The Lakewood Church televangelist responded to the backlash he faced for not opening the megachurch sooner to Houston resident displaced by Hurricane Harvey.
During an appearance on NBC’s TODAY show Wednesday, Joel Osteen stated that initially stated that the church doors have “always been open” for displaced Houston resident but then clarified his statement, saying: “If people were here, they’d realize there were safety issues. We were just being precautious, but the main thing is the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter then.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 30, 2017
When asked if he would have done anything differently to avoid the criticism that came his way for not opening Lakewood Church sooner, Osteen said that he would but still seemed to put the responsibility on city officials, claiming that the megachurch would have offered shelter earlier if the city had asked.
“Yeah, I’m sure we would have done something differently,” Osteen said. “The fact is I don’t know that we would have opened any sooner, because again there were safety issues…It’s easy to say, ‘Wow, there’s that building. They’re not using it.’ But we don’t have volunteers. 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.”
The controversy started on Sunday when Osteen posted an update on Facebook saying that Lakewood Church was “inaccessible” because of the havoc that Hurricane Harvey had caused. People criticized Osteen for the post and some even took to the church to reveal that the church was accessible.