Tyler Perry has pledged to donate $1 million to help hurricane victims in Texas. But the filmmaker also made a much more surprising announcement: $250,000 of those funds would go to televangelist Joel Osteen’s Houston-based megachurch.
Osteen and his wife, Victoria, have come under fierce criticism recently for failing to offer up their 16,000-seat church to evacuees who needed shelter after the storm. (Osteen told CNN the story was a “false narrative” and by Tuesday had opened the doors of his 606,000-square-foot Lakewood Church.)
In a video posted to Facebook on Friday, Perry explained his decision to send a quarter of his donation to Osteen’s church. “I know there’s been some controversy about Joel Osteen and him not opening the doors of the church. Let me tell you something: Joel and Victoria are amazing people. There’s no way they would lock people out of the church and not let people in for shelter. There were some safety concerns. I spoke to them on the phone, and it all made perfect sense to me.”
Perry also said he’d been disheartened to find out donations he’d made in the past didn’t make it to the victims he was intending to help. So, “I was trying to find the right charity to donate to,” he said. “What I was looking for were people who were boots on the ground, who could help immediately, people that I trust, people that I know are going to do the right thing.”
Not everyone thought Osteen’s church deserved such trust. Fans reacted with bafflement and dismay.
Perry announced that another $250,000 would go to Beyoncé’s longtime pastor, Rudy Rasmus. According to Perry, who is best known for a series of comedies in which he plays Mabel “Madea” Simmons, he was still deciding where the rest of the funds would be donated.
While Osteen’s critics shook their heads, at least one man backed Perry’s decision to give to Lakewood Church: