HOUSTON, Texas (KABC) -- Lakewood Church, the megachurch led by Pastor Joel Osteen in Houston, says it will repay $4.4 million in COVID-19 disaster funds it received, according to reports.
The church was heavily criticized last December for receiving payments from the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.
In a statement issued to the Houston Chronicle, the church defended its decision to seek support from the program.
"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," the church told the paper.
The church says neither Joel Osteen nor his wife, Victoria, received any of the money.