On the heels of Hurricane Harvey decimating Texas in what FEMA Director William “Brock” Long has called the “worst disaster in Texas history,” Houston-based pastor Joel Osteen has come under intense scrutiny for failing to open his megachurch’s doors to victims of the unprecedented flooding that has devastated the Houston area.
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. Photos on social media seem to clearly depict a church that remains largely in tact despite the hurricane.
Even Dallas has begun prepping 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 be far better served in a venue that could fit three times as many people and is not nearly 250 miles away.
After Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans in 2005, the city’s largest venue, the Superdome, turned into an enormous storm shelter, housing approximately 16,000 people, the same amount that Osteen’s megachurch would have been able to house.
Besides Osteen’s logistical failings, there is an element of religious failing. The Bible preaches “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Whereas Osteen, who is worth upwards of $50 million, may have readily accepted churchgoers – and their donations – before the storm, the fact that he is nowhere to be found when he has an opportunity to give back to the community who made him rich is a testament to his true character and the mission of his church.
Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding. That’s peace when it doesn’t make sense.
— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 28, 2017
How are you guys helping the storm victims in Texas right now?
— Ken Reid (@KennethWReid) August 28, 2017
"Suffer the little children to come unto me but not @JoelOsteen's building because y'all are damp."
Book of Profit https://t.co/3a5MSZcjkf
— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) August 28, 2017
Lots of people online are wondering why @JoelOsteen hasn't opened his 16,000 seat megachurch in Houston to people.
— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) August 28, 2017
Eh, Osteen's net worth is around $56.5 million. How about doing more than praying? https://t.co/ZGswIBxuEF
— Jennifer Hayden (@Scout_Finch) August 28, 2017
When the beautiful people of Houston ask Joel Osteen for the same donations they've been giving his church pic.twitter.com/hrWun5DV56
— Trizz (@Tr1zz) August 28, 2017
What do you think?
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.