Joel Osteen, a pastor in Houston, has come under fire for not opening his congregation's megachurch to victims of Hurricane Harvey sooner. A post on social media Sunday night by a spokesman for the church said the church was "inaccessible" due to flooding and redirected people to look for shelter elsewhere. After faced with mounting backlash from social media, a spokesman for the church said they will open their doors "once the cities and county shelters reach capacity."
The 16,800-seat megachurch in Houston could have been open to victims who have lost their homes this whole time but was not. Other churches and even mosques in the area have opened their doors and resources to help victims. Pastor Joel Osteen appeared on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday to try to back the church out of hot water. He said, "If people were here, they’d realize there were safety issues. We were just being precautious, but the main thing is the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter then." When backed in a corner on the issue of why they didn't open their doors sooner, Osteen redirected the blame onto city officials for not asking to use the building. He alternated his reasoning between "safety issues" and "not being asked" several times in interviews.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">WATCH: “We were just being precautious, but the main thing is the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter then.” -Pastor <a href="https://twitter.com/JoelOsteen">@JoelOsteen</a> <a href="https://t.co/Qdn5vgm09H">pic.twitter.com/Qdn5vgm09H</a></p>— TODAY (@TODAYshow) <a href="https://twitter.com/TODAYshow/status/902858851753582592">August 30, 2017</a></blockquote>
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"It’s easy to say, ‘Wow, there’s that building. They’re not using it.’ But we don’t have volunteers," the pastor said."We don’t have staff that could get here. We’re all about helping the city whenever we could ― if they would have asked us to become a shelter early on, we would have prepared for it.” It seems odd that they couldn't open the doors sooner because of safety issues, but the church is finally open to victims of the flooding. The giant megachurch can seat 17,000 and was not flooded by Hurricane Harvey.
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