There have been plenty of PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) Loan scandals that have erupted in the last year and a half. The government dished out hundreds of millions of dollars to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic, but when the public learned that Joel Osteen’s Texas megachurch was a recipient, they were not pleased.
We previously reported that Osteen’s Lakewood Church, one of the largest in the country, received a $4.4 million PPP Loan in COVID-19 Relief from the government. It rubbed a few people the wrong way, especially considering Osteen is rumored to be worth $100 million and lives in a 17,000 square foot mega-mansion.
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Lakewood Church reportedly employed 368 part-time and full-time employees, and the $4.4 million was said to have gone to them during the quarantine. The Houston Chronicle reported today (October 8) that the church revealed they have been repaying the loan and have been doing so since January.
“Like many organizations temporarily shuttered by the pandemic, this loan provided Lakewood Church short-term financial assistance in 2020 ensuring that its approximately 350 employees and their families would continue to receive a paycheck and full health care benefits,” said a Lakewood spokesperson.
This controversy has been fueled by conversations regarding the taxation of churches, but that debate has been ongoing for decades.