Joel Osteen’s megachurch mocked during Hurricane Beryl - years after it was closed during a previous storm

The memes come after the pastor was previously accused of not opening the doors to his 16,8000-capacity church in Houston when Hurricane Harvey slammed the state

Kelly Rissman
Tuesday 09 July 2024 16:45
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Drone footage shows Houston roads submerged as Hurricane Beryl passes through Texas

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The Houston megachurch of televangelist Joel Osteen was mocked by social media users for not offering enough aid as Hurricane Beryl pummeled the city.

The megachurch leader was criticized by a barrage of X users who have not forgotten his church’s slow response in offering shelter to victims of Hurricane Harvey, which rampaged the area in 2017.

Osteen’s Lakewood Church used to be the arena for the Houston Rockets and can hold nearly 17,000 people, meaning it could serve as an air-conditioned safe haven for many impacted by the storm.

“We are praying for everyone on the Gulf Coast. Lakewood is working with the Office of Emergency Management, and are standing by to help those impacted by the storm. Please stay safe!” the Texas church tweeted at 11.30pm Sunday. The Category 1 hurricane made landfall hours later, early on Monday.

The Houston megachurch of televangelist Joel Osteen was mocked by social media users for not offering enough aid during Hurricane Beryl
The Houston megachurch of televangelist Joel Osteen was mocked by social media users for not offering enough aid during Hurricane Beryl (AP)

Social media users posted memes suggesting the megachurch leader was scrambling to shut and lock up doors - making reference to the church’s 2017 response when discussing the most recent storm. There were also altered photos of Osteen, whose net worth is believed to soar into the tens of millions, next to his sprawling property saying he had no room to shelter anyone.

“Joel Osteen when he hears another hurricane is about to hit Houston,” one post read, with a set of large double doors secured by two dozen locks.

Another user posted a cartoon of Piglet hastily nailing wood planks on windows, writing: “Joel Osteen once Hurricane Beryl hits Houston.”

In 2017, Osteen initially offered “prayers” as Houston was devastated by extreme flooding. He defended himself against detractors, explaining that the church had been “inaccessible” due to flooding. “We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need,” he said at the time.

After Beryl moved beyond Houston Monday afternoon, the church posted: “Local authorities are asking people to stay off the roads today. Beginning tomorrow, Tuesday 8:00am, Lakewood will serve as a cooling and water distribution center, and safe haven for anyone in need.”

The cool shelter will likely be welcomed by the more than 2 million Houston residents who have lost power — and air conditioning — as temperatures are expected to soar into the 90s, but feel even hotter.

While Texans clean up in Beryl’s wake, the storm has since been downgraded to a tropical depression and is heading north on Tuesday.

The Independent has reached out to the megachurch for comment.

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