Joel Osteen is a celebrity pastor and author who spreads the word of God from inside a converted NBA arena that holds nearly 17,000 people.
He also sucks. A LOT.
Allow us to explain why…
Osteen’s Lakewood Church is located in the Houston area, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall over the weekend and where thousands upon thousands of people are now homeless as a result of extreme flooding.
In response, various local businesses have opened their doors to displaced residents, doing all they can to be of assistance.
Consider this Tweet and this inspiring photo from Gallery Furniture, for example:
But Osteen has not followed helpful suit.
Despite teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (who did say a few things about helping your fellow man, right?), Osteen has refused to offer his giant church as shelter to those desperately in need.
For what possible reason?
Initially, representatives for Lakewood Church said the facility was closed due to flooding in the area.
Except… there is no flooding in the area.
A number of photos have since cropped up on social media that make it clear cars are parked right outside the building and the streets look relatively calm and safe.
After these photos made their Internet rounds and Osteen was slammed by bad press, he amended his church’s original statement and claim.
“We have never closed our doors,” Osteen said in a statement, adding:
“We will continue to be a distribution center to those in need. We are prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm.”
Lakewood is a nondenominational church that hosts about 52,000 attendees weekly and is one of the largest congregations in the United States.
Osteen has penned a number of self-help and religious books and is worth about $50 million, according to reports.
He’s under extreme fire for not doing more to help his community during this extraordinarily difficult time.
“#Houston’s Joel Osteen has a net worth over $50m and a church that holds 16,800 but this is all he’s offering,” Tweeted Mark Elliott, with a link to a picture of the preacher’s packed Lakewood Church.
Hurricane Harvey has dumped around 40 inches of water on Houston and neighboring areas.
More rain is expected this week.
The reported death toll is somewhere between five and 10, but damage caused by floods is incalcuable.
The city will need years to recover.
“Victoria & I are praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey,” Osteen Tweeted on Saturday. “Please join us as we pray for the safety of our Texas friends & family.”
Residents do not need prayers, however. They need food, shelter and hope.
It’s perhaps worth noting that this church has previously been active in relief efforts, including sheltering displaced victims during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
We’ll keep readers apprised of the situation and we urge everyone to do everything you can to assist those affected by this catastrophic storm.
You can follow this link to donate to the Red Cross, for instance. Any amount will help.