Joel Osteen blames ‘false narrative’ for Harvey criticism

Pastor Joel Osteen gives an interview at his Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Osteen and his congregation have set up their church as a shelter for evacuees from the flooding by Tropical Storm Harvey. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

HOUSTON (AP) — Joel Osteen is defending the decision not to open his Houston megachurch as a shelter during the initial flooding from Harvey in the face of withering criticism on social media.

The televangelist maintained on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday that his Lakewood Church was inaccessible due to floodwaters during the early part of the storm. He says the 16,000-seat former basketball arena is prone to flooding and that “the last thing we would do is put people in it right at the beginning.” He says the city didn’t ask the church to open as a shelter initially.

Osteen tells NBC’s “Today” show that a “false narrative” on social media was to blame for the backlash.

Lakewood Church began taking in Harvey evacuees Tuesday afternoon.

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