The next skewed fact Stetzer claims is the narrative that directing people away from Lakewood, which has been established, is somehow not "turning people away." That is exactly what that means! I did not see one message over the weekend that suggested that someone was in Lakewood Church refusing to let people in. The point was the church was closed, the community was informed of the closures on Saturday and then on Sunday they blamed it on flooding and directed them to shelters, including smaller churches. So yes, facts are indeed our friends. The next bogus fact is the several sections of Lakewood being flooded. Besides being unverified, my response would be who cares? The Osteenites latched onto these posted photos as proof that they were right to not open their doors. What do you think? Do you think that none of the other shelters had flooding issues? Even the George Brown Convention Center that Stetzer references flooded out on the first floor yesterday! They still serviced who was there. They still accepted those that came. This is the point that Stetzer and Osteen defenders keep missing. No one expected Lakewood Church to be a perfect shelter. They just didn't think that the best they could do was say they were closed, lie about flooding, ask people to donate money and supplies, and direct them to other makeshift shelters that have a fraction of the space and resources that the largest church in America has. That is not hate you hear dripping from my words. It is disgust. Not so much at Joel Osteen. He handled this poorly but we are all human. It is for the defenders who wish to muddy the waters and shame Christians who rightfully rose up and said we can do better than this when people are hurting.
"And just because you hate (or just have theological concerns with him) Osteen does not entitle you to your own set of facts. I'm not saying they did not bungle their first statement. I am saying that a lot of Christians spread false statements. Let's let the world spread lies as we stand for truth. Fact-checking sites such as snopes.com give mixed reviews and no clear answer on the amount of flooding at Lakewood. But that's not the main point. We may never know just how hard it would have been to organize a relief effort at a facility that has been prone to flooding in the past. Before Lakewood bought the building, it was the Compaq Center, where the Houston Rockets played. In past decades, the arena actually had been closed in really bad weather during the Rockets' glory days. The truth is that many were casting and spreading judgment about a situation that they could not possibly know in its entirety." -- Ed Stetzer
This is hilarious. In an article devoid of the truth, Stetzer wants to stand for the truth as Christians. Physician heal thyself. Snopes did mark the question of flooding a "mixture" but Stetzer deftly avoids what it did reveal. Snopes determined that the area surrounding the church was under a flood advisory but not a warning and that Houston police said they had zero calls from that area. Look at the hoops Stetzer must jump through to try and defend this. We may never know how difficult it would have been to organize a relief effort? Is that the new baseline for Christian charity Ed? How difficult it might be? Do you think any of these efforts underway everywhere but Lakewood are easy? Do you think Lakewood is the only edifice "prone to flooding?" Judging situations is what we are called to do biblically when dealing with the church. Here is what we know that is not in dispute:
1. As early as Wednesday, every forecast had Houston facing calamity. That was when a responsible church would start planning for its role or at the very least, explain why it could not to avoid the confusion that ensued.
2. Saturday, Lakewood posts that services are canceled.
3. Sunday, Lakewood posts that it is inaccessible due to severe flooding and provides a list of shelters for people to go to, including multiple churches are far less size and resources.
4. While criticism was mounting it exploded Sunday, especially when it was widely and correctly reported that there was no flooding in and around Lakewood, as now confirmed by weather and police authorities.
5. Withering under the public shaming, Osteen scrambles Monday to mitigate the PR nightmare. He releases a statement that says they never closed their doors, which is untrue based on the Facebook posts. Directing people away from your facility is the same thing. They also announce they will be a distribution center for those who need essentials like diapers, formulae and baby food. Realize that this means they will ask for donations from people and then distribute them. The last part of the statement says they are prepared to take people in once shelters reach capacity. This further supports the clear notion that he did not want Lakewood to become a shelter. Why attach this caveat of when shelters are full?