This past Sunday Twitter users took to the platform with a barrage of tweets after news, reported by the Small Business Administration (SBA), of the 4.4 million dollar PPP Loan awarded to Pastor Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston broke. Their fury was further fueled when photos of famed pastor's newly purchased $325,000 Ferrari 458 Italia surfaced.
The question of the ethicality of megachurches and their esteemed pastors has been persistently brought to the forefront of discussion since the creation of the very first one. Many question "what's too much" for God and whether these megachurches and pastors have veered too far off course from traditional church practices. Some believe these church's sole focus is in monetary growth and not preaching the word of God and stewardship.
The Pastor is far from struggling. He and his wife currently live in their $10.5 million dollar home in River Oaks. They also own a second $2.9 million mansion in Tanglewood, Houston. And his newest Ferrari is not his first or only luxury car tucked away in his garage.
Twitter users had varying opinions on the matter however, many felt the Pastor's luxury lifestyle and new purchase were unwarranted. Here are some of the inflamed commentary surrounding the matter below.
Joel Osteen got $4.4 million in forgivable PPP loans— Lindy Li (@lindyli) July 18, 2021
Pays nothing in taxes
Drives a $325,000 Ferrari
Closed the doors of his church to those in need after a hurricane
You’re a false prophet who reaps false profits @JoelOsteen
What would Jesus think of Joel Osteen's $325,000 Ferrari?— Jake Lobin (@JakeLobin) July 18, 2021
Jesus turned water into wine for his disciples.— ⚡️𝓢𝓶𝓲𝓽𝓮!!⚡️ (@7Veritas4) July 18, 2021
Joel turned donations from his disciples into an Italian sports car.
The evolution of Christianity.
Y’all forgot that Jesus was a wealthy man- he fed, housed and clothed twelve disciples for years, a beautiful lady wiped his feet with her hair, his earthly father was a carpenter( very rich profession then and now) etc. Jesus loves his followers to be rich.— AVE (@emxvisinoni) July 18, 2021
Remember that one time Joel Osteen helped the poor instead of himself? Yeah, me neither.— Mayo (@MayoIsSpicyy) July 18, 2021
I’ll never understand how people buy whatever Joel Osteen is selling. The prosperity Gospel is dangerous and telling your constituents that the more they give to the church the more they will be blessed is literally not what Jesus stood for. Jesus helped others, not himself.— Malynda Hale (@MalyndaHale) July 19, 2021
Some came to the church leaders defense however, reasoning that the Pastor has been working and investing outside of the church for years. Many also note Osteen is an award winning author as well.
Why do people want Church leaders to be poor? He takes NO SALARY from Lakewood and is a Multimillionaire by his books and business ventures. I do not understand the hate he gets. 🤷🏾♂️— Jon DeSade (@ThaRealDeSade) July 18, 2021
Y’all really upset Joel Osteen lives lavishly??? Y’all think he interviewed with Oprah for free or something??? Or is it a Twitter thing to just be upset about something you can’t typically understand?— BoDerek (@BoKnowzzzz) July 19, 2021
Joel Osteen is a best selling author why can’t he own a Ferrari lol 🤷🏾♀️— Alexis Noel (@CruiseinAlexis) July 19, 2021
Joel Osteen is a best selling Author. He has made his money thru selling his books and CD’s. His salary is meager. Do you also think other authors have no right to spend their money? Joel Osteen is actually a motivational speaker. He never went to a Seminary.— Kelly Schultz (@lilnurse05) July 19, 2021
The Pastor claims, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, that his wealth has been accumulated via his authorship. Some of his award winning works including, Your Best Life Now and Every Day a Friday.Osteen is not apologetic for his wealth as the royalties from his books is what has afforded him his lucrative and flashy lifestyle. However, the pastor does insist he remains thankful for the abundance of God's blessings within his life.
On the topic of the infamous PPP loan, many believe that as the church remains untaxed the $4.4 million awarded is an unseemly amount of money for one church to receive.
However according to David Iloff, a spokesperson for Lakewood Church, who spoke with KPRC, regarding the loan,"Lakewood Church, our 368 full and part time employees and their families are grateful for the Payroll Protection Program during these uncertain economic times caused by the COVID 19 pandemic. Lakewood suspended its in-person services for more than seven months (March 15th though October 18, 2020), impacting its ability to collect substantial donations during those services. Believing the shutdown would only last a few weeks, Lakewood did not initially accept PPP assistance during the first half of the program. However, as the shutdown persisted month after month, given the economic uncertainty, Lakewood finally applied for the PPP loan and has been able to provide full salaries and benefits including health insurance coverage to all of its employees and their families."
What are your thoughts on this matter? Is Osteen in the right for making such personal purchases or do you expect a religious leader to use his money in other ways? Comment down below!
Written by Precious Onukwuli