Houston Pastor Joel Osteen tried to bring his whirlwind week of bad public relations to a close on Wednesday in an early morning interview with “Good Morning America.” As Hurricane Harvey slammed the streets of Houston, Texas, Osteen was criticized for not opening the doors to his stadium-size church.
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Osteen flashed his trademark smile as he deflected questions from “GMA” anchor George Stephanopoulos.
“The building was inaccessible,” Osteen told “GMA.”
The 54-year-old pastor believes the narrative that Lakewood Church didn’t want to help people was totally inaccurate and not emblematic of the church’s mission.
“The narrative is that we didn’t want to take people in, or that we didn’t open in time — it’s totally not true.”
“I think somebody created that narrative that somehow we were high and dry, and none of that is true.”
According to Osteen’s version of events, the building was inaccessible during the beginning of Hurricane Harvey, and his staffers were unable to make it to the complex. Had he opened the doors to welcome people to shelter, nobody would have been there to attend to them.
“[W]e had nobody in this facility. We were fearing that it would flood. The last thing we would do is put people in it in the beginning,” Osteen explained.
“We’ve been here 60 years helping people, and we’re going to be here long after this dies down, helping these people as well.”
Osteen’s Lakewood Church boasts one of the largest weekly congregations in the country. Prior to becoming the home of the church, the building was once the home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.