Pastor Joel Osteen was heckled while delivering a sermon at Lakewood Church on Sunday, leading Houston police to arrest six men who interrupted the American evangelist and created a commotion inside the church.
According to USA Today, the six arrested belonged to The Church of Wells, a small congregation based in Wells, Texas. They interrupted church service, which is usually attended by about 43,000 churchgoers, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
The commotion sparked fears among churchgoers, including Casey Eaglin, who was seated just a few seats away from one of the protesters.
"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," he added. "After the first guy, I thought, 'Oh it's just a random heckler, but then you start seeing the second, the third."
He said it was a good thing that many of Lakewood Church's volunteer ushers were also law enforcement officials, and that they were properly armed even during Sunday service.
Eaglin said he is thankful that Lakewood Church has enough security personnel since untoward things might have happened if not for their speedy response to the disturbance.
"For a second there I started thinking about the church shooting [in Charleston, South Carolina] that happened and I was thinking 'Oh God something bad is about to happen,' but they [security personnel] were real quick," he said.
After being escorted out of the church for causing a scene, the six men were arrested and they were subsequently charged with criminal trespassing by the police.
Anwar Richardson, another church attendee, said he likewise feared that the hecklers were about to create a scene similar to the Charleston Church shooting. Upon sensing that something wrong was going on, he said he quickly bolted out of the service together with his wife and child.
"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.