Megachurch preacher Joel Osteen is in the internet hot seat today after he was reportedly spotted driving a $325,000 Ferrari around, reminding everyone that he received a $4.4 million PPP loan at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in spite of his already vast wealth while small businesses shuttered across the nation.
They were further reminded of this as people began posting photos of his massive mansion and talk about how different Osteen’s lifestyle is from that of the guy he says he worships and that we should all be worshipping, too.
Osteen is the senior pastor of the Texas-based Lakewood Church operating out of the former Compaq Center, which seats 56,000 people.
He is also a televangelist and author of several books, counting fans among Republicans like the late John McCain, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and current Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The preacher has been criticized many times over the years for living a lifestyle that could feed hundreds, if not thousands, of starving families while asking his followers to donate more money to his megachurch. Osteen has continued to call himself a follower of Jesus Christ, who famously repeated that it’s virtually impossible for rich people to get into heaven because they will always love their money more than they love God.
Osteen currently has a reported net worth of $100 million, lives in a 17,000 square-foot mansion valued at $10.5 million, and though he says he takes no income from his church, it brings in about $43 million each year in follower donations. He famously came under fire once again in 2017 after the Lakewood Church remained closed following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, only opening its doors as a shelter for those displaced by flooding after facing heavy criticism.
He preaches what is known as the “prosperity gospel,” which claims that God wants everyone to have mansions and mega-yachts even though this is utterly impossible on a planet with finite resources, meaning every unnecessary square foot of Osteen’s mansion is taking food from the mouths of hungry children.
This is not often what Biblical scholars consider to be what Jesus had in mind when he told people to give away all their money and possessions if they wanted to follow him.
At $4.4 million, Osteen’s church received the third biggest PPP loan in Houston over the summer of 2020, resulting in many openly wondering what all that money could be for considering the fact that Lakewood services are routinely televised anyway, especially if it’s true that Osteen doesn’t collect pay.
These questions and plenty more, including why his church doesn’t have to pay taxes, have resurfaced after he was once again spotted living the high life while many still struggle to recover from an ongoing and possibly resurging pandemic.