Atlanta film and television mogul Tyler Perry is the focus of a new Care2 petition is asking him not follow through with a plan to donate $250,000 to Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen to help with hurricane relief efforts.
Osteen was widely criticized on social media for being slow to open the doors of the 16,000-seat Lakewood Church to victims seeking shelter from Hurricane Harvey flooding. Perry, who considers Joel and Victoria Osteen friends, has said he will donate $1 million to relief efforts, a quarter of which will go to Osteen’s ministry to help buy supplies and other relief efforts.
The petition has gathered more than 6,800 signatures.
“We ask that he (Perry) not reward Osteen for his inconsiderateness,” the Care2 petition said.
As criticism escalated, the church issued photos of what appeared to be flooding in and around the building.
“We were taking in people as soon as flood waters receded,” said Osteen, who spoke to ABC’s “Good Morning America” in attempts to difuse the bad publicity.
He said the church has served as a shelter before and is doing so again. Reports that officals refused to open the doors are “totally not true.”
"I think somebody created that narrative that somehow we were high and dry and none of that is true," he said. "This building -- it was a safety issue and we took people in from the very beginning."
He said staffers and volunteers could not get to the building and it was risky to ask them to come.
The Care2 petition signers say the money is better off elsewhere.
Perry, who has family in Houston, said he recently spoke with Osteen and called Joel and Victoria Osteen “amazing people. There's no way they would lock people out of the church and not let people in for shelter.”
He said before people “run and judge” someone “you need to know the circumstances.”
That didn’t seem to sway organizers of the petition.
The petition cites Osteen’s wealth, “Yet he couldn't be bothered to help victims of Harvey's wrath? “and asks Perry to give it to another charity instead.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.