Lakewood Church will repay the $4.4 million PPP loan it received in 2020

Joel Osteen speaks at SiriusXM Joel Osteen Radio Town Hall in New York City on December 16, 2019. Bonnie Biess/Stringer / Getty Images
The Houston Chronicle reported that Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church will repay $4.4 million in PPP loans.

Lakewood Church was among 60 Texas religious institutions that received more than $1,000,000 in loans through the CARES Act.

When the church received the initial loan from church-state separation groups, it faced backlash.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church will repay $4.4 million it received in a PPP loan last year.

According to the Houston Chronicle, after receiving millions from the CARES Act funds in December the Houston-based church was subject to major backlash online from church-state separatist groups. Osteen, the owner of the church, was even trending on Twitter at that time.

The total amount received will be refunded to the church ten months later.

Initially, the church supported the decision to apply to the loan. They argued that the money would not go to Osteen and his wife.

According to a spokesperson, Lakewood Church said that the loan was provided short-term financial aid in 2020. This helped ensure that approximately 350 employees and their families received a paycheck and full benefits.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Lakewood was not the only one affected by this decision. At least 60 Texas religious institutions were approved in Texas for PPP loans in excess of $1 million.

However, the church-state separation groups criticised religious groups that received government payments. They claimed that the loans were forgiven and were therefore grants from the government. This was their view of religious practices being subsidised. They claimed that this is against the Constitution.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Rob Boston, senior adviser for Washington, stated that religious freedom is a core promise of the Constitution.

Continue the story

Fox Business reported that Joel Osteen assumed control of Lakewood Church after the death in 1999 of his father. Session recordings of his sermons to 52,000 weekly congregation members are widely seen.

This story is still in development. Keep checking back for more updates.

Insider has the original article.