U.S. Pastor Joel Osteen opens church to Harvey flood victims after online criticism

Joel Osteen [Photo: Salon.com]

American televangelist, Joel Osteen, on Monday opened his church auditorium in Houston, Texas, to flood victims, a day after he was criticised for being reluctant at helping those displaced by the tropical storm, Harvey.

No fewer than 14 people have been reported dead and scores missing in the Hurricane, which made a landfall in the U.S. state of Texas last weekend.

President Donald Trump was on the ground with his wife to assess emergency efforts Tuesday.

Although Mr. Osteen cancelled Sunday service, he said he indicated that he didn’t have to allow the displaced take temporary shelter there.

“Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding,” Mr. Osteen said on Twitter. “That’s peace when it doesn’t make sense.”

But the Lakewood Church preacher’s appeal didn’t sit well with many on social media, who slammed him for not opening his 16,800-seat arena to flood victims.

“I am afraid he has shown his true colors and where his priorities are. Church is turning me from Jesus,” a Twitter user responded to his post, Sunday.

“Why won’t you open the doors to the church in Houston to those in dire need with the crisis?” another user asked.

Lakewood Church spokesman Donald Iloff had said that flooding had made the property inaccessible.

The pastor responded Monday, telling U.S. newspaper, Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his church “will continue to be a distribution center to those in need. We are prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity.”

Several people on social media tweeted pictures that show the Lakewood Church being unaffected by the flood.

Lakewood Church is a non-denominational worship centre with membership around 52,000 attendees weekly, and seen as one of the largest churches in the United States.


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