Joel Osteen, a religious leader with millions of followers, is currently under fire for comments he made in October of last year praising presidential candidate Donald Trump.
At the time, Osteen was asked in an interview with FOX News Radio about his views on Trumps campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” and he replied, “Mr. Trump, he is an incredible communicator and brander like President Clinton said. He’d been a friend of our ministry. He’s a good man.”
While this was not a formal endorsement of Trump by Osteen, in the wake of Trump’s rise to prominence in the Republican primary race, many have lambasted Osteen for his comments.
Twitter users have slammed him with comments like “Joel Osteen endorsing someone who preaches hate and racism. Yeah. I think he missed a few pages in the Bible,” and “Doesn’t surprise me that Joel Osteen likes Trump. Frauds and apostates tend to stick together.”
Not surprised that Joel Osteen supports Trump. Joel has been scamming America for years and has made millions, just like Trump.
— Jay (@1Word_Respect) March 14, 2016
Joel Osteen is nice about everyone and everything. His whole style is modeled on being non-threatening and encouraging prosperity.
— Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick) March 14, 2016
"Mr. Trump is an incredible communicator and brander. He's been a friend of our ministry. He's a good man." – @JoelOsteen. OH. OK.
— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) March 14, 2016
Dawg Joel Osteen said Trump is a friend of the ministry and is a good man. pic.twitter.com/fNeMWsNapP
— Daddy (@t0bismith) March 14, 2016
Lakewood Church issued statement to USA Today saying the statements don’t equal an endorsement, and by law Osteen can’t endorse a candidate.
“Contrary to the misinformation making the rounds on social media, Pastor Joel Osteen has not endorsed any candidate for President of the United States,” the statement reads.
Listen to a 2014 interview with Joel Osteen, his wife Victoria Osteen, and Donald Trump below: