Televangelist Joel Osteen only opened his church doors to use as a refuge for flood victims after a vast public outcry. After he did, he first said he couldn’t because of the flooding, and then, when someone proved that is not true, said it was the city of Houston’s fault for not making him open the doors sooner. Even when he finally did open his doors, Osteen immediately began asking for donations to his church instead of to Hurricane relief.
In a video from a Saturday service at Lakewood Church, his sister Lisa Osteen Comes asks for the Hurricane Harvey survivors to stand up so that people could “touch” and “lay hands” on them. Before she does that though, she sends the ushers into the auditorium to start passing around collection plates. As they do, she throws out false words of comfort and carefully avoids ever telling these poor people that the church would help them. Instead, she keeps saying that God will.
“All these people who stood tonight, they have needs, and financial needs, and you know, I just feel like we should pray for them that God is going to bless them with unprecedented favor in the next coming days and the next coming weeks and the next coming months because you know they have a lot of calls to make, they have a lot of work to get done, and their lives were so interrupted, but you know what we can trust God that it will go smoother than anyone could ever imagine.”
Comes then called for the congregation to “touch them, hold hands with them…let’s touch them, let’s just let them know we’re praying for them and let’s believe right now that God is going to move supernaturally in their favor.”
She went beyond, and at one point, said that the “spirit” told her personally that some of the victims would actually have better home when God decides to work his mojo. Suggesting to the vulnerable survivors that if they give money, God will reward them with even better luxuries than they had before the flood.
The church is collecting money and literally telling them to rely on divine intervention but refuse to say that they will help in any way.
Osteen is worth between $40 and $70 million, and asked for more money when he just tried to close his doors to people in need.