Is Joel Osteen's Megachurch Too Flooded to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims?

Televangelist Joel Osteen has closed the doors of his mega church in Houston as several thousand people seek shelter after Hurricane Harvey, with the church claiming it was hit by "severe flooding."

The pastor, who shared comforting words on Twitter as the hurricane hit, is now facing criticism for failing to open up the 16,800-seat Lakewood Church building, with some claiming that the structure was not inundated by floods.

“Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding. That’s peace when it doesn’t make sense,” Osteen tweeted, prompting people to ask what his church was doing to help victims.

But following the church’s claim that people would not be able to use the building due to the extreme weather, social media users shared pictures of the outside of the mega church, which does not appear to be blocked off by the flooding that has left thousands of people without accommodation.

Meanwhile, at least one Twitter user posted photos that she claimed showed widespread flooding within the church, although as fact-check site Snopes points out, the "caption on the photos... suggest that they were taken near the church, not inside the facility itself."

At least seven people have been killed in the hurricane and resulting flooding, with tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes and more than 100,000 homes without electricity. And the flooding is expected to get worse as forecasters have predicted more rain is coming, CNN reported.

One resident who lives close to the Lakewood Church said in a Facebook post that some of the parking lots were inaccessible but that the building itself was not blocked off by floodwater, while others posted asking Osteen why he would not open his doors to Houston residents.

The church cancelled a service on Sunday, and has since cited flooding as the reason the building’s doors remained closed.