Joel Osteen pushes back against accusations he closed his megachurch to Harvey victims – Chicago Tribune

Joel Osteen, Houston’s celebrity televangelist, pushed back against accusations that he closed off his 606,000-square-foot megachurch amid a flooding crisis that has displaced thousands of residents.

“The idea that we wouldn’t receive people – we’ve been here in this community for 60 years,” Osteen told Chris Cuomo Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day,” adding that: “We’ve always been open . . . How this notion got started, that we’re not a shelter and we’re not taking people in is a false narrative.”

Lakewood Church spokesman Don Iloff said the building itself had been flooded during the weekend, with water getting close to spilling over the facility’s floodgate. Taking in a crowd of storm evacuees over would’ve been unsafe, although Iloff maintained that the church’s doors were never closed.

“This is crazy. People are saying we’ve locked the church,” he told The Washington Post. “The church has been open from the beginning, but it’s not designated as a shelter.”

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