He seems to be violating the ninth commandment.
Over the past few days, megachurch megastar Joel Osteen has taken heat on social media for not immediately opening the doors of his 16,000-plus-capacity Lakewood Church for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Twitter: Open your church for shelter, Joel!— James Davis (@JDouglasDavis) August 29, 2017\n
Joel Osteen: pic.twitter.com/6oPqAlJ9O9
On Aug. 27, the church released the following statement:
Dear Houstonians! Lakewood Church is inaccessible due to severe flooding! We want to help make sure you are safe. Please see the list below for safe shelters around our city, and please share this with those in need!
After the statement, photos began to circulate on social media showing the church, in fact, appeared to have been spared from Harvey’s brutal downpour.
In reality, the church did take on some water on the inside, garage level, and basement, but not on the massive structure’s main floors. Reportedly, the church was far from “inaccessible” and the flooding far from “severe.”
So Joel Osteen's church is flooded y'all. And apparently they'll help after things calm down. So feel whatever way based on that. pic.twitter.com/kIsJ6Psohj— Shay Davis (@ShayLDavis) August 28, 2017\n
Then, on Tuesday, the church confirmed it was accepting evacuees.
Lakewood is receiving people who need shelter. We are also coordinating with the city as a collection site for distribution. Lakewood is also collecting diapers, baby formula, baby food and other supplies. Please bring these items to Lakewood at Circle Drive.
Wednesday morning, Osteen went on NBC’s “Today” to clarify what happened — but gave up two contradictory reasons. “If people were here, they’d realize there were safety issues,” Osteen said. “We were just being precautious, but the main thing is the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter then.” On the 27th, the church released a statement saying it was “inaccessible,” but on “Today,” Osteen said that the church turned away evacuees because the city didn’t ask.
So, which was it?
If the church was, in fact, “inaccessible,” it couldn’t have housed anyone even if the city had asked. Also, one would figure that a church — especially one with a reported $70 million annual budget — wouldn’t need to be told to help those in need. When asked if he would have done things differently, Osteen was again unclear. “Yeah, I’m sure we would have done something differently,” Osteen said. “The fact is I don’t know that we would have opened any sooner because, again, there were safety issues.”
Joel Osteen— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) August 30, 2017\n
Day 1: Be safe.
Day 2: Church is flooded.
Day 3: Waiting till shelters full.
Day 4: Doors were always open.
Day 5: Fine, come!