Joel Osteen, pastor of Houston's Lakewood Church, has made headlines once again for his supposed recent purchase of a Ferrari.
Pictures of the megachurch pastor and a $325,000 flashy car, inundated with Twitter jabs, trended online this weekend, Church Leaders reported.
The barbs vary from Osteen driving the Ferrari through the eye of a needle, a reference to Jesus' statement in Matthew 19:24 that it is "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God " to making the finding a wonderful reason for taxing churches.
Nevertheless, Osteen is not without supporters.
"In Joel Osteen's defense, Jesus also drove a $325,000 car and lived in a eight figure 17,000 square foot home," stated film producer Franklin Leonard sarcastically. "You want him to park a Prius here? God don't like ugly."
When one user wrote, "Joel Osteen has made religion a lucrative career, and the fact that he drives a $325,000 Ferrari as he asks people to send him money only shows how morally bankrupt he is," several others responded that Osteen is not paid by Lakewood and instead earns his keep through book sales.
The Babylon Bee, a Christian news parody website, also took a swipe on Sunday, tweeting a May article with the title, "Joel Osteen Unveils New Ultra-Thin Yacht That Can Fit Through The Eye Of A Needle."
But according to the fact-checking website Snopes, claims about Joel Osteen's "exotic car collection" are speculative.
Snopes claims one picture is from a 2010 post in the Exotic Cars Flickr page. A spokesperson for the page told the fact-checker that the picture was taken in Coral Gables, Florida - more than a thousand miles away from Lakewood Church in Houston.
Per Snopes, he spokesperson said: "I saw the car on another occasion at an event, no Joel Osteen was seen."
Tthe other photo seems to be from a YouTube video, the fact-checker said.
"We have not been able to find any verified reporting that Osteen owns a $325,000 Ferrari," the site stated.
"There don't appear to be any photographs of Osteen driving this exotic sports car, and we have not been able to find any statements from Osteen in which he talks about an exotic collection. This rumor appears to be little more than an assumption," it added.
Still, it is reasonable to say that many people nowadays are disturbed when religious leaders place a premium on worldly riches.
This is a subject, as Church Leaders noted, that Benjamin Kirby has been delving into on his Instagram account, PreachersNSneakers. The account gained notoriety for sharing pictures and price labels of some of the most expensive clothing worn by well-known prosperity gospel preachers.
However, in the interest of fairness and truth, Church Leaders columnist Jessica Lea wrote: "While it's understandable that people have strong emotions about Joel Osteen, the Ferrari incident is a good reminder, as James writes in his epistle, that we should be 'slow to speak.' And if people are in error, 2 Timothy 2:24-26 tells us how to respond."