The elaborate April Fools prank seems to be getting more traction a week after the event.
Famed televangelist Joel Osteen has not renounced his faith and is not quitting the church.
Everyone can breathe a little easier now. But what exactly led to the confusion in the first place? According to the most recent announcements, it was all an elaborate April Fools prank, NPR reports. The pranksters used fake Twitter, Facebook and Youtube profiles to announce the “news” that the pastor was closing down his huge Texas church. Not only that, but he was apparently doing it, because he had entirely renounced his beliefs.
On Osteen's Twitter feed this morning, the pastor's staff responded to a question about the story by writing, "It is a false rumor: Pastor Joel is not leaving the church." It now seems that that rather enigmatic tweet may have set off more interest in the fake story this past Monday than had been generated when the hoax was hatched last week.
Crisis averted: Reverend Osteen isn't going anywhere.
The identities of those behind the prank have not been announced of course, but it doesn’t look like they will be facing any legal prosecution anyway. The pranksters didn’t really do anything illegal and, unless Osteen himself wants to claim defamation, there is nothing that the impersonators could be charged with. Osteen himself seemed very nonchalant about the whole thing in an interview with ABC News, where he said: “To me they just had too much time on their hands and wanted to create some kind of stir. I don’t see it as malicious.” Now that’s what we call turning the other cheek.