Joel Osteen is the senior pastor for the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. It’s America’s largest congregation. His wife, Victoria Osteen, is the co-pastor there.
The Osteens, known for their optimistic outlook on life, visited “Larry King Live” Tuesday night for a wide-ranging interview that covered President Obama, same-sex marriage, the recent outbreak of mass shootings, the state of religion in America and more. The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity: Larry King: Since you were last on, we have sworn in our first African-American president. What are your impressions [of Barack Obama] Joel Osteen: Well, I think he’s doing a great job. I’m impressed with his skill, his calmness, his just strength under pressure. These are tough times for him. King: And you, Victoria Victoria Osteen: I’ve been really impressed. In fact, I’ve been impressed [with] the first lady. She stepped up, and she’s done a remarkable job. King: Recent polls show 12 percent of Americans still believe Obama is a Muslim, and 35 percent say they don’t know his religion, but to most of them it don’t matter. Should it matter Joel Osteen: Well, it matters to me. It matters to me that I know he loves the Lord, and I think it’s important that he has convictions from his faith. So to me, it matters when I’m making my personal decisions. King: Does it matter to you, Victoria Victoria Osteen: It does. It matters to me. … I believe he is a Christian. King: The “Hope for Today Bible.” This is a new Bible [from you]. How is this different from other Bibles Joel Osteen: It’s a living translation of the Bible, which is an easy version to read. And then it’s got our notes besides certain passages. And it’s just to help people maybe to understand the Bible a little bit easier. King: Do you think that eventually many more states are going to allow same-sex marriage Joel Osteen: You know, I don’t know where it’s all going … I’d love to see it stay between a male and a female, not knocking anybody else.
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King: Supposing there were more states that had it. What would be the harm Victoria Osteen: We really want to see marriage between a man and a woman. There [are] going to be people who get together and have relationships and have what they call their families. But I just think marriage should be sanctified by the church. It should be between a man and a woman. King: Should a gay couple be allowed to adopt Joel Osteen: I think that, again, it’s best for a male and a female. I’m not saying that gay people aren’t good people. … King: Or good parents. Watch Larry King’s interview with the Osteens » Joel Osteen: Yeah, exactly. But again, I like to shoot for God’s best, and that is a father and a mother in the home. It doesn’t always happen. I know a lot of people raised by single parents. And you know what We bless them and pray for them as well. But I think God’s best is a male and female. King: In the new issue of “Newsweek”, the lead story by Jon Meacham is “The Decline and Fall of Christian America.” Just off the premise of that headline, do you accept that That Christian America is in trouble Joel Osteen: I’m trying to think where he’s coming from. … I see faith in America at an all-time high. King: The “Newsweek” article quotes our Albert Mohler Jr. And he’s president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And he said, “The so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium has given way to a post-modern, post-Christian, post-Western cultural crisis which threatens the heart of our very culture.” Joel Osteen: Well, he’s a smart man and I respect him. You know, maybe what he’s saying is true. … America is more diverse than it was 50 years ago. And I don’t know that that means we as Christians are any less. I would like to think our influence is still there. … And I’m sure I’m an optimistic by nature. King: What do you make of these mass shootings Joel Osteen: You know, it’s really sad. People get deranged. People get confused … I believe there are dark forces in our world. There are evil forces that, unfortunately, we can give into. And some of it is just from depression, just that mental illness. King: Do you pray for them, Victoria The shooters Victoria Osteen: Oh, absolutely. You’ve got to pray for them. They’re obviously tormented. They’re deceived and not cherishing life. … So yeah, we do pray for them. King: We’ve had a mass depression in this country, recession. Do you think that might be at the core of some of these things Victoria Osteen: I think it is. When you’ve lost your job and you’ve just been beaten down and you don’t see any future, it’s easy to start letting those negative thoughts play. … You don’t have anything to live for. It’s never going to get any better. And I think that if you don’t watch it, you’ll just spiral down and down and down. And that is why we feel so strongly about just giving people hope. Even at your lowest moment, you never know what God can do. He can turn any situation around. You can be just one night from getting the break you need, getting the job you want. King: How do you deal with death, having to console people [who are] dying Joel Osteen: Well, it’s difficult. But Larry, we have the hope of heaven. We believe we’ll see our loved ones again. And as hard as it is, we’ll just try to encourage people that death is just a separation. … I lost my dad 10 years ago, and he was my best friend. But it’s amazing the peace that God gave me. So I believe that God can give you a strength and a new beginning. King: Where do you believe he is Joel Osteen: I believe he’s in heaven. King: Which is a place. …
Joel Osteen: I believe it’s a real place. … You’ve had people on a lot about near death experience, and I’ve talked to them too, how they’ve had an accident and all of a sudden, they’re up watching themselves. And I believe that our spirit’s on the inside. My belief as a Christian is when we receive Christ as salvation that that gives us a guarantee for heaven.