Pastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen gives the invocation before Annise Parker is publicly sworn in as mayor of the United States' fourth largest city in Houston January 4, 2010. Houston on December 12, 2009 became the first major U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor, Parker, after a hotly contested run-off election that gave gay and lesbian supporters a symbolic victory following defeats over legalizing same-sex marriages in California and Maine. (Photo : REUTERS/Richard Carson )
Reports that Joel Osteen, a popular TV evangelist and the senior pastor of the Lakewood Church in Texas, had resigned have been revealed to be part of an Internet hoax.
Over the weekend, images of articles on CNN, Drudge Report and Yahoo with headlining announcing Osteen's resignation circulated through online. The articles stated that Osteen not only resigned from his leadership position at the Houston mega church, but that he was also converting to atheism due to "lack of faith." However, actual links to those articles were unable to be found.
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Instead, the announcement seemed to originate from a WordPress blog called Joel Osteen Ministries in which the only post is an alleged article from CNN.
According to the fake report, the 50-year-old best-selling author said that he believes that "the Bible is a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times." He went on to say that "There is zero evidence the Bible is the holy word of God."
The statement also said:
"As many of you may know, and may have heard in the news recently, many of my sermons have deviated from traditional Christian doctrine. I have been accused of altering the 'message' to fit my own doctrine and dogma. Others have accused me of preaching 'feel good Christianity'. I have also been accused of profiting greatly from my ministry, with my books and television deals. Many of their criticisms are legitimate. [...]"
The website has since been taken down.