Joel Osteen is known as a televangelist at Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. He is viewed on numerous television channels across the country. Most of the time, he delivers messages that encourage people in their daily lives. Those same people who listen to his messages and those who have already formed opinions of how he preaches lashed out at him on social media after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston. Osteen claimed that the church couldn’t be used as a shelter because there was flooding around the building and because volunteers and services needed to be put in place first. When pictures of the church circulated on social media sites, viewers noticed that it didn’t look like there was much water outside or inside the church.
Lakewood Church can hold thousands of people, an ideal shelter for the thousands of people who live in Houston and have been displaced from their homes. Osteen tweeted messages and posted on Facebook that people in Houston should remain faithful. He also assured people that they can rely on peace, even when peace doesn’t make any sense. Shortly after those messages were posted, he started asking for donations online for those who live in the Houston area so that he could open the church as a shelter.
Between the time that Osteen posted his initial messages and the time he asked for donations, several people commented that he should have already opened the church because space was there for those who needed somewhere to stay. Some who commented wanted to know what Osteen has done with the money that the church has taken in over the years and why it hasn’t been used to help victims. Osteen followed up by claiming that the church would open once other shelters were full. Later in the day, the church did open to victims of the hurricane who needed a place to stay. They have received food, clothing, and other items since entering the church.