Pastor Joel Osteen and his Lakewood Church in Houston are taking warmth after it was revealed his mega-church obtained a $ 4.4 million mortgage from the Paycheck Safety Program as a part of the Federal regulation CARES, sister station KTLA KXAN in Austin, Texas, reported Tuesday.

Federal loans have been made to assist employers pay employees and canopy day-to-day operations because the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an effect on companies. However Lakewood’s mortgage, based on the Houston Chronicle, that is the primary time {that a} church has obtained monetary help from the federal government.

The hill stories that Lakewood Church obtained the third largest mortgage within the Houston space, which a church spokesperson mentioned the Houston Enterprise Journal was used to pay 368 full-time and part-time workers.

Spokesman Donald Iloff additionally mentioned that with companies closed from March 15 to October 18, the church misplaced substantial donations.

“Estimating that the shutdown would solely final just a few weeks, Lakewood didn’t initially request PPP help throughout the first half of this system,” Iloff mentioned in an announcement. “Nonetheless, because the shutdown persevered month after month, given the financial uncertainty, Lakewood finally utilized for the P3 mortgage and was in a position to present full payroll and advantages, together with protection for medical insurance, to all its workers and their households.

Iloff additionally identified that neither Joel nor his spouse Victoria, who can be lively within the church, obtain salaries from Lakewood and that the P3 loans don’t “give them any private monetary profit.”

Greater than 1,000 spiritual teams utilized for PPP loans over the summer time, the Chronicle says.

Acceptance of federal loans has raised eyebrows amongst many members of the spiritual neighborhood and elsewhere, all asking the query: Ought to church buildings, which don’t pay taxes, settle for authorities help?

After the information posted on-line, #TaxTheChurch appeared on Twitter’s trending chart.

Moreover, many on social media have disputed that Osteen doesn’t assist pay his personal workers because the pastor is well-known to be rich as a result of his varied media ventures.

This is not the primary time Osteen and Lakewood have confronted backlash. In 2017, the 2 have been criticized for not initially opening the doorways of the church to residents in search of shelter throughout Hurricane Harvey. Because the church lastly opened, combined messages about why not instantly angered many throughout the nation.