The biggest church in Texas closed its doors, however, mosques stayed open to help victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, which has caused catastrophic flooding and forced thousands of residents to leave their home.
Houston pastor Joel Osteen disputed that his church-which can hold about 16,000 people-turned away evacuees during Hurricane Harvey. It directed people to nearby shelters. Photos posted on social media later suggested the church had not been damaged. "Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm". "There was a safety issue the first day or two".
On Tuesday afternoon, Osteen and his wife Victoria said they were ready to offer sanctuary.
It seems as though many people may have taken Lakewood Church's original post about flooding out of context.
"They'll be here for a couple of years with us and that's just, you know, that's just pulling out the sheet rock, you know, helping those, especially the elderly, and just being in it for the long haul", he said.
Osteen's father-in-law, Donald Iloff, addressed the criticism with a statement in which he explained that the church - which used to be the Houston Rockets' stadium - was ready to open its doors to displaced Texans. And though he avowed that doors have always been open, Iloff stated that bringing in crowds of storm evacuees over the weekend "would've been unsafe". As soon as the highways aren't flooded please know Lakewood Church will do all they can alleviate the pain and suffering of as many people as possible.
- Lakewood Church (@lakewoodch) August 29, 2017Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians.
Some criticized Osteen for his decision, given the size of the church and the fact that many other places of worship opened their doors to victims.
US Coast Guard Lt. Mike Hart said the coast guard is receiving up to 1,000 calls per hour from people needing to be rescued.