After four days of sustained dragging, Joel Osteen finally decided to open the doors of his megachurch as a shelter for those devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
Initially, it was claimed that Lakewood Church — which used to literally be an NBA arena — couldn’t be used as a shelter due to flooding, but that was quickly debunked via dozens of photos and videos posted to social media.
— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 28, 2017
All the while, churches across Houston, including the Islamic Society of Greater Houston’s 21 mosques stayed open and took in refugees.
Joel Osteen himself visited The Today Show to defend the, uh, delay that left his enormous church shuttered for the first critical days of Hurricane Harvey.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 30, 2017
Please notice the bottom of the screen that reads “JOEL OSTEEN SPEAKS OUT FAMED PREACHER RESPONDS TO CRITICISM,” so the defensive posture of the famed preacher didn’t come as a surprise.
Osteen was asked in particular about the statement his ministry released on August 28th in which they announced they were “prepared to shelter people once the cities and county shelters reach capacity.” He was asked whether he would have done things differently, taking into account the extraordinary amount of criticism that Osteen, his church, and ideology of his Prosperity Gospel have received this week.
Osteen tried to pivot back to the “safety concern” defense, but then he said, “It’s easy to say, ‘Wow, there’s that building. They’re not using it.’ But we don’t have volunteers,” Osteen said. “We don’t have staff that could get here. We’re all about helping the city whenever we could ― if they would have asked us to become a shelter early on, we would have prepared for it.”
We should all be truly grateful to the churches, mosques, and other pop-up shelters that didn’t wait for “the city” to ask.
Osteen’s apology tour has included several other stops, none of which deviated significantly from the above script.