In what may have been conceived as an April Fool’s joke, a Joel Osteen Ministries site launched recently reporting that the mega-church leader not only resigned from his post at Lakewood Church in Texas, but renounced Christianity as well.
“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,’” read the blog that was supposedly written by Joel. “There is zero evidence the Bible is the holy word of God. In fact, there is zero evidence ‘God’ even exists.”
The unofficial site includes reports that are supposedly from CNN and other credible news outlets.
However, church representative Andrea Davis assured the Houston Chronicle that the elaborate rumor is just that.
Church leaders have not clarified whether they’ll seek legal action against the pranksters. Some legal experts believe Joel may be able to sue the culprits for libel, but at this time, it’s unclear who created the fake site or why.
While many questioned the legitimacy of the site’s claims right away, others thought there might be some truth to the false story and posted some encouragement and a few harsh comments about the Christian leader.
“The devil is a liar pastor. Joel and you fell for him hook line and sinker. Trust your eyes will open before its too late,” wrote one commenter on the fake site. Another wrote: “Joel, you need a great deal of prayer because you’re in trouble with Lord Jesus for denouncing him, but it’s better you step down to mend your relationship with Christ.”
Joel has not publicly responded to the story.