Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Joel and Victoria Osteen

Aired October 16, 2007 - 21:00   ET





LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Joel Osteen -- the pastor some call a spiritual rock star. Of all of the mega churches in America, none is more mega than his and now the leader of the nation's largest congregation on why he told female worshipers to shop at Victoria's Secret.


J. OSTEEN: Don't go look good and dress up to go to work and dress up to go to an event for everybody else, dress up for your own husband. I mean look good at home.


KING: And on Britney Spears.


J. OSTEEN: She can come out of this and still live a great life.


KING: And on the critics who call his feel good brand of faith gospel lite.

Joel Osteen and his wife Victoria next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

What a great pleasure to welcome, returning to LARRY KING LIVE, Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria.

Joel is senior pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston, home of America's largest congregation. His new book is Become A Better You: Seven Ways To Improve Your Life Every Day". It's published by Free Press, which is a division of Simon & Schuster.

And, by the way, we recently spent some time with Joel and Victoria and their lovely family at their home in Houston and visited the Lakewood Church, as well. We'll be showing you portions and moments from that throughout the evening tonight.

I'm told that this may be the largest first printing in Free Press' history. Have you heard that?

J. OSTEEN: I have heard that, too.

KING: Do you how many they printed?

J. OSTEEN: I heard it was three million copies.

KING: Is that scary?

J. OSTEEN: It was a little nerve-wracking.

KING: Daunting?

J. OSTEEN: It is, yes, because I thought I hope you guys can sell them, because I know they -- you know, they have a lot of faith in our message. So it was a little nerve-wracking.

KING: What did the previous book sell?

J. OSTEEN: The previous book has sold four million or five million copies. And it's been out three years.

KING: So they're rolling pretty good dice here?

J. OSTEEN: I think so. And we've grown since then. You know, I believe our reach has gotten bigger. And we've moved into the new facility. So I'd like to believe that, you know, God wants you to keep growing. So I'm believing for good things.

KING: What's the new facility?

VICTORIA OSTEEN, WIFE OF JOEL OSTEEN: I think the new facility was the old Compaq Center, the former Compaq Center. We moved in that two years ago. And we turned it into an exciting, wonderful church, so.

KING: It holds how many?

V. OSTEEN: It holds 16,000 people. And we have three services.

KING: So you're reaching like 48,000 people every Sunday?

J. OSTEEN: Yes, something like that. That includes a Spanish service that we do, our friend does there, as well. So it's a lot of people that come out every weekend.

KING: You speak Spanish?

J. OSTEEN: No, sir. I wish I did.

KING: What's the concept behind the new book? J. OSTEEN: The concept is that God never wants us to get in a rut to matter where we are, how successful or how low we are. We should be growing. We should be learning. We should get better in our attitude, in our relationships. And so it's really just simple things that we probably all know, but it just reminds us to -- to don't get stuck in a rut. Don't get stuck, you know, with a health issue and think, well, I'll never get over this. Or even in a marriage -- don't get stuck at a certain level. We can all be kinder. We can be happier. We can, you know, grow in our relationship with (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Yes, but when you say God now, do you think that there is a God looking down on Joel right now...

J. OSTEEN: I do.

KING: ...saying I'm going to give Joel a good day?

J. OSTEEN: I do. I believe God's concerned about every part of our life. People kind of give me a hard time because I say, you know what? God wants you to -- to help you find a good parking spot or help you to, you know, have a good day. But I believe God will be involved in as much of our lives as we allow him to.

KING: How can he do that with all the people in the world?

J. OSTEEN: Well, because he's God. He's so much bigger than us. I mean his -- our minds are, you know, nothing compared to his. But, you know, the scripture talks about it -- if you believe the bible -- that God knows the number of hair on our head. He knows our thoughts before we speak them. And, you know, we comprehend that. And I know in the natural (ph), it doesn't make sense. But that's what faith is all about.

KING: That's what faith is (INAUDIBLE)...

J. OSTEEN: It really is.

KING: Because that's harping (ph). That's almost impossible to comprehend unless you believe.

J. OSTEEN: Yes, it is. But you've got to believe, too, that we were made -- you know, if our mind is, you know, one trillionth the size of God's -- or even less than that, it's just -- we've experienced it.

KING: Are you a pastor now or an author?

J. OSTEEN: Oh, I think I'm, number one, a minister. You know, the books and doing the television is a byproduct of that. But my calling, I believe, is to minister to people and these are different avenues to help them.

KING: This looks like -- and if you read chapters -- a self-help book. Lots of advice for improving life. Major emphasis on like positive thinking. That is not new.

But is it new the way you express it?

J. OSTEEN: I think it just comes out of each person different. I don't think, like you said, a lot of the principles are not new. But somehow God makes us all individually, even though there's been billions of people that have lived. And I think it comes out a different way. I present the same bible truths that my dad did and many other people down to the generations. But, again, I think God uses our personality and, you know, maybe the youth -- and just different things and different ways to express it.

KING: But he isn't mentioned on the cover.


KING: And it doesn't even say you're a pastor.


J. OSTEEN: No, it doesn't. But you know what?

My goal is to get outside the church walls.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got to go see Joel Osteen. (INAUDIBLE) to go.

J. OSTEEN: I'm glad you all came.


J. OSTEEN: To reach people that normally wouldn't go to church or normally wouldn't think about God. Or, hey, I'm not a religious person. And that's about half the mail we get. It starts with Joel...

KING: Really?

J. OSTEEN: Yes, "Joel, I never watch a TV preacher, almost, and I've never been to church". Or maybe, "I went to church 20 years ago, but, you know, I just -- I fell away."

So, no, I don't think you have to shove it down people's throat. You have to just present it to them. Just, you know what?

The bible is full of common sense that can help us in our everyday lives.

KING: Victoria, when Joel is criticized for not being the pastor who hangs the cross behind him, how do you react?

V. OSTEEN: Well, I just look at all the fruit and all the people's lives that are being changed and are being touched. And that's what we really focus on, because we hear -- every day we get mail, we visit with people and their lives are being changed. And I just think, you know, if they would come in, they'd hear our message, they'd see what's going on. I just believe that they wouldn't have that criticism.

KING: Could an atheist be changed?

J. OSTEEN: I think so. I think...

KING: Without having to believe in God?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think there's a void in every person that only God can fill -- that only God can fill. I think that's how you can really be fulfilled, truly. So I would think an atheist can be changed and their attitude in certain things. But I think if you come to a belief that there's something bigger than yourself, you're going to be more fulfilled.

KING: How about your profile?

Continued -- last year Barbara Walters had you as one of the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006.

How do you think all this happened to you?

Do you think it's because you have a special TV personality?

J. OSTEEN: Oh, I don't think so.

KING: You come across, obviously.

J. OSTEEN: Well, I don't know, Larry. I hate to take too much credit for it. I think a lot of it goes back to my parents -- the seeds they've sewn -- that they've sewn into my life. They were faithful through the years and when I took my father's church and my mom's church, they had spent 40, 50 years there building. And so I stepped into something with a beautiful facility and, you know, just a lot of opportunity in front of me.

So I don't know, I think a lot of it is God rewarding my parents. I think, sure, God gives you personality and, you know, ways to reach people. But I never knew I had this. Eight years ago, I never dreamed I would be doing this.

KING: You know how -- it happened because your father died?

J. OSTEEN: Well, it did. I worked behind-the-scenes for 17 years and I did the television production, behind-the-scenes work. And I was comfortable back there. My father tried to get me to preach for 17 years a thousand times. I said, daddy, I'm not a preacher. I don't know how to talk in front of people.

KING: Did you get married when he was doing that?

V. OSTEEN: We've been married 20 years.

KING: Oh, so you were...

V. OSTEEN: So we've been...

KING: So you were behind-the-scenes?

V. OSTEEN: Right. Yes, we've been married, yes, through the whole thing.

KING: So what happened?

V. OSTEEN: But I always saw it in him, so I always knew he could do it. He just didn't know it.


J. OSTEEN: Yes, she saw it. She warned me that I -- well, what happened, Larry, is when my -- five days before my father died -- of course, we didn't know he was going to die. He asked me if I would speak for him. I hadn't spoken in 36 years. But somehow, down in here, I knew I was supposed to do it. And I spoke that Sunday morning. And I just -- I did my best. I was scared to death.

But five days later, he died at 77. And he wasn't really in poor health. So, you know, we were shocked and saddened. I mean it was my dad. But all of a sudden I had this desire that I was supposed to pastor the church. And I know it doesn't make sense. It seems naive. Sometimes it almost seems foolish saying it. But I just -- you know how sometimes you just know that you know. I thought this is my time. I'm supposed to take over this. And I'd never been to seminary. I had never done any of that. But, you know, look what happened.

KING: Joel Osteen. His wife is Victoria Osteen. The book is Become A Better You: Seven Keys To Improving Your Life Every Day," published by Free Press.

And we'll be right back.


J. OSTEEN: The prophet Joel said, "Wake up the mighty man." I believe I'm looking at the mighty men and women of God today. You are full of strength, full of wisdom, full of can-do power. There is nothing in your destiny, nothing in your future that you cannot accomplish.




V. OSTEEN: See now, but you give us a feeling of being calm. So we're just going to act like we're in Lakewood.

Is that OK with you all?

And we'll have a good old nice little service right here in the Big Apple.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: We're back with the Osteens.

The book is Become A Better You".

"Church Report" magazine has recognized you as the most influential Christian in America. Some call you a spiritual rock star.

How do you react to stuff like that?

That's heady.

J. OSTEEN: Yes, I don't think about it. I don't think about it. I don't -- I don't...

KING: Do you think you're the most important, influential Christian in America?

J. OSTEEN: No, I really don't. I think there are so many other people that are older and more experienced that have done -- that have done a lot more. But, you know, I don't tend to dwell on that.

KING: Has this changed him, Victoria?

V. OSTEEN: It has not.

KING: Has not?

V. OSTEEN: It is amazing. It hasn't. He's really -- his responsibility, his seriousness, yes. You know, it takes a lot to do what he's doing. He make it look easy, but, really, he works very hard. But as far as his personality, what he thinks about himself, I really think he's done a great job to just stay a family -- a family man, a good husband.

KING: It hasn't gone to his head?

V. OSTEEN: Really it has not. No. I'd keep him straight if it had.


KING: In your book, you quote the prophet Joel.

There was a prophet Joel?


KING: I didn't know that.


KING: All right. From the Old Testament saying, "Wake up the mighty men."


KING: Are you Joel?

J. OSTEEN: No, I don't think I am. But I think there are many mighty men and women of God that are living below that are potential -- that God has put so much more in them. Even like me not being able -- thinking that I could ever do this and I'm sitting with you here today. There's -- God's put gifts and talent in all of us that we don't even realize we have. And that's -- that's what I feel my whole calling is, is to empower people to become all God's created them to be.

KING: Do you feel -- I know you know him -- the next Billy Graham?

J. OSTEEN: I don't feel like that.

KING: Because Billy traveled more, speaking, right?

J. OSTEEN: He did. He was more of a...

KING: He didn't have a church.

J. OSTEEN: That's correct. That's correct. But...

KING: Do you feel in his...

J. OSTEEN: No, I feel -- you know, of course, I love and respect Billy Graham. He's one of my heroes. And I don't think anybody can replace him. I mean he's a legend. If I can have some of the influence that he had and help people and make the world a better place, I certainly hope to follow him that way.

KING: Victoria, how have the children taken to all of this?

V. OSTEEN: Well, you know, they -- when Joel's father passed away, my son was 3-and-a-half and my daughter was a-month-old. So they've kind of just grown up in it. And, you know, we don't -- we try to be just as normal as possible. The truth is we just have a normal life, because we do have a church where our children are growing up pastor's children. And we just try to keep it really normal.


J. OSTEEN: You all ready?

Hut, hut, hut.


KING: Do you like recognition?

V. OSTEEN: If people are talking good, I do.


V. OSTEEN: You know, if -- we hear so many times people saying how, you know, they've been ministered to and changed. Yes, that is so good to hear. It's amazing. We still stand in awe. I mean it's just like, I don't know, God, we're just -- we feel like the same people doing the same thing and...

KING: Yours is a mega church, Joel. I mean it may be the mega church.

Why did you want it so big?

J. OSTEEN: Well, we never really did, Larry. We started -- my father's auditorium held 8,000 people and it started filling up. There was no room to put more people in. Our whole belief -- and I think a lot of people's -- is that you're not supposed to turn people away from the church. And so there wasn't any more room. We never said oh, let's go build a big church so people will think we're successful. It's not about that. It's just for helping more people.

And so when the Compaq Center opened up, it was just a natural fit.

KING: That's -- it was the former home of the Houston Rockets.

J. OSTEEN: Yes, that's correct.

KING: So you're a basketball star...


KING: a sense, I mean...

J. OSTEEN: I'm a fan, anyway.

KING: Where do all of the people come from?

I mean they can't just be Houstonians.

J. OSTEEN: Well, they're all -- they come from all walks of life. They come from all over. Every weekend people fly in from all over the world. I met somebody there that flew in just from Korea Sunday to be in the service.

And I said why did you come?

He said, we just wanted to see you.

It's sort of, you know, I say this humbly, it's sort of a phenomenon to see 15,000 people come together in worship. And it's exciting and so...

KING: And it's seen in 100 countries, right?

J. OSTEEN: It's seen all over the world. Yes, sir.

KING: How do you react to the critics who call your message theology lite?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I've heard that before. It's interesting, Larry, every week in our services we deal with people that are -- have children that have cancer, people that have a husband or a wife that left them. We deal with the real issues of life. I talk about forgiveness and how to have faith when bad things happen and, you know, how to overcome and, you know, love your enemies and things like that.

So when they say it's gospel lite, I think, you know, we're helping people where the rubber meets the road.

I mean last Sunday, there was a little girl there. She was 2- years-old. She has cancer. She's at our MD Anderson Cancer Hospital.

And you know what?

We give them hope. We pray for them. We say God's going to give you strength. I mean we don't know exactly what the outcome is going to be. We hope they -- we hope she'll live.

But, you know, how can that be gospel lite to me?

That's why I come back to saying I'm helping people.

KING: How do you feel about it, Victoria?

V. OSTEEN: Oh, I just think to -- they feel our compassion and love for them. And I think in times of crisis, you want someone speaking, you know, hope. You want them to know you care. And I think they find great comfort in God's peace and there's just a peace there that just -- they need.

KING: Well, you've obviously affected a lot of people.

The lack of formal biblical study, you did a brief stint at Oral Roberts University, right?

J. OSTEEN: Yes, sir.

KING: All right, a critic -- this quote to -- from Reverend Robert Liichow: "Joel Osteen has absolutely no biblical training or experience to be a pastor. Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you because he felt that he should be called a surgeon?"

J. OSTEEN: Well, I would think two things, Larry.

One, I spent -- I grew up in a preacher's home. I spent 17 years working with my father. The second thing is the disciples that Jesus chose -- his main 12 -- one was a fisherman, a tax collector. They didn't have any formal training, as well. The bible says that God chooses people that, you know, are not the most educated or the smartest, to confound other people. So I don't know. It's interesting to me that...

KING: So you are not reverend?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I am reverend. I am reverend. You don't have to necessarily be -- go into seminary to be a reverend. But I am -- I'm a reverend from our church. But, I am.


No crosses on display at your church.

J. OSTEEN: Yes...

KING: The only church that I know -- the Mormons don't display crosses.

J. OSTEEN: Well, Victoria grew up Church of Christ. They didn't, either. It's never -- I mean, Larry, our whole message is the fact Jesus came, he died on the cross, he rose that we might have an abundant life. So that's all that we stand for. People asked me that 50 years ago when my dad started a church. Instead of a cross, he put a world map behind him, because my father's passion was to reach every person all over the world. So, you know, we've had a globe for years. And when we -- I just continued the tradition.

KING: It makes sense to me.

The Osteens are with us.

The book is "Become A Better You" from Free Press.

Don't go away.


JESSE BARFIELD, 88 MLB HOME RUN CHAMP: We've been coming to Lakewood probably about 25 years now. Right after we got married, and my wife and I -- we've known Joel. We played basketball. You know, we work out together. And we remember him when he met Victoria, saying, I think I've found the one.

What one?

And, boy, what a great, dynamic couple they are.




J. OSTEEN: Know this -- the enemy always fights you the hardest when he knows God has something right in store. When the bottom falls out, it looks like you hit an all time low and it couldn't get any worse, you don't know what God has around the corner. That's not the time to get bitter. That's not the time to get negative. That's the time to put your shoulders back and just boldly declare it -- my time is coming. I am a victor and not a victim.


KING: The book is Become A Better You" -- three million first printing.

What do you make of these questions involving Richard Roberts?

I know you went to Oral Roberts. You know Richard.

J. OSTEEN: Yes, sir.

KING: The questions about his mishandling of funds...

J. OSTEEN: Yes. Well, I know Richard and Lindsay, not real well, but what I know of them, they're fine, respectable people -- great leaders. And the only thing I've read is one article that talked about it. And I choose to believe the best, that maybe it's just a little more sour grapes, because they seem to be fine people to me.

KING: He's been on this show. He's a good guest. He's very vibrant, like his father.

J. OSTEEN: He's a great guy and a great minister, as well.

KING: What about the critics who say where is the fire and brimstone?

Why don't you pound the lectern -- the devil is coming?

J. OSTEEN: Yes, you know, I don't know, Larry. It's just, you know, it's different ways to present it. The gospel is translated good news. And to me, good news is letting people know that God loves them, that Jesus came, that we can overcome any obstacle, that we can -- we can be forgiven for our mistakes. And I don't see how beating people down every, you know, every time they get in front of me how that helps them to grow closer to God.

And so, you know, there's a scripture that says it's the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. And even though we don't beat people down, we see thousands of people come to know the Lord.

KING: What's your notion of hell?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I believe hell is a real place. I think it's -- you know, the scripture talks about it's separation from God. And I think -- I believe if God as light and love and everything good, then hell's going to be everything bad. I mean we certainly do not want to go there and I don't think hell was designed for people.

KING: You think there's life after death?

J. OSTEEN: I do. I believe we're all going to live on, that we're a spirit. This body -- I like to think of it as just like my coat. There's something on the inside of me that's making this thing move. And I'm -- the real me is on the inside. So I do believe we'll live on.

KING: Do you think there's too much emphasis on me in the church, you know, what some call the prosperity gospel?

And you're -- you're going to make money. You're going to be well. You're going to do good.

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think there needs to be a balance. I think there has been and there can be. But I think the whole prosperity thing is, you know, if somebody asks do I believe God wants you to be well and happy and whole and have good relationships and have beautiful children, my answer would be yes. Because I'm a father and I want the best for my children. I don't want to spoil them. And I'm not talking about, you know, all this money. But I want them to have a good life.

Well, God is our heavenly father. And I do think some people take it -- you know, some people can blow anything out of proportion. It's not all about money. I mean we all know people who have all the money in the world but can't sleep at night. So it's about -- I do believe God wants you to be blessed and he wants you to increase. He wants you to be successful in your career. God never wanted us to drag through life.

KING: Does he ever get mad?

V. OSTEEN: Not really. He's good about, you know, keeping his anger

KING: Does he ever yell?


V. OSTEEN: He never -- no, he never yells. I mean I'm sure he gets frustrated. I mean...

KING: Do you have arguments?

V. OSTEEN: No, not really. He doesn't argue. It's hard to argue with someone that won't argue with you.

KING: It's the worst.

V. OSTEEN: But I know -- I mean I know what makes him frustrated. So, you know, I know he does get frustrated.

He's human, you know?

KING: Is he a tough father?

V. OSTEEN: No, not really. He's a good father. He's a firm father. He's -- he disciplines our children. But he does it always in love. And, you know, that's his personality. The message that you hear is coming from who he is.

KING: How old are the kids?

V. OSTEEN: Twelve and 8. The little boy is 12 and then eight.

KING: According to the bible, Jesus said, "It's hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven."

How do you square that with your lifestyle?

Do you think you may not get in because you're doing too well?

J. OSTEEN: No, I don't think so. I think you have to take...

KING: I'm only quoting Jesus.

J. OSTEEN: I know. No, no. I think you have to take the whole context. When he's quoting that, I believe that man's focus was all about the money. But it depends on where your heart is. I mean the scripture says it's the love of money that's the root of all evil. We didn't do this for money. And I don't think that you can say, if somebody is wealthy, boy, then, you know, they're not going to heaven or God must not love them.

Abraham -- way back where Christianity was started, it said he was the wealthiest man in all the East. And I think David left the equivalent of a billion dollars to his son since -- Solomon -- to build the temple. I almost didn't know it.


J. OSTEEN: I should have gone to seminary. No (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: We'll take a break and we'll come back and we'll ask Joel Osteen if maybe Britney Spears ought to read this book.

Don't go away.


J. OSTEEN: All right, let's go. Let's go. Let's (INAUDIBLE).


J. OSTEEN: Come on. Oh, there she goes!




V. OSTEEN: Reality TV is to popular because it allows so many people to sit on the sidelines and just watch somebody else's life. God is saying, don't sit on the sidelines of life. I have put so much in you, but you have got to be strong and very courageous. You have got to step out in faith. You have got to get out of the boat and keep your eyes on me.

Don't sit on the sidelines. Life is going by, and I've got purpose in you.


KING: The book is "Become a Better You: Seven Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day". It's published by Free Press, and three million first printing. That's the most ever in that publishing company's history.

Our guests are Joel Osteen, its author, and his wife Victoria.

And, OK, would Britney Spears be helped by this book? What do you make of that whole -- that culture thing?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think it's easy to get delusioned maybe is the word just with all of that fame and notoriety at such an early age. And sure, I think Britney Sears can be helped by that -- by this book.

I think anybody could because it's the principles of the bible. And I think that she's -- these are good people at heart. And they just need some good guidance and good people speaking into their lives.

They have got so much pressure and so much, you know, confusion in their lives. But, you know, anybody -- anybody can come up higher, and I believe she can come out of this and still live a great life.

KING: Yes. That's what many think, that this whole group, these youngsters, are basically good.

V. OSTEEN: Oh, yes.

J. OSTEEN: Oh, yes.

KING: They've just had too much, too soon.

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think so. I know Britney's been to church before. I've heard reports. And I believe down deep they love the lord. It's just, you know, things pull you away, and it's easy to make bad decisions in life.

V. OSTEEN: That's why it's so important to, you know, surround yourself with people who can speak good things into in your life. And that's one of the things Joel tells the congregation when he gives, you know, an altar call every Sunday.

He says, you know what? Bring your friends to church. Don't let them pull you down.

You know, call them up, and you bring them to church. So, you know, it is important. And that's what we talk about all the time, get around good people. It influences your life.

KING: Do you think if Jesus were alive today he would be running a 19,000-seat church in Houston?

J. OSTEEN: I don't know what he would be doing, but I don't think he would be opposed to it. I mean, when Jesus was on the Earth, he had thousands follow him, and he spoke to, you know, 5,000 and 10,000 people. So I don't think that it would -- I think he would be open to anything to get his message of hope and forgiveness out. KING: One thing you say in the book, that God didn't create us to be average.


KING: Explain that.

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think that, you know, we're -- I call it children of almighty God. He doesn't want us to drag through life and just be average and be mediocre.

And I'm not -- again, I'm not talking about money or anything like that. I'm talking about in our attitudes, in our relationships, in our health. I just think that God wants us to be excellent in everything that we do and he wants us to be leaders. He wants us to be great examples.

He wants us to have peace even when we are having tough times. He wants us to have a smile even when people aren't treating us right. And that's not being average. It's being -- I call it the difference between being a thermostat or a thermometer.

A thermometer just measures the temperature in the room and, you know, fits in with everybody else. But we're supposed to be a thermostat. When we go to work, we're supposed to cheer the place up and bring hope and peace.

KING: How does the church raise money?

J. OSTEEN: We raise money by taking offerings every service. We believe that the bible talks about tithing. That's 10 percent of your income, and people give. People that watch us on television send money to the ministry.

KING: You don't have to give to go to the service?

J. OSTEEN: No, you don't have to give. And, in fact, we never ask for money on television.

When we started way back with my father back in 1983, we made the decision not to -- not to do that. Not that that's wrong, but I didn't want to do anything that would turn people off, because I know people are skeptical anyway.

KING: You write about people giving up in your book...


KING: ... and that people shouldn't give up. What about those that just say, I have really had it, you know?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think there's always another chance. I mean, we have seen it so many times throughout the years there at the ministry.

When people were down at their -- you wouldn't -- I mean, they almost talked me out of there being any hope. But God always has another chance.

I believe God is in control. We have seen people have untimely deaths in their family members, and all we could do is weep with them. But somehow God can give you the peace and give you a new beginning. That's what it's all about.

KING: When Paris Hilton was on this show, she says she read the bible when in jail. Do you think she learned from it?

J. OSTEEN: I bet she did. I mean, God has a way of speaking to you at just the right time. I mean, you never know what scripture popped out at us -- popped out at her.

Many times I have opened the bible, and I think, boy, I needed that. Just a word of encouragement that, you know, God's going to protect me or things like that.

KING: Do you think, Victoria, we are as a society too obsessed with celebrity culture?

V. OSTEEN: Well, yes. I think a lot of times we look at the wrong examples.

I think -- yes, I think we should be more -- not so interested in just celebrity for celebrity's sake. I love celebrities. I love their talents. I love the gifts that God's put in them to make movies. But as far as looking just for the sake of really getting into people's lives or just -- you know, that's another thing.

Yes. Or just, you know...

KING: We are obsessed with it, though?


J. OSTEEN: I think we are. And I think one of the things that's difficult is, it seems like we like to build people up just to see them fall. And so I think that's what a lot of times happens with some of these people. It's just a matter of time.

Everybody is going to make mistakes. And I don't mean major ones. But, boy, then it gets to be where it's just, you know, look what so and so did today. And look where she went last night. And it's just -- I think we're obsessed with it.

KING: You say in the book "Stay in a healthy environment. Don't hang out with negative people."

That's hard to choose sometimes.

J. OSTEEN: Well, it is. It is. And I think I clarified in it there are some things -- you may be married to a negative person. But I'm talking about when you can choose -- you know, the environment you put yourself in is what you're going to become like.

And I always tell people, if you want to know what you're going to be like five years from now, look at the people you're hanging around with. Because more often than not, they rub off on you.

And that's why I encourage people to get around successful people, healthy people. You can't run around with somebody that runs around on their spouse and think that you're never going to do it.

You have got to stay with people that are going places and people that are successful. I mean, I really think that's the number one thing that see pulls people off course, is they're running with the wrong crowd. You can't go every day and be with the wrong people and expect to go where God wants to you go.

V. OSTEEN: Make the right choices.

KING: We'll be right back with Joel and Victoria. The book is "Become a Better You."

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with the Osteens. The book is "Become a Better You".

What's the biggest things that hold people back?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I don't if there's one thing. The biggest things I think is not having your priorities right, not taking time for God. Once you get past that, I think our attitudes and the way we think.

I really believe many people's own thinking keeps them in mediocrity. They don't think of themselves as attractive or talented, or they think negative thoughts.

There's so many people that get up today and think, this is going to be a lousy day and I don't have anything going my way. And I believe that just draws that in to you.

KING: You believe you make your own day.

J. OSTEEN: I believe you can make it.

KING: If you wake up with the opposite attitude you'll have a good day?

J. OSTEEN: Oh, I think so. I think you draw it in.

KING: Now, some people live, though, in very difficult circumstances -- poverty, in crime-ridden neighborhoods. Aren't there limitations to the message?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think there's -- there's no limitations to God. He can do anything. I do think people, like you said, that are in poverty and are in much more difficult situations, facing a sickness, you know, it's different. You've got to -- it's a tough choice that day to say, you know what? I'm going to choose to believe that God's still in control.

And that's what I talk about in the book, about embracing where you are. I mean, there's sometimes -- you know, we have difficulties and challenges, but you've got to believe that God's still in control of your life and that somehow he's going to make something good out of it.

KING: What's your recipe, Victoria, for a successful home life?

V. OSTEEN: Well, what we try to do is just spend time with each other.


V. OSTEEN: Oh, she's got the hiccups. Look at her.


V. OSTEEN: And spend time with our children. And what we do is we really prioritize our time. We don't do a lot of things outside so that we can make time for our family.

And it's over, you know, sacrifices. And people say, well, it's all so easy. This isn't easy, but it's worth it. You know, it's worth spending time with your kids, it's worth sacrificing right now, because our kids aren't always going to be this age.

KING: No, they're not.

V. OSTEEN: And we're going to have time to do a lot of things that we're not doing now. So we really try to make time for each other.

KING: You smile all the time. I noticed that, Joel.

J. OSTEEN: I've been told that.


I asked her, I'll ask you. What upsets you? What's something that bugs you?

J. OSTEEN: Oh...

KING: Come on. There's got to be something.

J. OSTEEN: Oh, there's things that bug me. But I never dwell on them, Larry. I just don't dwell on them. I guess -- I guess, you know, things that concern me.

KING: Does prejudice bug you?

J. OSTEEN: Oh, yes, all that, absolutely. That, the situation in -- you know, over seas with AIDS. I mean, certainly that bothers me. Just the poverty in our own country, that bothers me.

A lot of things like that.

KING: Do you ever take a political stand? Do you ever discuss Iraq?

J. OSTEEN: I never do. Not -- not in that sense.

We discuss it in the fact that we pray. Many of our members have family members that are over there and family members that they've lost. So, in that sense, we just do our best to support our president, whether we agree or not.

I mean, we don't agree with anybody 100 percent, but we get behind them. We believe God puts the leadership there. And -- but we don't -- I don't take positions like that.

KING: Because?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think a lot of times it's going to divide the people that I'm trying to reach. Because not everybody, you know -- in a church like ours, with all of the diversity, you have got Democrats, Republicans, people that are for the war, people that can't stand the war. And I'm not there to solve all those issues. I'm here to give them hope and keep them pointed toward Christ.

KING: How do you feel about Mitt Romney and being a Mormon? Would that affect whether you vote for him or not?

J. OSTEEN: Well, you know what? I look at people, their character, their values, what they stand for. And I know only Mitt from watching him on your program and reading a couple of articles about him. And I don't think that that would affect me.

I've heard him say that he believes Jesus is his savior, just like I do. I've studied it deeply, and maybe people don't agree with me, but I like to look at a person's value and what they stand for.

KING: What do you guys like to do not church-related? Are you basketball fans? Are you...


KING: Are you -- the Astros?

J. OSTEEN: Yes. We love the Astros. They're good friends there. We love sports.

We love -- we go for a walk probably every night. We like to be outdoors, play with our kids, go swimming.


KING: Drink?

J. OSTEEN: No, we don't drink. No, we don't drink. I never have.

KING: Smoke?

J. OSTEEN: No, never have. I've never -- you know, a lot of preachers' kids went the rebellious side, but I never did that. I never drank or smoked a cigarette. I'm so boring, Larry. No, I'm so clean.

KING: Victoria, why are you married to him?

V. OSTEEN: Well, because he's so wonderful. No, really, he is wonderful. And he's who he has always been. He's a fun guy. Believe it or not, he's a fun guy.

KING: He's a fun guy.

V. OSTEEN: He may say he's boring, but he's fun. I don't think you need to do all of that to have excitement in your life.

KING: We will be right back with Joel and Victoria on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: There's not much to making a child feel good about him and herself except saying, "You can do it. That's correct."




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going through a time of transition right now, and the message really hit our heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can take what he's talking about in church and I can apply it to my day-to-day life. And so this has -- this has truly, truly been a blessing for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have read his book a lot in Korea and all of my family are his big fans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been listening to Joel in Nigeria on TV. And (INAUDIBLE).


KING: We are back with Joel Osteen and Victoria Osteen. The book is "Become a Better You".

Do you have a stand -- I know you don't get into controversial issues -- on abortion?

J. OSTEEN: I'm not for abortion. I don't crusade against it. But I'm for every child having a chance.

KING: So you're a right to life?

J. OSTEEN: I am. I am.

In August, your brother-in-law, Reverend Gary Simons, pastor at another Texas church, stood behind the church's decision to retract an offer to host a memorial service for a gay man. The deceased gay man was a Navy veteran who served in the Gulf War.


J. OSTEEN: Well, my brother-in-law, Gary and April, are some of the most finest, most loving, caring people you'll ever meet. The situation, Gary and April would have done that funeral in a million years if they would have let Gary and April conduct the funeral. But they wanted to bring an outside source in to do the funeral, and they just didn't feel that was right. But they've buried many people who were homosexuals, and...


KING: Is this your brother?

J. OSTEEN: It's my sister.

KING: Your sister's husband?

J. OSTEEN: That's right.

KING: So, in other words, he would have been happy to do this?

J. OSTEEN: He would have been happy to do it. They went -- they provided food for 100. They made a video for him.

It was -- it was kind of -- got out of control. I think it wasn't reported exactly correct in the media, in that Gary would have happily done it. They have done other funerals before for people that are homosexuals, but they wanted to come take over the church and do it themselves.

KING: Do you have any particular position on -- I'm sure there's gay members of your church.

J. OSTEEN: Oh, I'm sure there are. Our church is open to anybody.

I mean, we are there to help them and give them encouragement and hope. I think the last thing we're supposed to do is put up walls and say, if you're not perfect, you can't come to my church.

KING: Because you know there are members of your church -- for example, the late Jerry Falwell was a classic example of someone who really raked at gays and lesbians.

J. OSTEEN: Yes. You know what? There are different callings. I can't fault anybody. I mean, I didn't know Jerry Falwell, but I believe I know his sons, and they are great people. But there are different callings for different things. I think sometimes, you know, God gives us different messages. But mine is about, you know, giving people hope and...

KING: Do you do services?

V. OSTEEN: I take a part of the services, yes. I do a five, 10- minute exhortation in every service.


V. OSTEEN: In fact, we have a choice of freedom of heart to follow God.


KING: On what kind of subject?

V. OSTEEN: Just anything. You know, just talk -- our basic core message, like he said, is just to bring hope and to just encourage people. And so I just take a scripture from the bible and just encourage them.

I, too, want every mind -- we pray for the families and pray for the children. And just encourage families.

KING: What did you think of the late Tammy Faye?

J. OSTEEN: Oh, I really liked her. I didn't know her well, believe it or not. Yes, she was a ball of joy and hope. And I loved her spirit. And just, we prayed for her often.

V. OSTEEN: She's a prime example of just keeping the word in your heart and to keep pushing on. And it may not be perfect all the time, but I would definitely say, she died in faith.

KING: Boy, did she.

V. OSTEEN: And there's something to be said about that.

KING: Do you minister to the poor?

J. OSTEEN: Oh, we do. We do.

We have outreaches in our church. We support local outreaches as well. I mean, that's what the gospel is all about, helping others that are less fortunate.

And so that is one of our favorite things to do. I love to talk about -- you know, a lot of times we talk about getting a miracle, but we should be somebody's miracle. I believe every day we can be somebody's hope and joy.

KING: You're an incredible optimist. He's incredible.

V. OSTEEN: Yes, he is. He's a wonderful inspiration. Absolutely. And we need that. We need that in our lives. It's easy to go the other direction.

KING: Yes.

V. OSTEEN: And so it's good to have someone who can really give you that hope.

KING: We will be right back with Joel Osteen and Victoria Osteen. The book "Become a Better You."

Our remaining moments right after this.


J. OSTEEN: When you get up in the morning, don't just start out 90-0. Listen to the birds sing. Pause a few minutes to watch the sun coming over the horizon.

When you hear the little footsteps of your children coming down the stairs, take that in. Let it bring a smile to your face. We can't get so busy and so preoccupied in our minds that we're missing out on these special moments.



KING: We're back with the Osteens.

Is this -- is this true, that you once exhorted women in the audience to shop at Victoria's Secret to help their marriage?

J. OSTEEN: Oh, well, that was -- that's probably true. I think the whole...

KING: That's why you're smiling all the time.

J. OSTEEN: OK. OK. I hope it was in a good context, though. I mean, I wasn't -- it's too much to explain now, but yes I did.

V. OSTEEN: Yes, he was encouraging women. He was encouraging women to take careful themselves.


V. OSTEEN: And to not go around in their old, you know, bathrobes, and that they could add that spark to their home. And I think that was great.

KING: What's wrong with that?

J. OSTEEN: No, there's nothing. And that was my point, don't go look good and dress up to go to work and dress up to go to event for everybody else. Dress up for your own husband. I mean, look good at home.

KING: What ever happened to your lawsuit with an altercation on the airplane?

V. OSTEEN: It's still pending.

KING: They are suing you?


KING: Are you completely right in that?

V. OSTEEN: Absolutely. I'm very right and very confident.

KING: Are you getting close to trial?


KING: The scholar and author Chris Hitchens has a book out called "God is Not Great." He catalogs numerous examples of terrible things done in the name of religion, including Christianity.

I don't know if you've read the book.

J. OSTEEN: I haven't.

KING: What's your reaction, though, when God gets a bad name? There has been more people killed by religion than any other thing.

J. OSTEEN: It's been going on for centuries. Well, it's just like you said, God gets a bad name, and there are -- I think there are extremists in any group.

And, you know, we're not for that. We're for loving our enemies and helping people. But, you know, I -- you can fault anything. But a lot of times, it's extremists.

KING: You're working on books for children?

V. OSTEEN: I am. I'm working on some books, just to bring good lessons to children. Team work, you know, that they believe in themselves, self-esteem.

KING: When things go bad, like in the world or bad news stories, how do you react? When there's a suicide bombing in Iraq?

J. OSTEEN: Yes. You know, it's just difficult.

I mean, the scripture teaches us that there's going to be crazy things happening in the latter times. And so you've just got to still believe that God's in control.

And I think part of faith, Larry, is you don't understand it all. I don't understand the tsunami and the kids that are born with bad diseases and stuff. You just have to say, God, even though I don't understand it, I'm going to trust you.

KING: Osteens, it's always great seeing you. We look forward to it every time you're with us.

J. OSTEEN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: The book is "Become a Better You: Seven Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day."

Joel Osteen with us, his wife. He's the author of the number one "New York Times" bestseller, "Your Best Life Now".

Anderson Cooper and "AC 360" is next.