Joel Osteen, the ringleader of the Houston-based megachurch known as Lakewood, is currently at the center of social media’s distinctive brand of hellfire for his delayed response to the Hurricane Harvey tragedy.
Saturday, Osteen promised to provide Texas residents with mere prayers:
As many in Houston were seeking shelter in the wake of extensive Hurricane Harvey flooding Sunday, Lakewood Church first issued a statement informing everyone that the building—which formerly housed the Houston Rockets—was “inaccessible” due to the water conditions. However, many on social media quickly disputed these claims by sharing their own photos of the property:
As images and firsthand accounts of the status of the Lakewood building (which was reportedly “fully accessible” thanks to its floodgate and the fact that it only endured flooding in the lower level parking garage) went viral, the backlash against Osteen’s empire continued:
Monday, Lakewood Church finally issued a new statement announcing that their doors were now open to “anyone needing shelter.” In a previous statement to ABC News Monday night, Osteen—despite the church’s claims of the building being “inaccessible” over the weekend—said Lakewood had “never closed our doors” to anyone. “Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives,” Osteen, who resides in a $10.5 million mansion, added.