Jesse Duplantis, a televangelist in Louisiana, is criticized for his ministry’s response to Hurricane Ida.
Duplantis, who heads Jesse Duplantis Ministries, has been criticized on the ministry’s Facebook page by commentators who accused him of not doing enough to help those affected by the storm, which made landfall in the southeast of the Louisiana last month.
The parish of St. Charles, where the Covenant Church of Duplantis is located, was one of the areas hardest hit by Ida. On Wednesday, more than a week after the storm, 95% of the parish’s customers remained without electricity.
“Shame on you and on all those who allow you to profit from this disaster!” Brandi Abate, who lives in St. Rose Parish, not far from Duplantis’ home, wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“Other than your podcasts and staged videos on Facebook, I haven’t seen or heard from you or your church staff,” she wrote.
The post, which is addressed to Duplantis and his wife, Kathy, had been shared 370 times early Wednesday afternoon, and it drew more than 170 comments, with the majority of them expressing support for Abate. .
Abate said she wrote her post in a moment of anger after stumbling across a video of the Duplantises, posted on Tuesday, which included instructions on how to text monetary donations.
“I don’t even go to her church but I got hooked up because it was in my ward,” she said. “I was so pissed off that he has so much and always wants more.”
In a video posted on the ministry’s Facebook page Tuesday, Duplantis said he and his wife donated $ 100,000 worth of generators.
“We are helping people literally everywhere, everywhere,” said Duplantis. He said “rumors” were spread that the ministry was not helping the damaged community and that it was “a whole bunch of blunders.”
The Duplantises did not immediately return interview requests on Wednesday. In the video posted on the ministry’s Facebook page Tuesday, Jesse Duplantis said they had suffered “damage” and the contractors were working 16 hours a day.
He said 100 percent of donations go to hurricane relief and those who know him and his wife know they don’t do “half of the things people say.”
“I guess they have nothing to do,” he said, referring to his critics.
Negative comments were repeatedly removed from the ministry page on Wednesday, including those that compared the couple to Joel Osteen, the leader of Lakewood Church, whose home is a 16,000-seat arena in Houston.
After Hurricane Harvey passed tens of thousands of people in August 2017, Osteen tweeted that he and his wife prayed for those affected. Days later, after facing a wave of criticism on social media, Osteen said the mega-church was welcoming Texans seeking shelter.
Sarah Jory, who lives in Luling, Louisiana in St. Charles Parish, also criticized the Duplantises on Facebook. She said in an interview that she didn’t know anyone in the parish who got one of the generators Duplantis said he donated.
Abate and Jory said they were told their electricity would be restored by September 29.
Abate said she visited ministries on Wednesday afternoon to inquire about obtaining a generator and was told none were available.
In a recording shared with NBC News of a separate meeting, a man from the church offered water on Wednesday but said generators were donated.
“I don’t hold my tongue as I watch this man watch his community crumble and do nothing about it,” Abate said. “He’s nothing more than an actor. You can put him up there with De Niro and Travolta and all.”
Jesse Duplantis faced backlash in May 2018 after he said God told him he needed an expensive new jet and asked his followers to pay for it. He said at the time, “If Jesus were physically on Earth today, he would not ride a donkey.
Abate said she almost used up her savings buying a generator and supplies to take care of herself, elderly parents and neighbors. She has endured record high temperatures in her house and has no sewers. She said she used zip ties to hold an old greenhouse together so she could shower in her yard.
Abate said she and her friends cook for those in need and help people find meals and places to shower and sleep. She asked how many people the couple had invited to shower or rest in their “fully generated enclosed comfort zone”.
Abate said on Wednesday that much smaller churches had helped hurricane victims.
She said she hadn’t seen Jesse and Kathy Duplantis shake hands and offer comfort. “Much less to offer anyone a sleek new generator,” she wrote. “I am disgusted with the way your ‘MINISTER’ has locked its doors on those who live a few steps away. Shame on you sir.”
She concluded her article by complimenting the couple on the “pretty outfits” they wore in the Facebook video.
“I have been wearing the same clothes since Sunday,” Abate wrote. “Thanks for nothing!”