While televangelist Joel Osteen’s megachurch captured a lot of attention whether it would open as a shelter or not (it finally opened its doors Tuesday), Houston area mosques were already working to provide 24-hour services and care.
And Osteen’s critics couldn’t help but compare the two responses to need on Twitter.
Every mosque &small church around me opened for help after Harvey hit. This guy waits for other ppl to give $ b4 help
— JayBeJett’n (@jay_jett) August 30, 2017
Osteen’s Lakewood Church, which seats 16,000 people, didn’t open until Tuesday, as representatives claimed it was inaccessible due to flooding. But after internet sleuths shared photos of the church entry appearing accessible on social media, pressure mounted. The wealthy televangelist hasn’t said it was the Twitter shaming that got him to open the doors, but rather he noted on the Today show that the church didn’t open because the city of Houston hadn’t requested it to do so. Once Lakewood did open, people seeking shelter flocked to the church.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Society of Greater Houston set up social service distribution centers at four mosques, offering a dry place to sleep, food, clothes, and supplies, along with emotional support. Planning started Friday and volunteers showed up with water, diapers, and other goods, the Islamic Society’s president, M.J. Khan, told Mic. By Tuesday shelter efforts were at full swing and “truckloads of supplies” were on the way, Khan said.
Muslims have prayer services everyday. Mosques are always open. Anybody near a mosque in Houston who needs shelter please feel free to go.
— deepnhearttx (@deepnhearttx) August 28, 2017
“This is an obligation, a religious obligation to help others,” Khan said.
The Southwest Management District in Houston has a long list of emergency shelters around the area, including two Islamic centers and several churches. Khan noted that any Houston mosque would help those in need. “If you have no place to go, go to your neighborhood mosque,” he said.
Goodwill continues to spread through hurricane-battered Houston.