Joel Osteen responds to severe backlash over mega-church not opening doors to hurricane victims

Joel Osteen responded to critics who attacked the Houston-based pastor for not opening up the doors to his church for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

After severe backlash on social media claiming Lakewood Church would not open its doors for those in need of shelter following historic flooding in Houston, Osteen issued a statement Monday denying the facility was closed to victims.

Formerly an NBA arena which was home to the Houston Rockets, Lakewood Church can hold 16,800 people.

On Sunday, the church posted on Facebook that it was “inaccessible due to severe flooding” and directed victims of the storm to nearby Houston shelters.

That sparked an outcry on social media as photos and comments came in appearing to contradict the claim.

Some on Twitter were quick to point out that the post did not say the church was flooded, only that flooding had apparently affected the accessibility of the building, whether in nearby roads or access points. Others did report there was flooding in the building and in Osteen’s own home.

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Others joined in condemning the pastor and the mega-church for what seemed like a very un-Christian response, even in the midst of a call by Osteen and the church for prayer and donations to help victims.

But with Osteen’s statement on Monday, and subsequent photos conforming that the church is, indeed, actively preparing to take in evacuees, the initial accusations against him seemed to be refuted.

Lakewood Church also tweeted that it was coordinating with the city and collecting supplies to distribute to shelters in the Houston area.

And while some on Twitter continued to attack Osteen, there were many others who attempted to cut through the backlash.

UPDATE: Osteen tweeted an official welcome call on Tuesday around noon:

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