Amazingly Elaborate Hoax Targets Megachurch Pastor

Joel Osteen has renounced his faith, online hoax claims

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 9, 2013 4:41 AM CDT | Updated Apr 9, 2013 7:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – Somebody has put a massive amount of work into a hoax claiming that pastor Joel Osteen has renounced his faith and is resigning from the Texas megachurch his father founded, the Houston Chronicle reports. The hoax includes a fake Twitter feed, a YouTube video from "ChristianityNews" containing mockups of news websites trumpeting Osteen's loss of faith, and a fake website that looks similar to the pastor's own site.

"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 fake Osteen writes, thanking his wife, his congregation, Texas, "and my close friends, Oprah Winfrey and Larry King," and pledging to devote his efforts to environmental issues from now on. Lakewood Church officials say they are aware of the hoax. NPR has tracked the website to an entity called BMG Enterprises in Milwaukee.

Joel Osteen preaches during a worship service at Lakewood Church.   (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Steve Ueckert, File)
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This video with mock-ups of news sites was part of the hoax.   (YouTube)

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