The doors to Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston will open Tuesday to Tropical Storm Harvey victims — while the beleaguered church insisted it was never closed in the first place.
“We have never closed our doors,” a Lakewood Church spokesman said in a statement to CNN. “We will continue to be a distribution center to those in need. We are prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm.”
The multimillionaire televangelist came under enormous criticism for refusing to take in evacuees at his 16,800-seat, tax-exempt house of worship. Instead, he tweeted Monday about how “Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding. That’s peace when it doesn’t make sense.”
On Sunday, Lakewood tweeted that it was “inaccessible due to severe flooding” along with a list of nearby shelters and the numbers to the National Guard rescue line.
But the megachurch located near downtown Houston appeared to have fared just fine in the storm, according to photos posted on social media showing that it was wet — but not inaccessible.
“Shame on Joel Osteen,” tweeted RuneK_15. “Jesus would open the doors and care for the needy.”
Another tweeter commented, “Joel Osteen won’t open his church that holds 16,000 to hurricane victims because it only provides shelter from taxes. #HoustonStrong”
Photos taken by the church and given to CNN show standing water in the church’s hallways, though spokesman Donald Iloff, Osteen’s father-in-law, said the water has receded. He also said the area around the church was flooded Monday and at least three people came by for help before they were taken to the George Brown Convention Center.
The church had installed a flood wall following a previous storm.
In a flurry of tweets Monday, Lakewood asked for volunteers and donations, including infant and adult diapers, baby formula and baby food, to be dropped off Tuesday — when the…