Pastor Joel Osteen is being criticized for closing his megachurch’s doors to the poor flood victims at the time of the crisis. In response he shared some pictures on his social media accounts showing flooding in his buildings. Under the intense attack, the pastor said that he hasn’t shut the gates of his church to poor victims of the flooding, one of the worst in the history of Houston.
Pastor Joel Osteen heads Lakewood Church in Houston, one of the biggest congregations in the country. It is so huge that many people cannot really believe it. Osteen has been accused of closing the church’s door in the face of common people. By the way it is not just media that is accusing him of forgetting poor at the time of their need and not coming forward to support them.
Joel Osteen is responsible for taking the church forward. Under Joel Osteen, Lakewood’s congregation increased almost fivefold. Attendance increased to 30,000 weekly, prompting a move from its location at 7317 East Houston Road to a massive facility. In late 2003, the church signed a long-term lease with the city of Houston to acquire the Compaq Center, a 29-year-old former sports arena.
Media claimed that he was not providing shelter to poor when every place, every road, every house in the city has been turned into river.
But many on Twitter began to question whether Lakewood was actually inaccessible and why the pastor wasn’t offering the church as a shelter for those affected by the storm.
In a statement to leading cable network Osteen said “we have never closed our doors” and the church will “continue to be a distribution center for those in need.” He added they are prepared to shelter people once the city and county shelters reach capacity.
Earlier Lakewood church wasn’t so big. Lakewood Church relocated to the Compaq Center on July 16, 2005. It is a 16,800-seat facility in southwest downtown Houston along U.S. Highway 59, that has twice the capacity of its former sanctuary. The church was required to pay $11.8 million in rent in advance for the first 30 years of the lease. Lakewood renovated the new campus at an estimated cost of $100 million.
There was severe backlash against the Lakewood Church. People on social media criticized the church for not taking people in, but the church disputed the backlash. “We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need,” church spokesman and Osteen’s father-in-law Donald Iloff said. “We are prepared to shelter people once the cities and county shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives.” Photos provided by the church showed standing water in hallways and the parking lot. The church already had a flood wall in place following a previous storm.