HOUSTON, Tx. – Joel Osteen, the fifty-two year-old Senior Pastor at Houston’s non-denominational Lakewood Church, announced during a special sermon Sunday that he intends to run for president of the United States on the 2016 ticket as an Independent.
With a weekly attendance of just over forty-three thousand parishioners and an online audience totaling well over seven million, Pastor Osteen is no stranger to the spotlight. “God wants to heal America,” Osteen proclaimed before an enthusiastic congregation Sunday, “But in order to do it, he needs your help.”
Osteen, who has decided to run as an Independent for “moral reasons,” has been described as a charismatic leader who delivers a “message of positivity and redemption.” The son of a Baptist minister, Osteen believes the bulk of the issues facing Americans today can be solved through prayer. “I encourage people, even unbelievers, to turn to God,” Osteen said, adding, “He is the creator. He has a purpose for us.”
Pastor Osteen said if elected in 2016, one of his first orders of business will be to extend an invitation to the leaders of the Islamic State, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to join him for lunch at the White House. “I want to take these guys and say, ‘Look, we have our differences and let’s not forget that. But let’s also look at what God gave us. Let’s be thankful for what we have.”
Osteen said he’s confident that after a face-to-face meeting, al-Baghdadi and other extremists will lay down their weapons and embrace a positive change in their lifestyle. “Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life,” Osteen said. “Deep down, [al-Baghdadi] wants to be happy. He wants to lead a fulfilling life. He may not yet know it, but it’s not so far out of reach.”
Joel Osteen, who officially filed his candidacy with the FEC last week, is already climbing in the polls despite having only just entered the race. According to a Gallup poll released Thursday morning, Pastor Osteen is nearly neck and neck with Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintains a strong lead for the Democrats while former reality TV star Donald Trump continues to hold steady for the GOP, despite a recent call from the billionaire entrepreneur to ban Muslims from entering the United States.