One of the minor controversies surrounding Harvey has concerned Houston’s most famous megachurch, the Lakewood Church that occupies the old Compaq Center on highway 59 just inside the loop. Joel Olsteen, that Church’s pastor, is an adherent of what some people call prosperity Christianity, meaning that faith in God can sometimes cause one to enjoy material blessings. The doctrine is controversial even among other Christians, not to mention the secular crowd. On the plus side, Lakewood is one of the few churches in America that is integrated, with whites and African-Americans worshiping side by side.

The controversy ensued when it seemed that Lakewood was not going to open its doors to provide shelter for people displaced by the Harvey floods. Social media was filled with tweets with the common meme that Olsteen and company should be ashamed of calling themselves Christian while turning away those in need. In fact, as is often the case with Internet stories, there is another version that has finally emerged, thanks to Hot Air.

Lakewood Church was flooded

It turns out that on Sunday after the really horrendous torrent hit Houston like the flood of Noah, the Lakewood Church took on water. Indeed, the facility was nearly inaccessible. Not only was the facility not ready to be a shelter but it would have been dangerous for people to try to get there.

However, the meme of a wealthy preacher spurning people who had lost everything was too tempting for some people who like to be snarky on social media.

The church is now open as a shelter

After a presumed cleanup period on Monday and as the flood waters started to recede, Lakewood Church is now open as a shelter. The church has set itself up with distributing supplies and has partnered with a faith-based charity called Samaritan’s Purse to raise funds and gather supplies for flood relief.

As of noon on Tuesday, 50 people had taken refuge in the church.

Better late than never or a problem with tone?

Some of Olsteen’s critics have moderated to grudgingly suggest that that was better late than never. Others are still upset that Lakewood took such a long time to open itself up as a shelter and get the flood relief effort rolling.

Part of the reason is that the mainstream media usually doesn’t give a religious leader of Olsteen's style the benefit of the doubt. Olsteen is also getting criticism that he was not quite as fervent in expressing concern for people who have been harmed by the flood. Some are even suggesting that he had to be shamed into opening up his megachurch.