Amid public outrage and a barrage of internet shaming over Houston-based megachurch pastor Joel Osteen’s unwillingness to open his 16,800-seat venue to the citizens of Houston, Lakewood Church has apparently responded by purchasing air mattresses amid preparations to open the church.
— Bill Prady (@billprady) August 29, 2017
Osteen is a celebrity pastor at Houston’s Lakewood Church, which formerly housed the NBA’s Houston Rockets. The arena has a capacity of 16,800 people.
While the church remained closed throughout the worst parts of the storm, it was only after photos emerged on social media clearly depicting the building in tact despite the hurricane that these “preparations” finally began to surface.
Even Dallas has had repurposed its main convention center into a “mega shelter” that can host 5,000 evacuees. While Dallas is a nearly four-hour drive from Houston, flood victims would have been far better served in a venue that could fit three times as many people and is not nearly 250 miles away.
It is especially unfortunate that the pastor of a church with tens of thousands of churchgoers would have to be shamed into doing the right thing. While Osteen will now open his doors to those Texans in need of shelter, the pastor worth upwards of $50 million will ultimately be remembered for his initial reaction to those in need.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.