Preacher Joel Osteen took heavy criticism on social media for failing to open up the doors of its megachurch, Lakewood Church, in Houston to take in victims of the severe flooding.
Lakewood posted a message to social media on Sunday, providing shelter information and saying the church had been flooded. A backlash followed when some individuals posted photos of the church, which appeared to show that it had not been flooded.
The church responded with photographs showing flooding inside and around the facilities.
“We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need,” said church spokesman and Osteen’s father-in-law Donald Iloff.
“We are prepared to shelter people once the cities and county shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives.”
Charles Clymer, a Houston journalist who had been a vocal critic of Osteen and the church for not opening its doors, posted a photo to Twitter reportedly from inside the church.
— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 29, 2017
Clymer’s wording, “apparently,” caused us to wonder if he took the photograph himself or had it sent to him, and have inquired to determine if he has been inside the church yet himself.
CNN is confirming the news, citing a statement on the church’s website, although a review of the site did not turn up any such statement.
There was also no such statement on the church’s social media accounts, which are all still offering up only prayers and the promise of goods like diapers and infant formula. They have been calling for others to donate these items as well.
Please bring these items to Lakewood Church, Circle Drive off Timmons St. https://t.co/XxIbYde0L6
— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodch) August 29, 2017
We will update this story if more information becomes available.
UPDATE: Lakewood Church is opening its doors to let in those seeking shelter from the flooding resulting from Hurricane Harvey.