Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Osteen Cannot Mask His Homophobia on ABC’s “The View”

Houston, Texas – Joel Osteen met his match on ABC Television’s The View as he tried to peddle his brand of “soft-homophobia” to the nation.  The Advocate reports that Joy Behar took Osteen to task for denigrating lesbians and gay men as “not God’s best,”  a statement he made on the program last year.  Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, a megachurch boasting an average weekly attendance of 43,500 and a national television outreach, responded to Whoopi Goldberg that like God, he loved “everybody,” but while some of his friends were gay (“the nicest people in the world”), he couldn’t agree that God did the right thing creating people with a homosexual orientation (a remark he struggled to take back later in the broadcast).  Osteen claimed a single biblical message on homosexuality, and when pressed by Joy Behar, classed gays and lesbians with “drunkards” and “people on drugs.”  When Osteen was asked about his position on whether fellow megachurch pastor Jim Swilley, founder of the Conyers, Georgia Church in the Now, should remain as leader of the church, Osteen retreated into his anti-gay theology.  Swilley, married twice to women and the father of four children, came out as a gay man recently in response to the rash of LGBTQ teen suicides, confessing that he could no longer remain in the closet while so many gay youth were dying.  The death by bullycide of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University freshman, particularly affected Swilley, who says he knew he was gay since youth, but tried to live as a heterosexual person.  As reported in thespreadit.com, Swilley said of his sexual orientation, “At a certain point, you are who you are.”  Osteen said that scripture would prohibit a gay man from pastoring a church (though the Bible never mentions the subject of pastoral leadership and homosexuality).  Still, Osteen labored to convince the women on The View that his church was welcoming to gays.  Asked again about his inflammatory contention that homosexuality “is not God’s best,” he said to co-host Barbara Walters, “I should finish that sentence. I should make it clear. I don’t think it’s God’s best for your life. I don’t think it’s not God’s best making us.”  Joy Behar pointed out that Osteen, who above all wanted to come across on national television as a nice person, was left with “a conundrum”: either God created homosexual people good (Genesis says that God pronounces all creation “good”), or God made a mistake by creating people as “less than God’s best.”  Osteen hesitated to comment about the conundrum his soft brand of heterosexism and homophobia poses for church leaders who truly want gays and lesbians to attend their churches and contribute their money, but who disapprove of their existence as God created them to be.  While less overt than many Christianist anti-gay positions, Osteen’s form of bias is perhaps the most insidious in American life today.  While maintaining a smooth, pleasing public persona, such soft anti-gay prejudice feeds the internalized homophobia of LGBTQ people who yearn for church blessings, and grants a green light to homophobic exclusion from circles of “normalcy” and from church leadership positions (which are the true test of any church’s feelings toward LGBTQ people).  Osteen further claims a simplistic “Bible-based” set of anti-gay teachings that plays well to the mob, which serious biblical scholars have debunked for decades.  Osteen claimed in an exit interview that he “loved” being on The View, that he had “a great time.”  The success of his appearance will be determined, to paraphrase President Abraham Lincoln a bit, by whether a charlatan can, indeed, “fool all of the people all of the time.”

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Church in the Now, gay men, gay teens, Georgia, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Internalized homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ suicide, Media Issues, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, soft homophobia, Texas, The View | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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