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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. Mark

    What and renounce millions of dollars a year. Another Christian phony.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  2. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    hillybillynwv

    Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity. Put down crack pipe of hindu santan, crook goon and learn language the right way.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • meifumado

      Maybe if he saw your video of your parrot he would know you don't smoke crack.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • meifumado

      Ism

      April 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • meifumado

      WOW you only had one ism and no secular in that post, This is a first i believe

      April 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • sam

      One ism, no hinds or seculars...must be a slow day. RIGHT MOHAMMAD, YOU CRUSTY OLD RACIST BASTARD?

      April 9, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • G to the T

      ahhhh... no.

      Hindu derives from a Persian term "al-Hind" referring to the land of the ple who lived across the Indus river. Does that much biggotry rot your brain or what?

      April 10, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  3. tuamike

    Joel Osteen is the victim of an elaborate hoax...yeah it's called christianity

    April 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Sharon

      So true. Man created the gods.
      I might actually have respect for Osteen if the hoax was accurate.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • BoFo

      I can't stand Osteen, but you're sick. You definitely need to consult a mental health professional.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • sam

      A true mental health professional would agree.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Logic

      Not victim...more like perpetrator.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • tuamike

      How so? You state that I need to seek out a mental health professional, but what in my statement would lead you to believe I suffer from a neurosis or a psychosis? I don't pray to a mysterious being from whom I have never seen. Nor do I paraphrase a book written by humans over 3500 years ago and try to draw parallels to my current life. It's funny how someone can look at a homeless man talking to no one, think he is crazy, and yet that person enters a church every Sunday and does the same thing.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  4. rdk

    All you haters...head over to Al Jazeera and call all Muslims crazy. And then pray to God that no one hacks CNNs website and gets your email address to track you down for your blasphemy. They are not real keen on that.
    Christians don't like you putting us down either, but we do turn the other cheek, love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and pray that the haters will someday see.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "All you haters" I didn't realize Jr High was in session...

      April 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • meifumado

      It just so happens I prefer to pick on muslims as i see them as more of a threat, however the reason we post here is that cnn does not moderate as hard as every other site just try and leave comments on the sites you mention.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • anonymous

      You love your neighbors unless they're gay or think differently. Don't kid yourself. You belong to a tool of social control as a believer.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It's always junior high on the belief blog.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • sam

      Is this your version of turning the other cheek?

      April 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      You dont seem to be turning the cheek here. You made the decision instead to post some comment.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  5. LB

    If he did renounce his faith, it wouldn't be a bad thing. All these false prophets need to go

    April 9, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  6. Lonesailor

    I really love his sermon. No, not even one time, did he ask for money during sermon, nor did he try to sell his books.
    To say otherwise is a lie that somoebody tries to tell, just go to his website, you can listen to his broadcast to see if he has had ever try to sell anything. His sermon is very spririt uplifting, and I do love to listen.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Larry

      Obsteen is a recognized Christian brand name. Any media exposure, and his preaching does qualify as this, is good for getting that brand name out there and only helps sell his merchandise, right?

      April 9, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Buk Lau

      Like-a sumbooooooooooooooedyy!

      April 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  7. Luiz Penalva

    The hoax was a guy called Jesus Christ.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Sharon

      Jesus was a sweetie. But that resurrection was a hoax.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  8. Steven

    Man, you'd have to be really gullible to fall for such an obvious hoax, but if it wasn't for gullible people pastor Joel wouldn't be worth 10's of millions of dollars.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Larry L

      Exactly. Just think of what his audience already falls for...

      April 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • meifumado

      That's religion for ya, Fooling mankind for thousands of years and counting.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • anonymous

      So happy to see people with common sense. I agree 100%.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  9. All Means All

    The good news isn’t that we’ve got a job to do but that the job’s been done.

    The Easter story is about the breaking down of barriers. It reveals the fact that the dividing walls we build are fantasies and no longer stand. There is no longer in and out.

    Some like to believe the wall’s been moved and that the special people designation has simply shifted to another group, of which they belong, of course.

    No. All means all. Not some.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • All Means All

      I love science. I love theology. Deep down inside they love each other… in their truest parts.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      is this an excerpt from one of his books? barely comprehensible... thanks for sharing

      April 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  10. bostontola

    It's not just Mr. Osteen, it's many religions' value proposition:

    Give us some of your money in this life and you'll get eternal love in the after life.

    If religions weren't protected, they would be classified as a confidence game by the police.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  11. Chase

    He is worth 40 million. Must be nice. Feeding off of others. I don't doubt that he might be a good person, but religion exploits human weakness. Religion and church is not all bad. It brings people together, it helps causes, helps kids stay on track. But, the basis of it is just so crooked and cult centric.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Pedro

      If he was truly a Christian, he wouldn't be worth 40 million $.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Larry

      He is just another entrepreneur of Christian merchandise. He produces a product for Christians, sells it to them, and that's how he makes his money.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • 9hydra

      "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

      April 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Larry

      9hydra
      Yet, every rich mega-church pastor, Christian music act, and Christian author probably believes that they're one of the few who isn't really a "lover of money". Well, they sure don't hate money enough to give most of it away and live like their average fan does, now do they?

      April 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  12. TomGI

    No way Joel is going to walk away from that cash cow.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  13. Joel Osteen is NOT OUR KING!!! Get a clue people!!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkoQHCXSK8&w=640&h=360]

    April 9, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • pockets

      Hahahahahaahahahahahaaha

      April 9, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • meifumado

      Totally insane people.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  14. Deez

    ... but should.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  15. Logic

    Got two words for you: Con Man

    He will do or say anything to get you to pony up money into his coffers.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  16. Reality

    Dear J. Osteen,

    We come to save:

    The Apostles' / Agnostics’ Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (References used are available upon request.)

    April 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Chris Honry

      Don't worry, he'll forgive you if you ask!

      Joel always says evil will come against a person who is doing God's work, how true.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • pockets

      Excellent....

      April 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Reality

      o WHERE WAS YOUR GOD(S) WHEN THE FOLLOWING TOOK PLACE:

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things GOD'S CREATURES Have Done to Each Other:

      M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)

      The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..(Religions/Groups involved)*

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Christians)

      18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      April 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  17. hillybillynwv

    Joel is the only pastor I watch on television, all of the others don't compare.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Billy

      Then sir, I do believe you have selected a well-defined moniker.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • sam

      You only get that one channel anyway.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Billy ... now THATs funny right thar..

      April 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Larry

      Coming from somebody who self-identifies as a Hill Billy, should Osteen be flattered?

      April 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  18. Rhonda G.

    Joel Osteen's father did not "step down" from the ministry in 1999. He died. It was several months before Joel Osteen was convinced to stand in the pulpit and preach. His brother was the natural choice, but that didn't work out. Joel worked behind the scenes in broadcast production for his dad. I loved hearing his dad preach. He would be proud of his son. Say what you will about him, but do not judge if he is a "christian" or not. That's God's job.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • pockets

      PSSSST, relax their is no god and Osteen is a con artist.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  19. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    hindu impostor has as much right to be hindu secular, filthy crook to make up story and spread it to hind ,fool others, as much as Osteen from a poppet to hind fool naive in to hindu Mithra ism, racist savior ism of hindu dark ages, sold under new label Christianity. Way of hindu Pundits criminal crooks to run their business of hinduism corruption of truth absolute called religions.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • hillybillynwv

      ....put down the crack pipe.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Chris Honry

      Ah, you have used Google translate! What a bad job it does.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • meifumado

      Son of a goatdog ism secular Muhammed stinky chauvinist donkey like to dress as a girl Muhammed ism who lays with secular camels.

      But hey I taught my parrot how to say "I LOVE HINDU'S" ism derp derp secular nom nom.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • sam

      It's Mohammad, our very own idiot troll from Pakistan, here to serve word salad.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • anonymous

      pssssst. the Koran and the Bible are essentially the same thing. So what in sam hell are you talking about?

      April 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  20. Reasonably

    Here's a hint. If you're a member of a church and it calls itself a mega church – follow the money.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • gf

      Ok, but Osteen doesn't draw a salary from the church. Not sure what your point is further. And not sure that money problems in churches are specific to just mega churches, but to many churches of all types.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Larry

      His book sales benefit from his being the frontman, and he keeps all that money, right? I'm not sure whether Trump drew a salary for being on Apprentice, but it sure helped his brand name, and Osteen definitely is a Christian brand name.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:43 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.