Joel Osteen: 'We never turned away' Hurricane Harvey flooding victims

Posted August 31, 2017

A famous Houston pastor is facing strong criticism on allegations that he has failed to open the doors of his megachurch to the flood victims of Hurricane Harvey.

"Where's Joel Osteen? His church in Houston holds 16,800, and he has plenty of money".

As you may've heard, the famed Texas pastor was met with backlash this week after allegations accused the Lakewood Church of closing its doors to Hurricane Harvey evacuees.

The church posted on Facebook Sunday that it was inaccessible due to the severe flooding.

More shelters became a dire need by Tuesday afternoon with more than 17,000 people seeking refuge from floodwaters, the American Red Cross said.

Photos provided by the church on Monday show flooding inside a building and on a street.

A Lakewood Church rep tells us, "Lakewood's doors are open now to anyone needing shelter. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm".

But some responded sceptically to the Facebook post, questioning why one of the largest churches in the USA - including a 16,000-seat arena - was not able to take in victims of Harvey.

Donald Iloff, the church's spokesperson and Joel Osteen's father-in-law, issued a statement to deny the accusations, CNN reports.

But photos and videos posted on social media appeared to contradict that.

About 50 people were reportedly admitted to Lakewood Church for shelter Tuesday afternoon, according to the Chronicle. Several social media posts indicated the church stayed clear of any flooding.

Osteen also said some of the church's own staff members and pastors were rescued from the flooding.

"They'll be here for a couple of years with us and that's just, you know, that's just pulling out the sheet rock, you know, helping those, especially the elderly, and just being in it for the long haul", he said.

Displaced residents will be housed on the second floor, Iloff said.

Osteen's Lakewood Church boasts one of the largest weekly congregations in the country. 11 people have died in the wake of the storm in the last four days.