After days of scrutiny, Houston-area pastor and worldwide Christian personality, Joel Osteen, is speaking out about his church’s inaction in response to Hurricane Harvey.
Osteen took to “Today” to respond to social media critics.
Osteen reminded viewers that some people in Houston were stranded just across the street from his Lakewood Church, even if the church wasn’t flooded. He also noted that the city of Houston hadn’t reached out to the church, “(The city) didn’t need us as shelter then. If we needed to be a shelter, we certainly would’ve been a shelter right when they first asked. Once they filled up, they never dreamed that we’d have this many displaced people, (and) they asked us to become a shelter. I think this notion that somehow we would turn people away or we weren’t here for the city is about as false as can be.”
“The fact is that I don’t know that we would’ve opened any sooner because again there were safety issues. I think some somehow social media can be very powerful and they can create this false narrative. It’s easy to say, ‘There’s that big building, and they’re not using it,’ but we don’t have volunteers and we don’t have staff that could get here.’ If they would’ve asked us to be a shelter early on, we would’ve prepared for it all.”
Osteen said he did not pay close attention to the social media hurricane, but his staff alerted him to a few of the issues.
“The main thing is social media doesn’t run our lives. We run our ministry, we do what we’re called to do. Everybody that’s making a difference is going to have critics. Think of the story if we had housed a whole bunch of evacuees and the building flooded, that wouldn’t have been a good story.”