Joel Osteen church cash discovery renews calls to tax churches

Members of Congress have previously suggested taxing churches

The political left has renewed its calls to tax churches after a plumber at Pastor Joel Osteen's church found hundreds of envelopes full of cash.

A plumber called into a Houston radio station KILT-FM on Thursday, according to the city's KPRC-TV. The caller said, "There was a loose toilet in the wall, and we removed the tile. Went to go remove the toilet and I moved some insulation away and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall." 

"I was like ‘Oh wow.’ I got my flashlight, shined up in there," the caller added. 

The envelopes were filled with cash and checks, according to the caller, who said he reported the find to the maintenance supervisor.

"I went ahead and contacted the maintenance supervisor that was there, and I turned it all in," the caller said.

Joel Osteen speaks during SiriusXM Joel Osteen Radio Town Hall with Joel and Victoria Osteen at SiriusXM Studios on December 16, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bonnie Biess/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

In March 2014, Lakewood Church reported that $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks had been stolen, in addition to some credit card information.

"Morning Bullpen" host George Lindsey told the TV station he was shocked by the caller's account.

"Good morning and Happy Friday to everyone who agrees that leaders of filthy rich mega churches like Joel Osteen who stuff the walls of their church with $350,000 in cash should be taxed. In fact, tax ALL of the churches," wrote a user named BrooklynDad_Defiant!

"Joel Osteen dragging Jesus into the toilet," wrote author John Pavlovitz.

"Gonna tell my kids this is Joel Osteen," wrote user who describes himself as "McNeil." His tweet was appended with an image of fictional meth dealer Walter White showing his hidden cash to his son.

"Tax Joel Osteen. Tax ALL churches. Who agrees?" wrote actress Angela Belcamino.

Lakewood Church said in a statement that cash and checks were discovered recently during work being done on the church, but did not add how much money was found and did not directly confirm what the plumber said.

"Lakewood immediately notified the Houston Police Department and is assisting them with their investigation. Lakewood has no further comment at this time," the church said.


Some members of Congress have suggested taxing churches, such as Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who tweeted, "If they’re going to politically weaponize religion by ‘rebuking’ Democrats who support women’s reproductive choice, then a ‘rebuke’ of their tax-exempt status may be in order."

Fox News' Adam Sabes and The Associated Press contributed to this report.