HOUSTON (AP) — Televangelist Joel Osteen says his Houston megachurch has “never” closed its doors to people seeking shelter as Harvey swamps the city.
Osteen has faced criticism for not opening his massive Lakewood Church as a storm shelter. In a statement to ABC News, Osteen says the church “will continue to be a distribution center for those in need” and is “prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity.”
Houston's Joel Osteen has a net worth over $50m and a church that holds 16,800 but this is all he's offering. pic.twitter.com/rmhdWK6ZAO
— Mark Elliott (@markmobility) August 28, 2017
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) August 28, 2017
The 16,000-seat former arena served as the home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets from 1975 to 2003.
Osteen’s comment stands in contrast to a church Facebook post and a since-deleted Instagram remark by Lakewood associate pastor John Gray, who said flooded highways had made the church inaccessible. A claim that’s been contested with photos from a vigilante twitter user.
— Allie (@AlleyCat_Allie) August 28, 2017
— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 29, 2017
— Anastasia (@AnastasiaElyseW) August 29, 2017
But some wondered why it took public shaming for Osteen to change course.
Joel Osteen opening his church to Houston victims after public shaming is damage control, which won't fix his already damaged reputation.
— Wale Adetona (@iSlimfit) August 29, 2017
Joel Osteen is apparently opening his megachurch to Houston victims after all. Guess public shaming actually works sometimes.
— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) August 29, 2017
A spokeswoman for Osteen didn’t immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.