Author and evangelist Joel Osteen, senior pastor of Houston’s enormous Lakewood Church, came in for criticism in the early days of Hurricane Harvey aftermath, with many including fellow clergymen demanding to know why the facility wasn’t turned into a shelter for storm refugees.
Osteen coincidentally posted on Friday: “How you respond to a situation will influence those around you. When you have peace on the inside, you’ll bring peace to the outside.”
More recently, in a statement released to ABC, Osteen said the church, housed in a former NBA arena, would be “prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity.” He also tweeted a message indicating the church’s doors were open to those in need.
UPDATE: The latest from Joel Osteen
He previously had posted a link inviting people to donate money or register to volunteer their time.
“We do not yet know all the ways we can help,” the earlier statement read. “Together, we will make it through this difficult time.”
Some of the commentary has been fairly arch. Warning: there are some non-Biblical terms in this post, which links to a video clip someone posted.
Avert your eyes and turn down the volume if you’re sensitive:
[This is not my vid] @joelosteen's 16,800 seat, multi level #LakeWoodChurch is "flooded" alright… flooded with BULLSHIT! Meanwhile, there's #MattressMack in Houston letting people (and pets) take shelter in his furniture store and sleep for free on his merchandise! Respects! And big ups to the gentleman who filmed this (cred?)✊ #BeNotInhospitableToStrangers . . #ComradeSlim #FTW #JoelOsteen #texasstrong #prayfortexas #prayersfortexas #texas #hurricaneharvey #atheists #atheism #agnostic #freethinker #goodwithoutgod #jesus #harvey #hurricane #houston #twitter #megachurch #seperationofchurchandstate #hypocrite #prayer #pray #science #flood #flooding #blacklivesmatter
Here’s a SFW clip that shows the building from the road:
Team Osteen apparently has had it with this spoof account:
The church’s Facebook page posted an announcement that the historic flooding ravaging Houston have rendered the facility inaccessible and have suggested people seek other options:
Those who have been able reach the site explain in their own posts why the church isn’t able to function as a shelter at the moment. It’s also partially underwater:
Not that any of you naysayers, hypocrites, haters, and Pharisees deserve any explanation as to why Lakewood Church is not accessible to anyone. #Repost Now get back to more POSITIVE AND HELPFUL PURSUITS. #LakewoodChurch #joelosteen #JohnGray #HurricaneHarvey #Houston #Texas #Roadways #Flooding #CNN #HeadlineNews #FoxNews #Click2Houston #ABC13 #NewsOneNow #GMA
And many are defending Osteen and Lakewood:
Still, photos and video clips posted via social media seem to question whether the entire facility is out of commission:
Osteen posted this link to a message about the church’s hurricane response efforts.