How Osteen came under fire for his tardy disaster response

When Hurricane Harvey slammed Houston, spurring flooding of biblical proportions, the televangelist waited days to offer his megachurch as a shelter. Twitterati ripped him apart.

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Anyone who remembers Jimmy Swaggart tearfully confessing to his sins, Jim Bakker’s scandalous affair or Ted Haggard’s anti-gay moralizing while hiring a male prostitute, has seen pious religious leaders who weren’t everything they seemed to be.

Fairly or not, critics of Joel Osteen—the Houston-based senior pastor of Lakewood Church—accused him of exemplifying that archetype this week for his apparent reluctance to house victims of Hurricane Harvey. (He did say early on that his church would be available if shelters reached capacity, but not before.)

That seems innocuous, but his tweet got “ratio’d,” meaning that it generated more replies than retweets. When a tweet is ratio’d, the replies are usually scathing—as they were here. Twitter users were quick to call out the apparent hypocrisy of a man of God—whose net worth is reportedly north of $56 million—failing to step up and offer more than prayers when his hometown needed help.

A torrent of rebukes

Those accusations of hypocrisy intensified after Lakewood officials stated Sunday that the building had “severe flooding,” a claim that came into question when photos showed little water near the church or in that part of Houston’s, which was spared the worst of the flooding.

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