Can we talk about this week, the moment when Twitter trolls, fake news, Liberals and even evangelicals all piled on Joel Osteen?
The New York Post claimed Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen were turning away flood victims, refusing to lend a helping hand to those in need. The story had everything. Famous preacher, global church, vast resources not being very Christlike by turning away the down and out. It wasn’t true.
The story apparently began when a Twitter user started to troll Lakewood and began posting pictures and posts to make it look like the megachurch was turning a blind eye to the mega-suffering in the surrounding streets. That story was then picked up by the New York Post as well as other liberal media outlets that were all too happy to throw added fuel on the fire.
The saddest part came when many Christians, ignoring the clear counsel of Scripture to refrain from gossip, began to share it as well. My newsfeed, like yours, was lit up with friends and peers sharing this “fake news”. My friends, what were you thinking? This article was poorly sourced and ignored Lakewood’s incredible history of caring for their city in times of need. Church, this was not our finest hour! I hope and pray we are all embarrassed by what we’ve just witnessed within our own ranks.
It is hypocrisy to scream, “fake news, fake news, fake news” when newspapers write an article you disagree with, only to turn around and post an article from the same outlet that now attacks someone you disagree with. You can’t have it both ways.
Honestly, I am convinced the things we share and post say more about us than the person the post is actually about. Facebook certainly believes this. They spend a lot of money to collect this kind of data on each of us. That is something you ought to truly think about. I wonder, what do the secret files of Facebook say about us and the church? I imagine it wouldn’t be pretty.
The tragic reality is that while Lakewood was coordinating with their city and working towards relief efforts, they also had to deal with the distraction of trying to manage an out of control story. Sadly, many of us within the church contributed to that mess. We must apologize.