Celebrity pastor Joel Osteen is drawing intense criticism online for keeping his megachurch closed during Hurricane Harvey and instead offering social media promises of prayers.
The "prosperity gospel" minister preaches at a 16,800-seat arena at Lakewood Church near downtown Houston, which has suffered severe flooding after the hurricane made landfall and then parked over the city.
Osteen offered prayers in a Saturday afternoon tweet, but his critics asked for more.
You can find ways to help the survivors of Hurricane Harvey here.
Victoria & I are praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please join us as we pray for the safety of our Texas friends & family.— Joel Osteen (@Joel Osteen)1503776346.0
@JoelOsteen Are you going to donate some of your millions of dollars? That would help more than prayer.— no ragrets (@no ragrets)1503776394.0
@JoelOsteen Put your money where your mouth is. Houston has been unfathomably good to you. Time to pay it back. Literally— Amandaisarunner (@Amandaisarunner)1503890517.0
The pastor and his wife live in a $10.5 million mansion in the River Oaks neighborhood, where residents and their dogs were rescued from the rising waters, although it's not clear whether Osteen's home suffered any damage.
A photo posted early Sunday morning showed heavy flooding about a block away from Lakewood Church, but Osteen's critics urged him to open the doors to nearby flood victims.
@JoelOsteen Why aren't you helping the people in Houston? I'm sure you received enough money from them to build that monstrosity of yours.— Rose Justice (@Rose Justice)1503931406.0
1. Now the people need shelter: anyone seen Joel Osteen and his Lakewood Church stepping up? He's right in Houston— jan dodge (@jan dodge)1503931559.0
@JoelOsteen "God's got this, so you don't need my massive church to provide shelter. Just keep praying and I'm sure… https://t.co/RB1X2HKhMs— Winston Smith (@Winston Smith)1503931555.0
@JoelOsteen Don't you have a massive church that could be used as a shelter?— enthusiastic consent, yo (@enthusiastic consent, yo)1503931539.0
@JoelOsteen if you were a real Christian, you'd be opening your doors to your displaced neighbors.— Blue-haired Old Lady (@Blue-haired Old Lady)1503931508.0
@JoelOsteen Why haven't you opened your massive church there in Houston to shelter #Harvey flood victims? 🤔 a real Christian would do that— Nancy 🇺🇸💙2021 PRESIDENT BIDEN/ VP HARRIS💙🇺🇸 (@Nancy 🇺🇸💙2021 PRESIDENT BIDEN/ VP HARRIS💙🇺🇸)1503918729.0
@JoelOsteen @JoelOsteen why aren't you opening ur doors? Houston needs you. Practice what you preach— syl (@syl)1503931371.0
@JoelOsteen How are you guys helping the storm victims in Texas right now?— Ken Reid (@Ken Reid)1503931452.0
Joel Osteen has a HUGE church in Houston that would make a great shelter. https://t.co/byqHxXrHQn— Vote Dem for the Planet (@Vote Dem for the Planet)1503891642.0
me: God doesn't punish or reward people on earth based on their behavior news: Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church might… https://t.co/ElzDfD3xlq— Jennifer C. Martin (@Jennifer C. Martin)1503931457.0