Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen is no stranger to controversy.
After facing past criticism for his handling of opening his church for those in need during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Osteen’s newest issue is on social media after it was revealed the multi-million dollar pastor owns a Ferrari worth $325,000. The Ferrari sparked a conversation on whether or not preachers should own luxury vehicles or live lavishly.
“What would Jesus think of Joel Osteen’s $325,000 Ferrari,” one user questioned.
The backlash continued from there, prompting the terms “Osteen” and “Ferrari” to trend on social media over the weekend.
Osteen’s net worth of $40 million has come mainly from his 14 published books and bestsellers. According to Lakewood, he doesn’t take his annual salary of $200,000 from the church.
In December 2020, a report by the Houston Chronicle revealed Osteen’s church took in $4.4 million in federal paycheck protection program loans. According to the Small Business Administration, Lakewood was among 60 religious institutions in the state who received more than $1 million in PPP loan money. Osteen defended the loan for the church, stating it was a necessity for the 368 employees who worked at the church.
In a statement, David Iloff, spokesperson for Lakewood Church, told KPRC the church was justified in asking for help and using the funds to assist families.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”
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