Pastor Joel Osteen was on Fox News Wednesday morning to crush stories that his Lakewood Church in Houston shut its doors to flood victims in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
“The church doors have always been open. We took people in as soon as the waters receded,” Osteen told Fox and Friends. “This is what Lakewood is all about. Some of those people who make those comments don’t realize that the church was flooded.”
The televangelist says the church faced flooding in 2001 and was only saved by the floodgates.
“We’ve been doing this for 60 years and we’ll continue to do it.”
Co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked Osteen, “When you hear this negativity…when you hear people saying your church is closed (clearly it’s not)…what do you want to say to the critics?”
“I don’t pay much attention to it…life’s too short to let that negative get in,” Osteen responded before noting that he believes the criticism was orchestrated by people on social media who oppose evangelical Christians.
“Social media is powerful these days…so much of it is just people who don’t like me or people of faith,” he said, but admitting “If you’re not in this situation, it’s easy to make judgements. You know, there are safety issues.”
Osteen was asked if he “had any regrets” given criticism that “mega-churches are focused on souls but not all the time on communities.”
In regard to his community, the pastor believes “we could probably always do stuff better.” Osteen said the church’s record stands for itself, stating, “We’ve been here year after year helping the community, helping the poor…rebuilding the roof of someone from Katrina just last week.”
After reiterating that the church is a distribution center for flood relief, Osteen said his Sunday sermon will focus on the positive. “We’ll have a celebration that we’re all here…pray for families that have lost loved ones.”