Joel Osteen is not leaving Christianity, the Houston Press reported Monday, although several websites, a YouTube video and a fake Twitter account spread a rumor that the toothy televangelist from Houston had lost his religion.
There's no word on who's behind the hoax, but it seems to have started with a website -- now experiencing "server issues" -- and a Wordpress blog called "Joel Osteen Ministries," that posted Osteen's "special announcement."
Osteen's fake statement reads, 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.
The pranksters also created a Twitter account, @PastorJoelOsteen, which has since been suspended, and a YouTube video complete with fake CNN headlines.
Osteen, who preaches at Houston's Lakewood Church, reaches millions of people around the world with a ministry that emphasizes positivity and personal motivation.
The real Osteen remains active on his verified Twitter account, @JoelOsteen, though he has yet to comment on the hoax that tried to rob him of his faith.