A jury in Texas found four young men not guilty after they faced trial for disrupting a sermon by Joel Osteen last year. In the now famous incident, six men in their 20s and 30s stood up and shouted Osteen down. The men consider the acquittal as a sign that God was on their side.
During the trial, in which Joel Osteen testified, it was argued by the prosecutor and stated on the witness stand by Osteen that the men had to be forcibly removed from the premises, hence the disturbance charge. The defense attorneys for the men argued that they left when security asked them to. In his testimony, Osteen was calm and admitted that he understood everyone is not going to agree with his messages.
In the end the jurors sided with the young men and decided that free speech was much too important and the evidence too questionable to convict the men who could have served up to six months each in jail. Although four men were acquitted, two more of their friends have yet to face trial, but if this court proceeding is any indication, it is likely the other two will be acquitted also.
Source: Brian Rogers, Men cleared in heckling case at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, Houston Chronicle, June 22, 2016.