Televangelist Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston, Texas, reportedly received $4.4 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Osteen’s Lakewood Church, the largest megachurch in the nation, received the loan from the PPP in late July, according to a report in the New York Post. The loan was reportedly the third-highest received in the Houston area during July and August.
The PPP was launched in April 2020 as a response to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The program was intended to give forgivable loans to small businesses and organizations to allow their employees to remain on payroll.
Lakewood spokesman David Iloff told the Houston Business Journal that the funds went to 368 employees because the church was unable to collect substantial donations while in-person services were suspended during the pandemic. Although the church had originally denied applying for federal funds, Iloff said they applied in the second half of the program after shutdowns “persisted month after month.” (RELATED: 85% Of Small Businesses Need Federal Funds To Survive The Pandemic)
Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church received a $4.4 million loan through the Paycheck Protection Program
Earlier this year, Lakewood officials said that they had not applied for a loan through the PPPhttps://t.co/xe6L8HIyl3
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) December 15, 2020
“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 added. Osteen’s net worth is approximately $100 million, according to the New York Post.
At least nineteen other religious institutions in the Houston area received PPP loans of over $1 million, the Houston Business Journal reported. The Catholic Church also lobbied to become one of the largest beneficiaries of PPP loans in the country.