Joel Osteen (one of the wealthiest televangelists) refused to open his Lakewood Church to victims of Hurricane Harvey for days. His church went so far as to claim flood damage that didn't happen for its refusal to serve those displaced by Harvey. Eventually, after days of shaming, Osteen finally opened his more than 16,000-seat church to the victims of Harvey. But Osteen's "charity" came with a price. During a service held with people affected by Harvey, Lakewood Church passed around collection plates. That's what finally encouraged me to write about this story.
Joel Osteen has made millions on the backs of poor people most of whom will never achieve the prosperity he repeatedly tells them is soon coming. All they have to do is donate to his church, buy his books, and continue believing. Eventually, they will be rich; in fact, in the video you can access through the second link below people are told that some of them will soon have better homes. The implication is that some of them lost everything because God has a better home planned for them. How many people reading this believe one person who has lost everything in Harvey will wind up owning a better home? Many of the victims don't even have flood insurance. They'll be lucky if they wind up recovering a fraction of what they've lost.
Obviously, people need uplifting during traumatic times. It feels good to dream of better days. At some point, reality matters. Is Osteen and his church going to provide for these people when their magical homes don't appear? Given his pathetic performance over the last eight days, there's little reason to believe he'll do anything--unless the people are willing to give most of what little they have left to add to his overflowing pockets.
This should be no surprise to anyone, because despite its 501(c)(3) status, Osteen's church is anything BUT a not-for-profit organization. Osteen, like so many other bible-thumping profiteers, has found the motherlode. Between his own greed and the IRS's refusal to look any more than cursorily at the books of such churches, he and his ilk can cash in on his congregations fear of hell, blind greed, and performance expectation of the "prosperity gospel" to enrich them beyond the dreams of avarice.
And until the federal government decides to grow a pair and go after such scams, they'll go right on scamming.
It is times of high stress that we can really understand how people think. The leadership's job is to get money for God's work. In really needful times God needs money even more. (Yeah God needs money). It never would occur to them in these conditions that asking for money from th a actual victims would ever be called into question. I imagine they are in shock that their "good works"(no matter how self serving) are being called into question at all. They are simply too self serving to be capable of recognising that there are others whom might question their motives. It is really sad for everyone.
I'm really going to sound like an apologist here. I have family that were intimately involved in mega churches and one particular cousin that became an evangelist preacher from this culture. My family members are actually good people. Unfortunately they were such "sleeze balls" they could not comprehend what "sleeze balls" they were. They still do not know after leaving the culture for other reasons. My point is I hate what they did, it was horrible. At least my family were victims too even though they still think they did "the work of God". I am not being overly apologetic here I don't even talk to them. They were brainwashed. That is not to say there is not simply crooks who are cognizant of exactly what they are doing. Knowing my family members who were sucked into this type of cultism simply makes me more sick than most people whom do not have first hand experience with these people. Religion poisons everything, including the family I love and I know are good people. They are so brainwashed we do not even speak.
This is yet another reason I am an outspoken atheist.
Keeping otherwise good people from learning anything outside of what they are ''allowed'' learn, is the norm.
They hit the most vulnerable, & expect compensation to do it.....that is NOT ''humanity'' in my world!
If the head of any nonreligious charity was collecting millions in income, the government would be all over it. Since they cloak themselves in the Bible, the government ignores what's there. I'm thinking Osteen's demonstration of who he really is will encourage journalists to do the work government should have done years earlier. I doubt we've heard the last of this.