CBS’s Hannah Storm Labels Ann Coulter 'Right-wing,' Praises ‘Christianity-Lite’
In an interview with televangelist Joel Osteen and his wife on Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Hannah Storm began the segment by asking Osteen: "Last week, conservative right-wing pundit Ann Coulter made waves, she said, quote, "Christians consider themselves perfected Jews,"saying that it would be "a lot easier for Jews if they would become Christians." What did you make of her remarks?" In contrast, ABC’s "Good Morning America" managed to interview Osteen without such politically charged language on Monday.
Storm then followed up with the bizarre theological observation: "And there should, should there be sort of an Old Testament, New Testament debate going on at this point in our country? Is that productive?" Coulter comments aside, last time I checked Christians believed in both parts of the Bible Hannah.
Continuing the theme of political correctness, Storm was impressed with the diversity of Osteen’s flock:
One of the most stunning things about your church, you know, when someone attends one of your services, you do see all races there. You see black, you see white, you see Hispanic, you see gay couples, you see family people, you see janitors and CEOs. What is it about your message that crosses all of those boundaries, that's so universally accepted?
She even went on to ask Osteen about critics who say: "You're Christianity-lite, you should be talking about suffering and sin and all the real, you know, things that happen to people." Apparently Storm sees "real" Christianity as being nothing but doom and gloom. Sorry Hannah, most Christians do not operate like the mainstream media.
Still wanting to praise the PC nature of Osteen’s church, Storm asked him and his wife:
Do you see that you guys are setting a standard in terms of having a woman have leadership in the church?...But there are some people who object to it. They say that a woman's place is not on the pulpit, and I'm sure you hear some of that as well.
Storm’s final question to Osteen summed up her approval of Osteen’s non-confrontational style of worship, "And is this although it is, in its essence a Christian message, and you quote a lot from the Bible, is there some movement that you can make towards religious tolerance in our world?"
Here is the full transcript of the 8am interview:
HANNAH STORM: Joel Osteen is one of the most influential preachers of our time. Every week millions of people all over the world listen to his simple message of hope. His latest book, "Become a Better You: Seven Keys to Improving your Life Every Day," is likely to be as big or an even bigger bestseller as his first book was. And he's here to share his thoughts on life and a lot of the latest things making the news. Good morning, Joel.
JOEL OSTEEN: Thanks Hannah.
STORM: It's great to have you here.
OSTEEN: Appreciate it.
STORM: Been a busy man lately. There's been a lot of things in the news, and as a prominent Christian and spiritual leader in this country, I want to check in with you on a couple of them.
STORM: Last week, conservative right-wing pundit Ann Coulter made waves, she said, quote, "Christians consider themselves perfected Jews,"saying that it would be "a lot easier for Jews if they would become Christians." What did you make of her remarks?"
OSTEEN: Well, I think that, you know, Ann is a lot more out there. And, you know, I would never make a comment like that because I have some great Jewish friends, they believe in their faith, and we believe that, you know -- we don't believe exactly the same, but they're certainly not less than Christians.
STORM: And there should, should there be sort of an Old Testament, New Testament debate going on at this point in our country? Is that productive?
OSTEEN: Well, I don't necessarily think so. I think more we can come together and -- I know I worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God that started this through the Jews, so that's kind of the way I look at it.
STORM: And on sort of the subject of divisiveness, this Nobel Prize winner, James Watson -- we just had a big story about this on our show. He's the man who helped discover DNA, and he said in an interview the "London Sunday Times" that essentially Africans are not as intelligent as Europeans, that blacks don't have the same intellectual capacity as whites, what's your reaction to his comments?
OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if he's saying that scientifically, but I just, I wouldn't believe it. I think we're all made in the image of God. I don't think God chose a different group and said I'm not going to make you as smart. So, I just -- you know, I don't know what he's basing it on, but that's not what we believe, that's not what we teach. I can't imagine a God like that saying, you know, I'm going to put a little bit of intellect in you and I'm going to keep you back. I just don't -- we don't believe that.
STORM: One of the most stunning things about your church, you know, when someone attends one of your services, you do see all races there. You see black, you see white, you see Hispanic, you see gay couples, you see family people, you see janitors and CEOs. What is it about your message that crosses all of those boundaries, that's so universally accepted?
OSTEEN: Well, I think it's a message of hope, it's a message of forgiveness, and we just don't -- you know, when you get past those boundaries, you teach people not to look at the skin color or the economic status. And that's what God's love and, you know, Christ's forgiveness is all about.
STORM: Do you find it surprising that so many people find fault with that message, that they say why are you so positive, why are you providing hope? You're Christianity-lite, you should be talking about suffering and sin and all the real, you know, things that happen to people.
OSTEEN: Well, I do find it interesting, but, you know, I see their perspective at times. But you know what? There's a lot of negativity in the world. We need somebody to bring us hope and somebody to tell us that we can overcome our past and break free from addictions and things like that. And, you know, our whole message is that Jesus came to help us live a great life. And some people are not going to agree with that.
STORM: It's interesting. There was a study published by Duke University that found that Americans circle of close confidence has shrunken dramatically in the last 20 years, we're just not as connected to other people. And you talk in you're book about making deposits in our relationships.
STORM: What is that, exactly?
OSTEEN: Well, I think everywhere you go, the people you're around, the people you do business with, you should -- by deposit, I mean make a compliment, make their life better than it was before. I find a lot of times we're making withdrawals, and you know, what can you do for me and, you know, even ignoring somebody. That's a withdrawal. And to me, your life will be so much richer if you will try to make deposits everywhere you go, especially in your own family. And then when you have to make a withdrawal, then when you blow off -- you know, you get out of sorts and things, and you know you'll have plenty in your account. The problem is people are trying to make withdrawals and they haven't put anything into the account.
STORM: You mentioned your own family. And it's interesting because some researchers say as many as 60% of marriages end in divorce within the first decade. You make the point that, rather than sitting back and waiting for your spouse to improve and complaining about them, that you should be the one to make yourself better.
OSTEEN: I think so. I think if you can be the bigger person, you be the peacemaker -- and another thing is you treat that other person the way you want them to be. That's a seed that you sow. And I know sometimes it's hard because, you know, somebody may say my spouse is not respectful. But if you will start treating them respectfully, it causes them to treat you differently. It's a seed that you sow.
STORM: Because, you know, a lot of people think that your book is about wow, how am I going to get the keys to my Mercedes, how am I going to get a promotion, how am I going to be blessed? You sort of, actually if you read deeper, turn that message on its heels and you say we need to think differently, how do we bless other people and then that comes.
OSTEEN: I think that's exactly right. It's all about being a blessing. If you're only focused on yourself, like you talked about, you're not going to be rewarded. But I found that if I try to make somebody else's day, God will always make my own day. If I look out for other people and pour into my wife and give people compliments and get my mind off my own problems, that's when your life, like I said your life is more fulfilled.
STORM: We're going to meet your wife, Victoria, coming up.
STORM: Right, we're going to chat with some folks. Oh, and here she comes. Speaking of Victoria, we're going to find out how you guys do it in real life.
STORM: We're going to chat with some people in our crowd. Coming back right after this.
STORM: Good morning and welcome back to "The Early Show." We now have more of our interview with Pastor Joel OSTEEN and as promised, his wife and co-pastor, Victoria is here. Good morning Victoria.
VICTORIA OSTEEN: How are you?
STORM: Do you see that you guys are setting a standard in terms of having a woman have leadership in the church?
OSTEEN: Oh I think so. I think it has really been a great example. I've talked to many other pastors' wives and they can feel that they can use their gifts and their talents, and maybe not all of them get in the pulpit, but they have women's ministries, and they find the place, you know, where they fit.
STORM: But there are some people who object to it. They say that a woman's place is not on the pulpit, and I'm sure you hear some of that as well.
OSTEEN: Well, we're just really fortunate that even Joel's father was always for women, and so he promoted women in the pulpit, so it's been a good thing.
STORM: Now we always hear about Joel as -- he's always got a smile on his face.
STORM: The smiling preacher. There have got to be times, though, right, where you're like everybody else. Does he get grumpy and how do you guys handle things like that? What makes him grumpy?
OSTEEN: What makes him grumpy? When I'm late -- no
STORM: When you're late, I read about that in a book actually.
OSTEEN: He's pretty good. He's pretty even. He's really learned and trained himself to, you know, just keep himself at a nice place of peace. But, you know, yeah, everybody gets frustrated. He just has trained himself not to show it as easy as some.
STORM: Yeah, You said you had a bad habit of impatience that you've worked on. Right?
JOEL OSTEEN: Yeah, that's right.
STORM: Let's get some questions from our crowd here. And a lot of people want to talk to you. This is Crystal from Long Island. Joel, if you don't mind, just standing right over there. That would be super. Victoria, come here with Joel. What was your question?
CRYSTAL: You know, when you get this high up in the public eye, how do you maintain your integrity?
OSTEEN: I think what you do is you -- I start every day off with the first half hour just searching my own heart, and reading the scripture and making sure that I'm on track. And two, I think my father, you know he spent 50 years in the ministry, and he made it to the end without losing his integrity, so that's what I try to do.
STORM: But you now have to deal with being a celebrity, a bona fide celebrity. What's the biggest challenge of that for you?
OSTEEN: Well it's just the fact that somebody always watching you and little things can become a big deal, and so you just have to be more on guard, but I do think you have to not let it not go to your head and stay true to your heart, and God will help you do the right thing.
STORM: Yeah, alright. Now we have Drew from Queens. Hi Drew, you're getting a lot of applause and you haven't even asked your question. Alright, what's your question for Joel?
DREW: With so much responsibility and so much to do, how do you maintain balance with your work, your family, your religious life with Jesus and all that. How do you keep balance in your life?
OSTEEN: I think you just have to make the priority and you have to be focused on what you feel your main thing is to do. Because there's a lot of good things, but if you -- I know my main thing is to be good on the weekends and share hope with people. So, I just, I have to say no to a lot of things, and that's not my personality. I like to do everything for everybody, but, you know, I work out of my home and I take time every day to play with my kids. It's just making your parties, realizing you can't do everything.
STORM: Sometimes, we are all so busy, and us moms and dads and working people know all that. We have so much going on. One of the major themes of you book though, is to take a little bit of extra time, right, to speak with people, to connect with people?
OSTEEN: It really is. I think you just have to sow into people's lives and make sure you're putting your family first. But I think when to do that, you're going to be better.
STORM: And Victoria, you guys made an adjustment this year, right, in terms of home schooling your kids.
VICTORIA OSTEEN: We did.
STORM: How did you come to that decision?
OSTEEN: Well, because we're traveling so much, we decided -- we loved our school, had nothing do with our school, but we decided it worked best for us so we can grab different times and different hours of the day to just be able to spend a little more time with them.
STORM: It's interesting because you have a lot of things on the horizon. Not just you're huge American audience, you're talking about going into South Korea, you're talking about going into Australia. What is it internationally that you hope to accomplish with your message?
JOEL OSTEEN: Well, it's really the same message that we present here, can go all over the world. And people -- we find people from all nationalities, we all face the same battles, you know, things coming against us in our finances, in our relationships, in our health. And so, we hope to just spread that same message of God's love all over.
STORM: And is this although it is, in its essence a Christian message, and you quote a lot from the Bible, is there some movement that you can make towards religious tolerance in our world?
OSTEEN: Well, I hope so, because the Christian message is to love everyone. And if we only think we're supposed to love people of our faith, I think we're missing the whole boat. And my thing is to make the whole world a better place and just, you know, to enrich people's lives.
STORM: Congratulations on your book. And I know you have a book coming out next year. So, it's great to have both of you with us this morning.
VICTORIA OSTEEN: Thank you.
STORM: Alright, you'll be preaching at Madison Square Garden. He like's those sports arenas.
JOEL OSTEEN: That's right.
STORM: You'll be doing that this weekend. Joel and Victoria Osteen. And read an excerpt from the book "Become a Better You: Seven Keys to Improving your Life Every Day," go to our website at cbsnews.com.