Lakewood Church was under fire after apparently not opening up the church to flood victims. The church disputed online criticism, stating “We are prepared to shelter people once the cities and county shelters reach capacity.”
“Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter,” Osteen tweeted Tuesday, referencing his wife who is also Lakewood’s co-pastor.
However, on Wednesday, reports from flood victims say the church is following a strict “members only” guideline, taking top church contributors ahead of people on the lower giving scale.
Single mother Tiana Williams said she waited in line for 3 hours, just to be given a numbered ticket and told to check back in a few hours. “When I got to the entrance with my two little boys, they asked for my name and entered it into the computer,” said Williams. “Then, I was told that there were over 2,000 people ahead of me that have reserved beds! When I kept pressuring the guy to tell me why I had to wait, he said they were under strict guidelines to check tithing records of members and number their bed reservations based on their 2016 giving. I just can’t believe this. I just can’t.”
The mega-church has not responded to Williams’ accusations as a recorded message says they are not able to answer their phone due to overwhelming numbers of people needing help, but refers people to their website to donate money. However other people in the community, who are not members of the church, also confirmed they have been turned away for help simply because they are not members of Lakewood.