Some Christian viewers were a little less than thrilled to see pastor Joel Osteen welcome television mogul Oprah Winfrey to an 11 a.m. service last Sunday at Lakewood Church.
"Awesome to have you!" said Osteen, acknowledging the presence of Winfrey and fellow media mogul Tyler Perry, who accompanied her to the service. "We're so honored to have you both here, and we just celebrate and pray for you guys with what God is doing in your lives."
Many Christians have been criticizing Winfrey's appearance at the church, not only questioning her religious beliefs, but also expressing disgust at the apparent girth of Winfrey's celebrity and power.
Some feel the mogul attracts followers that worship her as a god-like figure.
"I am not worried about Osteen as much as about the thousands in the audience who cheered for Oprah as if she were a goddess," said commenter Aurelian Botica in reaction to The Christian Post's original report on Winfrey and Perry's visit to Lakewood Church. "They are so hungry after celebrities! It's like living in a Hollywood dream, except that it takes place Sunday morning!"
In addition, Winfrey's religious and spiritual beliefs are somewhat of a mystery to the public. Although she was raised in a Baptist Church in Mississippi, it is not clear what, if any, traditional Christian beliefs Winfrey subscribes to.
Some speculate that she is a follower of new age author Eckhart Tolle, who penned The Power Now and A New Earth, two books Winfrey has endorsed in her book club. Tolle, who claims to teach people how to reach a higher spiritual consciousness through his books and workshops, draws on teachings from many different religions.
During an interview with Tolle on her show in 2008, Winfrey quoted A New Earth, stating, "Man made God in his own image; the eternal, the infinite and unnameable was reduced to a mental idol that you had to believe in and worship as my God or our God."
"I think that is very eloquently put...that is exactly what I was feeling when I was sitting in church," she added.
During the show, the media mogul also reportedly said, "There are certainly many more paths to God other than Christianity."
Many Christians believe Winfrey is leading people astray through her promotion of spiritualists such as Tolle. Winfrey, the same year Tolle appeared on her show, launched a 10-week seminar and interactive book club with the author on her website, for which more than 700,000 people reportedly registered.
"Oprah knows exactly what she believes, she promotes it, she encourages it and she guides people through many different venues into error," said reader Teresa Blosser. "She will be guilty of sending many hearts into the abyss."
However, some felt the welcoming into Lakewood Church was warranted, as part of being a Christian means welcoming everyone that comes through church doors.
"I am glad to see Tyler and Oprah together in Church," said Diana John Butera. "I am glad to see Joel welcome them and everyone give them a warm welcome. I don't believe anyone knows what Oprah really believes so pray for her don't condemn her."
Here is a video clip of Winfrey and Perry at Lakewood Church: