According to the Houston Chronicle, a Houston megachurch headed by Joel Osteen, will repay all $4.4 million in federal loans it received last year through the Paycheck Protection Program. This comes after Osteen's church was widely criticized for not using the loan.
Joel Osteen launched Joel Osteen Radio at SiriusXM Studios in New York City on September 29, 2014. ... [+] (Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images). Getty Images
The Key Facts
Donald Iloff, a church spokesperson, said that Osteen's Lakewood Church was granted the funding in July 2020. The money came after months of not being able to collect significant donations. The money was used to pay 368 employees of the church. Osteen did not receive any, but the loan was criticized by the church and its pastor. According to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Lakewood is America's largest megachurch with an average attendance of 43,000. After closing down in March, Lakewood began to resume in-person services in October 2020.
This loan, like many other organizations temporarily shut down by the pandemic in the United States, provided Lakewood Church with short-term financial assistance in 2020. It ensured that approximately 350 of its employees, as well as their families, would continue to receive a paycheck, full health care benefits and a salary, according to a statement sent to the Houston Chronicle.
Although the loans were intended to support businesses in maintaining staff during the pandemics, many large companies decided to cancel the loans. Shake Shake returned $10 million and the Los Angeles Lakers returned $4.6 million. Ruth's Hospitality Group also returned its $20 million loan. Given Osteen's extravagant lifestyle that includes a Ferrari sportscar and a $10.5 million mansion, many were unhappy with Lakewood's loan.
Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church repaid $4.4M in COVID money 10 months after backlash against PPP loans (Houston Chronicle).
Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church received a $4.4M loan from the PPP (Houston Business Journal).
Live updates and coverage of the Coronavirus