Joel Osteen and his family are denying claims that his Lakewood Church refused to open its doors to Hurricane Harvey evacuees.
“We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need,” church spokesman and Osteen’s father-in-law Donald Iloff said in a statement to CNN. “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.”
The televangelist was slammed on Sunday, August 27, after Lakewood Church’s Facebook page post directed evacuees to different nearby shelter resources due to the Houston, Texas, church being “inaccessible due to severe flooding.” However, several social media users fired back with photos sharing accessible streets surrounding the 16,800 seat-arena at the church and slammed Osteen for denying refuge to victims of the hurricane, which has displaced tens of thousands of people.
Following the backlash, Osteen tweeted on Monday, August 28: “Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding. That’s peace when it doesn’t make sense.”
Many celebrities have taken action following the horrific aftermath of the hurricane, which has left at least seven dead. Country singer Chris Young donated $100,000 of his own money and set up a GoFundMe with a goal of $500,000 to benefit the Red Cross relief. He explained in a campaign video on August 27: “I’m worried about the people there — my friends, family and neighbors — and I want to help.”
Ellen DeGeneres posted a heartfelt video to her Twitter account in which she revealed she and The Ellen Show are donating $25,000 each to the Red Cross, and she is also donating another $25,000 to the SPCA of Texas.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 28, 2017
You can help hurricane relief efforts by donating to Young’s GoFundMe, or by texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross or texting UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to the United Way Flood Relief Fund.