Pastor Joel Osteen: ‘The City Didn’t Ask Us to Become a Shelter’

Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen told NBC’s Today on Wednesday that Houston “didn’t ask us to become a shelter.” The controversial evangelical leader was widely criticized this week when his megachurch, which is a 16,800-seat former sports arena, did not open its doors to evacuees at the start of the deadly Hurricane Harvey. On Monday the church said it was “prepared to shelter people once the cities and county shelters reach capacity.” The building eventually opened on Tuesday. “We’re all about helping people,” Osteen said Wednesday. “This is what our church is all about. I don’t know if [the criticism] is unfounded, but I think if people were here they’d realize there were safety issues. This building has flooded before. We were just being precautious.”