Joel Osteen's Houston Megachurch Blasted For Closing As Thousands Are Displaced

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Hurricane Harvey has dumped over 30 inches of rain throughout parts of southeast Texas since it made landfall Friday evening. The storm and ensuing flooding have left at least 300,000 people without power and roughly 30,000 displaced to temporary shelters.

Thousands of people were still awaiting rescue as of Monday night.

Dozens of Houston-area churches, schools and community centers opened their doors to offer temporary shelter to survivors, while other local houses of worship organized volunteer teams to help with relief efforts.

One church, however, drew criticism online for remaining shut. Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, a 16,800-seat indoor arena, announced on Facebook that it was “inaccessible due to severe flooding.”

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The post included a long list of resources for those affected by the storm, including the street addresses for nine temporary shelters in Houston and surrounding counties.

Osteen also posted prayers on social media over the weekend for those affected by the disaster.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Osteen and his wife live in a $10.5 million mansion in the upscale River Oaks neighborhood in central Houston. The neighborhood was hit with intense flooding over the weekend, with rescue teams coming to evacuate residents and their dogs. The preacher did not say whether his home was damaged.

Lakewood Church has previously helped with relief efforts in the city, most recently hosting a benefit concert in 2016 after heavy flooding. In 2001, the church sheltered roughly 5,000 Texans displaced by a tropical storm.

But the church’s response to Harvey drew harsh criticism on social media, with hundreds of users saying Osteen owes the city more than his prayers.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Osteen and Lakewood Church did not immediately respond to requests for comment or say what other relief efforts they would be offering.

The church announced Monday afternoon that it was partnering with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian aid organization, to raise funds to support hurricane relief efforts.

Freelance reporter Ruth Graham also posted a thread on Twitter saying she had spoken to a Lakewood representative who said the church wouldn’t turn anyone away.

Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The representative also reportedly told Graham that the church wasn’t flooded but would be difficult for most people to access due to nearby flooding.

Olsteen and Lakewood Church released another statement Monday night, arguing the establishment did not close its doors and would house people once shelters became full.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

A photo posted on social media by HuffPost blogger Charles Clymer appeared to show air mattresses being set up in a hallway of the church on Monday night. Don Iloff, a spokesperson for Lakewood, told Chron.com that the church had “begun preparing” for the arrival of evacuees. He was not able to confirm the authenticity of Clymer’s photo which was shared thousands of times on Twitter.

This article has been updated with additional information from Lakewood Church and freelance reporter Ruth Graham.

Also on HuffPost

Steve Culver cries with his dog Otis as he talks about what he said was the, 'most terrifying event in his life,' when Hurricane Harvey blew in and destroyed most of his home while he and his wife took shelter there on in Rockport.
Steve Culver cries with his dog Otis as he talks about what he said was the, 'most terrifying event in his life,' when Hurricane Harvey blew in and destroyed most of his home while he and his wife took shelter there on in Rockport.
Ofelia Castro leads her grandchildren across a flooded street as they continue an hours long trek from their flooded house in the Edgewood area of South Houston to a relatives apartment miles away.
Ofelia Castro leads her grandchildren across a flooded street as they continue an hours long trek from their flooded house in the Edgewood area of South Houston to a relatives apartment miles away.
Aaron Tobias who said he lost everything stands in what is left of his home in Rockport. Mr. Tobias said he was able to get his wife and kids out before the storm arrived but he stayed there and rode it out. 
Aaron Tobias who said he lost everything stands in what is left of his home in Rockport. Mr. Tobias said he was able to get his wife and kids out before the storm arrived but he stayed there and rode it out. 
Damaged boats in a multi-level storage facility are seen in Rockport.
Damaged boats in a multi-level storage facility are seen in Rockport.
People gather supplies out of destroyed homes to take back to a shelter near City-By-The Sea, Texas.
People gather supplies out of destroyed homes to take back to a shelter near City-By-The Sea, Texas.
A destroyed laundromat is seen in Rockport.
A destroyed laundromat is seen in Rockport.
A destroyed apartment complex is seen on Aug. 26, 2017, after Hurricane Harvey passed through Rockport, Texas.
A destroyed apartment complex is seen on Aug. 26, 2017, after Hurricane Harvey passed through Rockport, Texas.
Donna Raney is helped out of the window by Lee Guerrero and Daisy Graham in Rockport.
Donna Raney is helped out of the window by Lee Guerrero and Daisy Graham in Rockport.
Valerie Brown walks through a flooded area after leaving her apartment in Rockport.
Valerie Brown walks through a flooded area after leaving her apartment in Rockport.
Charlie Company of the 4th Assault Amphibious Battalion, Marine Forces Reserve arrive at the Central Mall in Port Arthur, TX on Thursday night after running rescue missions in the hardest hit areas of town throughout the day.
Charlie Company of the 4th Assault Amphibious Battalion, Marine Forces Reserve arrive at the Central Mall in Port Arthur, TX on Thursday night after running rescue missions in the hardest hit areas of town throughout the day.
A Rockport firefighter goes door to door on a search and rescue mission as he looks for people who may need help.
A Rockport firefighter goes door to door on a search and rescue mission as he looks for people who may need help.
Rescue personnel help Hersey Kirk as she is airlifted into a rescue helicopter.
Rescue personnel help Hersey Kirk as she is airlifted into a rescue helicopter.
Jacque McKay walks through the apartment complex where she lives in Rockport.
Jacque McKay walks through the apartment complex where she lives in Rockport.
A damaged home is seen after Hurricane Harvey in Rockport. 
A damaged home is seen after Hurricane Harvey in Rockport. 
Damage is seen to a shopping center in Victoria, north and farther inland than Rockport.
Damage is seen to a shopping center in Victoria, north and farther inland than Rockport.
Damage is seen at a business near Rockport
Damage is seen at a business near Rockport
A damaged mobile home in Victoria.
A damaged mobile home in Victoria.
Damage to a hotel in Victoria.
Damage to a hotel in Victoria.
A business is damaged in Victoria. 
A business is damaged in Victoria. 
A light plane sits upside done at Rockport Airport. 
A light plane sits upside done at Rockport Airport. 
A sunken boat at Rockport Harbor. 
A sunken boat at Rockport Harbor. 
Destroyed houses in Rockport. 
Destroyed houses in Rockport. 
Light medium tactical vehicle's (LMTV) make their way through floodwaters near Bridge City in Texas.
Light medium tactical vehicle's (LMTV) make their way through floodwaters near Bridge City in Texas.
A car lies abandoned in Rockport. 
A car lies abandoned in Rockport. 
A police officer checks for survivors among destroyed houses in Rockport.
A police officer checks for survivors among destroyed houses in Rockport.
A gas station in Victoria.
A gas station in Victoria.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
Damage to homes is seen near Rockport
Damage to homes is seen near Rockport
A sign on a Holiday Inn hotel in Victoria.
A sign on a Holiday Inn hotel in Victoria.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
A burnt-out house that caught fire after Hurricane Harvey hit Corpus Christi.
A burnt-out house that caught fire after Hurricane Harvey hit Corpus Christi.
A house suffers roof damage in Corpus Christi. 
A house suffers roof damage in Corpus Christi. 

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting