Televangelist Joel Osteen posted a video of his Sunday church service to Facebook where he said he didn’t pay attention to the “negative chatter” on social media. A week before, the pastor was slammed for refusing to open his Houston church to victims of Hurricane Harvey. A day after he faced mass criticism, Osteen opened to the doors.
The Christian leader argued it wasn’t safe to allow displaced Houston residents into his church until the storm passed. “We felt it was safe to start taking people in on Tuesday,” he said in Sunday’s sermon. “If we had opened the building earlier, and someone was injured, or perhaps it flooded and people lost their lives — that would be a whole different story.”
Osteen, 46, didn’t think he did anything wrong. “I’m a peace with taking the heat for being precautious. But I don’t want to take the heat for being foolish. It’s easy for people to make judgments from a distance without having all the information,” he said.
The televangelist blamed misinformation for the negative attention he received. “Some people that don’t know the facts and don’t want to know the facts will continue to try to stir things up,” Osteen said. “They would love to discredit the ministry and lessen our voice, but can I tell ya, they’re not that strong. The forces that are for us are great than the forces that are against us.”
Not everyone turned on Osteen, though. His followers were quick to defend him and Lakewood Church, which is an arena that can hold nearly 17,000 people. “Now, I realize this is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on what we stand for: for faith, for hope, for love. Jesus even said, ‘When the world hates you, remember, it hated me first.’ I don’t pay any attention to the negative chatter on social media, never read the negative comments,” Osteen explained.
Osteen isn’t controlled by Twitter or Facebook. “If you let social media run your life you’ll never fulfill your purpose. My reputation is in God’s hands. He knows how to protect, how to vindicate, how to promote. That’s why I’m at peace. I know we did the right thing,” he said.
Lastly, Osteen didn’t want his followers to respond to those that criticized him and the church. “The key is, stay on the high road. You don’t have to defend yourself, defend the church, defend me. Some people are never going to like us. This is not the time to get riled up, try to prove your point. We overcome evil with…