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UPDATE: Joel Olsteen has not fired Israel Houghton and he confirms dating Adrienne Bailion (statement)

buzzz worthy. . .

Popular gospel singer   Israel Houghton still has his  position as the head worship leader at Lakewood Church if he wants it. Following TMZ breaking a story that Houghton is dating actress and Co-Host of "The Real" Adrienne Balion, there were reports that Pastor Joel Olsteen fired the Grammy winning worshiper, citing his relationship with Balion as the reason.  While Houghton is on an indefinite leave, his employment with the church has not been terminated.  He is "still a part of the family"  according to a statement the Houston based church released on their Web site last Thursday.

“We can confirm that Israel is on indefinite leave, but it is important to clarify that we still consider Israel to be a part of the Lakewood family and that his employment has not been terminated.” 
The 6-time Grammy winner said he met Bailion two years ago when they worked together on one his film,"I'm In Love With A Church Girl" and they became friends.

Just weeks earlier he'd posted a divorce announcement on Facebook in which he stated his relationship with his ex-wife Meleasa ended over 5 years ago. He admitted to infidelity. The timing of the divorce announcement and photos surfacing of him on a beach with a bikini clad Balion caused the rumor mill to spin out of control. When news of his involvement with "The Real" co-host broke there was a barrage of online speculation that she was the other woman.

Attempting to clear Balion's name and to put the rumors that she was his mistress to rest, last Tuesday in a Facebook post Houghton denied he was involved with the actress while still married, referring to her as a  "woman of integrity and character" who  should not be blamed for his past indiscretions. Houghton's statement confirming he is dating the actress and defending Bailon's character follows:

"I understand that gossip and salacious untrue speculative stories are far more interesting and entertaining than the truth & facts. But, it's incredibly unfair to allow someone to carry the burden, blame & shame of something they had nothing to do with," he wrote, noting he met Bailon two years ago while working together on I'm in Love With a Church Girl, which he executive produced and she starred in.
"As I previously wrote in a statement I released a while back, My marriage had been over for quite some time before going public with my divorce announcement...I had not even yet met Adrienne during the time my marriage was falling apart," he continued. "It deeply saddens me that an innocent party would be dragged into this situation that I have taken personal responsibility for. Adrienne is a woman of integrity & character... Most of all she is a true friend, and she should not be blamed for my past indiscretions."