Joel Osteen refutes Harvey criticism, says “doors have always been open”

Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen says his church has “always been open,” refuting claims on social media that the church closed its doors to Harvey victims.

HOUSTON, TEXAS, UNITED STATES (CBS) – Houston-based Televangelist, Joel Osteen, opened the doors of his Lakewood Church on Tuesday (August 29) after strong criticism on social media by users who claimed that the Megachurch had closed its doors to victims of Hurricane Harvey while other places of worship remained open to help people in need.

Osteen told CBS on Wednesdsay, that the claims were inaccurate and that he had been working with the city of Houston to help victims.

Calls for Osteen to open the church started as early as Monday afternoon where one twitter user, Pastor Greg Locke (@pastorlocke) appealed to Osteen to let victims into the building that seats 16,000 people.

“Joel Osteen, as a Pastor you have a huge obligation to show the love of Christ at this very moment. OPEN THE DOORS. #HoustonStrong,” he posted on his Twitter account.

“Smh … @JoelOsteen church holds 16,000 people and he makes 77 million per yr off the same people he denied access to in the hurricane,” King Los (@iamKingLos), another user posted.

Osteen proceeded to open the church to people suffering from the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years, saying they were preparing to host the victims before letting them in.

The storm that first came ashore on Friday (August 25) has killed at least 17 people, forced tens of thousands of people to leave deluged homes and caused damage estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest U.S. natural disasters.

There is some relief in sight for Houston, the fourth most populous U.S. city, with forecasters saying five days of torrential rain may come to an end as the storm that has lingered in the Gulf of Mexico, picks up speed and leaves the region later in the day.