Many people throughout the United States have unfairly criticized Joel Osteen and his church, Lakewood, in the past weeks. Lakewood Church sits in the center of Houston, a city devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
It is difficult to understand why people are criticizing Osteen. Not only did the church’s first floor flood, but the second-floor walls are made primarily of glass, a fickle wall during a hurricane. Despite seeing all of these obvious safety concerns, social media users continued to condemn Osteen and his faith for, at the end of the day, only being too cautious.
The building was not suited to shelter large numbers of people due to the possibility of flooding and debris damage. It would have posed a greater threat to those people. Osteen would have faced backlash for sheltering anyone despite safety concerns.. All the same critics would say, “Osteen never should have opened his church in those conditions.”
People believe Osteen should have done more due to his faith. Osteen did as much as he possibly could have done given the circumstances. He had a cautious attitude and, though many believe differently, he never closed his doors to anyone asking for help. Additionally, the city of Houston never asked his church to become a shelter. People did not need to seek refuge at Lakewood until the city shelters had become full.
The criticism lies not on the basis of opening his church, but on his wealth and faith.
Rather than criticizing a man who tried to keep others safe, people should focus on helping the people in need. Most of his critics did absolutely nothing for the relief, but they had no problem criticizing those who did.
Someone in Osteen’s situation would have more than likely left an unstable and flooded structure in order to seek shelter elsewhere. Osteen, however, did not leave. He continued to fix and work alongside his staff to make sure the Lakewood church had enough safe areas for people to seek shelter in when the time came.
However, it’s clear many refuse to hear about the good things a Christian does. Instead, careful actions have been framed in a negative light and deemed “not Christian enough” by individuals and biased news outlets.
– Kaitlin Evans is a journalism sophomore