Joel Osteen responds to accusations of closing church doors to Harvey evacuees
Joel Osteen Responds to Accusations of Closing Megachurch Doors to Hurricane Harvey Victims
Televangelist Joel Osteen was harshly criticized on social media when initial reports held that his Lakewood Church, a 16,800-seat arena in Houston, Texas, was turning away those in need.
Now the pastor says his megachurch has "never" closed its doors to people seeking shelter as Harvey swamps the city.
Osteen's comment stands in contrast to a and a since-deleted Instagram remark by Lakewood associate pastor John Gray, who said flooded highways had made the church inaccessible.
Local Houstonians did some reporting from the scene and took to Twitter to report that there was no observable flooding outside the church:
In response, Osteen released the following statement to ABC News:
"We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for 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 in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives."
Followers of Lakewood and Osteen began their own initiative to prove the inside of the church had experienced flooding:
And it appears that the church is preparing to accept Harvey victims as other shelters reach capacity:
A spokeswoman for Osteen didn't immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.
The AP contributed to this report.
Video: Pastor Joel Osteen Responds to Criticism | Oprah’s Next Chapter | Oprah Winfrey Network
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