For years, Texas pastor Joel Osteen has been a controversial figure among Christians and the population at large. While he serves as a trusted spiritual leader to many, to others he represents the intersection of greed and religion, having made millions off of other people's faith and taking criticism for turning his services into performances and pitches, filling up his 16,800-seat suburban megachurch with his faithful every Sunday.
As we all know, the Houston area is embroiled in disaster at the moment, enduring ongoing flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
Fortunately, locals and out-of-towners alike have been quick to lend aid in any way they can. Donations, offers of shelter, and even civilian rescue missions are underway to ensure that the area weathers the storm as safely as possible.
Like so many others, pastor Joel Osteen took to social media to offer his best wishes for those affected.
He lives and preaches on the outskirts of Houston, so this flood affects many of his parishioners.
Here's the message he sent:
While it seems innocuous and pure hearted enough on the surface, it kicked off a firestorm of activity and criticism among those who read it.
Many were appalled that the Christian icon, with millions of dollars and facilities at his disposal couldn't do any better than "thoughts and prayers" while people were displaced and suffering through the storm.
The responders were upset because he was a man of privilege and a man of God, yet his 16,800-seat megachurch sat vacant while many braved the elements, their homes destroyed or uninhabitable.
This tweet sums up the sentiment nicely, but there were thousands like it, offering variations on the opinion expressed here.
Others took a more innocuous approach.
Asking, rather than accusing, but still hoping for a satisfactory answer from Osteen.
Eventually, he responded, but it wasn’t without a fair amount of coaxing and controversy.