Internet Hoax Claimed Pastor Joel Osteen Rejected Christianity
Shocking internet headlines target one of the nation's leading televangelists, Joel Osteen.
From what looked like CNN's website, "Pastor of Mega Church Resigns, Rejects Christ."
What appearred to be The Drudge Report said, "Osteen: I Am No Longer a Christian."
Now, it turns out the headlines are fake and Osteen is speaking out, “I still have my faith, nothing has changed.”
The elaborate hoax began when this "Special Announcement: I am leaving the Christian faith" appeared on what looked like Osteen’s official website. However, the web address is misspelled "O-s-t-e-n" not "Osteen".
A statement from the fake Osteen says: "There is zero evidence The Bible is the holy word of God. In fact, there is zero evidence 'God' even exists."
This video was also posted on YouTube, complete with ominous music.
The real Osteen found out about the prank while he was working out at the gym and is turning the other cheek.
He said, “I'm really not angry. I don't feel like a victim. I think a lot of it is my personality. I feel too blessed and life is too short to let things like this get you down.”
Joel and his wife Victoria are pastors of the Lakewood mega church in Houston.
INSIDE EDITION was there in 2005 when the church began holding services at a sports arena where the NBA’s Houston Rockets used to play.
43,000 faithful fill the stadium-style seats every Sunday and the Osteens are broadcast to a worldwide audience of seven million.
The hoaxers have been traced to a Milwaukee company named BMG Enterprises, but no one there answers the phone.
And while Joel Osteen says he forgives them, his lawyers want to talk to whoever is behind the prank.
He said, “It's part of our whole message is that people can't stop you from your destiny, a bad break, somebody doing you wrong. If you move forward in faith, God will use it to your advantage.”