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Joel Osteen is not charging for online prayers

May 17, 2019 GMT

CLAIM: A Facebook post shows Joel Osteen Ministries refusing to accept a prayer request submitted on the social media platform unless the person pays a $24.99 monthly donation.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The image circulating on Facebook that appears to show the popular televangelist demanding a donation in exchange for a prayer is a hoax, a spokesman for Osteen’s church told The Associated Press.

THE FACTS: The screenshot of what appears to be the Facebook account of Joel Osteen Ministries seeking donations from a woman who requested a marital prayer is a manipulated image. It is not from the ministries’ account. Anyone can submit a prayer request in person, by phone or on the church’s website, free of charge, a church official said.   

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Osteen is pastor of the Houston-based Lakewood Church. Millions of viewers tune in weekly to his televised sermons. 

“Joel Osteen Ministries never requests money for prayer,” Donald Illoff, a spokesman for the church, said in an email to The Associated Press. “The image being circulated is from an impostor account.”

Last year, 225,000 prayers were submitted to the church, according to Illoff.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that

is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce

the circulation of false stories on the platform.