Pastor Joel Osteen has no intention of apologizing in the face of criticism over his decision not to immediately open the doors of his Houston megachurch to flood victims
Pastor Joel Osteen has no intention of apologizing even as he continue to face withering criticism over his decision not to immediately open the doors of his Houston megachurch in order to shelter Harvey flood victims, he told Entertainment Tonight on Thursday.
The popular televangelist said he isn't concerned about his critics on social media who have taken turns blasting Osteen for initially saying the church was flooded even though it was largely dry.
'We're concerned with these people [victims now at the church] and how they move forward,' he told ET.
'And there were safety issues that people don't understand. But, I really believe that if people were in my shoes, they would have done the same thing.
'When the building is clear, when it's safe, we can start taking people. That's what we have done for 60 years. We love helping people and that's what our message is all about.'
Osteen said the public failed to grasp the safety issues that he says prevented him from initially offering the church as a shelter.
'You know, it depends on what day that is,' he told ET.
'I think another thing that people don't understand - it could flood. That street could flood and in 14 hours it can be down.
'So, you can't go by that. I have video of it flooded on either Saturday night or Sunday night, I can't remember. But, you know, it can go down in 14, 15 hours.'
The televangelist says that if he had the chance to do it all over again, he would have acted differently.
'Knowing what I know now, I would have put staff in here before the storm hit, put beds, do everything we could to be prepared,' he says.
'When it catches us by surprise, even when the cities overflow and, you know, nobody dreams that shelters will overflow.
'Hindsight, it's 20/20, but we got to move forward and do what we've done for the last 60 years and take care of these people, help them rebuild their lives, bring hope to their spirits and let them know that they can come out of this stronger than before.'
When asked about the reaction on social media, Osteen says he invokes a higher power.
Tropical Storm Harvey evacuees rest inside the Lakewood Church after the church opened their doors to the victims on Tuesday. Pastor and popular televangelist Joel Osteen uploaded this photo on his Twitter account on Thursday
Volunteers organize donated emergency supplies at the temporary shelter at the Lakewood Church on Tuesday
Volunteers line up to sign up to help with the shelter for victims of the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey at a shelter opened at the Lakewood Church on Tuesday