Joel Osteen Breaks Silence After Coming Under Fire For Reportedly Closing Houston Megachurch Amid Harvey Flooding

Megachurch founder Joel Osteen has broken his silence over reports he closed down Lakewood Church amid historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Today, the church is open and running relief operations for those impacted by the flood.

CBS News reports:

Osteen has faced criticism

for not opening his massive Lakewood Church as a storm shelter. In a statement, 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.”

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 spokeswoman for Osteen didn’t immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.

On Monday, Osteen asked his over 6 million Twitter followers to donate to Lakewood Church’s Hurricane Harvey relief fund.

Osteen came under heavy fire Monday after news broke he had allegedly shut the doors of his megachurch. Despite the mass, negative coverage, it’s still unclear if Lakewood Church was indeed ever closed. reports:

Floodwaters reached the rooflines of single-story homes in Texas’s most populous city on Monday as Tropical Storm Harvey poured rain on the Houston area for a fourth consecutive day after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues.

Yet despite Joel Osteen – author, evangelist and senior pastor of the Lakewood Church – telling supporters he wanted to help, the doors of the church have remained – literally – closed.

Osteen is one of the US state’s most popular personalities. His televised sermons are watched by more than seven million people every week in more than 100 countries. His teachings stem from beliefs around karma. In essence do good things and good things will come back in return.

Osteen must have done a lot of good in his life; his Houston megamansion is worth a cool $10.5 million and his net worth in 2012 was $56 million.

However, Lakewood Church is indeed open today, despite flooding inside the building.

Per CNN:

The megachurch led by Joel Osteen is receiving people who need shelter and also helping evacuees with supplies such as baby food, formula and other shelter needs, the church announced via Twitter Tuesday morning.

Lakewood Church was under fire after apparently not opening up the church to flood victims. The church disputed online criticism, stating “we are prepared to shelter people once the cities and county shelters reach capacity.”
“Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter,” Osteen tweeted Tuesday, referencing his wife who is also Lakewood’s co-pastor.
Lakewood Church, which was founded by Osteen’s father in the 1950s, posted on social media Monday that the venue was “inaccessible due to severe flooding” following Hurricane Harvey, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm.
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