Joel Osteen: One Man and his Megachurch
On Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane. In the following days, many Texans residing in the Gulf Coast area were flooded out of their homes and cars. They were forced to evacuate, and those who couldn’t leave had to find shelter.
As the search for shelter continued, many spaces exceeded capacity. Fortunately, a certain megachurch in Houston could do a lot to help the now homeless people in need of shelter. Many would believe the man in charge of the megachurch would be a savior in the face of catastrophe. In the face of danger and death, especially because a preacher of God is someone the people can trust as a true savior. However, Joel Osteen, televangelist and pastor, denied entrance to the numerous in need of help.
Lakewood Church, his prize possession and money-making machine, can seat more than 16,000 people and most likely hold even more. Osteen had the power and capability to help thousands of Houstonians, yet the doors remained shut. Osteen even acknowledged that some people came to his church seeking shelter and they were turned away and sent to Houston’s convention center four miles away.
Many desperate Houstonians needed his shelter and were declined due to false information from the church itself. Lakewood Church posted on Facebook that the building was closed due to “severe flooding.” Others posted on social media about the supposed flooding, revealing there was no noticeable flooding in the church. Here is a man of God lying. Ultimately the base of the platform that rose him to influence over millions of Christians, was what took him down in a time of need.
A natural disaster of Houston could not shake the self preservation of one man and his megachurch. While many other churches and schools opened up for temporary shelter, Osteen’s Lakewood Church remained closed. Osteen is worth around $50 million and lives in a $10.5 million mansion with his wife. Using his wealth to help the people of Houston is common sense, and the fact that he did not act with that mindset, speaks volumes. The self preservation of his church and himself went before those of the flooded and afraid.
Osteen was eventually shamed into opening the doors of his church due to the negative social media backlash. The church, for Osteen, is a means to self wealth, not a charity. He preaches that God blesses the righteous with health, wealth and happiness. His sermons and books on “prosperity gospel” also enforce the same ideology. Osteen was most likely afraid that opening the doors to Lakewood would cost him a lot of money and effort that would keep him from his own goals of health, wealth and happiness. However, in the end, he seemed to eventually realize the negative press would cost him more. The simplicity of opening his doors did not break through his self righteousness and inconsiderate personality, yet strengthened it for more to see his true personality. With a thousand yard smile, the fakeness of his words now stand as a man you can’t trust.