In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Houston, pastor Joel Osteen surprisingly became the center of attention. Known for overseeing one of the largest churches in the country, many critics wondered why Osteen had not immediately opened the doors of his church to those seeking refuge.
When Osteen finally did open his doors, it did little to calm the criticism.
Despite this, Osteen has showed no signs of backing down to his critics. In interviews, Osteen defended the actions of his church, accusing people from out of state of not fully understanding the situation on the ground there. And in the first service since Harvey, Osteen came out swinging again. However, his advice to Houstonians is sure to cause more backlash from liberals.
From the Blaze:
Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen issued firm statements of empowerment to his congregation during the first regular Sunday services since Hurricane Harvey ripped through parts of Texas, leaving destruction in its wake.
During his message, Osteen told congregants gathered that God would “pay back” hurricane victims for what had been taken from them, and warned them against playing into the “victim mentality.”
Osteen encouraged the audience to look forward, promising they could handle the sudden misfortune:
“We’re not going to understand everything that happens, but having a ‘poor me mentality,’ or ‘look what I lost,’ or ‘why did this happen’ … that’s just gonna pull you down,” he said from Lakewood Church’s stage.
Osteen urged followers of Christ to “turn it around,” and added that God won’t allow suffering “unless he has a purpose for it.”
“We may not see it all the time, but that’s what faith is all about,” the pastor added.
Osteen went on to discuss several instances in the Bible which reaffirm Christian faith that God will restore what has been taken away. In the same breath, the pastor advised his congregants against self-destructive mentalities.
“Let’s don’t have a victim mentality,” he said. “Let’s have a restoration mentality.”
Of course, Osteen couldn’t let the service end without addressing the controversy surrounding the church:
Addressing churchgoers, Osteen mentioned criticism he received on social media as a result of what he later called “misinformation.”
“There’s been so much misinformation about the church this week, I wanted to clarify some things,” Osteen said, and reiterated that the church has always been there for its local citizens.
The church erupted in uproarious cheers and applause.
Osteen explained the building’s history of flooding, and noted that in 2001, there was “over five feet of water in this lower bowl.”
“Knowing that,” he continued, “when we took possession [of the facility], we installed large flood gates around the building.”
During Harvey, Osteen said, the water reportedly came within a “foot or two” of the floodgates.
“[The water] receded late Sunday, maybe early Monday,” he said. “We felt it was safe to start taking people in on Tuesday.”
At this point, it seems clear that nothing Osteen says will satisfy his critics. However, it appears he still has the support of his congregation. For Osteen, that’s likely all he needs.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]