Infamous pastor Joel Osteen has now released a statement defending the closing of his megachurch’s doors because of “flooding.” Houston’s Lakewood Church faced backlash for refusing to allow hurricane refugees shelter after fleeing their homes in the wake of disastrous Hurricane Harvey.
The trouble started on Sunday after a social media posting from the megachurch saying, “Lakewood Church is inaccessible due to severe flooding!”
The Facebook post set the internet on fire, with many upset that the church doled out the phone numbers of other places that could offer help when their megastructure may work just fine. Houstonians weren’t buying it and posted photos of the neighborhood around the church showing wet but passable streets.
“Shame on Joel Osteen,” tweeted Rune, also known as @RuneK_15. “Jesus would open the doors and care for the needy.”
— Runek (@RuneK_15) August 29, 2017
Osteen, however, claims his church would never shut their doors in the faces of flood victims. “We have never closed our doors,” Senior Pastor Joel Osteen said in a statement quoted by ABC and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We will continue to be a distribution center to those in need. We are prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm.”
There are no details on the church sheltering people on its web site or social media accounts, although there is a notice that the church is collecting diapers, formula and baby food for distribution to those in need.
Other Houston bloggers were quick to defend the church and post photos of the damage done.
— Lynne Gabriel-Caine (@heyitslynneg) August 28, 2017
Lakewood is a non-denominational church that hosts about 52,000 attendees weekly and boasts one of the largest congregations in the U.S. The church did not immediately respond to an e-mail sent late Monday evening, but those coming to the church’s defense were harshly criticized on social media.
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