Joel Osteen famously faced backlash for appearing to close his Lakewood Church at the start of Hurricane Harvey, when the huge church could have been immediately used as a shelter. As reported by the Inquisitr, photos of a flooded Lakewood Church came a little too late to undo some of the damage that had already been done to Osteen’s reputation via social media. Now fake websites are attempting to take advantage of the controversy to write articles whose headlines proclaim, “Osteen’s Lakewood Church Checking Member’s [sic] Tithe Records Before Allowing People Into Church Shelter.” However, such headlines are based on false news.
As reported by Lead Stories, the report about Lakewood Church allegedly checking tithe records of members is fake. As seen on the ActionNews3.com website, the fake article has been spread or liked online at least 72,600 times. Reactions to the fake article on Facebook show some folks are outraged, while others are questioning the authenticity of the article. A “tithe” represents 10 percent of a person’s paycheck – and it is a donation that is oftentimes given weekly or bi-weekly to churches by folks who believe in the principle. Therefore, someone who is paid $2,000 for the week might choose to give Lakewood Church $200 as their tithe that week. Churches like Lakewood Church keep records of how much people have donated for tax purposes.
In the wake of the backlash, Osteen addressed the controversy during his Sunday service on September 3. Osteen noted that he and his wife, Victoria, care a lot about people in Houston. Osteen noted that the doors of Lakewood Church were open to folks who needed sheltering from the results of the storm. However, the fake story claimed that a single mother was turned away from entering Lakewood Church, after false claims that the church placed her name in a computer and told her that entrance was based on the amount of tithes people gave to the church in 2016.
The false report went on to claim that those who gave the most tithes would be at the top of list for entrance into Lakewood Church, while those who gave the fewest tithes would be placed on the bottom of the list.
The fake story claimed the woman’s name was Tiana Williams. The article claimed she had to wait for three hours before being told that the church was checking tithing records. It also went on to claim that non-members of Lakewood Church were turned away.
[Featured Image by LM Otero/AP Images]