Pastor Joel Osteen responds to elaborate Internet hoax

Joel-Osteen.jpg

Image Credit: D Dipasupil/Getty Images

No, Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen is not leaving the Christian faith — despite all “evidence” to the contrary.

The Internet was captivated yesterday by a message — supposedly posted by Osteen himself — in which the televangelist apparently claimed to be renouncing his religion. “Deep down in my heart, for a number of years now, I have been questioning the faith, Christianity, and whether Jesus Christ is really my, or anyone’s, ‘savior’,” the “press release” read in part. “I believe now that the Bible is a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times. There is zero evidence the Bible is the holy word of God. In fact, there is zero evidence ‘God’ even exists.”

These words were backed up by a Twitter account (@PastorJoelOsten), a series of YouTube videos posted by a supposed Christian News organization, and a blog called Christianity News Texas, which ran an “exclusive interview” in which Osteen discussed his resignation.

The problem: Every single source is a fake, created within the past month and devoted solely to perpetuating the false Osteen story. (The first clue that something’s off: The original fake website and the fake Twitter account, which has since been suspended, both spell Osteen’s last name with just one “e.”) The site that started it all, joelostenministries.com, was apparently registered by a company called BMG Enterprises, located in Milwaukee, Wis., on April Fools’ Day.

Osteen himself has not responded to the hoax on his official website — his real one — but the onetime “Most Fascinating Person” did, however, discuss the hoax with ABC News today, saying that he won’t let it get in the way of spreading his message of Christian love. “You can’t stop everything from happening, but you can choose to say, ‘God, it’s in your hands’,” the pastor said. “I’m going to move forward. I’m going stay full of joy and I’m going to enjoy this day.”

Even if bogus Christianity News has just posted another video claiming that its hoax is absolutely not a hoax.

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