Joel Osteen's Texas megachurch has repaid millions received under the forgivable Paycheck Protection Program, the Houston Chronicle reports.
"Lakewood received about $4.4 million through the Paycheck Protection Program to cover payroll and other expenses as it shuttered in-person services for seven months last year. After the Chronicle reported the loan, Osteen's name trended nationally on Twitter as people criticized him," the newspaper reported.
As Raw Story reported at the time, Osteen was roasted as a "grifting scumbag" on social media.
The church has since provided the Chronicle a bank statement saying it has made payments on the loan since January.
"The megachurch was among at least 60 religious institutions in Texas that received more than $1 million in loans through the CARES Act, the first stimulus package passed by lawmakers in response to the pandemic, according to data released by the Small Business Administration," the newspaper reported. "The program was unprecedented - and controversial - because it marked the first time the federal government extended a direct lifeline to untaxed religious and nonprofit institutions."
"Osteen reportedly owns a $300,000 Ferrari and a $10.5 million mansion, and has been photographed traveling in style on a luxury jet," The Beast noted. "Meanwhile, he has made appearances on the Today Show, urging people to not 'focus on what [they] have or don't have.'"
Lakewood acted in response to public outrage in the past.
"It's not the first time Osteen and Lakewood Church have been shamed into action. In 2017, the church refused to open its stadium up for Hurricane Harvey victims but eventually did after a firestorm on social media," The Beast noted.