Pastor Joel Osteen is frequently derided for what some see as messaging that is too soft on sin. However, he has been very clear, when asked, about where he stands on specific social issues. Among them: Homosexuality. In past interviews with Oprah and Fox News, Osteen has declared that “being gay is a sin,” making his opposition to it, on Biblical grounds, more than known. This morning, the subject, once again, came up in an ultra-uncomfortable exchange when he appeared on CNN’s “Starting Point.”
In an awkward back-and-forth, Osteen was confronted by host Soledad O’Brien and NewYorker.com writer Richard Socarides. O’Brien, while framing the preacher’s overall message as positive, took aim at the fact that there seemed to be a divide when it comes to his handling of homosexuality.
“You are known for these uplifting services…and I always wonder when you say, homosexuality is a sin and there’s a bunch of people who clearly are gay who are in your church, you’re calling them sinners,” O’Brien said. “I mean, that is the opposite of uplifting, I would think.”
Osteen quickly responded, saying that homosexuality isn’t really an issue that he focuses upon. The faith leader went on to say that there are a plethora of sins and that Christians have a tendency to categorize them (something he doesn’t support).
While he attempted to exit the conversation, another member of the panel jumped in. Mediaite recaps some of the dialogue:
Panelist and NewYorker.com writer Richard Socarides asked if, since we’re all sinners anyway, “homosexuality isn’t so bad.” Later, he asked Osteen whether he “chose” to be straight.
Osteen replied that “I know I have not chosen to be straight. I just feel like that’s who I am.”
He also said his success is due in part to “staying in my lane” and focusing more on uplifting scripture.
At one point, Osteen was fielding questions, with not a single individual on the panel agreeing with him or vocally supporting his stance. O’Brien jumped in during his dialogue with Socarides to say, “One question at a time” — a statement that shows just how tense it became on the set.
Watch the uncomfortable interview, below: