Phillip Luke Sinitiere

Phillip Luke Sinitiere is professor of history at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston and author of Salvation with a Smile: Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church, and American Christianity.

On June 28 a handful of fundamentalist hecklers from the Church of Wells disrupted services at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. As reported in national and local media outlets, security removed the activists after they shouted at the popular preacher and they were arrested. While that June Sunday was not the first time the Wells hecklers visited Lakewood, it represented a bold and memorable confrontation with America’s smiling pastor.  It is easy to dismiss the Wells hecklers as fundamentalist partisans whose messages appeal to a small number of like-minded followers.
July 21, 2015