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Fact check: Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church did open its doors to shelter Texans from the cold 

Social media users have been sharing posts online that allege Pastor Joel Osteen did not allow people needing shelter from Texas’ freezing temperatures to come into his Lakewood Church in Houston. This claim is false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Examples can be seen  here  ,  here  and  here  . 

One post  here  reads: “Homeless are freezing in Houston. Shelters are full. Joel Olsteen not opening his 18,000 seat arena again. WWJD?” 

Osteen is one of the wealthiest and most popular pastors and prosperity gospel preachers in the United States. He heads a Houston megachurch and has said he reaches 100 million homes in the United States through broadcasts, videos, and podcasts (here). 

Most posts refer to Osteen as “Olsteen” and mention a 18,000-seat arena. The megachurch seats 16,000, not 18,000, as explained here and here .  

Since Feb. 14, the Lakewood Church has posted several times on its Twitter page to explain that the church is a “designated warming center for anyone in need of shelter”. Examples can be seen  here ,  here  ,  here  ,  here  ,  here  and  here  .  

The church acting as a shelter is visible in videos shared by Osteen  here  and  here  . 

This was also reported by local news organizations  here  and  here  . A video shared by the local NBC station can be seen  here  . 

The social media posts may have stemmed from previous criticism about the church initially not opening its doors to Hurricane Harvey victims in 2017, as reported  here  and  here  . 

VERDICT

False. Lakewood Church did allow people to seek shelter from the cold in Houston, Texas.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .          

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