As several high-profile pastors, such as Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California, strongly condemned white supremacists in the wake of the deadly riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, popular pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, is drawing flak for suggesting that Christians not “engage.”
“One of the biggest challenges we all face is getting along with people because everyone is different. We have different personalities, different temperaments. We come from different backgrounds. When somebody doesn’t agree with us or not doing what we like, it’s easy to get in conflict with them, to argue, to try to straighten them out, to prove our point. No, you have to be the bigger person. Just because they’re doing wrong doesn’t mean you have to engage,” Osteen wrote in a post on Facebook late Wednesday.
Osteen’s comments come after he was criticized in reports Wednesday for remaining silent on the issue and his pacific reaction did not resonate well with some of his fans.
Although he did not mention the issue of race specifically, many of his fans felt he compared racism to simply a difference of opinion or a personality conflict.
“How long is someone to remain calm when you are being beaten and murdered just because of the color of your skin?…You will NEVER understand because you have yet to experience it…please be mindful of what’s going on before you make comment such as this,” Ronke Allen replied.
“If it is an individual I can agree, but when systems disenfranchise entire populations something must be said and something must be done. You can do and say something however, in Christ, still reflecting His values and His ways. When Jesus saw injustice, He himself acted while espousing His Father’s views of doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with His God,” Tracy Jones added.
In engaging on the subject of racist ideology, however, Pastor Laurie, who founded the Harvest Crusades in 1990, is expected to address some 100,000 people on it at the event this year, set for Aug. 18-20, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.
“There is no place in our society for prejudice and racism,” he told the Orange County Register. “When people carry crosses to defend a racist ideology that is a complete contradiction of Scripture. Nazis were anti-Semitic and anti-Christian and to invoke any imagery from that era is reprehensible.”
Greg Locke, lead pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, also dismissed the white supremacist movement as “evil nonsense” and declared “all lives matter.”
“I’m against racism, no matter what the color of your skin is,” said the internet star. “Red and yellow, black and white, we’re all precious in His sight.”
He further warned Christians that he believes that the media is trying to manipulate the public through the events and urged President Donald Trump to speak out forcefully against white supremacy.
“We better know something, the media is playing us and they are playing us hard. They want us rioting and fighting in the streets. They would love nothing more than an absolute civil war. We have gotta bring this nation together. I’m begging that the president gets up and disavows this,” Locke said.
“I don’t care if you’re white, black, I don’t care if you’re Latino. I don’t care what you are. This is the United States of America and we’ve got to quit this foolishness. Bunch of white guys walking around screaming racial slurs with tiki torches? What are we hunting? Ogres?” he asked.
“Come on guys, grow up. White supremacy, black supremacy? Let me tell you something — all lives matter. All life is precious in the eyes of God. Let’s bring this nation back together. So as a pastor, let me be very bold and plain when I say this: Racism is evil, it’s wicked, it’s ungodly and believers and followers of Christ should have nothing to do with it,” Locke said.