Joel Osteen on why he didn’t open his church to hurricane victims: ‘No one asked’

In the wake of the huge public backlash over the alleged initial refusal to open his church doors to victims of Hurricane Harvey, Texas megachurch pastor Joel Osteen hit the airwaves in an attempt to do damage control. But an appearance on the Today show this Wednesday didn’t do his cause any favors.

“We’re all about helping people. This is what our church is all about,” Osteen said.

“I think if people were here, they would realize there were safety issues,” he continued. “This building had flooded before, so we were just being precautions, he added. “But the main thing is the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter then.”

But Osteen’s words seemed to contradict his earlier claims that his Lakewood church’s doors have “always been open.”

The controversy started when on Sunday the church posted a message saying it was “inaccessible” due to flooding and asked people to seek shelter elsewhere. When outrage on social media began to permeate, the church updated its message to say they would provide shelter once surrounding churches and shelters “reach capacity.”

When asked if he would have done anything differently, Osteen said that he definitely would.

“Yeah, I’m sure we would have done something differently,” he said, adding, “The fact is I don’t know that we would have opened any sooner, because again there were safety issues.”

He closed out the segment by blaming his church’s initial inaction on city officials.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Wow, there’s that building. They’re not using it.’ But we don’t have volunteers,” Osteen said. “We don’t have staff that could get here. We’re all about helping the city whenever we could ― if they would have asked us to become a shelter early on, we would have prepared for it.”

Watch the Today show segment below:

Featured image via screen grab

Sky Palma

Before launching DeadState back in 2012, Sky Palma has been blogging about politics, social issues and religion for over a decade. He lives in Los Angeles and also enjoys Brazilian jiu jitsu, chess, music and art.