Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Osteen Broadcasts Fundamentalist Homophobia on CNN

Joel Osteen, best-selling author and religious entertainer, says “Homosexuality is a sin” in an interview with Piers Morgan which will air on Wednesday, January 26.  “Piers Morgan Tonight” previewed the Wednesday interview two days early in which Osteen, the pastor of mammoth Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, toes a fundamentalist, homophobic line on the interpretation of the Bible. In response to Morgan’s questions about his condemnation of LGBTQ Americans, Osteen retreats into the same literalist interpretation of a very few passages of scripture that right wing preachers have used to bash gay people for generations:

MORGAN: Say a friend of mine like Elton John watching this at home, who with his partner – a civil partner, David Furnish – have just had a surrogate child which was born on Christmas day. They’re going to be pretty angry what they hear. They’re going to think who are you to call them a sinner.


MORGAN: But why are they sinners in your eyes?

J. OSTEEN: Well, it’s strictly back to what the scripture says. I mean, I can’t grab one part and say God wants you to be blessed and live an abundant life, and not grab the other part that says, you know what? You know, live that kind of life. So it comes back to the scripture. I’m not the judge. You know, God didn’t tell me to go around judging everybody.

Osteen tries to have it both ways in the interview with Morgan. Though he clearly condemns gay and lesbian people for parenting children, seeking marriage in monogamous relationships, and for forming same-sex loving families, Osteen claims that he is not a “gay basher.”  The distinction will surely be lost on queer folk and their families when the widely popular preacher has just clobbered them with the Bible.  “The scriptures shows that it’s a sin,” Osteen says to Morgan in the CNN interview. “But you know, I’m not one of those that are out there to bash homosexuals and tell them that they’re terrible people and all of that. I mean, there are other sins in the Bible too…I don’t believe homosexuality is God’s best for a person’s life.”  Osteen has repeatedly peddled his own brand of “soft homophobia” as recently as November 2010 on television shows like ABC’s “The View,” as previously reported by the Unfinished Lives Project. Osteen betrays a simplistic form of Bible reading and interpretation that begins from a heterosexist and homophobic set of beliefs alien to the vast majority of reputable scholars and Bible teachers throughout the world. The Houston mega-church preacher apparently relies on a literalistic, legalistic reading of two texts in the entire Bible to arrive at his claim that God considers homosexuality a “sin.”  In the Hebrew Testament, only two passages in the priestly code of Leviticus (selected verses in Leviticus 18 and 20), and one primary text from Paul’s letter to the Romans which is actually about idolatry and not homosexuality in any modern sense (Romans 1:26-28) are available to Osteen and his ilk to make such a universally condemnatory argument against a marginalized group of people. The consensus of progressive and moderate Jewish and Christian biblical scholars is that fundamentalist interpretations of these passages are off base at best, and dangerous at worst. Opinions driven by cultural bias and read back into the Bible such as Osteen’s have proven to be used to justify their religious intolerance and violence by those who attack LGBTQ people both verbally and physically. For a responsible and accessible book on the Bible that teaches biblical respect for LGBTQ people, see Dr. Peter J. Gomes, “The Good Book.” While Osteen seems to think he can appeal to his conservative base with condemnatory statements like those on “Piers Morgan Tonight,” and at the same time soften his rhetoric enough to convince the gullible that he is the very nicest of gay bashers (so they can be “nice” gay bashers, too!), his use of the Bible is irresponsible, uninformed, and contributes to the suffering of millions of people whose only offense is whom they love.

January 25, 2011 - Posted by | bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, CNN, Elton John, gay bashing, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lakewood Church, Lesbian women, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Peter J. Gomes "The Good Book", religious hate speech, religious intolerance, soft homophobia, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Well said Dr. Sprinkle, thank you for your article

    Comment by adam | January 25, 2011

  2. I’m interested to see the interview. But just saying he thinks homosexuality is a sin doesn’t make him a homophobe. I’m not a fan of his because he is just too sappy and too much sunshine. That being said … I can’t see him being hateful and homophobic.

    Plenty of people are homophobic and are hateful, etc. and may use the Bible as their excuse … but I’ll have to see the interview. I can’t see Osteen being that way.

    Comment by Geoff | January 25, 2011

    • Using the Bible to condemn LGBTQ people in a nice tone of voice is still heterosexist and homophobic. If a person used the Bible in a racist way, no matter how sweetly they did it, it would still be racist. Anti-Semitic useage works the same way. Osteen is a soft homophobe. The most deceptive kind.

      Comment by unfinishedlives | January 26, 2011

  3. Response to Piers Morgan’s intervire with Joel Osteen

    Well Piers I’ve been doing what you said! I’m kicking and screaming trying to bring the Scriptures into the modern age, but I have a problem with the three-legged milk stool representing Ishmael’s heritage, Isaac’s heritage and Roman’s heritage. They’ve been milking God’s Word for several thousand years; they’ve processed it into cheese, packaged it, labeled it and sold it throughout the world. Some of it is Old, some of it is New, and some of it reeks (Koran) like hell. This tax free cheese business is highly profitable as you well know, and everybody likes cheese! Personally I think it’s time to scrap the stool, slaughter the cow and let the children eat meat. But, that won’t happen until the One who is going to hew down the tree from which came the stool, rises up.

    I was taken by the comment Osteen made on your show ‘I’m not after anybody. I’m not mad at anybody. I don’t dislike anybody, but you know, respecting my faith and what the Scriptures says, that’s the best way I can interpret it’. According to Osteen, he interprets the Scriptures upon what he reads. That’s a big problem! The Scriptures testify God said ‘follow no man follow me’, in several other places they testify ‘hear ye what the Spirit is saying’. Doesn’t that mean the Spirit gives man understanding in the Scriptures! John 4:24 says, God is a Spirit! Osteen said his faith in God is based upon his interpretation of the Scriptures. Upon his own admission that he is a reader, he has acknowledged that he’s not a hearer. What need have we of readers; that’s something most of us learned to do in public school! In the book of Romans Paul wrote unto the churches, he said, ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God, and that those who are spiritually minded follow the Spirit’. Is any of this making sense to you Piers? Can you hear what I’m saying!

    Now, concerning your question about God’s stand on homosexually I have a question for you. If I told you that I was coming to your house and that you had nothing to say about it, how would you feel? Would you invite me in? Not likely, because I showed myself as having rights over something that belongs to you. Here’s my question? Why don’t you give the same courtesy to God that you expect to be given unto you? Does God not have the right to say who enters His House? Of course He does! And, homosexuals are not the only people that He said cannot enter into His Kingdom. The list is actually quite long. Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, Matthew 7:14. There’s a lot of priests/pastors names on that list. Many are called, few are chosen, Matthew 22:14. What is life? Is it not God’s Spirit through whom God giveth man truth and understanding in His Word through which He delivers man from the sin and bondage laid upon him through those who milk His word and process it into cheese for financial benefit for themselves.

    From what I can see, the gay issue that many are having a problem with stems more from hypocrisy taking place in the church than it does from what is written in God’s Word. I think most people can appreciate that God has the right to say who does or who does not enter His House. What’s upsetting people is the church showing itself as being the judge over God’s House? Deal with this issue first then people might find it is worth sacrificing what God calls sin to enter God’s House.

    Personally I don’t know how any man of sound mind can look upon the issues of our times and say they are not mad at anybody and that they don’t dislike anybody. Maybe instead of attending church on Sunday we should all go to prison and have a social visit with the pedophiles, rapist, and murders. What ya think! Interested! Well, here’s what I think. I don’t think Joel can hear, and truthfully and I’m not all that convinced he can read either, because the KJV I read doesn’t say Jesus loves everybody being the message Osteen was sending through the portrait he painted of himself. Oops, what’s this! The Bible doesn’t say Jesus loves everybody. No my friend it doesn’t! What is says is this ‘Jesus would that none should perish’. Who wouldn’t wish that everybody partook in truth and righteousness of God? However, that’s not our reality now is it? There are many Scriptures that contradict the church’ false claim that Jesus loves everybody. One that really sets the record straight is this, ‘God said, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’.

    Well, it’s time to say bye for now. Got a trial to write! Part two of a four part written documentary of the Last Supper, Christ’s Trail, Crucifixion and His Resurrection. Told my views part two ‘Christ’s Trail’ would be on my blog by the end of this week. If you’re interested you can visit me http://www.theresurrectionmca, or if per chance you have any questions you can e-mail me info@theresurrection.ca.

    Comment by Ariel | March 16, 2012

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