Televangelist Joel Osteen, known for his positive messaging, isn’t one to endorse political candidates. In fact, in an exclusive interview with TheBlaze earlier this summer, he explained that doing so tends to be divisive — something he’s looking to avoid.
In an interview with “CBS This Morning” this week, Osteen delved deeper into his reasoning for avoiding politics from the pulpit. Feeling as though he’s called to reach the public at large — and considering the divisive nature of the current political environment — the faith leader isn’t looking to drive a wedge between Americans.
“You start dividing yourself saying, ‘I’m a Democrat,’ ‘Republican,’ whatever, 50 percent immediately don’t agree,” Osteen said in the CBS interview. “And I want to throw a broad message of hope to everyone, not somebody turn me off because of my political preference.”
Considering that a Gallup poll released on Tuesday found 47 percent of American voters supporting Obama and 46 percent opting for Romney, Osteen’s fears are legitimate. As noted by CBS, 10 million Americans watch the popular pastor on television each week and 43,000 parishioners attend Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, where he is senior pastor. Rather than losing a chunk of this massive audience, he opts to put his political views on the back-burner.
While he framed the current battle for the White House as “interesting,” he also said that he admires both President Barack Obama and Republican contender Mitt Romney. Keeping with his theme of not endorsing candidates or parties, the preacher encouraged people to “pray for our leaders,” while also urging the candidates, themselves, to keep the campaign “as civil as possible.”
Watch Osteen’s comments, below:
“I always like—doesn’t always happen—but to take the high road,” Osteen said. “Let’s treat each other with respect and the honor that every person deserves. It gets heated. People are passionate about politics.”
But don’t take his apathy to mean that he isn’t planning to cast a vote in November. Not only is Osteen heading to the polls, but he’s also encouraging others to do the same. Regardless of whom one supports, though, he encouraged Americans to support the man who ends up being victorious.
“Once we vote, let’s swallow the pride and support who is in office and pray for them and appreciate their service,” he continued.
These comments come after Osteen proclaimed back in April that he believes both Obama and Romney are Christians. The preacher also delved into the Mormon faith, claiming that the key indicator that would classify an individual a Christian is whether he or she embraces Jesus Christ as the son of God — a litmus test that both candidates pass.
Osteen’s new book “I Declare” was released on Tuesday.
(H/T: CBS News via KHOU)