Joel Osteen is a phenomenon. A mega-church pastor, televangelist, senior minister of Lakewood Church, and social media monster, the Rev. Osteen now has a new book called Break Out: 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life. The spiritual star dropped by HuffPost Live to talk with host Josh Zepps about growing up poor, spirituality, what to pray for, the Pope, and, of course, the gays.
Zepps read a piece that he liked from Osteen's new book: "It doesn't matter who likes you or doesn't like you, all that matters is that God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you." Zepps followed up by asking if that included homosexuals.
"Absolutely," Osteen insisted, "I believe that God breathed life into every person and that every person is made in the image of God and you have accept them as they are, on their journey. I'm not here to preach hate or push people down."
Josh asked Osteen about his religious upbringing.
"My dad was a minister and came from poverty... my dad was always for the underdog... I believe we are all supposed to be helping in some way. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and as people say, 40,000 kids are going to die today, but you've got to start somewhere."
A question came in from the community asking for Pastor Osteen's definition of spirituality and religion and if you can have one without the other.
"I do think that religion has turned a lot of people off. Part of it is because it was all about the rules and was political,' Osteen explained, "I think now people have a hunger for God, they want to have a relationship, but they don't want to be called religious. I'm not trying to get them to join my religion, I'm just trying to plant a seed of hope in their heart."
When Josh asked Pastor Osteen if non Christians can go to heaven, he responded that he is 'not one to judge,' but from what he sees in the scriptures you have to have a relationship with Jesus. (Watch video above).
When responding to criticism from a commenter about praying for 'things, Pastor Osteen agreed in part: "I don't think you should spend your life praying for things, but I do believe you should thank God for what He's given you... but I think the scripture teaches us that we can pray for our dreams pray for the big things.. he's not a small God, this God is incredible."
The question of Osteen's view of the current Pope also came up, to which Osteen replied that he especially appreciates the inclusive nature of Pope Francis: "I think the Pope is fantastic, his tone, his humility. "