Houston pastor Joel Osteen targeted in elaborate Internet hoax

Joel Osteen, the evangelical preacher at Houston’s Lakewood Church, is not abandoning Christianity, despite a massive Internet hoax that purported his exit.

Osteen said he began receiving calls and messages from all over the world early Monday, asking the pastor if he was aware of the fake websites declaring the end of his relationship with Christianity.

"We saw it as being comical because it's so ludicrous but sometimes things like that can catch on,” Osteen told

Pranksters created bogus websites to mock those of Yahoo, CNN and Drudge Report, as well as a fake Twitter account claiming Osteen was refuting the Bible.

No one has claimed responsibility for the hoax as of Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Beth Guide, of SEO411, said anyone with average Internet skills could have designed the same prank and noted the timing.

"The domain was created April 1, 2013,” Guide told “They did it as a April fool’s prank."

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