Televangelist Joel Osteen is facing criticism for not doing more to help the sick and needy through this quarantine crisis. Many critics have taken offense that Osteen was still asking for money donations through his website despite the closure of his megachurch due to the need for social distancing and despite his already massive net worth.
Osteen participated in an interview conducted by a local Houston television news program to defend himself against charges that his net worth was inherently unChristian.
“Look, I view my Lakewood Church as my flock, and I look after my flock like a shepherd would his sheep,” explained Osteen. “But the flock of sheep also provides the shepherd with very valuable wool that he then sells to support himself and pay the mortgage of a mansion. So when I ask for money donations, I am merely asking my sheep for their wool. And maybe their kids’ college funds. What’s wrong with that? And besides, my church knows I’m sincere. They come to me for advice on how to be rich like me, and I help them plant their seeds for success by taking their seeds, which are donations to my church or purchases of my books, and then burying those seeds into my bank account to blossom. But they are happy to give! They know I’m 100% authentic, and that I care about them. And though they may be my sheep, they’re looking after me, too. They don’t want me to get coronavirus, and neither do I. Which is why, in this trying time, it is especially imperative that I continue to get cash money donations.”
Osteen rubbed his fingers together pantomiming the act of rubbing coins.
“If this pandemic continues to get worse, I’m going to need to take off in my private jet and not come back down to land for many weeks or months until the pandemic is over. Do you have any idea how expensive jet fuel is? And refueling in mid-air? And if all my followers die from the coronavirus, I’m going to need to spend a lot of money on advertising to find tens of thousands of new dupes to buy my books. As the Internet accumulates lots of exposé videos of me living a hypocritical life of superfluous luxury and saying things that suggest I don’t understand basic tenets of my own religion, it’s getting harder and harder to find new people willing to give me money.”
The interviewer then interrupted Osteen to ask if he remembered Jesus’s line about camels and eyes of needles.
“Are you sure that’s in the Bible? I’m not familiar with that. Oh, you know what, maybe it’s a translation thing. You see, I’ve actually done my own translation and editing of the Bible. It’s kind of like Jefferson’s Bible, in which he edited out all the supernatural and unbelievable mythological bits he didn’t care for. In my Bible, I edited out all the stuff about money changers, the bits against hoarding, and all the animal-based metaphors concerning wealth and greed. Because, you know, if Jesus had been a little greedier and flashier with some conspicuous consumption, he probably would have had way more than just 12 Disciples. Look at me, my net worth is $40 million, and I have hundreds of thousands of viewers of my sermons in person and online! So clearly Jesus was a little mistaken about the value of money. Besides, why do people criticize me? Why don’t they look at Kenneth Copeland? He’s way richer than me! Or Jesse Duplantis? Or Benny Hinn? Or Creflo Dollar? Or Joyce Meyer? Or Pat Robertson? All these people are rich like me, and I’m not going to give up my private jets until they give up theirs! Out of all these people, my mansion is nowhere near the biggest! They have a lot more money than I have! And if Jesus hadn’t wanted all of us to live extravagant lifestyles, he wouldn’t have made our followers so gullible and easy to convince to give us their money!”
Osteen threw his hands up in the air and shrugged.
“We’re literally telling them that by giving us their money, they will get more money in the future, and it never happens! And they still continue to give us money! It’s amazing. Certainly God is okay with this or He wouldn’t allow us to continue doing it. Because, let’s be honest, a lot of us televangelists have committed a lot of fraud. Like, a lot. The government gives us a pass on a lot of record-keeping, and doesn’t charge us taxes like everyone else. It’s a very cushy line of work. But our followers still give us money for third private jets even when we already have two! Because we convince them Jesus will magically make them richer. Isn’t it hilarious? Even though they’d be richer not giving us 10% of their money! It’s like they don’t understand the basic concepts of addition and subtraction. But where in the Bible does it specifically say not to take advantage of simple-minded people and make their lives worse by tricking them out of substantial percentages of their paychecks? Seriously, where? I don’t know because I probably cut those passages out of mine.”
The interviewer then asked if Osteen would donate any money to help his followers who are struggling from losing their jobs due to the economic shutdown.
“I’m not going to start being poorer just because everyone in my church is getting poorer! They should have made better money decisions, like not buying all my books. All I did was rearrange the words and sentences! So it’s not my fault they buy every one of them. No refunds! And I recently spent all the book proceeds on a large collection of Japanese sex robots, so it’s all gone. I’m a good Christian so I’d never cheat on my wife, but I still want some new thrills in my life, you know? And it’s not cheating if your other woman is an inanimate, life-like pleasure doll, or ten of them.”
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