UPDATED: 12:50 p.m. ET, Dec. 15, 2020 —
Criticism of Joel Osteen‘s treatment of Hurricane Harvey victims was being renewed Tuesday after it was reported the televangelist’s megachurch in Houston was the recipient of a multi-million dollar Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the government.
Osteen’s latest scandal was not because Lakewood Church got the reported $4.4 million in financial relief. Rather, the report from the Houston Chronicle exposed Osteen’s now-months old lie that Lakewood had not applied for the federal loan granted to the nation’s small businesses that have been ravaged by the coronavirus.
It was in that context that Osteen’s critics were remembering how he shut his doors to people seeking refuge in his 45,000-capacity megachurch while Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc to other parts of the Texas city.
Adding insult to literal injury, Osteen allowed far-right rapper Kanye West to come inside while shunning those who were less fortunate — the very kind of people to whom Osteen purports to tailor his ministries.
Notably, Black and brown small business owners have suggested they were being largely excluded from the government’s apparently selective efforts to keep employees on companies’ payrolls during the pandemic.
In response to those claims, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson secured nearly half a billion dollars for minority and women-owned businesses that missed out on the PPP loans.
Original story from Nov. 12, 2019:
Kanye West is continuing to stir up controversy with his supposedly new sanctified life, and now folks are slamming him and mega pastor Joel Osteen for an equally controversial arrangement.
According to TMZ, West is set to visit Osteen’s mega Lakewood Church on Sunday. A source tells TMZ that West and Osteen have been talking on a regular basis recently, so much that they’ve become friends. Sources say that Kanye is expected to show up at Joel’s 11 A.M. service in Houston on Sunday. West will then make his way to the pulpit to have a conversation with Joel that’s expected to last between 20 and 30 minutes.
It’s reported that Joel wants his congregation, which is made up of a whopping 45,000 people, and his TV audience (another 10 million people in the U.S. alone) to hear how West has overcome substantial adversity in his life. One source explained, “Kanye used to be about nothing greater than himself. Now it’s all about a higher power.” It’s expected that Joel will ask Kanye to compare his life of the past to his life now. The visit is already causing some angry emotions, considering Osteen doesn’t have the best reputation as a preacher. The pastor has managed to accumulate a lot of wealth, including a massive mansion. Dislike for him peaked in 2017 when social media started accusing him of not opening up his church to Hurricane Harvey victims. Eventually, Osteen responded to the accusations, telling CNN, “The church has always been open. We received shelter victims the first day or two.”However, according to USA Today, he also said that the church initially didn’t open their doors because the church flooded and they needed time to make the building livable for hurricane evacuees. “The first day or two, this building was not accessible,” he said. “We would never put people in here until it was safe. And it was not safe, I can tell you.”
Regardless of what the situation was, people did not forget the social media storm that followed. Now that Osteen is welcoming Kanye West, folks definitely didn’t hesitate to bring up Osteen and the Hurricane Harvey situation.
“So Joel Osteen’s Lakewood is big enough for Kanye’s ego but not for hurricane victims,” one Twitter user wrote.
Other users took the moment to vent their frustrations about Osteen in general. “I see Joel Osteen is trending. cool. fu** Joel Osteen and every other megachurch grifter piece of sh**,” one user tweeted.
You can check out some of the other intense reactions to Kanye and Joel below.