Joel Osteen is a controversial figure. The megachurch pastor is just one in a long line of televangelists who seem more devoted to accumulating wealth than helping humanity. In light of his actions, which seem to directly contradict Christian teachings, more and more people are recognizing that Osteen really only values one soul: his own.
Osteen's greed is seemingly boundless. His audience might be, too. His self-titled television show, broadcast from the Joel Osteen megachurch in Houston, Texas, is seen by over 7 million viewers weekly and over 20 million monthly in more than 100 countries. It remains to be seen if his ardent following is deterred by the fire he's come under for his actions in times of crisis. But his response to Hurricane Harvey is just one example of the sketchy behavior and repugnant morality that Osteen has cultivated.
For those asking, "Why does everyone hate Joel Osteen?" the answer is really quite simple: Joel Osteen is a jerk.
He Refused To Open His Massive Megachurch To Hurricane Harvey Victims
As Hurricane Harvey battered Houston, Texas, in late August and early September 2017, residents scrambled to find shelter. Osteen initially kept his roughly 17,000 seat Lakewood Church closed, even though it was undamaged by the storm. Instead, he tweeted about praying for those affected. Social media responded in a fury, and the Lakewood Church Twitter account claimed the location was "inaccessible due to severe flooding." But some brave locals went to the church and filmed what they found: the building was totally accessible and seemed dry as a bone.
Eventually, Osteen relented and opened Lakewood's doors. He then went on CBS This Morning to declare he didn't open the church sooner because the city "didn't ask" — just one of many excuses Osteen gave.
He Told Hurricane Victims To Stop Feeling Sorry For Themselves
Imagine you've just been through Hurricane Harvey, the most traumatic, catastrophic event of your life. You've lost your home and everything you own, and you only have the clothes on your back. There are thousands more who have experienced this same trauma, and some of your neighbors have even perished in the disaster.
Lakewood Church has finally opened its doors, so at least you have a temporary roof over your head. But then, the church's leader says to you, "We are not going to understand everything that happens but, you know, having a 'poor old me' mentality or 'look what I lost' or 'why did this happen,' that's just going to pull you down." Yes, Osteen really said that.
His Megachurch Generates $90 Million A Year, Tax Free
Osteen's Lakewood Church is big business. Generous parishioners give an estimated $30 million every year, and that number doesn't include donations made electronically. Figure in the millions more donated online or through direct debit, and Lakewood operates with a $90 million annual budget. And because churches are tax-exempt in the United States, Lakewood rakes it in without having to pay a cent in taxes — and with no obligation to help the community, state, or country.
His Personal Wealth Makes Him More Like Croesus Than Christ
Osteen used to draw a $200,000 annual salary from his Lakewood Church, but now says he does not take any money for his role as head of the institution. Instead, he makes money off of his best-selling books, his book tours and speaking events, and a line of products emblazoned with his toothy grin (calendars, datebooks, etc.). His take-home pay is estimated at $40 million.