Sunday was no ordinary preaching day for Joel Osteen, as the Texas megapastor was heckled with shouts of “You’re a liar!” and “Shame on you, Joel!” resulting in six arrests.
The incident took place at the Lakewood Church in southwest Houston, and the individuals who shouted out are from Wells, Texas, associated with the Church of Wells, though their precise motivations remain unclear.
According to KHOU-TV, Casey Eaglin was at the 11 a.m. service and just a few seats away from one of the protesters.
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“He jumped up with his Bible and started screaming, ‘Shame on you Joel, shame on you Joel’ and Joel kind of just repeated Scripture and they just escorted them out,” said Eaglin. “I was terrified for a quick second there. After the first guy, I thought oh it’s just a random heckler, but then you start seeing the second, the third.”
See video coverage from KHOU:
KTRK-TV reported Twitter user Anwar Richardson posted on social media, “Crazy scene. Sixth person ejected from Lakewood Church by police and security.”
“The praise and worship was good. His wife had just delivered a quick message. And the moment he started to preach, somebody gets up and they yell, ‘Joel Osteen you’re a liar,'” said Richardson.
Richardson was able to shoot a few seconds of video of security escorting out one of the hecklers to the applause of some churchgoers, but that did not stop the disruptions.
“After the sixth time that it occurred, my son was sleeping in my lap, and I looked at my wife and she was nervous and we just decided we have to get out of here,” said Richardson.
Richardson, was visiting with his family from Austin, and told KTRK thoughts of the recent church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, ran through his mind.
“All I could think of is you don’t know what’s going on, and I just can’t wait to find out, so I’ve gotta get out of there,” he said.
See video coverage from KTRK:
Another witness said: “He (Osteen) kept on going. He kept his composure. He really got the message out and he said no weapon formed against me shall prosper. So kudos to him for delivering a good service.”
Osteen said after the outbursts, “Thank you all for your patience and we’ll just continue to receive what God has for us. It’s a good day to be alive.”
Lakewood Church told KHOU a number of its volunteer ushers are also law-enforcement officials who are armed during the services to react if necessary.
Houston police say all six hecklers are charged with criminal trespass.