The claim: Joel Osteen closed his Church in Lakewood to those suffering from the cold and power outages in Texas
Famous pastor Joel Osteen has come under fire on social media for allegedly closing the doors of his Lakewood church in Houston and failing to provide shelter for those facing freezing temperatures and blackouts. continuous electricity.
In a February 16 Facebook Publish, one user wrote: “In Houston, mega-pastor Joel Osteen didn’t open his 18,000-seat arena to frozen homeless people.” Some versions of this post misspelled his name as “Olsteen”.
In a similar version of the Claim, which owns more than 400 shares, one user alleged that Osteen received $ 4.4 million in paycheck protection program loans, but failed to open his church in Texas to “house frozen people to death at his door “. Accompanying the message is a picture of Lakewood Church in Osteen, which can accommodate thousands of worshipers.
Some users referred to Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when Osteen was also accused of refusing to immediately accept evacuees into his church.
“While Texans need warmth, food and shelter, Joel Osteen’s church remains closed … as it did during and after Hurricane Harvey,” one text read Publish.
USA TODAY has contacted Facebook users for comment.
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Lakewood Church is open
Osteen did not close the doors of his Lakewood church; it has remained open to help people without electricity or shelter, according to local media.
Lakewood Church has had as many as 300 people entering and exiting the building, including homeless people and families looking to escape the cold, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Church staff are testing participants for symptoms of COVID-19, requiring masks, and maintaining appropriate social distancing.
Lakewood Church is providing beds, blankets and other necessary supplies, and church officials have said no one will be turned back, Click2Houston reported.
“If you need a warm place to stay, Lakewood is open. Hundreds have arrived last night and more today due to power outages. Staff and volunteers are on hand to help,” Osteen tweeted February 16. “We have beds, blankets, a hot meal and supplies for those in need. Stay safe, keep praying for Texas.”
The city of Houston also shared on twitter that Lakewood Church is open as a center for those in need of a warm place.
Lakewood Church was once the home of the Houston Rockets in the NBA. The church now attracts over 45,000 weekly attendees. Osteen faced a backlash in December when he was reported that Lakewood Church received a PPP loan of $ 4.4 million.
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This is not the first time that social media users have criticized the pastor for allegedly shutting down his church.
In 2017, Osteen came under fire when the church issued a notice saying the building was closed due to “severe flooding” in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, USA TODAY reported.
Osteen refuted claims he turned down flood victims and said “the church has always been open” and “we received victims from the shelters on the first or two days.” He added that the church was first flooded and was unable to immediately open.
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Our rating: False
The claim that mega-church pastor Joel Osteen does not allow Texans without heat or electricity to shelter in his Lakewood Church in Houston is FALSE, our research shows. Tweets from Osteen, the church and the city of Houston all confirm that the church is open to those in need of shelter. Many local outlets have also reported that Lakewood has opened its doors to residents of Texas.
Our sources of fact-checking:
- Houston Chronicle, February 16, “Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church opens in very cold weather“
- Click2Houston, February 16 “Lakewood Church opens as a warming center as millions go without power for days“
- Lakewood Church, February 14 Tweeter
- City of Houston, February 16 Tweeter
- Joel Osteen, February 16 Tweeter
- Joelosteen.com, About Joël
- KTLA5, December 15, 2020, “Pastor Joel Osteen slammed after Houston mega-church received $ 4.4 million COVID-19 loan from CARES Act“
- USA TODAY, August 30, 2017, “Joel Osteen: “We never turn down” Hurricane Harvey flood victims“
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