UPDATE: The Lakewood Church posted on their Facebook page on Sunday that they were closed and inaccessible due to flooding. In the wake of the controversy, the church provided an explanation for their decision, which you can read more about here.
Megachurch Televangelist Joel Osteen became a trending topic on the social media platform Twitter Monday after it was discovered that he closed the doors to his church in Houston amidst the tremendous tragedy from Hurricane Harvey.
The response was less than positive.
— David Chavarria (@stoke3) August 28, 2017
Joel Osteen wont open his church for #HurricaneHarvey victims. Instead, he uses their tithes to pay for his mansion,” read one tweet that went viral.
The hurricane has displaced thousands and caused billions of dollars of damage already, but is expected to cause much more as it slowly makes its way through Texas. Many residents were stranded in their homes, some forced onto the rooftops as the rains continued and the water kept rising.
While Osteen is under no legal obligation to open the doors of his church to the public, many thought it was a hypocritical for a Christian leader to keep his property safe while so many were suffering right outside its doors.
Some latched on to a tweet of encouragement he sent on Sunday which read, “Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding. That’s peace when it doesn’t make sense.”
Joel Osteen refusing to open his megachurch to flood victims does not even start to surprise me.
— summer (@PolitikMasFina) August 28, 2017
Joel Osteen has announced that once Hurricane Harvey is completely over, his church will resume a regular schedule of fake Christianity.
— Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff) August 28, 2017
Joel Osteen's thinking "if you give a man a fish he eats for a day. Lock your megachurch during a huge storm, teach a man how to be a fish."
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) August 28, 2017
H-Town, let the record show that Mattress Mack opened Gallery Furniture as a shelter but Joel Osteen kept doors of Lakewood Church closed.
— Doug Keegan (@doug_keegan) August 28, 2017
This is Father David Bergeron, the Father at my Catholic Church. He was out in a kayak yesterday blessing+helping ppl, Joel Osteen who???? pic.twitter.com/oVsNWniUsx
— Triiodide Ion (@alfredomorenx) August 28, 2017
Is Joel Osteen donating any cash? He's made millions scamming your city. Let me guess, he's offering "prayers" #HoustonStrong
— Lark O'Donovan (@DonovanLark) August 28, 2017
Sending thoughts and prayers to Houston's most famous evangelical preacher, Joel Osteen. Hopefully the Lord will spare his modest home. pic.twitter.com/HbYw59C3Sk
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) August 28, 2017
Some conservative Christians took the opportunity to point out that Osteen preached a theology of “prosperity gospel” that is rejected by many as unorthodox teaching.
Joel Osteen is a fraud. I don't even know what people are accusing him of today, but he's a fraud regardless.
— Ben (@BenHowe) August 28, 2017
With Joel Osteen trending, it's a good time to remind people that Joel Osteen does NOT represent Christianity.
— Debi Jenkins (@DebiJenkins) August 28, 2017
By afternoon Monday, “Joel Osteen” was the number one trending topic on Twitter.
It's nice that we can still come together as a nation to smash Joel Osteen.
— neontaster (@neontaster) August 28, 2017
Joel Osteen's megachurch is designed for the rising tithe, not tide.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 28, 2017
Later Monday Osteen put out a statement saying they were coordinating with Billy Graham Jr.’s charity “Samaritan’s Purse,” to help those afflicted by the storm.