The devil really is in the details sometimes.
Parishioners of Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church must have received quite the scare when a website directed them to a CNN article announcing that the televangelist and author of Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential was leaving his ministry due to a "lack of faith."
But have faith, all: The fake website and article were part of an elaborate hoax!
"It is a false rumor: Pastor Joel is not leaving the church. -JOM Team," a rep for Osteen's ministry tweeted today from his official Twitter account.
The rumor apprently sprung from the website www.joelostenministries.com (never mind the misspelling), which includes a screengrab of a fake CNN story headlined, "Pastor of mega church resigns, rejects Christ," with the subhead, "Cites 'lack of faith'; Pledges 'new church.'"
There is also a fake "official statement" that's supposed to be from Osteen's blog, in which he admits to having preached "feel-good Christianity" and profiting greatly from his ministry, books and TV deals.
"I believe now that the Bible is a fallible, flawed, highly inconsistent history book that has been altered hundreds of times," the fake statement continues. "There is zero evidence the Bible is the holy word of God. In fact, there is zero evidence 'God' even exists."
The site also states that Osteen is planning to donate a "large percentage of his fortune" to charities like the Salvation Army, "since they do not pay their CEO and upper management exorbitant salaries as do The United Way and Red Cross," and features an invitation to "A Night of Hope for Joel" on April 20 to support his newfound lack of faith
In what must have come as a relief to many, the Houston Chronicle unmasked the so-called news about Osteen as a hoax today.