Texas pastor Joel Osteen appears to have been the target of a hoax.
A fake website published a statement that quoted Osteen saying he was leaving his post as pastor of Lakewood Church – one of the largest churches in America – and abandoning his faith in Christianity.
“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,” the statement quoted Osteen as saying.
The alleged statement published on March 29 goes on to say that Osteen will be focusing his attention on “real world” issues like “the destruction of our environment by multinational corporations,” ”the toxic fluoride they have been putting in our water for 50 years” and “the toxic GMO foods that the Monsanto Corporation is responsible for.”
Images of articles citing the statement appeared to have been posted on CNN, Drudge Report and Yahoo News and began circulating online, but links to Osteen’s official website and Twitter account show no such change of heart.
Another hint to the apparent hoax lies in the website’s URL. Its name, joelostenministries.com, misspelled the pastor’s last name since Osteen’s ministry’s official website owns the domain joelosteen.com.
Nicknamed the “smiling preacher,” Joel Osteen is the leader of a 16,000-seat megachurch in Houston that his father started. His television ministry reaches 100 million homes in the United States and millions more in 100 countries.
"My message is that God is a good God," Osteen told Barbara Walters in an interview where he was named one of the Most Fascinating People of 2006. "And if we all … have the right attitude, he'll take us places that we've never dreamed of."