Transcript for Joel Osteen Internet Hoax Claimed Pastor Quit Faith
-- hosts dean may be America's best known preacher next to Billy Graham. Senior pastor the massive Lakewood church in Houston these televangelists has over seven million viewers every week and over hundred countries. So when it appeared he'd renounce the -- that -- awful lot of people talking. Turns out it was a hoax to get the mega pastor did changes message. Tonight ABC's David Wright on the man who says he was behind the -- You've got what it takes this is your moment the promise is in -- He's the -- again Tony Robbins god wants. You -- the Celebrex. Reaching the prosperity gospel. In bestselling books and hopeful homilies you beautiful -- you're strong one of America's best known evangelical -- so for jolt host team to quit. More than that for -- all those -- to quit because he was rejecting his faith. That's lose. -- rejects his faith doesn't believe in Christ anymore and you know. That seems like that's a little -- her attention grabbing than just about anything else I can say it was certainly news posting. A friend called and said people calling in from south African and Australia. You know this -- a big deal. Turns out -- dean was the victim of an elaborate Internet hoax a story traced back to a Twitter account. Backed up by a FaceBook page at a web -- that -- all the bells and whistles of those teams mega church home page. But look closely at the address one of the ease in -- is missing. Domain was registered. April 1 April fools to be crystal clear -- -- Steen has not renounced his faith or quit his ministry olive oil. Still have not paid nothing is changed then there. Building was full on Sunday a few days ago in the building has a seating capacity of 161000. People Lakewood church in Houston. One of the largest congregations in the country -- team has no idea who created the hoax but the prankster probably did not break any laws. There's no potential criminal charges here the only question is whether. Joseph loss team would want to sue. And say you've damaged my reputation. -- cost me money. -- Cost need some steam within the community. And you ought to pay for. Whose team won't say whether he has any plans to sue I'm really not angry I'm killer convict him. I think a lot of it is not personality -- -- people left that life is too short to let. Things like this get too down a good Christian he's turning the other cheek for now nothing. To me they just had too much time on their hands and wanted to create some kind of store I don't see it is. Militias that's OK god has something great in your future. ABC news managed to contact a man who claims to be those -- coaxed her. -- doesn't shrivel up. Probably -- Pollard and how do we know you are just control and -- and -- -- He Donna -- view. In fact he sent to us what he said -- the receipts for the godaddy account used to register the phony domain name plus correspondence between him and NPR and the Huffington Post. Who connected with him through the email address on the side. He told us he doesn't like the term hopes. College. Media campaign only get through. Dialogue with bad especially that ball. He claims he's actually a fan of postings. But says he feels those -- message is too shallow. I don't want -- guys on base and I did not want it -- -- -- that level but it. On to get through this guy I don't appreciate your real. It's so easy to propagate a -- if you want to. Terrible website it's never been easier you can sort of rumor on Twitter with -- You know a few keystrokes -- dean is not the first nor will he be the last victim of an Internet hoax. Notre Dame star linebacker Man -- tail was famously duped by an online girlfriend -- actor Tony Danza -- death was announced a couple of years ago. Same for rapper fifty cent and comedian Eddie Murphy even though all of them are very much alive the -- on those -- was relatively mind. Have been much worse I think he's lucky that it was just what it was not anything more and you know graphic and it's that we -- -- Photoshop something it's pretty convincing. Senior staff writer at the tech -- his -- Sam Biddle once inadvertently started an Internet hoax. But tweeting about the death of blue cute Pomeranian with nearly seven million FaceBook followers. I think that it does serve -- -- Culture has -- been going -- line for -- in decades that. Anything's fair game and it's hard to -- do. What's come before you satire -- -- are protected forms of speech what makes this case tougher. Is that. You don't immediately know. DC's a satire DC's a parity. A reasonable person could very well come to this site and believe. That wow. He's abandoning the church. Because some kind of statement. -- here not only addressed the issue yes he incorporated it into his ministry this is a part of our whole message is that. -- what people can't stop you from your destiny bad breaks somebody doing you wrong to move forward in faith -- Turn it around and use it to your advantage for his part just -- -- says he hopes it'll lead to a meeting with those Steve. It would be -- I don't conversation. I -- -- wouldn't mind that you prayed over. Sometimes the Internet works in mysterious ways to do. I'm David Wright for Nightline in Los Angeles --
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