US: Church leader who called on gay people to ‘change’ says it’s not his ‘core message’

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Church leader Joel Osteen, who previously called on gay people to change their sexuality, has claimed that being against homosexuality is not his ‘core message’.

Osteen, an author and pastor at Lakewood Church, the largest church in the US, told Huffington Post he didn’t want homosexuality to “side-track” his message.

He said: “[Gay marriage] would be [against the rules], but I don’t really focus on a lot of those things… I try to stay in my lane and what I feel called to do. That does come up in interviews and things, but that’s not my core message.

“I know [homosexuality] is part of it, and everybody’s welcome, but my take on it is it’s easy to make one issue, to become known for that or to let it side-track your message.

“You know, if you look at our congregation, we all have issues. Everybody’s on a journey. I try to say, here’s my focus, here’s my lane. That’s kind of where I’ve stayed.

“My core message is how do you help your self image? How do you let go of the past? How do you raise good children? How do you reach your dreams?”

Osteen previously claimed that being straight is not a choice for him, but that being gay is a sin.

He also called on gay people to ‘change’ their sexuality, saying: “I believe that it’s a process. But I believe that God can give us grace to change. We’ve seen people break addictions, and do other other things as well.”

Osteen’s ministry is partnered with World Vision, which caved to pressure from conservative groups in March to reinstate a blanket ban on gay employees.