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Joel Osteen’s Missing $600,000 and Pat Robertson’s Questionable Friends

pat-robertson-1By now, you have heard that television evangelist Joel Osteen’s megachurch was robbed of $600,000 in cash and checks. Thieves managed to break into a safe sometime between Sunday, March 10 and Monday, March  11, and make off with $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks. What you may not know is that Mr. Osteen made that $600,000 in two days. Yes, all that money was donated to Osteen’s megachurch Saturday, March 9 and Sunday March 10.

Joel Osteen will not have to pay taxes on that money, just like he doesn’t pay taxes on any of the money he “earns” by standing in front of one of the largest evangelical Christian audiences in America and talking about God. His weekly congregation of 45,000 people gladly donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to Osteen every weekend, they buy his books and videos, they watch his televised services by the millions. Osteen’s net worth is approximately $40 million, and he and his wife live in a $10.5 million mansion in River Oaks, Texas. One of Osteen’s favorite things to tell his audiences is it’s “God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty.” Sorry, poor people, you just must not love God enough-after all, where’s your gated mansion?

Interestingly, Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church has no crosses. None. It has a cafe with internet access, video game kiosks, and a vault for all of those donations. Lakewood Church is located in the former Compaq Center, once the home of the Houston Rockets. It’s less of a church, and more of an entertainment center, with Joel Osteen as the ringmaster. Yes, he speaks about the Bible, and God, but you get the feeling there’s something else at play. As with any salesman, you wonder what the catch is. Perhaps the catch was in that safe (“vault”).

Joel Osteen is not alone in being a multi-millionaire pastor of a megachurch or media empire. Pat Robertson is estimated to be worth anywhere from $200 million to $1 billion. Given that he sold International Family Entertainment to Fox in 1997 for $1.9 billion, my guess is, his net worth is quite a bit more than $200 million. And then, there’s his diamond mine. Yes, a diamond mine.

In 2013, a documentary titled “Mission Congo” alleged Pat Robertson’s charity, Operation Blessing, served as a front for his diamond mine operation. To understand their charges, we have to go back to Rwanda in 1994. One million Rwandans fled their country in the wake of genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people, and Pat Robertson went on television, begging for viewers to pledge $25 a month to Operation Blessing International. According to Robertson’s pleas, he planned to charter a 727 and travel with medical personnel and supplies to Rwanda. But according to “Mission Congo,” Robertson needed that money for something far different than saving the lives of Rwandan refugees.

One witness, a member of Doctors Without Borders, recalls that at a refugee camp overrun with cholera in Goma, he saw “one tent and a stack of Bibles.” A local remembers:

People began to refuse the Bibles. ‘What we need is food and medicine,’ they said. Operation Blessing would say, ‘That’s not our mission.’

Which begs the question: why did Pat Robertson tell his viewers he was planning on traveling with 100 doctors, if helping the sick and the poor wasn’t the mission of his charity? Where did all the money go? It seems that one of the keys to answering that question is Pat Robertson’s friendship with Mobutu Sese Seku. Pat Robertson was the sole shareholder and president of African Development Company, Ltd, a diamond mining operation. In the documentary, a reporter named Bill Sizemore claims Mobutu granted ADC a mining license when Mobutu was president of Zaire. At the time of the alleged license, the United Nations had imposed sanctions on Mobutu for human rights violations.

Oddly, Mobutu may not be the only violent dictator with whom Robertson had a friendship. According to a lawyer prosecuting former Liberian warlord, Charles Taylor, Robertson lobbied the White House on Taylor’s behalf regarding lucrative gold mining contracts. Robertson denies that claim. And in 2011, Robertson appeared on his television program in support of Laurent Gbagbo, calling him a “very fine man.” That very fine man was transferred to the International Criminal Court at the Hague, facing four charges of “crimes against humanity,” including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and other “inhuman acts.” But Gbagbo was Christian, and that was good enough for Pat Robertson.

The Book of Matthew states you cannot worship both God and money. Maybe I’m missing something, but doesn’t it seem that, in the cases of Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson, that’s exactly what they’re doing? If Joel Osteen really wanted to follow in the footsteps of Christ, he certainly wouldn’t have a megachurch, or a mansion, or $600,000 laying around in a safe. He’d live in a modest home, preach to the homeless, and give any donations he receives to the poor. His salary might be a little less than my husband’s, and he and his lovely wife could live quite comfortably on that. As for Pat Robertson, as  far as I know, Jesus never hung out with men who used rape as a tool of war, or lobbied on their behalf with political leaders. Jesus never owned a diamond mine that used child slave labor. But these are who conservative Christians (and others) turn to for moral guidance.

Anne Rice once told me she follows Christ, not men. The message of Christ is so far removed from what these ultra-rich-and in the case of Pat Robertston, ultra-corrupt-pastors say, and preach, and live, that I honestly do not know why anyone who calls themselves a Christian can look to people like this for spiritual wealth. Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson don’t seem to be concerned with any kind of wealth other than the monetary kind, which puts them at odds with the message of Jesus. How can they be leaders of any kind to their flock?

This is why people look at Christianity as a joke. Men like this, and women like this, so obsessed with money and power, they’ve completely forgotten who Jesus was. Thank God (pun intended), there are Christians out there who remember the truth, because people like Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson are destroying Christianity, one dollar bill at a time.

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Erin Nanasi

Erin Nanasi is the creator of The Bachmann Diaries: Satirical Excerpts from Michele Bachmann's Fictional Diary. She hates writing about herself in the third person. Erin enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family. And wombats. Come visit Erin on on Facebook. She also can be found on Twitter at @WriterENanasi.

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  • carolgardner

    Joel has to pay income tax.

    • Emora

      He doesn’t even pay property tax; his $10.5 million home is owned by Covenant Trust, which pays the $260,000 in property tax. He makes the bulk of his money from book sales, once receiving a $13 million advance. But he doesn’t turn down the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations he receives every single week. If you could share a link to prove he pays federal income tax, that would be helpful, as I have been looking for 15 minutes, and can’t find one.

      • Conda

        My Dad was a minister in Michigan for 60+ years and he paid income tax on his earnings quarterly, considered self employed even though he was affiliated with a major denomination.

      • John Gannett

        Well said Conda

      • Billy Smith

        Your Dad did not own the organization. He had to pay taxes on his income. Helmet Head has no income his every need down to his toilet paper is furnished by the organization.

      • Sharon

        The church donations do go to pay tons of employees, mortgages, utilities, equipment, tv air time for different countries and so so much more.
        The church is the house of God. Unfortunately they have always cost money to run all the way back when they had to pay kings and had no utilities. Lets not forget where ppl run too when things are bad and someone needs help. The church always steps in.

  • GayAtheist64

    Joel and Pat are being seen for what they are, as are many other evangelists. The truth is Christianity doesn’t need their help being seen as a joke. Not only is it plagiarized myth, but its followers are constantly making fools/arses of themselves.

    • Guest

      Except Joel, and other preachers, pastors, etc., don’t get paid, they live on gifts from their own church. It’s not technically a wage, as a gift it is not subject to tax. All their mansions, cars and toys belong to the church. All their meals, entertainments, etc. are prayer meetings, or meetings with the faithful, or meetings to raise funds for the church. With a little creative accounting (its not that difficult actually) it is possible to write-off all of the preacher’s income as gifts, leaving them with the church’s funds (and consequentially immune to tax) as their own personal disposable income while paying no tax on any of it. (A registered church or religious organization is not subject to tax.)

      • alwaysright

        And there lies the problem… Tax these thieves for every dime they pull in…

      • Marcos Carlos

        Reverand Joel Osteen has an estimated net worth of over $40 million, owns a Ferrari, owns two multi-million dollar mansions. He should listen to Yahsua and sell everything he owns and give it to the poor.

  • Aleta

    Grifters…

  • bungaylad

    Parasites, plain and simple!

  • lisa johnston

    you are right, Erin. Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson, amoung many others are not true disciples of Jesus Christ and do not speek the whole truth of the Bible. They are considered ” prosperity Gospel preachers” and preach about having faith equates with how well you succeed in this earthly world. They will have to answer to God in the end and they are false messiahs! I am ashamed to call myself a Christian anymore because i am embarrassed by preachers who do not live rightously, rather live and preach falseness…-man- is sinful and -MAN-has destroyed Gods true word. there are very few Honorable, God fearing, truthful preachers or people anymore and i no longer call myself a Christian. I now consider myself a disciple (student)of Jesus and try to live according to His teachings. Do i fail? Of course , every day , but please remember that those of us that practice the faith will always wake up sinful and will always make mistakes. I think that there is a false ideal that you think that once we call ourselves Christian that then we are suppossed to be perfect. Well, that just is not true. We are all sinners but we are just saved by His grace is all. Thanks for your time! lj

    • Billy Smith

      Joel and Pat are typical scam artists. As are all Theists

  • Frank Mozden

    He is Not a man of God. Does not preach salvation and charges people money to listen to his dribble BS. Money hungry as were Swagert and the others on TV.

    • alwaysright

      So basically what you are saying is if they preach this bs right it’s okay to rob the public.. Thanks.. But NO THANKS !

      • Sharon

        Please study yourself friend. It is truly not bs. Jesus loves you too. Just talk to him. You will see positive changes in your life.

      • Frank Mozden

        No I’m saying you shouldn’t have to pay money just to get into church services. I’ve watched him and all he is doing is tickling their minds with good news and not what they need to hear to be saved. Give tithes if you want or can but charging for admission is BS.

  • Asheville Tribe

    so they clearly do not believe in the god they preach about.

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  • bccrn

    It’s obvious to me that both of these men are scam artists. But what I find most curious is how they manage to convince so many people to financially support them on an ongoing basis. These people would do better to give their tithe money to any number of local charities located in thousands of cities/town across America.

  • alwaysright

    And the poor granny’s in this country are buying their stairway to heaven, one dollar at a time… I’m a total non believer, but if there were a heaven, there would be a special place in hell for both of these skanks !

  • alwaysright

    Hasn’t the general public realized yet that the less educated people are, the more they are accepting of these fairy tales ? Come on folks, this is a scam !

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  • Theresa DePoi

    I would say the people who follow them do not belong to God and they are there to cause confusion to those who are being called. We need to find the ones that are being called and share with them the truth of Jesus Christ. I’m not mad at Joel and Pat because the bible warns us numerous times about such men. Let’s be still and listen, the holy spirit will lead us to our brothers. When we distract ourselves with “hate” against evil doers it makes us deaf and blind. You make a very good point but I have never read in the bible where Jesus spoke “and let my people be called Christians”. Christians are not followers of Jesus Christ they are followers of the Christian Church. And for those that do not understand the word of God, that’s up to God to deal with. God never needs us to defend him for he is the living God and truth always speaks for itself. ALWAYS.

  • beau

    It amazes me that a politician ( someone supposed to be looking out for the interest of the public ) will have all their dirty secrets conjured up within in minutes. But these so-called men of god go years without ever being confronted or even investigated. All because we’re all raised to believe men of god are men of pure heart.

  • Clarence LeBlanc

    who gives joel osteen money? This week-end you mean to tell me someone making less that 75 k a year will reach into their pocket and give that man money?

  • HJ

    In most of the evangelical world if you claim to be a christian automatically gives you a pass to do whatever it is your heart desires. I sincerely doubt that any of them would even recognize Christ. In fact, I do believe they would crucify him.

  • Thumbgumby

    God is money now. The more you give the closer you get to heaven, and if you don’t suffer than you aren’t giving enough.

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  • kso721

    Are they still teaching children that people come back from the dead all the while calling it “Truth.” How peculiar… Are they still touting that Jesus is son of god and the only way to god knowing that no other geographically separate non-christian culture shares this belief? How very very peculiar. And we wonder why much of our society and especially the deciders whom wear their Christian faith on their sleeves have problems determining right from wrong….? Hmmmm. Peculiar.

  • Sharon

    Another attack on Christian ministers because they prosper. Not all ministers prosper. To run a church is no different than running a business. I personally have friends that live in Houston and say that Joel Osteen and church workers come into the poorer neighborhoods and give many levels of help right here in the USA. They both right books and create self help awarness sessions for different areas of life that sell millions. Is anyone here trying to talk crap about James Patterson or Steven King? What about MR. Reverend Run of run DMC. What about Little Wayne, 50 cent, Kanye West and their gun toting ho hopping, bullets flying music that u and your kids make wealthy and then go on cribs and basically burn the money up on self pleasures but thats ok they lead kids to gang life….they call themselves christians so its ok. What about Angelina Jolie….all the humanitarian work she does, adopts a kid from every nation but does major drugs…lets not forget Billy Bob Thorton, steals another womans husband and baits a fine trap for him but she is Goddess like to some ppl for her good works….the bad is ok because she doesnt call herself christian. If your smart enough to run a business and manage money and you involve the public with a product they like or need your going to make millions……wheather your a christian or not. Your going to associate with good and bad peoole in the people business. Christians can associate with unfavorable ppl. The pharisees asked Jesus why he sat down to eat with drunkards and tax collectors with the same disdain as your accusations above. Jesus replied they need him more than those already saved. Another words he needed to do that to show his love and acceptance of all ppl.
    Christians coming under attack as Islam beheads ppl is best sign Ive seen so far that prophesy is truly being fulfilled for the very last days. Christians built this country and now this country tries to tear them all down. Dont fall into this trap. Christians are beautiful people….kind hearted and help anyone they can. Please remember the key word is “people”, human…they mess up. The bible does say that not one person is without sin…not one. That alone tells you that saved ppl wheather Catholic Christians, Protestant christians, BaptIst Christians and Non christians all have sin. Take card of your own soul. Dont worry about others. Jesus bought the “soul cleanse” for everyone…..you dont have to wash if you dont want to but dont dirty others over accusations from complete strangers.

    • Billy Smith

      WOW what a crock of complete, unadulterated nonsense.

  • Sharon

    The church donations do go to pay tons of employees, mortgages, utilities, equipment, tv air time for different countries and so so much more.
    The church is the house of God. Unfortunately they have always cost money to run all the way back when they had to pay kings and had no utilities. Lets not forget where ppl run too when things are bad and someone needs help. The church always steps in.

  • Marcos Carlos

    Mark Twain said: THE BEST CURE FOR Christianity IS READING THE Bible. Cured me around the 18000 hour of study mark (I read Hebrew too). Here is why. Recorded kills in the Bible not including the Flood or Sodom and Gomorrah.

    YHVH 2,476,633 KILLS Satan ( an English transliteration of the Hebrew שטן Shaitan meaning ADVERSARY) Has only 10. Now I have spent 7 years on the far older Sumerian Tablets of creation that the captive Jews plagiarized write the book when captive in Babylon. The whole damn world is upside down and a lie.

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  • MINISTER B BARNES

    JESUS SAID IN THE LAST DAYS MEN WOULD BE LOVERS OF MONEY THEY WOULD HAVE ITCHING EARS HEAPING UP FOR THEMSELVES PREACHER WHO WOULD DO A WHOLE LOT OF SMOOTH TALK THAT WAS EASY ON THE EARS HE SAID WOE TO THE PREACHER WHO LEAD MY FLOCK ASTRAY PAUL SAID IF ANY MAN COME TO YOU PREACHING ANY THING OTHER THAN THE GOSPEL WE HAVE PREACHED IS CURSED WE SHOULD BE PREACHING CHRIST AND THE CROSS HE IS NOT A GOD TO BE MOCKED.PRAY FOR THESE PREACHERS THEY WILL HAVE THEIR PART IN THE LAKE OF FIRE HE WILL PUNISH THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD AND DO NOT OBEY THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS.THEY WILL BE PUNISHED WITH EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION SHUT OUT FROM THE PRESENT OF THE LORD OF GLORY

  • aakalan

    Jesus
    Christ walked this earth in a simple white robe, sandals, an unkempt
    beard, eyes cast down in humility, lived in hovels with a number of his
    Disciples. His current-day ministers live in luxury any Pasha would be
    envious of – Osteen in a $10 million house, Robertson counting his
    billion dollar fortune, begging for even more wealth, every week, in
    Jesus’ name.

    Snake oil. It’s all snake oil.

    Jesus weeps.