Joel Osteen, the celebrity mega-pastor of Lakewood Church located in Houston, Texas, is taking an Internet beating for closing his doors due to flooding during Hurricane Harvey. Houston is experiencing the worst flooding catastrophe known in America’s history and many who live in the area are outraged at the perceived lack of help offered by one of their own. As Osteen receives tax-free money from faithful churchgoers who call Houston and the church that seats over 16,000 people home, they want to know where Osteen’s heart, compassion, and money is. Joel Osteen has denied allegations that he closed the doors and purposely chose not to shelter Hurricane Harvey victims.
The controversy heated up on Twitter when user Charles Clymer shared a photo of Lakewood Church that didn’t reveal the level of flooding one might have expected.
For Osteen to choose not to open the doors to his church that boasts a weekly attendance of more than 50,000 people, the Internet assumed the structure was under water or passage to the front doors would be hindered by dangerous conditions.
The photo shared on Twitter that clearly reveals the Lakewood Church logo shows darkened, gray skies, a palm tree moving in the wind, but hardly a situation that would have made the facility dangerous for those seeking life-saving shelter.
The Internet is outraged and the controversy shows no signs of blowing over soon.
— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 28, 2017
Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry have visited Lakewood Church on more than one occasion, and Joel Osteen brings his message of hope, faith, and positivity to the nation weekly. In this situation; however, it seems people would have been more content with more practical examples of God’s love such as rescuing people who are in a life and death crisis rather than receive positive messages on social media networks.
Osteen has tweeted his concern, support, and prayer for Hurricane Harvey’s victims, but judging by the vitriol expressed online, those tweets are falling on deaf ears.
Victoria & I are praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please join us as we pray for the safety of our Texas friends & family.
— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 26, 2017
Some have responded they could use a little less prayer and more practical help in the form of a shelter, food, and monetary donations.
As the controversy continues, Joel Osteen has partnered with Franklin Graham’s charitable organization Samaritan’s Purse to provide financial relief to Harvey’s victims.
— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 28, 2017
Some church members have taken Joel Osteen’s side and suggest the media is misrepresenting the brevity of the situation and that photos of the church from the outside do not show the severe flooding the church underwent.
On the church’s Facebook page, a post stating the church was closed due to flooding was followed by members’ comments accusing people of lying about the situation.
Dear Houstonians! Lakewood Church is inaccessible due to severe flooding! We want to help make sure you are safe….
Osteen states that the building was unsafe for use as a shelter for those seeking shelter after evacuating. Some members used Twitter to prove the building was flooded.
— Lynne Gabriel (@heyitslynneg) August 28, 2017
What it comes down to, is people in Houston, and now nationwide don’t know who to believe. Some believe the building was flooded, but others are using photos of the building from the outside to say roads were passable.
What do you think? Do you agree with Joel Osteen that the church wasn’t suitable as a shelter, or do you think there is a cover-up going on and Osteen closed his doors on Hurricane Harvey evacuees who were in need of shelter?