Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church has refuted claims that the pastor endorsed Donald Trump for president. Charisma News reports rumors circulated earlier this week that the megachurch pastor endorsed the billionaire business mogul for the presidency, but the claims were misinformed.
News outlets fueled the rumor by circulating a quote from Osteen taken from a 2015 interview with Fox News radio’s “Kilmeade and Friends.”
Osteen said of Trump, “He’s an incredible communicator and brander. He’s been a friend of our ministry. He’s a good man.”
Another quote was taken from a 2014 interview when Osteen called Trump “gracious” and “giving.”
However, Osteen did not endorse Trump for president.
A statement from Lakewood Church said, "Contrary to the misinformation currently making the rounds on social media, Pastor Joel Osteen has not endorsed any candidate for president of the United States.”
According to the IRS, churches are not permitted to endorse presidential candidates, at the risk of losing their tax-exempt status.
The IRS code reads, "All section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”
Publication date: March 16, 2016