Joel Osteen would like to have a word with the general public.
And the word is basically this:
You’ve all been so very WRONG about me and my church!
Earlier this week, outrage emanated from the Internet after it appeared as if Osteen’s Lakewood Church was refusing to open its doors to displaced Houston residents affected by Hurricane Harvey.
This was especially infuriating for two reasons:
- Osteen is a pastor who supposedly spreads the word of Jesus Christ, who we’re pretty sure was big on helping the less fortunate.
- Osteen’s megachurch can hold 17,000 people.
There was A LOT of good Osteen could conceivably be doing, and yet he was not.
On Facebook, the church said it was “inaccessible” due to flooding.
But photos quickly cropped up on social media that showed there was no actual flooding in the area, prompting some serious roasting of Osteen on social media.
Following this public outcry, the church did open its doors yesterday.
This morning, meanwhile, Osteen appeared on The Today Show and clapped back against all haters and critics.
He said the perception that the church was ever not welcoming to hurricane victims was simply incorrect.
“Our church doors have always been open,” Osteen said on the program.
He then elaborated in detail:
“In fact, we took people in when the water started to recede, which was just a day after the big storm hit. We worked very closely with the city, four miles down the road, the city established its biggest shelter with room for thousands, with beds, with kitchen supplies, with everything they need, security.
“They didn’t need us as a shelter right then. We coordinate with them all the time. If we needed to be a shelter, we would have certainly been a shelter right when they first asked.
“But once they filled up, never dreaming we’d have this many displaced people, they asked us to become a shelter.
“And we said, ‘Hey, we would love to be a shelter. That’s what Lakewood is all about.’
“But I think this notion that somehow we would turn people away or weren’t here for the city, is about as false as can be.”
Osteen is worth around $50 million.
This was yet another reason why folks couldn’t believe the preacher refused to help those in need.
But the famous author says it was all a case of miscommunication.
“We’re all about helping people. This is what the churches and our church is all about,” he said today, adding:
“I think if people were here, they would realize, there were safety issues.
“This building had flooded before and so we were just being precautious but the main thing is that the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter then.”
Also appearing on HLN, Osteen echoed this same sentiment:
“The church doors have always been open,” he said.
“We received people right after the water started receding the first day or two. For a while, it was inaccessible, but the notion that we weren’t going to receive people in here is not true.
“There is a shelter four miles away, it’s the big city shelter. Once they filled up, people started coming here more.”
But we’re here to help the community, to be here, to make a difference. But it is a huge storm and it’s difficult and there were safety issues as well.”