Was Joel Osteen Shamed Into Opening Megachurch For Houston Flood Victims? [Opinion]

Joel Osteen finally opens doors to Lakewood Church to evacuees after much uproar online

Joel Osteen announced on Twitter Tuesday that his megachurch is now open to the flood victims. The only reason it wasn’t before was that he was waiting for the shelters to fill to capacity before offering shelter to those in need, or so he said. Osteen tweeted that he and his wife, Victoria, care deeply about their Houston neighbors.

According to CNN, this tweet came on the heels of major outrage online over the doors not being open to people who needed shelter in the aftermath of Hurrican Harvey. Stories of people being directed to area shelters when showing up at the Lakewood Church doors are told online. Once outrage ensued, it appeared Osteen and his crew attempted damage control, but it seems that Osteen has sent out some contrasting explanations. At one point during the outrage, he said the church never closed its doors.

According to People Magazine, Osteen said, “We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need.”

He said that they’ve never closed their doors but fell short of saying they were open for people who need shelter. This only conveys that Osteen and company will continue to be a “distribution center” for those in need. Nothing was said about people needing a place to stay, just stuff. He also offered up prayers to those who were suffering through these floods, but prayers weren’t enough. This was apparent across the different social media sites.

If Osteen never closed the doors, then why is he announcing that the doors are now open for shelter? This is the first time he mentioned giving people “shelter.”

In a tweet Tuesday morning he said, “Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter.”

They finally announced that they are now in the business of sheltering people and that supplies for those taking shelter are being delivered to the church. This is a far cry from a Facebook post the church offered up on Saturday. This latest tweet welcoming people and not just stuff is seen below. Some of the tweet’s comments seem to indicate that people feel this was an attempt at damage control and nothing more.

The comments that were attached to this tweet said it all, as you can see below. These are a few of those comments that were posted on the Lakewood Church tweet.

  • “Only AFTER the backlash.. don’t be so fake Lakewood. it’s obvious you didn’t do anything until the city you moved to start speaking out.”
  • “They only opened those doors after criticism and backlash because they weren’t gonna let anyone in. these guys aren’t Christians.”
  • “The power of social media. Calling out frauds, I love it!!”

Some questioned what had happened to that flooding they reported on Saturday that rendered the church “inaccessible” to people.

Osteen and his church’s original Facebook statement said that Osteen’s megachurch wasn’t taking people in who are displaced by the flood waters. The reason they gave: the “church is inaccessible due to flooding.” According to People, the post “raised eyebrows,” especially after folks got a gander of pictures posted online.

It seems some people who saw that Facebook post offered up a picture or two of their own as a rebuttal to Osteen’s flooded church claims. Those pictures really did speak a thousand words. Folks in the area took pictures of the Lakewood megachurch, which was sitting on dry land. The building was “unaffected by flooding.”

This is when Osteen “insisted” in an interview with ABC News that he was just waiting for the shelters to fill up before they planned on taking people in, according to People. Folks are peeved over Osteen’s delay, and many of these people have questions.

Would Osteen have opened up the church if he wasn’t shamed into doing so? When hardship hits, the people involved with the church are just there — it is usually a given. Many believe Osteen and his megachurch are nothing more than a money-making business, and not being there for the people of Houston when they were needed during this flooding seems to strengthen those beliefs for some today.

Some of the posts on social media suggested the comparison of Osteen’s church shutting out evacuees to the people in the Bible who wouldn’t give Mary and Joseph a room for the night. While the megachurch has opened its doors today, there’s not a good feeling brewing over this being a genuine deed. To many on social media, it seems that Osteen’s hand was forced and his distractions of offering prayer and announcements of baby formula collections just didn’t cut it.

[Featured Image by Pat Sullivan/AP Images]