Joel Osteen | News | Richard Socarides

Socarides To Osteen: 'You Think You Choose To Be Straight?' VIDEO


Host Soledad O'Brien was admirably tenacious in asking conservative pastor Joel Osteen to explain condemnation of homosexuality on CNN's Starting Point this morning. She was particularly intrigued as to how the mega-pastor can claim to be "lifting people up" while also telling thousands of followers, many of whom may be gay, that same-sex love is a sin. Osteen, predictably, claims his views are based on scripture.

Later, New Yorker writer and former Bill Clinton advisor Richard Socarides to wonder whether Osteen would tell a gay teenager to do what feels comfortable and whether Osteen believes people choose to be gay — or straight, for that matter.

"You think you choose to be straight," Socarides asks, to which Osteen replies, "I know I have not chosen to be straight. I just feel like that’s who I am.” Perhaps realizing he's opened the door to affirming homosexuality's intrinsic nature, Osteen says, "I stick to issues I understand."

According to him, he'd rather focus on the things he's an expert in, rather than clarifying or defending his offensive and hurtful remarks about LGBT people.

Watch Osteen try to explain himself AFTER THE JUMP.

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  1. Total cop-out. He clearly has a stance, and that is that homosexuality is a sin. That's the last time I take anything this man says seriously. I'd love to hear what he says if asked if he thinks that beating slaves is okay? After all, the 'scripture' supports this. Get a clue Osteen.

    Posted by: Tristram | Sep 20, 2012 10:39:17 AM

  2. Osteen is next.

    Posted by: UWSGUY | Sep 20, 2012 10:45:32 AM

  3. I totally agree with TRISTRAM's comment. Osteen's comments were a total cop-out. He clearly does have a stance but chose to avoid the issue.

    Posted by: Kucklehead | Sep 20, 2012 11:06:57 AM

  4. Osteen has a stance and it's a "wide" stance. He chooses to "stick to the things" he knows? He should stick to his name, address and age, then; because the Bible refers to straight men engaging in same sex acts, not people who are in fact intrinsically gay. His point of view is not fact. He reads and interprets the bible (as all straight people do) from their perspectives--so of course straight is good and gay is not so much. He hasn't the intelligence to think in any dimension other than 2D.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Sep 20, 2012 11:15:20 AM

  5. If he doesn't understand homosexuality, then he should STFU about it. He's just a pretty-boy preacher who uses both arms to embrace the cash and rake it in.

    Posted by: Jack M | Sep 20, 2012 11:20:14 AM

  6. Osteen is no different from thousands of clery worldwide - Christian, Jewish, Muslim et al - who proclaim homosexuality as a sin when, in fact, they not only have no basic understanding of being gay but choose not to understand it in the name of their God. It's why I pay no attention to what 99% of the clergy have to say about, well, anything! They hide their deep and profound ignorance behind their religious interpretations while condemning a large segment of humanity to Hell.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Sep 20, 2012 11:22:33 AM

  7. So Joel would rather focus on the things he's an expert in.

    Anybody know exactly what those things are?

    Posted by: jamal49 | Sep 20, 2012 11:23:07 AM

  8. The media, towlroad included, rarely says anything positive about people of faith that support us.

    It's all about being as extreme and offensive as possible. Positive news isn't news.

    One might assume we have no support from churches and the faithful from this constant barrage of BS.

    Posted by: "The Gay" | Sep 20, 2012 11:30:43 AM

  9. I think Towleroad has done an admirable job of publicizing religious leaders who are friends to the LGBTQ community. Joel Osteen, however, is not one of those leaders, so I feel the scorn heaped upon him by the readers of this blog is well-deserved.

    Posted by: Mona | Sep 20, 2012 11:37:14 AM

  10. Osteen believes that the more than 6 million Jews exterminate in the Holocaust are in "Hell" for all eternity since they committed the "sin" of not "acknowledging Christ as the one and only Son of God and also God Himself the Word Made Flesh."

    Therefore he's an appalling idiot who should be ignored.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Sep 20, 2012 12:06:07 PM

  11. Who's saying Osteen is str8? Besides, his basic message is that God blesses rich people with wealth. The clearest sign of God's blessing is wealth and so on.

    Posted by: anon | Sep 20, 2012 12:09:51 PM

  12. It's also funny because Osteen's show cites scripture very little and Jesus almost not at all. It's a nice show full of positive pep talk and little vignettes about people who kept going against the odds, etc. Then in the last 5 minutes it's as if Osteen suddenly remembers that he really should mention Jesus, so he throws that in there almost as they cut to commercial.

    In short: his show isn't all that Bible-centered or even particularly Christian. It's Tony Robbins with a thin Christian overlay.

    Also, he's not normally into talking about sin. He's about being upbeat and smiley. That makes me wonder if he really cares about homosexuality personally, or if he's too afraid to offend the Congregation who pay to attend his church (you have to buy tickets from Ticketmaster when he goes on the road). It may simply be about the business. If that's the case, it's sad that he doesn't have the courage to stand up to his congregation's prejudices.

    Posted by: Keith | Sep 20, 2012 12:11:12 PM

  13. He looks gay to me, what do you think, is he hiding something like Ted Haggard? If he were a real preacher he would know that the bible says that God created all men, gay and straight to be born on earth and love one another. You know what they say about people who attack gays, they are closet gays trying to make people think they are straight.

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 20, 2012 12:33:29 PM

  14. I believe people like Osteen uses the bible to his own economical egotistical advantage. Preaching to people, inferring to people that he has the 'gift of God' is nothing more than a marketing strategy and an easy way to stroke his ego. This man lives a life of privilege and wealth and wants the world to believe his purpose on earth is to lift others up. Yet he doesn't practice what he preaches. His preaching is to benefit Joel Osteen and only Joel Osteen.

    Could he walk away from all this tomorrow? No. The money, position and power he holds is simply too great. He is not serving God for one minute. He is serving Joel Osteen.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Sep 20, 2012 12:37:43 PM

  15. This Osteen character is a pathetic fool, however, this debate about "choice" v. "born this way" is a dead end and really should stop. It is profoundly stupid and based on numerous false assumptions.

    Posted by: Matt | Sep 20, 2012 12:42:28 PM

  16. Osteen says, "I stick to issues I understand."

    ...and yet you go on TV to flap your gums about gay people. The next time you feel like talking about us Joel, please just STFU.

    "It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt"

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Sep 20, 2012 12:55:45 PM

  17. "It's Tony Robbins with a thin Christian overlay."

    Absolutely, Keith. Joel Osteen is nothing but a feel-good preacher of Prosperity Gospel, which holds that if you send HIM money then "God" will bless you by making you rich. He's a scummy televangelist living high on the hog by bilking money from those who can ill-afford to part with it. Never mind that this alleged "Christian" contradicts the words of his own supposed savior at every turn, particularly in regard to the importance of money and wealth but also by ignoring that whole "judge not lest..." business.

    The only difference between Osteen and a traveling con-man tent revival preacher is Osteen has a bigger tent.

    Posted by: Caliban | Sep 20, 2012 1:02:46 PM

  18. And the ticket prices for his "road shows" could compete with Gaga. Just take a look.

    Posted by: marinerotx | Sep 20, 2012 1:13:49 PM

  19. And the ticket prices for his "road shows" could compete with Gaga. Just take a look.

    Posted by: marinerotx | Sep 20, 2012 1:13:50 PM

  20. Great comments everybody. So true.

    Posted by: nikko | Sep 20, 2012 1:18:54 PM

  21. Osteen is just a gigantic loser who gets off on judging other people. He stands proudly with other hateful bigots who motivate hate speech, hateful action and hateful legislation against the LGBT community. Shame on you Osteen, may your God judge you as harshly as you judge others

    Posted by: RxR | Sep 20, 2012 1:48:31 PM

  22. It's refreshing to see a picture of JO that shows how tired and haggard he looks.

    Posted by: gregory brown | Sep 20, 2012 2:24:58 PM

  23. "I stick to issues I understand." And he's shown over and over and OVER again that he has absolutely no desire to understand LGBT people - our hopes, dreams, and even our faith.

    I want to say to him - 'You want to understand LGBT people? Then humble your pride, and volunteer at a youth shelter for LGBT youth. Listen to their stories about how many of them were thrown out on the street by 'loving christian parents'. Listen to their stories about being forced to endure 'ex-gay therapy' until they were suicidal. Listen to their stories of how they were forced to do anything - ANYTHING - to survive on the streets while their straight brothers and sisters basked in their parents' 'Christian love'. Listen to their stories of how they were publicly humiliated in the churches they grew up in, and lost their friends - friends they thought they could count on until these 'good Christian youth' suddenly became Job's Comforters. Listen to their stories of their LGBT friends who couldn't take it anymore, and killed themselves.

    Or he could volunteer at an AIDS hospice. Hear the stories of the dying, of how they were ostracized and thrown out of their homes, their communities, their churches. Listen to their stories of having lost everything, and reduced to abject poverty because of an illness - while 'good Christians' held up their signs screaming how AIDS was punishment from God, and how they deserved to die and rot in hell.

    Or he could volunteer at an AIDS Survivors group. He could hear the stories of men and women forced to watch the loves of their lives wither away and die, with no help from their former friends, family, church or community. He could hear their stories of rampant paranoia and fear. He could hear their stories of watching their loved ones dying, then bigoted and hateful 'Christian' families swooped in and took everything, because the Courts refused to acknowledge Wills, Powers of Attorney - documents these couples spent thousands of dollars to procure.

    But he won't. People like Joel Osteen would rather stand behind their gilded lecterns and bask in the ignorance of pleasing the mob - I mean congregation. People like Joel Osteen would rather close their eyes to the horrible truth of what we have endured at the hands of Christianity. People like Joel Osteen have no desire to understand why so many LGBT citizens burn with hatred toward Christianity.

    In short, he's ignorant - and he wants to stay that way.

    Posted by: Oz in OK | Sep 20, 2012 2:43:12 PM

  24. Osteen is such a sleaze.

    Posted by: Randy | Sep 20, 2012 3:00:16 PM

  25. He's an actor on a stage. Who knows what he really thinks?

    I suspect the comment above, that he's just saying this stuff to keep his audience (and the $$$$$$$$) is accurate. Not that that makes it any less wrong.

    Posted by: Lucas H | Sep 20, 2012 3:13:51 PM

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