Joel Osteen, lead pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, has been accused of not aiding victims displaced by Hurricane Harvey across the southern end of the state. Officials at the massive mega church are denying the reports that it kept its doors closed to those slammed by floods, although they claim their building was also flooded in Harvey’s aftermath.
Many on social media criticized the church for not taking people in, but the church disputed the backlash. “We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need,” church spokesman and Osteen’s father-in-law Donald Iloff said.
“We are prepared to shelter people once the cities and county shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives.”
Photos provided by the church showed standing water in hallways and the parking lot. The church already had a flood wall in place following a previous storm.
IIoff and Lakewood shared images of the inside of the church with media outlets, and on social media, officials have made a concerted effort of transparency. A statement by Osteen was posted to the church’s Twitter account in response to the skepticism and criticism.
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