Joel Osteen’s megachurch and Houston area mosques’ respond to Harvey

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Pastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen gives the invocation before Annise Parker is publicly sworn in as mayor of the United States' fourth largest city in Houston January 4, 2010. Houston on December 12, 2009 became the first major U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor, Parker, after a hotly contested run-off election that gave gay and lesbian supporters a symbolic victory following defeats over legalizing same-sex marriages in California and Maine. (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION) Reuters/Richard Carson

Megachurch pastor Joel Osteen has been criticised for not opening his church sooner for those hit by hurricane Harvey. Meanwhile, Houston area mosques were working to provide round-the-clock services and care.

Netizens could not help but compare the two responses. “Joel Osteen had to get shamed into opening his church as a shelter, while a mosque opened its doors of its own volition,” one Twitter user wrote.

Representatives allegedly claimed that Osteen's Lakewood Church did not open until Tuesday as it was inaccessible due to flooding. But pressure started to mount when photos of the church entry appearing accessible were posted on social media.

On the "Today" show, the televangelist explained that the church did not open because the city of Houston had not made a request. Osteen said he was not really concerned about what critics say, adding life is too short to put energy into negative emotion.

"We're concerned with these people [victims now at the church] and how they move forward,” Osteen told ET's Kevin Frazier in an interview. He also mentioned safety issues. People flocked to Lakewood when the church opened.

Islamic Society of Greater Houston

The Islamic Society of Greater Houston, meanwhile, offered food, clothes, supplies, emotional support and shelter in social service distribution centres at four mosques. Volunteers brought water, diapers, and other goods.

M.J. Khan, the Islamic Society's president, told Mic that "truckloads of supplies" were on the way. He said it is a religious obligation to help others, adding that when a person gives, he must give not only to his own family, but also to anybody who needs help. Islamic Society of Greater Houston is an organisation that represents 21 Islamic centres in the area.

Khan confirmed that four of ISGH’s member mosques are available as round-the-clock shelters. He explained that the ISGH had the idea to offer mosques as shelters to anyone who needed refuge.

ISGH, Khan said, has a “pretty good networking and communication system.” He shared that volunteers started showing up to local mosques with bottled water, sleeping bags and supplies with only a few calls.

Khan is welcoming anyone who has no place to go to head to their neighbourhood mosque. Osteen, on the other hand, reportedly said that critics must not judge him by videos appearing to show the church in good shape, but admitted that his megachurch could have prepared sooner for the disaster.

TODAY/YouTube

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