FACT CHECK: Yes, Joel Osteen Has Opened His Church To Texans In Need During The Winter Storm
A viral Facebook post claims televangelist Joel Osteen is not letting homeless Texas residents shelter in his Houston megachurch during the winter storm affecting the state.
Lakewood Church and the City of Houston said the megachurch is open as a warming center for anyone in need.
As winter storms swept Texas and other states this week, Facebook users shared a post alleging Osteen, a popular televangelist that preaches at Lakewood Church, is “not opening his 18,000 seat arena to the freezing homeless.” Osteen faced criticism in 2017 for not immediately opening the Houston megachurch to people displaced by Hurricane Harvey, according to the Houston Chronicle.
But, contrary to the Facebook post’s claim, Lakewood Church has been providing assistance to Texans impacted by the winter storm since Sunday. The megachurch tweeted on Feb. 14 that it is a “designated Warming Center beginning today for anyone in need of shelter.”
Lakewood is a designated Warming Center beginning today for anyone in need of shelter. Arrive at either of our main entrances (Lower Edloe or Timmons St.)
— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodchurch) February 14, 2021
The City of Houston listed Lakewood Church as a warming center for those in need of shelter in a Feb. 16 tweet. Local news outlets such as the Houston Chronicle and NBC affiliate KPRC 2 also reported on the megachurch opening its doors as a warming center. Lakewood Church has provided beds, blankets and other supplies, with its officials saying no one will be turned away, according to KPRC 2.
As many as 300 people, some of them homeless, had been in and out of Lakewood Church as of Feb. 16, Houston Chronicle reported. Osteen tweeted on Feb. 17 that the church’s volunteers and staff had “served over 600 people since Sunday.”
We are blessed to be a blessing! Thank you to our amazing volunteers and staff who have served over 600 people since Sunday. We’ll get through this storm together! Continue to pray for Texas. pic.twitter.com/bhd5q5OweM
— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) February 17, 2021
Numerous churches, organizations and businesses have opened as warming centers across Texas to help those in need, Spectrum News 1 reported. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims To Show Joel Osteen Ministries Charging For Prayer Requests)
President Joe Biden on Feb. 14 approved an emergency declaration for Texas and ordered “federal assistance to supplement state and local response efforts,” according to a White House statement. In a Feb. 18 tweet, Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 6 said that it is providing Texas with over 50,000 cotton blankets and 729,000 liters of water, as well as generators and fuel for critical sites.