Hecklers Who Disrupted Pastor Joel Osteen’s Sermon Cleared of All Wrongdoing in Court

There are plenty of reasons to criticize Pastor Joel Osteen. He’s a rich televangelist who stays above the fold by just ignoring every controversial issue. He’s “Christianity lite,” a guy who cares more about self-help than sin. He preaches the Prosperity Gospel. He sells boatloads of books that are, on the surface, more about him than his religion. He’s not exactly what Jesus had in mind.

But is that reason enough to interrupt his sermons?

Last year, six men who belong to the Church of Wells walked into Osteen’s Lakewood Church and attempted to shout him down as he delivered a sermon. They did it multiple times before security escorted them away. And they did it, they said, because God wanted them to.

The men were charged last June with trespassing and disrupting Sunday services at Lakewood Church.

“We are unashamed of the Gospel. We are willing to suffer, we are willing to go to jail, or anything,” said Church of Wells member Kevin Fessler. “By God’s grace, God was with us.”

Church members said they spoke out during Pastor Joel Osteen’s service last year because they believe he is spreading a false message.

“He is a false prophet and he preaches a prosperity message that does not turn the people from their sins,” said Fessler.

It’s a dick move that no performer — comedian, pastor, speaker, anyone — deserves. Let the audience enjoy the show they came to see. There are more productive ways of voicing your disagreements than interrupting the performance, no matter what the voices in your head are telling you to do.

Yesterday, four of those men were let completely off the hook:

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Attorneys for the men persuaded the judge to dismiss the trespassing charges. The jury found Fessler, Mark DeRouville, Randall Valdez and Matthew Martinez not guilty of disrupting a public meeting.

Attorneys for the men argued they were exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech by expressing a religious opinion and the disruption was an unintended side effect.

Two more members, Jacob Gardner and Richard Trudeau, still face trial in this case.

When I first read about the decision, it seemed disappointing because it gave license to more people to interrupt church services (or atheist gatherings, for that matter) and claim they have a First Amendment, God-told-me-to right to do it. Which, of course, they do… but there’s no doubt that would ruin the experience for everyone else.

On the other hand, there’s not much of a difference between heckling Osteen and, say, Donald Trump at one of his rallies. We’ve seen plenty of protesters do it — and maybe even cheered them on.

It’s just the price of doing business when you support free speech.

(Thanks to Hidai for the link)

This Twitter Bot Replaces Every Instance of “God” in Joel Osteen’s Tweets with “Your Dick”

The bot’s name? Joel Dongsteen.

And the advice turns out to be pretty damn good…

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That is way more helpful than anything you’ll find in the Bible.

(via @KevinHearne)

What Does Joel Osteen Have Against Facts?

Pastor Joel Osteen, who loves tweeting inspirational word salads, would like to remind you not to let the facts get in the way of your fiction:

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Sounds nice if you’re in a hospital where the doctor tells you the “fact” that you’re dying. (Though, if you survive, then your impending death wasn’t really a “fact” in the first place.)

Sounds horribly illogical in every other situation. If you’re trying to prove 2 + 2 = 5, or that evolution is a conspiracy, or that President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim, then there’s no breakthrough coming. Stop trying.

It’s not the first time Osteen has told people to ignore the facts because, in his mind, God overrides them. I guess it could be worse.

And if Osteen ever retires from preaching, he always has a backup job writing horoscopes.


Maybe Joel Osteen Should Open Up That Bible of His…

Pastor Joel Osteen gets a lot of criticism for not using the Bible very much when he preaches — though that’s also part of his appeal. He might want to take a second look at it, though, since a recent Facebook post hinted that he doesn’t know his own biblical history:

God said in Numbers 11:23, “Moses, is there any limit to My power?” He was saying, “Moses, you saw Me part the Red Sea, stop the sun for Joshua, keep three Hebrew teenagers safe in a fiery furnace, don’t you realize that I can bring water without rain?” There’s no limit to God’s power.

The paraphrase is where he gets in trouble, because it turns out Moses, in fact, did not see him “stop the sun for Joshua” (Joshua 10:1-15) or keep the teenagers safe in a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:19-25).

Moses was dead when all of that supposedly happened.

Minor detail, I know.

Facebook commenters have done a good job of explaining all of that on his page, but Osteen probably can’t hear them over the sounds of his $10,500,000 mansion.

Somewhere, someone sitting in seminary school just shed a single tear.

(Thanks to Jaynee for the link)

Joel Osteen: I Didn’t Choose to be Straight, but Being Gay is Still Wrong

Here’s Joel Osteen‘s predicament: His success hinges on his ability to inspire and uplift people. But, as a successful pastor, he knows he’s going to have to take stances on “controversial” issues like gay marriage. So what does he do?

He stays ignorant. It’s just easier for him. When he gets asked about whether homosexuality is a sin, he tries to avoid the line of questioning by saying he never talks about that in church and he “stays in his lane” and his areas of expertise. He purposely keeps those areas to a minimum.

Still, the man has thoughts, and those thoughts are important. Not talking about homosexuality is just a pastor’s way of avoiding the “bigot” label… even though, deep down inside, that’s what he is.

You can imagine how frustrating it must have been for Osteen when he went on CNN to promote his new book I Declare, only to get grilled on the issue by Soledad O’Brien and Richard Socarides:

“You are known for these uplifting services… and I always wonder when you say, homosexuality is a sin and there’s a bunch of people who clearly are gay who are in your church, you’re calling them sinners,” O’Brien said. “I mean, that is the opposite of uplifting, I would think.”

Osteen quickly responded, saying that homosexuality isn’t really an issue that he focuses upon. The faith leader went on to say that there are a plethora of sins and that Christians have a tendency to categorize them (something he doesn’t support).

To which the better panelists responded by basically saying you can change your behavior when it comes to lying and stealing but not when it comes to your sexual orientation.

Osteen has no real response. He admits he never chose to be straight, but somehow, homosexuality is still bad because the Bible said so, as if that makes it true.

But here’s how this will play out (and it’s what’s most upsetting about this whole thing): Osteen won’t solidify his views. He won’t get educated. He won’t talk to LGBT groups, he won’t talk to other pastors, he won’t read up on the issue. He’ll just bask in his ignorance, promoting a faith that he thinks is wonderful, while knowing that the faith has caused so much harm to so many people.

This isn’t a complicated issue. It’s not like most people can’t quite grasp it. Hell, even schoolchildren understand that it’s ok to be gay. But Osteen can’t rise up to that level of understanding. He’d rather just say he doesn’t know enough about the issue and mimic the other pastors who say homosexuality is a sin without getting into the specifics about how the laws based on those misguided views affect people all over the country, presumably including many who attend his church.

You can’t whitewash the problems away by not talking about them. Journalists need to keep pushing him on this issue — it shows his true nature. He’s all for making people feel better, but he can’t muster the courage to stand up for all those people who aren’t allowed to get married or adopt children because of the faith he wants to propagate.

It’s cowardice, and it’s coming from someone whose approval of homosexuality — something that many, many Christians have had no problem giving — might actually make a difference.

(Thanks to Dr. Matt for the link)

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