Is Harvey Osteen’s Katrina?


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

There have been numerous articles criticizing Houston mega-church pastor Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest church in America for not doing enough in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and for not letting people stay in the expansive church facility as a shelter.

In terms of his prosperity gospel theology, there are many reasons to criticize Osteen. I’m not a fan of him.But I feel like this story allows people to be critical both of religious people and the rich. And since many in the media hate both of those things, it’s an easy target.

I haven’t seen someone catch so much heat in the aftermath of a hurricane since former president George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina.

Other churches and mosques opened up to flood victims. Lakewood didn’t. Lakewood has housed flood victims before. They gave shelter to 5,000 people in 2001. But they also did experience some flooding within their facilities. They had cancelled weekend services due to the hurricane. While smaller churches have housed refugees, perhaps part of the reason for that is it is logistically easier to setup a smaller church than a big church. Making sure that they had the necessary supplies the necessary security precautions, the necessary man power. This is one of the worst natural disasters in modern American history. Given the extreme situation, I think it’s worth getting more context before rushing to judge.

All said, I think it’s a big leap to basically go with the narrative that’s out there: that Lakwood could have helped people but didn’t simply because they didn’t want to.

Why would a consumeristic, prosperity-gospel preaching church not want the photo ops and publicity of helping people?

The church has served as a distribution center for victims and is also raising funds in the aftermath of the storm.


Picture of the flooding:
Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 10.02.47 AM.png

Categories: Christian living, Church, Commentary, Culture, Faith, Prosperity

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. The claim of no access and being flooded has been proven wrong by many pics and vids.

    What’s worse is the statement by the church spokesperson:

    ” And it makes no sense to open church doors when the city and county are already treating thousands of flood victims at the nearby George R. Brown Convention Center, according to Iloff.”

    If flooding was the reason why even mention the convention center? On top of that, the only agreement Osteen has with the city is he would provide shelter only after other area shelters are completely full. I dont remember Jesus commanding love based on convenience.

    The pics you cited from the tweet are not simply odd but completely meaningless with so many wider/frequent pics showing no flooding preventing access.

    There is a very simple explanation for Osteen’s decision:


    Primary revenue comes from the Sunday service and if you house thousands of poor/homeless for several weeks you lose that revenue. Publicity could not compensate, no matter how good.

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