In the face of the tragedy that is Hurricane Harvey, there has been a lot of finger-pointing, critique, and confusion. The category 4 storm, set to last 5 days, has killed 18 people, and ruined 300,000 homes thus far. So with all that’s going on, it begs the question-why is mega church pastor Joel Osteen the trending topic on Twitter?
The well known televangelist who presides over Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas has been under a microscope for most of his career, many people criticizing him for his opulent lifestyle.
But over the last few days, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Osteen’s critics have been blasting him for a different reason-his hesitancy to open the doors of his 16,800 occupancy church.
The owner of a $10.5 MM River Oaks mansion, and worth a whopping $60 MM, Joel Osteen has managed to make a pretty good living preaching the “gospel.” While for many, his lavish lifestyle is a good enough reason to write Osteen off, for me, this isn’t so much about what Joel Osteen has, but more about what he is willing to give. Like many self proclaimed Christians, Joel Osteen offered prayers to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and nothing more, a sharp contrast to this pastor, who went from car to car in rising water, hoping to find people he could rescue.
Although, I think it may certainly be unreasonable to ask all pastors to put their lives at risk by facing flood waters, it was clear that Joel Osteen was content with doing nothing at all.
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 (@JoelOsteen) August 26, 2017
….until the bad PR came rolling in.
At first, a spokesperson for Lakewood Church said the property was inaccessible because of surrounding flood waters and the building itself had been flooded. They then announced that they would open the doors once city-run shelters were at capacity. The folks on social media didn’t take too kindly to that news.
— ALT🛂 Immigration (@ALT_uscis) August 28, 2017
— Dusty (@DustinGiebel) August 28, 2017
Live 2 miles from joel osteen church, and I know it's not flooded. Shelters are at 5,000 people and he can't open a 600k sq ft church?
— shane huhn (@smhuhn) August 29, 2017
— RckyMtnPundit (@RckyMtnPundit) August 29, 2017
Now, I don’t know Joel Osteen personally, but I will say that I’ve always had my reservations about the guy. For one, he and his wife are Trump supporters, so they clearly don’t have good judgement, and second, his eyes are really close together.
But aside from that, what I DO know is that the kind of Christianity I’ve always been told about is selfless in nature. I don’t claim to be super religious, and don’t look for me to quote any scriptures, but I DO have good sense, and mama ain’t raise no fool. Though Osteen eventually did open his church, the truth is, it was too late. Not too late to help the people of Houston, of course, but too late to salvage his reputation, and to change the way so many people think about megachurches and religion.
When we witness people of the cloth indulge well beyond the point of excess,( Creflo Dollar and Joyce Meyer ) it’s hard to understand why Joel Osteen would have to be asked to provide shelter to evacuees in their time of need. Without the people of Houston, Joel Osteen would not be the multi-millionaire that he is today. Isn’t the church just a material thing, after all?
The same can be said about a lot of pastors who stand before their congregations every Sunday, millionaires, or not. Without the people, there would be no church. I think what naysayers are starting to realize is that many of these men and women of God simply don’t practice what they preach. That’s probably why 24% of the population claim to have no religious affiliation at all. That number is up from 5% in the 1950’s. The below numbers are also pretty interesting…
To be clear, I am not encouraging people to walk away from religion, or vice versa. But what I am doing is posing a very serious and timely question-If we cannot depend on a man of God to provide food and shelter to people in their time of need, who then can we depend on? Just how far should we follow him? Will he lead us through the flood waters, only to lead us into darkness? Here’s the truth-at some point, people are going to get tired of empty promises and prayers. They will expect actual help from the people they’ve chosen to serve them. When that time comes, who will be able to put their money where their mouth is and not just in their pockets?