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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. lol??

    jay and the americans

    Only in America
    Can a guy from anywhere
    Go to sleep a pauper and wake up a millionaire

    Only in America
    Can a kid without a cent
    Get a break and maybe grow up to be President

    April 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • lol??

      works in indonesia

      April 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  2. bo stinks

    SkASS is a real-ASS

    April 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  3. Cy Newitt

    Joel Olsteen has lots of money, a hot wife and is a relentlessly optimistic motivational speaker who, obviously has quite broad appeal.
    I think many of the loser, atheist trolls who infest the message boards of this website are simply a tad jealous.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Ya he is a good story teller, profession of hindu dark ages to hind fool humanity, just another time, and another platform with hindu old corrupted theme.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  4. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Way of Osteen is not of way of truth absolute, but based on hindu dog ism, filthy secular ism, self center ism. hindu dogma, fabricated secular ism is nothing more than hinduism racism of hindu dark ages, but with a new rapper called Christianity. Way of hindu Pundits, crooked shamans to hind fool humanity in to hindu gentile ism, racist slavery.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Answer

      Wipe, crack, with hands, Islam.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • sam

      There's a new rapper calling himself Christianity? When does the album drop?

      April 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  5. Team Manager

    Make sure he turns in his goddamn helmut before he clears out of here.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Team Manager

      That sumbitch left his fuckin helmut on didn' he?

      April 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Asst Manager

      Apron too.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  6. Saint_John

    Osteen gives me the creeps big time. There are no gods; the pope knows this with certainty. It would be really, really cool if the pope would stand up and renounce god and all religion. Jesus !

    April 9, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Dave

      Wow, you can speak for the Pope? Do you talk to animals too since you are so wise? Buffoon.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Answer

      Wow, can the pope speak for god? <<– just as equal in stupidity.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      He used to be his alter boy, he can speak for him.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • G to the T

      Holy crap! Did IFOAC just make a joke? In decent English?!? The Rapture is upon us!

      April 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  7. vdanker

    Seriously? Do you really think he would leave all that money?

    April 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  8. Detention for Children Center

    Our goals:

    At the Center for Children, we provide:
    • Developmentally inappropriate activities that allow children freedom to devalue science and critical thinking skills.

    • A physical environment that challenges both body and body (male and female).

    • A Christian climate that teaches God's love and evil destructive heart.

    • Warm, nurturing and trained staff members committed to building each child's physical, physical, physical and financial self.

    • A partnership with parents in the educating of their children through parent conferences, parent education, family events and newsletters to keep the lies on the same page.

    These beginner courses will get your tot off on the road to suicide before most kids can even read!

    April 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Dave

      Awesome!! Thank you for serving your brother and sisters!!

      April 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • sam

      LOL

      April 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Dave's not here

      Dave can't read.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  9. Dave

    EndPoliticalParties, you obviously know nothing about Scripture. All your assumptions posted here are incorrect. If you don't have faith, that's fine, but please educate yourself on what you are talking about because you just sound ignorant.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Dave's not here

      reply link is easy to find

      April 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Dave

      I assume you have a point "Daves Not Here"?

      April 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Dave's not here

      Should I type it slower for you?

      April 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • gf

      His point is that when you're replying or responding to their post ... reply or respond to their post. You posted a completely new post, not a reply/response post. Doing so breaks up conversations and makes it hard to follow what's going on.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  10. Cy Newitt

    C'mon, Joel. The message of atheism is so much more appealing: morality is subjective and ultimately nothing matters.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Dave

      That's a depressing thought. Ask people who have been truly helped by a Christian and they might disagree.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      interesting. Do you mean then that you pick what to believe based on what its 'message' is and not on rationality or some other form of decision making?
      So I guess for you it really is a case of 'come join us, we have cookies'

      April 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • SantaAna

      You get to breathe don't you ? and are "allowed" to make your insignificant remarks-don't you ? FOR NOW !!

      April 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Dave's not here

      Dave

      how can we be sure that was a TRUE Christian?

      April 9, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  11. PaxLoki

    so someone pulled a hoax on him–seems fair to me

    April 9, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  12. Mr. Know it all

    This guy is fake, If you look closley you can see the "TAIL" coming out of his suit on sundays. lol 😉 Makes Real brothers look bad, "wolf dressed as sheep" Fake ASS!

    April 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  13. Logic

    There used to be this profession....Snake Oil Salesman...
    I guess it is still profitable, even when you don't have a physical product to sell.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  14. jeff

    I never knew he had any actual "faith" to renounce (unless it's faith in the almighty dollar, of course....)

    April 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    Joel the snake oil salesman is not going to give up his primary form of income ... especially when it's TAX FREE!!!!

    April 9, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  16. Kirk

    Joel would never leave Christianity. It's far too profitable.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  17. bostontola

    Does anyone disagree with:

    Man created religion.

    April 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • EndPoliticalParties

      Even the bible says so: "...according to Matthew, Mark, ...etc.". These are simply men like everyone else, just because they wrote something doesn't mean it's 'the absolute truth!" And everyone one of those gospels seem to contradict each other, or tell the story in a different way. Aesop has better morals in his stories.

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

      Yes, I agree with you.

      I also don't believe Jesus Christ a religion.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Now

      @ Aesop has better morals in his stories.

      Morals are the acceptable behavior based on the mores of a social grouping. Jesus did not come to give us a standardized moral code to which all should conform, but to give us His life whereby the divine character might be expressed through our behavior.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Now

      "I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond..."

      CS Lewis

      April 9, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Now

      (cont.)
      "...One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of these things, except perhaps as a joke. Everyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes."

      CS Lewis

      April 9, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  18. EndPoliticalParties

    Con Man Extraordinaire – and people just swallow it week after week. Does anyone really think if Jesus were alive today, he's be making statements like: "God wants me to be rich!!". And then Olsteen and his mole wife flaunt their personal wealth reportedly worth $75 Million dollars. What 'real good' could be done with that amount of money, addressing poverty, hunger, sickness, & disease, instead of making these scam artists extremely wealthy, while they're laughing all the way to the bank! You don't need to send your money to someone else to get through to God!

    April 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • meifumado

      Correct, The only true way to god is through me.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Mr. Know it all

      garbage!

      April 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  19. meifumado

    Where's Box?

    besides Islam and that video of the insane people you guys are boring me

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

      Fish, and plankton. And sea greens, and protein from the sea. It's all here, ready. Fresh as harvest day. Fish and sea greens, plankton and protein from the sea. And then it stopped coming.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  20. Mark

    Oh how I would like to be around in 100 years when god will be a myth to the masses.

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

      It is already. Some people just like to pretend the myth is reality.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Gene

      Some people said the same thing 100 years ago.
      I'm pretty sure religion will still be around 100 years from now. Probably different than it is now, hopefully fewer fundamentalists, but it will be around long after you and I are gone.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • gf

      Really? So people have believed in some God/god or deity since they could talk and read ... thousands of years ... and all of a sudden you think it's going to disappear in 100 years? You don't know much about people, do you? Or you're overly optimistic.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:44 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.