JOEL OSTEEN REFUSES TO LET EVACUEES SHELTER IN HIS CHURCH

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James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

After making excuses (errr lies) for days, Joel Osteen — senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas — is finally agreeing to shelter flood victims in his massive arena-turned-church.

Osteen was initially dragged on Twitter — briefly becoming a nationally trending topic on the social media platform — for not accepting flood victims despite the interior of his building being suitable for shelter. A tweet from author Charles Clymer showed the inside of Lakewood Church with air mattresses inside of a hallway, implying that the building was being prepared as an emergency shelter for Houstonians who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey:

At first the church claimed they were flooded.

Then they claimed the roads around them were flooded.

The latest from the church twitter account is this:

Lakewood Church apparently bought countless air mattresses and are prepping to open their doors. Took a while but good news.#JoelOsteen pic.twitter.com/MYXf1HqAbF

— Charles Clymer🏳️‍🌈 (@cmclymer) August 29, 2017

Hurricane Harvey is continuing to hover over Southeast Texas, dumping more than 9 trillion gallons of water on the city as of Monday morning, with several more feet of rain expected in the coming days. The resulting flooding may end up displacing as many as 30,000 people, according to FEMA administrator Brock Long. The American Red Cross is operating out of the George R. Brown Convention Center, which they say is equipped to shelter only 5,000 flood victims.

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Osteen’s Lakewood Church — which seats 16,000 at a time — is located in the exceedingly wealthy River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, and used to be known as the Compaq Center. When accounting for all weekly services, Osteen’s total congregation amounts to more than 40,000 people, making it the largest Protestant congregation in the United States. Osteen also ranks among the top eight richest pastors in the country, with a net worth of more than $40 million. He and his family live in a $10.5 million home — all made possible by Osteen’s tax-exempt church.

Given Osteen’s tremendous wealth and the size of his church, some Houstonians expected the pastor to open the doors of his facility to some of the thousands of locals whose homes have been submerged under the relentless rain pounding Southeast Texas. Gizmodo writer Matt Novak did some digging and found out that along with Osteen initially not sheltering flood victims, his church wasn’t even flooded.

To underscore this point, he linked to a Houston Chronicle article about a furniture store just down the street from Lakewood Church that is opening its doors to flood victims. Novak also reminded his followers that the IRS code only allows churches to have tax exempt status based on the implication that they’re operating for the good of the public.

Gallery Furniture just down the street for Osteen’s church opened the doors to its warehouse for use as a shelter https://t.co/1x8OoERsIz

— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) August 28, 2017

Here’s a photo that’s purports to show the road in front of @JoelOsteen’s Lakewood Church. Doesn’t look flooded. https://t.co/x4HJWZhoBn

— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) August 28, 2017

The US allows churches tax free status on the understanding that they’re operating for the public good. Hard to make that case here.

— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) August 28, 2017

Several Houstonians have allegedly told Novak that Osteen blocked them from his official Twitter account when they asked him why he wasn’t sheltering flood victims. Novak then tweeted that not only does Lakewood Church appear to be safe from the floodwaters, the building’s underground garage is also dry.

People on the ground at Osteen’s Lakewood megachurch claim that even the underground parking isn’t flooded https://t.co/YTMg9MrIeK

— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) August 28, 2017

However, while the pastor of America’s largest Protestant congregation hadn’t yet opened his doors as of Monday evening despite thousands of residents seeking shelter, three of the facilities listed as public shelters for flood victims are Islamic centers:

Three of the dozen or so shelters IN Houston are Muslim community spaces. No word yet from Joel Osteen whether he’ll open the doors. pic.twitter.com/7CQ6C59tI6

— Sammy Taylor (@samuel_hudson) August 28, 2017

(UPDATE 11:40 PM ET) After hours of being shamed on social media, Osteen finally agreed to let Lakewood Church be used as a shelter, despite claiming earlier on Monday that the building was flooded and unable to shelter flood victims.)

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