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Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church received $4.4M in COVID-19 PPP funding

Multi-millionaire televangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood megachurch received $4.4 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds for small businesses – three years after shutting his church doors on Harvey flood victims

  • Lakewood Church, which is based in Houston, Texas, received $4.4 million as part of the federal government’s COVID-19 relief program
  • The church, run by multimillionaire televangelist Joel Osteen, received the loan in July under the Paycheck Protection Program 
  • Small businesses could apply for PPP loans as an incentive to keep their workers on the payroll amid the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The $4.4 million loan given to Osteen’s Lakewood Church was the third highest handed out in Houston in July and August 
  • Houses of worship, which don’t pay taxes, were among those eligible to apply for the stimulus funding 
  • The church said it used the funding to pay its 368 employees
  • The hashtag #TaxTheChurches started trending on Twitter soon after details of Lakewood’s PPP loan emerged 

Multimillionaire televangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood megachurch took $4.4 million in bailouts as part of the federal government’s COVID-19 relief program for small businesses.

The evangelical church, which is based in Houston, Texas and is one of the largest in the country, received the loan under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program earlier this year.

Small businesses could apply for PPP loans with their banks under the federal government’s CARES Act stimulus package as an incentive to keep their workers on the payroll amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The $4.4 million loan given to Osteen’s Lakewood Church was the third highest handed out in Houston in July and August, the Houston Business Journal reports. 

Multimillionaire televangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood megachurch received $4.4 million in bailouts as part of the federal government’s COVID-19 relief program for small businesses in July

The megachurch, which draws in about 52,000 congregants per week, was given the loan via Bank of America in mid-July.  

Houses of worship, which don’t pay taxes, were among those eligible to apply for the stimulus funding. More than 1,000 religious institutions in Houston were approved for PPP loans. 

A Lakewood spokesman said the church’s $4.4 million loan was used to pay the wages of 368 full time and part time employees. 

The church’s suspension of in-person services due to COVID-19 between March and October impacted its ability to collect ‘substantial donations’ from churchgoers. 

‘Believing the shutdown would only last a few weeks, Lakewood did not initially apply for PPP assistance during the first half of the program,’ the spokesman said.

‘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.’ 

The megachurch, which draws in about 52,000 congregants per week (above), said its suspension of in-person services due to COVID-19 between March and October impacted its ability to collect 'substantial donations' from churchgoers

The megachurch, which draws in about 52,000 congregants per week (above), said its suspension of in-person services due to COVID-19 between March and October impacted its ability to collect ‘substantial donations’ from churchgoers

A church spokesman said the $4.4 million in funds did not provide financial benefit to Osteen or his wife Victoria. Osteen has an estimated net worth of about $100 million

A church spokesman said the $4.4 million in funds did not provide financial benefit to Osteen or his wife Victoria. Osteen has an estimated net worth of about $100 million

Services were able to resume at Lakewood Church in October at 25 per cent capacity under state rules. 

The church’s spokesman said the $4.4 million in funds did not provide financial benefit to Osteen or his wife Victoria. 

Osteen has an estimated net worth of about $100 million. He lives in a $10.5 million mansion in the Houston neighborhood of River Oaks. 

‘It is important to note that, since 2004, Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen have not received salaries from Lakewood Church, and the PPP funds do not provide any personal financial benefit to them, whatsoever,’ the spokesman said. 

The hashtag #TaxTheChurches started trending on Twitter soon after details of Lakewood’s PPP loan emerged.

Some criticized Osteen and the church for accepting federal funds despite now paying taxes.  

Osteen and his church have been scrutinized in the past after failing to open its doors quickly to those in need when Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston back in 2017. 

The church started providing shelter to those displaced by the hurricane after being heavily criticized.   

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