Professional meme and megachurch performer Joel Osteen was on the defensive again during his first Sunday sermon since the Hurricane Harvey controversy. In his opening message to the crowd at Lakewood Church in Houston, Osteen—whose wife Victoria was once fined $3,000 for interfering with a crew member on a first class flight—pushed back against what he calls "misinformation" surrounding the church's Harvey response.
"There's been so much misinformation about the church last week," Osteen said. "I wanted to clarify a few things." After enduring perplexingly rapturous applause, Osteen continued. He noted that the building flooded back in 2001 flood when it was still under Houston Rockets ownership, prompting Osteen and his team to install flood gates when they scooped the property. The rainfall in the Houston area, Osteen added, had his team convinced they wouldn't be able to safely open their doors until the Tuesday after Harvey made landfall.
This is a slightly different explanation than the one Osteen gave during his post-controversy press tour last week, during which he claimed the city of Houston hadn't asked the church "to become a shelter." Similarly, Mr. Christ is also alleged to have always waited for permission from the city to provide shelter for those in need.
Elsewhere in his Sunday message, Osteen called the social media backlash to his seemingly delayed Harvey response just the latest example of everyone being against them. "They would love to discredit the ministry and lessen our voice, but can I tell ya they're not that strong?" Osteen said. "The forces that are for us are greater than the forces that are against us."
Osteen also reiterated his recently-mocked-by-Desus-&-Mero aversion to social media. "I don't pay any attention to the negative chatter on social media, never read the negative comments," he said. "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."
After advising his followers to "take the high road," Osteen closed out his opening remarks with what confusingly sounded like an invitation to come hang at his multimillion-dollar mansion. "I'm honored to be doing life together with you," Osteen said.