ABC's "The View" hosted pastor Joel Osteen Tuesday, author of the book The Christmas Spirit – but the conversation took a controversial turn and went from Christmas to homosexuality. Co-host Joy Behar belittled Osteen about his conservative Christian beliefs on the matter.
ABC's Barbara Walters first popped the question in the middle of the interview, flagging it was a "controversial" topic. She referenced a previous quote made by Osteen on the show about homosexuality not being "God's best" for a person's life. Walters asked him how he felt about a Georgia pastor who recently came out and said he was gay.
After Osteen's tepid response, Behar interrupted him and flatly lectured him that homosexuality is natural. "It's not a choice, Pastor," she asserted. "It's not a choice, and therefore I don't think that God would look askance at homosexuality in that way, because it's not a choice. They're born this way, people are born this way."
When Osteen tried to respond, the comedian-cum-theologian butted in again to assert that "the Christian church should embrace that notion." She later accused Osteen of being a part of the gay bullying problem, telling him that his Biblical interpretation of homosexuality leads to bullying.
"But when you say that the Bible is against gays, that makes people get bullied, and bad things happen to people because of what the people say about that," she told Osteen.
After Behar further interrupted the guest to make her point, Osteen defended his church's stance and said that it welcomes all sinners. "If you came to our church, Joy, you would see people from all walks of life," he explained. "We're for everybody, we're not against people."
"We're not for bullying," he added. "I mean, if you follow our ministry at all, we're for uplifting people. But there's the Scripture that we can't necessarily change."
Co-host Whoopi Goldberg also joined the debate, quoting Scripture to try to prove that God doesn't judge, so neither should humans judge homosexuals. "I really believe that God said very clearly 'Noone else can judge you, but Me'," Goldberg expressed.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 16 at 11:27 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
BARBARA WALTERS: You know, I'm sorry. I just want to ask you a controversial subject, although I know you stay away from – try to stay away from controversy. But the last time you were here, you said that homosexuality is not, and I'm quoting you, "God's best." And recently a pastor of an evangelical church in Georgia named Jim Sully came out and said that he's gay. He's married, he has children, but he's gay. What's your feeling about that?
Rev. JOEL OSTEEN: Well first off, Barbara, I should finish that sentence. I should make it clear. I don't think it's God's best for your life, I don't think it's not God's best making us. As far as that pastor is concerned, I don't know that individual situation. I think that – I believe the Scriptures teach us that a pastor in leadership like that is not going to stay in a Christian church like ours. But I don't know whether he's, whether he should come out or not. I believe maybe being open –
WALTERS: If he's in a Christian church, should he get out of the Christian church if he's gay?
OSTEEN: You know, I think that's totally up to him. I don't know. I mean, the main thing Barbara, is we are for people. Sometimes we get stuck on –
JOY BEHAR: You know it's not a choice, Pastor. It's not a choice, and therefore I don't think that God would look askance at homosexuality in that way, because it's not a choice. They're born this way, people are born this way. They are what they are.
OSTEEN: Well, I think that's –
BEHAR: And so the Christian church should embrace that notion.
OSTEEN: Well, you know what Joy –
BEHAR: You wouldn't reject somebody that had a deformity.
OSTEEN: Yeah, no I agree.
BEHAR: Or something else.
OSTEEN: Yeah, I think that – (Applause)
BEHAR: I don't mean to say it's a deformity, but there are other things that are embraced.
OSTEEN: But if you came to our church, Joy, you would see people from all walks of life. We don't have a sign at the door no gays, no drunkards, no people on drugs. We're for everybody, we're not against people. So we're helping them to become –
BEHAR: But when you say that the Bible is against gays, that makes people get bullied, and bad things happen to people because of what the people say about that.
OSTEEN: Well, it's –
BEHAR: It's terrible.
OSTEEN: I think the difficulty Joy is we're not for bullying. I mean, if you follow our ministry at all, we're for uplifting people. But there's the Scripture that we can't necessarily change.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: I-I have a question, because I really believe that God said very clearly "Noone else can judge you, but Me. If you have an issue, if something's going on, you don't need to hear what anybody else says. Come to Me and I will forgive you."