even look at him.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  6. pastapharian

    creepy scary cult

    April 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • rad666

      Really creepy I just found a VHS Polreguiest II in a box and started watching it last night.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  7. I think they should have had Billy Graham open the game!


    April 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • rad666

      Really creepy Because I just found a VHS Polreguiest II in a box and started watching it last night.

      replied to wrong comment

      April 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  8. palintwit

    Hillary Clinton will be the next POTUS if she decides to run. She will be unbeatable. So all of you right wing nut evangelicals might as well get used to it right now.

    April 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  9. Puzzled in Peoria

    How can you leave a faith you were never in?

    April 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • JJ

      Faith in that there is a sucker born every minute.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  10. coconut

    Is king fully nacked yet ?

    April 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  11. Red Dwarf

    Faith is a lot like Patriotism.

    faith / Noun1.Complete trust or confidence in someone or something. 2.Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

    patriotism / noun : Complete trust or confidence in one's country, right or wrong, devoted unconditional love, support, and defense of one's country; national loyalty.

    "Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about." – Mark Twain

    "Patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest." – Mark Twain

    April 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • AKA

      I like how you totally fabricated your definition for patriotism. If you truly have the faith of your own convictions why not try honesty for once?

      April 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "Man is a marvelous curiosity ... he thinks he is the Creator's pet ... he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to
      him and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea." -Mark Twain

      April 9, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  12. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    This is just one more reason not to be on Twitter.

    Lots of naming and shaming the tweets of those taken in by this prank in this article.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  13. James PDX

    Generally one can assume that when an ignorant person is reported to suddenly have been blessed with wisdom that it is a hoax.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  14. Rebbeca


    April 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes indeed Rebbeca.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  15. JJ

    Anyone with half a brain would know it's a fake. Why would he walk away from all those millions that his gullible sheep send him so that he can continue to blow sunshine up their asses?

    April 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Same reason that Obama ran for re-election.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • pastapharian

      Mark: your statement makes no sense and is nothing more than an irrelevant slam on our president. Nice try; thanks for playing.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Get Realist

      GOOD ONE, MARK! Might I suggest you try to make sense next time, though? I know its hard, but keep at it! You'll get there!

      April 9, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  16. Pol Pot

    We are all irrational beings, including this guy. Apparently too much drinking and smoking can predispose you to esophageal cancer.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Eric

      Man, I wonder if christians ever get cancer.... interesting.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • pastapharian

      RIP Mr. Hitchens.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Pol Pot

      @Pastapharian. By RIP you mean Rest in pieces, right? There is no "rest in peace" for Mr. Hitchens.

      April 9, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • sam

      There's no rest in peace for anyone, you snot. There's no afterlife.

      April 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  17. GAW

    He may not be angry but that doesn't mean a lawyer won't be called.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      1. There is no such thing as bad publicity?

      2. Lawyers are expensive (and Pastor Joel can afford *really* expensive ones) and what's to gain if the prospective plaintiffs have no money?

      3. What about turn the other cheek? (What would Jesus do?)

      April 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • GAW

      Just stating the facts no necessary agreement here.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  18. whoknew

    Truth is..............he's not a minister. He's a motivational speaker – at best. I think he lost his way long ago. He needs to truly return to his ministry, and not be out selling books, giving motivational speeches, and living large and laveoushly off the money he makes doing so. That goes AGAINST christian principles. Have you ever seen the MANSION he lives in? If he truly believes in the Lord, and loves the Lord, he needs to turn his life around, and come back down to what is truly important in walking a christian life.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Waht? Jesus doesn't want you to be rich?

      April 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • James PDX

      Correct. Jesus does not want you to be rich. It's in the New Testament. He also wants you to follow ALL civil laws of your government as long as they don't prohibit you from worshipping God. Additionally, he wants you to keep your prayers and worship private.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  19. TSB8C

    Of course he won't denounce it. He makes way too much money of the business he inherited from his father to give it up.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  20. shannon

    Here's the thing. The pagan rituals celebrating cycles of the seasons (extension of LIGHT in December and then the Spring (death and rebirth) existed for eons way before man drew human stories around them with fictional characters to tell stories – but not literal. It's not literal folks.....wake up.

    April 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • GAW

      And soooooo......What does this have to do with the article?

      April 9, 2013 at 1:49 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.