Is megachurch pastor, prosperity gospel enthusiast, and televangelist Joel Osteen not opening his church to Hurricane Harvey victims? Social media says so.
As the hurricane ravaged its way across Houston this weekend, Osteen announced that his megachurch – Lakewood Church near downtown Houston – will not be holding services on Saturday and Sunday. As Monday hit, Osteen asked his fellow Texans to lean on Christ for comfort.
“Due to the weather impact of Hurricane Harvey and concern for the safety of our members, all Lakewood Church worship services for this weekend, Saturday, August 26th and Sunday, August 27th have been cancelled,” read the church’s announcement.
“Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding,” he wrote. “That’s peace when it doesn’t make sense.”
On Monday, Lakewood Church released a statement asking that people donate to the Hurricane relief fund Samaritan's Purse and that they were working with celebrity pastor Franklyn Graham to aid in relief.
Then the social media trolls got their hands on Osteen, all claiming the Osteen had cruelly closed the doors to his 16,800-seat arena church without offering sanctuary to people.
“You have taken so much money away from your people to live like a king,” entertainment publicist Danny Deraney blasted. “It’s the least you could do.”
Photos then began circulating showing that Lakewood Church appeared in rather stable condition, capable of accepting people.
To be entirely fair to Osteen here, HuffPo noted that "Lakewood Church has previously helped with relief efforts in the city, most recently hosting a benefit concert in 2016 after heavy flooding," and "in 2001, the church sheltered roughly 5,000 Texans displaced by a tropical storm."
Ministry spokesman Donald Llof says that the property, though intact, is inaccessible due to surrounding flood waters on the roads, saying that the George R. Brown Convention Center is better equipped to help victims.
“It has everything inside there — medicine, doctors, places to sleep,” Llof said of the convention center. “It’s amazing what they’re doing there to make people comfortable.”