The senior pastor of America’s largest Christian church said Tuesday that he not only would have no problem voting for a Mormon presidential candidate, like Republican Mitt Romney, he also would not rule out the possibility of some day voting for a Jewish or even Muslim candidate for the nation’s highest office.
“Sure I could,” said Joel Osteen, lead pastor of Houston’s Lakewood Church, in an appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight, which airs on CNN. However, he added, “Ninety percent of America is Christian so I’m pretty sure I’d find somebody who more shares my beliefs.”
Among those beliefs, said Osteen, is that the Bible explicitly instructs Christians to support the nation of Israel. Thus, said the pastor, “We stand with the Israeli people.”
Osteen expressed empathy with the Palestinian people, who currently are seeking statehood. “Our hearts go out to the Palestinian people,” said Osteen. “They want peace. They want to live their life in victory, as well.”
The popular pastor and his wife Victoria actually visited Israel this past February, where their “Night of Hope” worship service played to a full auditorium. Contrary to perceptions in the United States, Victoria Osteen told CNN’s Morgan, the couple found Israel “very peaceful.”
The Osteens appeared on Morgan’s nightly show to promote the pastor’s latest book, Every Day a Friday, which this week hit No. 1 on the New York Times Advice, How-To, and Miscellaneous Hardcover bestseller list.
Aside from presidential politics and Middle East policy, Joel Osteen was asked his positions on such hot-button issues as abortion, the death penalty and same-sex marriage.
The pastor reiterated his previously-stated opposition to abortion. “Every baby should live,” he told Morgan. But he was considerably more equivocal in discussing his views on executions and gay marriage.
“It would be against my faith to marry two gay people,” said Osteen, noting that, of the many marriages mentioned in the Bible, none were same-sex. Yet, Lakewood’s senior pastor and his wife said they would have no problem attending a same-sex wedding, if the gay or lesbian couple happened to be friends of theirs.
Osteen neither said he supported or opposed capital punishment. He told Morgan he had not really studied the issue sufficiently to make up his mind, notwithstanding the fact that his home state of Texas executes more offenders each year than any other state.