Joel Osteen, pastor of America's fastest growing megachurch, has reiterated his opinion that GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is a “believer in Christ like me” and that the former Massachusetts governor's confession of Jesus as the Son of God is “enough” for him.
Osteen, senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, told CBS’ Charlie Rose Monday morning, “What I see about Gov. Romney is that he says ‘I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He’s raised from the dead and he’s my savior.’ I see him as being a believer in Christ like me.”
And “that’s enough for you?” Rose questioned.
“That’s enough for me,” Osteen stated. “There’s differences in all religion. I realize that Mormonism is different from Christianity, but you know what he’s a man of faith and values. And to me that’s strong.”
The video footage of Joel Osteen’s interview on “CBS This Morning” can be seen below.
Mitt Romney, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been a source of controversy this campaign season and has attracted strong reactions both in support of, and against, his Mormon faith.
Evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress made headlines in October for his “Mormonism is a cult” statements during a political event.
Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, told The Christian Post in a previous interview that Mormonism is not in line with the historical tenets of Christianity and is considered a cult among mainstream Christians.
“Evangelical Christians should not vote for Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon, therefore not a real Christian,” he said at the time, and has repeated several times since.
“Mitt Romney is a good, moral person, but that does not make him a Christian,” he added.
However, many were offended by Jeffress’ comments and called on the minister to issue an apology.
“As an evangelical, born again, Bible-believing Christian, and a pastor with more than 25 years' experience living with and ministering among a majority Mormon population, I find the comments by Pastor Jeffress unhelpful, impolite, and out of place,” said the Rev. Myke Crowder, pastor of Christian Life Center.
Crowder, a leader of one of the largest evangelical congregations in Utah, countered, “Insulting Mitt Romney adds nothing to the conversation about who should be president. We're picking the country's chief executive, not its senior pastor.”
“My experience in Utah among Mormons has been overwhelmingly positive,” he added. “Evangelicals and Mormons have big differences when it comes to theology, but if you believe in and support the Constitution, there's no religious test for office, nor should there be.”
Crowder called for Jeffress, who made the comments at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., to apologize to Romney and all other Americans; “he’s offended through his unkind and irresponsible remarks.”
Romney has defended his beliefs in the past – answering the question: “What do I believe about Jesus Christ?” in a Dec. 6, 2007, speech.
“My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths,” Romney said. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.”
However, he added that both Mormonisn and Christianity have their own unique doctrines and history. “These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree,” Romney stated.