The reverend Joel Osteen, the famous pastor of Houston's Lakewood "mega-church" fell victim to an elaborate and pretty funny internet hoax this week, in which many of his followers were tricked into believing he had renounced his belief in God and resigned from his spiritual post.

Anyway, it was all the work of an internet prankster who fabricated a Twitter feed and put out a fake YouTube video from Christianity News that includes images from various news sites and headlines that spoke of Mr Osteen's renouncing, reports the Washington Post. The man or woman behind the prank also devised a website almost identical to Mr Osteen's, which featured a message of apology to church followers. "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 message. 

The pastor went on to explain that he was turning his attention away from religion and towards environmental issues. NPR says it has so far isolated the prankster as hailing from Milwaukee, at an organization called BMG Enterprises.

On Osteen's real Twitter feed this morning, a staff member called the whole thing "a false rumor," adding, "Pastor Joel is not leaving the church."

Joel OsteenJoel Osteen Performing On 'An Evening With Joel Osteen'