Hypocritical Katie Cites Biblical Verses on Wealth To Pastor

In what was perhaps an attempt to innoculate themselves against criticism of their hyping of the The Da Vinci Code next week with Matt Lauer’s "On The Road With The Code," NBC’s Today show looked at the rise of "Christian conservatives," this morning complete with an interview with Pastor Joel Osteen. During the interview Couric, who is leaving for her new multimillion dollar gig at the CBS Evening News, had the gall to question Osteen’s own ventures: "...how do you square your wealth with, with sort of the tenets of, of Christianity?"

Couric even cited Bible verses to the pastor: "I looked up a couple of quotes which I found interesting. I was curious how, again, how you could square these things. It said, this is, Matthew 19, verses 23 and 24. 'Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth. It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'"

The following questions took place during the 7:30 half our of Today:

Couric: "Meanwhile your work I know Joel has made you a very wealthy man and you don't believe as Gordon Gekko did on Wall Street that, that, 'greed is good.' But you believe that wealth is good, that it's a positive thing. You make, I guess, most of your money from your books. You signed a $13 million book deal which I understand is bigger than Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan and Pope John Paul II, so how do you square your wealth with, with sort of the tenets of, of Christianity?"

[Joel Osteen]

Couric: "You know I, you can see the other thing, though, in the Bible as well because I looked up a couple of quotes which I found interesting. I was curious how, again, how you could square these things. It said, this is, Matthew 19, verses 23 and 24. 'Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth. It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' Here's another one, 'And Jesus said to him, 'Watch out, be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.' And then another one. 'People who want to get rich fall into temptation, into trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction, for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.' If you listen to those and it makes you wonder about sort of, your claim that, that wealth is a positive thing."

The following is a transcript of the full segment:

Katie Couric: "In the past five years the power and influence of Christian conservatives has grown to unprecedented levels with the election and re-election of President Bush. The influence of Christianity is undeniable and its reach goes far beyond the walls of its sanctuaries. America's having an evangelical moment. A President who speaks openly about his faith."

George W. Bush: "Prayer and religion sustain me."

Couric: "Put in office, in part, by self-identified Christian voters. After the election 76 percent of Bush voters said moral values drove their choice. At least 40 million Americans now describe themselves as evangelical Christians and what has long been a powerful political movement is increasingly big business. Films like Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and last year's The Chronicles of Narnia heavily marketed to churches each brought in millions at the box office. Christian music now generates $700 million in annual sales. And sales of religious books have reached the $1.9 billion mark. One of the movement's most successful voices? A 43-year-old Texas native many call, 'The Smiling Preacher.'"

Joel Osteen: "..but the Bible says to make a joyful noise unto the Lord."

Couric: "Joel Osteen, himself a millionaire from the sale of his last book, Your Best Life Now..."

Osteen: "And we welcome you to Lakewood."

Couric: "...boosts the largest mega-church in the country preaching to crowds of 35,000 every week."

Osteen: "It's in the tough times of life that we grow."

Couric: "And with near rock star status he tours arenas across the country praying to sold-out crowds."

Osteen: "And God bless you, we love you guys."

Man: "Every time I watch him I hear a word, the voice speaks through him to me. It really inspires me."

Couric: "And Pastor Joel Osteen, good morning, good to have you here."

[Joel Osteen]

Couric: "Let me ask you, first of all, we were chatting during the taped piece. What does evangelical mean to you, because I think the term gets confused a lot?"

[Osteen]

Couric: "Meanwhile a survey was done recently and it said, a poll indicated that 82 percent of those surveyed said they believed in God, 26 percent said religion is extremely important in their daily lives and 33 percent said it was very important. What do you think is behind the, the fact that this country seems to have grown more religious in recent years? Why do you think that is?"

[Osteen]

Couric: "Well you certainly are extremely popular. The weekend services at your Lakewood Church in Houston draws 40, I guess there are three of them, right? There's one on Saturday night and then a few on, how many on Sunday?"

[Osteen]

Couric: "Okay 40,000 people, airs in 210 U.S. markets, an estimated seven million viewers there. You collect about a $1 million a week and $20 million or so a year through the mail. What is it about your message do you believe, that's striking a chord that is so popular and resonating with people?"

[Osteen]

Couric: "And I know that you focus on positivity and optimism but not surprisingly you have your critics."

[Osteen]

Couric: "One says, 'he's popular because we live in a nation that demands cotton candy theology. His service is just a pep rally, it's all about you.' Another theologian said, 'if he weren't as upbeat he wouldn't be as popular. The cost of being positive is you don't have as much to offer in purely religious terms.' And another theologian says, 'he sort of treats the Bible as a collection of fortune cookies. If you, if you claim the right verses then you can have health, wealth and happiness.' What do you make of those, those criticisms?"

[Osteen]

Couric: "Meanwhile your work I know Joel has made you a very wealthy man and you don't believe as Gordon Gecko did on Wall Street that, that, 'greed is good.' But you believe that wealth is good, that it's a positive thing. You make, I guess, most of your money from your books. You signed a $13 million book deal which I understand is bigger than Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan and Pope John Paul II, so how do you square your wealth with, with sort of the tenants of, of Christianity?"

[Osteen]

Couric: "You know I, you can see the other thing, though, in the Bible as well because I looked up a couple of quotes which I found interesting. I was curious how, again, how you could square these things. It said, this is, Matthew 19, verses 23 and 24. 'Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth. It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' Here's another one, 'And Jesus said to him, 'Watch out, be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.' And then another one. 'People who want to get rich fall into temptation, into trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction, for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.' If you listen to those and it makes you wonder about sort of, your claim that, that wealth is a positive thing."

Osteen: "Well I don't think that just strive to get wealthy but you know the Bible, right there it says, 'the love of money.' It's what, what do you want to do. I mean my thing is if, if wealth is a problem then everyone of us here in America are, are sinners. Because you go to India where I've spent a lot of time and they don't have anything. So it's all relative to what your heart is toward it. I mean I can quote scriptures too that says, you know Jesus..."

Couric: "I'm sure you can much better than I by the way."

[Osteen]

Couric: "And, and, and, and finally I'm curious, you know obviously we've seen the role of politics and, and religion increase, mix increasingly in recent years but I know you stay away from controversial subjects like abortion, like gay marriage and I'm curious how you feel about this sort of relationship between politics and religion and why you've chosen to have a hands-off policy, if you will?"

[Osteen]

Couric: "Well Joel Osteen it's very nice to meet you. Thanks so much for coming by this morning and your book comes out, I guess..."

[Osteen]

Couric: "...next year. Alright, well good luck with that."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.