Joel Osteen Sails Luxury Yacht into Houston After Turning Away Flood Victims-Fiction!

Joel Osteen Sails Luxury Yacht into Houston After Turning Away Flood Victims-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:
Joel Osteen sailed a luxury yacht through Houston floods handing out copies of his book, “Your Best Life Now,” to victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The Truth:
A website that publishes “Christian news satire” is behind false reports that Joel Osteen sailed a luxury yacht through Houston floods to hand out copies of his book in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The Babylon Bee, which identifies itself as a satirical website, published the report on August 29, 2017, under the headline, “Joel Osteen Sails Luxury Yacht Through Flooded Houston To Pass Out Copies Of ‘Your Best Life Now.’” The report claims that Osteen returned the city on the yacht called the S.S. Blessed after catching flack for closing his megachurch and turning away flood victims seeking shelter:

Osteen had his on-call yacht captain steer the large vessel through the flooded streets of the city, pulling up to survivors stranded on their roofs and on the roof of their cars as the prosperity gospel preacher smiled, waved, and threw out signed editions of the bestselling positive thinking book.

“Believe and declare you are coming into a shift!” Osteen yelled through a bullhorn, according to reports. “God wants His best for you! Enlarge your vision, develop a healthy self image, and choose to be happy!”

That account is false. But Joel Osteen did draw criticism after rumors surfaced that his 16,000-seat Lakewood Church initially denied shelter to refugees of Hurricane Harvey. Those rumors were tied to a post on Lakewood Church’s official Facebook page that informed the public that the church was inaccessible and closed due to flooding:

Joel Osteen Flood Victims
A Facebook post informing the public that Lakewood Church is closed and inaccessible gave rise to rumors that Joel Osteen denied shelter to flood victims.

By August 29, the church was accepting refugees and donations. Joel Osteen appeared on CBS This Morning to dispute claims that flood victims had initially been denied refuge at the church, saying “none of that is true”:

“Our doors have always been open. We receive people even as soon as the water started receding,” Osteen said. “We worked with the city constantly. The city set up a shelter about four miles from here that can house 10,000 people, showers, dormitories, kitchens, security, all that. They didn’t need us as a shelter at that point. They wanted us to be a distribution center.”

“Never dreamed that we’d have so many people needing shelters. When they filled up, they said we need shelters, we started our shelter. But this notion that we would turn people away or that we’re not here for the city – we’ve been here for 60 years doing this,” he said.

Lakewood Church also released photos showing a flooded parking garage and hallways to refute claims that the church hadn’t actually suffered any flood damage:

Lakewood Church Flooding
Photos provided by Lakewood Church show flooding in hallways and a parking garage after Hurricane Harvey.

In the end, Joel Osteen did not sail through Houston on a yacht handing out copies of his book, “Your Best Life Now.” There was controversy about Lakewood Church not accepting refugees, but the church later opened its doors.