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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. el_incr

    This piece of lying trash never had any Faith to renounce in the first place. He's a fraud.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  2. Derek

    John 14:6 Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"

    April 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Colin

      What did you expect him to say, "the only true path is through the prophet down the street". He was nothing more than one of a hundred worthless apocalyptic Grec-Roman Jewish prophets running around the Mediterranean at the time.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • David

      Colin: Your ahistorical fiction is interesting, although completely unrelated to reality. Jesus wasn't one of hundreds of messiahs at the time. Nor is he the same as every other that may have existed before or after him. You might actually try reading something about him before you just through out your rant.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Colin

      I didn't just "through" [sic] out a rant. Jewish apocalypticism was common at the time. Jesus was one of many. There were also many pagan prophets, soothsayers, fortune tells etc. The Greco-Roman Miditerranean was awash in a sea of people like Jesus.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  3. Get Real

    He is a Prophet for Profit..........and would never leave the Teet that feeds him and his family. His wealthy depends on his bigotry and hatred towards gay people.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  4. Light of Pure Truth

    Pastor Osteen is a true servant of the Lord! I cannot believe the Satanic remarks by many sinners here. I am sure many of these sinners are the fornicators that are going against how God defined marriage. The mark has been set upon the earth and people should be on their knees listening for His Truth and preparing for His return. Instead all they can do is mock God and His servants. They will all burn soon.

    April 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Yes, keep showing your sociopathic tendencies. We can only hope that you don't go all Abraham on any children around you because of the voices in your head.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • sam

      I can't decide what my favorite part of this is...the 'satanic' part or the 'fornicators' part. It's a toss up.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • sam

      "should be on their knees listening for His Truth and preparing for His return."

      Honestly, I need to get my eyes checked. I saw that as 'preparing for His rectum.'

      April 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Akira

      *Rolls eyes*

      April 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • KLARGAR

      Do you really believe that horse fecal matter.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  5. Answer2

    The bogus website is down. Has a message requesting the owner to call the site operator. Somebody is in trouble! haha

    April 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  6. Steve

    With the chunk of change 'the lord' is giving him?? LOL Not Likely he'll be giving that up anytime soon, eh?

    April 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
  7. j

    How can Joel leave something he never believed in anyway? The man wouldnt know how to preach the bible and a life changing message against sin if his soul depended on it. All he cares about is money and making you smile.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • sam

      I first read that as 'massage against sin' and figured, hey, that's another business he could open, and it would be pretty popular.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • el_incr

      J, I couldn't agree with you more! Well said!

      April 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
  8. kent

    we i must come out and confess. i'm leaving the faith myself (20 years ago). the bible is old, false, and fading into history. i'm on to bigger and better things in life. hello science.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  9. Fred Evil

    LOL, see? Xtians WILL fall for anything!

    April 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  10. Amy from Seattle

    What a great prank. Now, if only we can debunk all the demagoguery that these god botherers indulge in to make mega bucks off the unsuspecting.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  11. Passer By

    The problem with Atheists and overly faithful religious people – Shoving their opinion down people's throat. Why the need to do this? I think it is a form of mild retardation.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • sam

      So you clicked on an article on the belief blog, and started reading comments of your own free will, and you're getting something shoved down your throat?

      IDK, maybe....try not walking into places and opening your mouth so wide so that stuff gets in.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Frank Pentangeli

      Pick up your meds like the rest of us and shut the fuck up.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Shane

      I am an atheist. That's all I ever say. I don't try to tell you why I'm an atheist, or what "horrible" things will happen to you if you don't follow what I say, or quote you ridiculous passages to influence you, but that's what religious people do all the time. So please don't compare the two--it's not even close.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Passer By

      Sam, a bitter, bitter human being, I must have touched a nerve, awwwwww

      April 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • sam

      The minute an atheist starts knocking on doors at dinner time and asking about your non-relationship with the lord, I guess you could complain.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Passer By

      Shane, I will compare the two, they are one and the same, blind faith in no god or blind faith in god. Nobody really knows.

      That is the truth.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Passer By

      Frank, a pill popper.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • sam

      People who say 'that is the truth' tend to be arrogant douches.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Shane

      You're a ridiculous Christian puppet. You're not fooling anyone. NOT believing in something is not "blind faith.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Passer By

      Sam, made my day, getting under your skin. You reverted to profanity because....YOU LOSE. Go away kid...

      April 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Shane

      "Pill popper"? How old are you, 90?!

      April 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Passer By

      Shane, you sad sad little man. Nobody knows and there is no arguing that point and you are the fool if you believe otherwise.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Passer By

      Shane, YOU LOSE.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • sam

      Douche is profanity? Walking through a drug store or supermarket must be tough for you. Are you from the 50's?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Passer By

      Bye all, it was a pure pleasure making you see that you don't have a clue. By the way...Get a clue.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Devin

      Well if the one side is right you would want them to do anything they can to get you on their side. On the other hand if the other side is correct no one is the better.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Shane

      Passserby is a gay Christian. Let's all applaud his bravery in coming out.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Shane

      Goodbye you big, fat, waste of human life. Go pray to get laid, loser.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • sam

      I guess one of the nurses at his old folks' home came to get him for din din.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Shane

      LOL!!! Yeah, they came for him at the senior center. But you know he's still reading this. He just "left" because he doesn't have any other come backs for his ridiculous comments. LOSER.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  12. IvotedforObama

    I knew this was a hoax. He won't renounce his faith in his god, money.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Shane

      Yeah, I actually would've respected him more had he quit.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Not at a net worth of $40 million he won't.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • sam

      Now I've got that NIN song stuck in my head.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  13. Frank Pentangeli

    J.R.R. Tolkien did business with C.S. Lewis, he respected C.S. Lewis... but he never trusted C.S. Lewis!

    April 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  14. Matt Johnson

    The link to the fake website tried to install malware on my computer. NICE WORK ON THE RESEARCH CNN!

    April 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • sam

      You knew it was a fake site, yet clicked the link anyway?

      April 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Frank Pentangeli

      sam, whack that piece of shit Matt "the nose" Johnson.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • sam

      Baliff, whack his pee pee!

      April 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  15. Paul V

    Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man into heaven. Good luck JO.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Shane

      Easier for sane person to realize the bible is a book of fables.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  16. tony

    Keep filling the mega collection plate. That terrific joke has lasted a coupla thousand years already.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  17. Ripped A New One

    Who the fukkk cares

    April 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  18. god

    well, he should. I'm not real.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  19. Atheist day!

    Looks like the atheists took their celebration of April1st a bit too far!

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

      You freaks are feeling the burn. We're glad.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • your celebration vis a vis our celebration

      Got it! we give gifts and celebrate, you play pranks and celebrate.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Xtianity is one BIG prank!

      April 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Akira

      Anyone who read past the disclaimer to the main gist of the website deserves to be punked.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  20. Yarah

    He needs to leave his faith because he doesn't even know what he believes, but it's not the Bible. He flip flops on a lot of Biblical doctrine. God Bless America. We Need It.

    April 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      Don't Atheists do that all the time? Atheists do no even know what they believe in. God Bless Pastor Joel Osteen and Family.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Answer

      Bless them through your empty words all you want. It won't change a thing.

      We, atheists, know that you freaks can and will do nothing. That's your prayers at work.

      Thank god you have your prayers. It is a blessing for us, atheists, to see that you really can do nothing.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • tony

      Who's melting the [polar ice caps? God or good old science discovered global warming?

      April 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      What do Atheists believe in? NOTHING!!!!!! I rest my case...but I do believe that's air your breathing.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      "Atheists do no even know what they believe in. "
      Of course we do, we believe you are an idiot! Got the evidence right there!
      But I refuse to believe in someone else's delusion, I refuse to make it my own.
      You too can refute the fakers!

      April 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Answer

      Your "nothing" with all those exclamation points tells us all we need to know.

      You freaks don't know sh!at about what we have confidence in.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      Well, I guess we are at odds because I too believe Atheists are idiots!!!!!!! They believe in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theory...that we are all derived from a cesspool of goop.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      Are you just a poe, or are you really this much of a hateful, moronic, bigoted pile of shit without a point?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      Care to shed some light then on what Atheists believe? or are you going to run away like all the other Atheist Idiots?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      Are you actually interested in answers, or are you just looking to find something to be bigoted about?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      Please, enlighten me. I would like to know what Atheists believe in?

      April 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Colin

      @HAwkins – atheists don't "believe" in anything, we merely accept that abiogenesis and 3.5 billion years of terrestrial evolution is the best theory we currently have for the origins of life on Earth. It is a little more realistic and sophisticated than 6 days and a magic talking snake.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      Then your first step is that atheism isn't a "belief system", or even a statement of belief. It is the rejection of a claim, or specifically, the god claim. Now, a rejection of a claim is not the assertion of the opposite position. So in essence your question all depends on the atheist.
      There are no tenants, there are no doctrines for the rejection of a claim.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      Interesting...How is that any different from being an agnostic? like you do not really know if God exists or not....

      April 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Colin

      @Hawkins – the same way I know that Zeus, Shiva, Apollo and a host of other gods do nto exist. There is significant evidence to show that they are a mere invention of mankind and zero evidence that they exist.

      April 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

      Atheism and agnosticism answer two very different questions.
      Theism/Atheism addresses what you believe/claim to believe.
      Gnosticism/Agnosticism address what you know/claim to know.

      It is possible to believe something you don't know, or to not believe something that you don't know.

      April 9, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      " It is the rejection of a claim, or specifically, the god claim"
      Which god claim? the monotheistic claim? The polytheistic claim? The Christian god is a young one, anyone with any real understanding of history knows it to be false, with prophets and fables stolen from other far older religions.
      There MAY be a god, but I guarantee you NOT ONE religion on Earth is even CLOSE.
      If you cling to the Bible, you are being had, and you haven't the self-awareness to realize it. WAKE UP.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Fred Evil

      Depends on which god claim is being presented. Atheism isn't necessarily an all encompassing rejection. If a person were to tell me that they worship the sun, then their god exists. Any supernatural attributes claimed would be a separate issue.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:58 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.