Pastor Joel Osteen has been hit with criticism after he closed his Lakewood church to victims of severe floods following hurricane in Texas, saying “we are praying for everyone’s safety.”
In the wake of this natural disaster dozens of Houston-area churches, schools and community centers have opened their doors to offer temporary shelter to survivors
However, the 54-year-old’s 17,000-seat Lakewood Church in Houston isn’t opening its doors because floodwaters won’t allow it, according to the televangelist.
He posted an official statement on Facebook that it was ‘inaccessible due to severe flooding.’
The post began with: ‘Our hearts are breaking as we see the images of the damage and destruction in our city and the surrounding areas from Hurricane Harvey.
‘We are praying for everyone’s safety in Houston and Texas. As a community we can help each other get through this storm.
‘We appreciate your prayers, both for our city and for Lakewood Church. We are working diligently with the city of Houston to mobilize our many volunteers at shelters around the city as well as various other points of need in and around the Houston area.’
Social media users say the pastor – who has an estimated net worth north of $50 million – could help by allowing thousands to shelter in his megachurch.
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.
His thoughtful wishes on social media weren’t well received by users who blasted him for merely sending out prayers and thoughts rather than offering to donate money.
‘You have taken so much money away from your people to live like a king,’ entertainment publicist Danny Deraney said. ‘It’s the least you could do.’
Writer and reporter Eoin Higgins wrote on Twitter: ‘Nice of @JoelOsteen to open his 16,000 seat mega church in Houston to floor victims. Lol jk he’s not doing that.’