(Photo: The Christian Post)
Joel Osteen does not believe that churches should shy away from politics, states a source close to the best-selling author and pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.
Donald Iloff Jr., senior executive for Joel Osteen Ministries and brother-in-law of pastor Osteen, told The Christian Post that Osteen "doesn't really believe" all churches should shun political matters.
"He'd never said that before and doesn't really believe it," said Iloff, adding that Osteen is friends with pastors like Rick Warren of Saddleback Church whose "gift [is] to be involved politically."
Iloff told CP that he believes Osteen was speaking more "for himself" than "churches in general" regarding the shunning of political issues.
"It's taking it a little too far for him to say that he believes that churches in general, as a general statement, should not be involved in politics," said Iloff.
"That's not something he would agree with. For himself, it's not what he's called to do and that's really all that he would be addressing."
Iloff's comments come in regard to a NewsMax interview Osteen did while on a book tour for his latest work, titled Break Out.
Titled "Joel Osteen to Newsmax: Church Should Be Inclusive, Shun Politics," the article touched on Osteen's views on many issues.
"I stay away from politics because my church is probably half Republican and half Democrat. I don't know that, but it's very diverse, and so the message I'm trying to bring forth is much bigger and broader," said Osteen to NewsMax in an article published on Monday.
"…and to me – and my dad was the same way, and others – that when we go down the political road, we start excluding the people we're trying to reach."
Osteen's remarks and Iloff's clarification come as the debate over the Internal Revenue Service's ban on "church politicking" continue in U.S. District Court.
Last week Holy Cross Anglican Church of Wauwatosa, Wis., filed a "motion to intervene" against the Freedom From Religion Foundation's complaint against the IRS for allegedly not enforcing the "church politicking" ban.
Opponents of the IRS ban have argued that such a measure violates the freedom of speech and religion of clergy and many churches have flagrantly violated the ban as part of an event known as "Pulpit Freedom Sunday."
A project of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Pulpit Freedom Sunday involves churches blatantly violating the IRS ban in the hopes of creating a test case to declare the ban unconstitutional.
When asked by CP what position Lakewood Church had on the debate, Iloff responded that "we comply with those IRS regulations" and that he did not feel Lakewood was "prepared to make a statement on that right now."