Of the many paths to fame outside the traditional Hollywood route, televangelism is one of the most lucrative. Pastor Joel Osteen is near the top of the heap of faith leaders who got mega-rich running their megachurches. Of course, that’s not why Osteen does what he does, but there’s no denying the fact that the Texas pastor has quite the following, and not just the tens of thousands of people who attend his Lakewood Church services every Sunday. With over four million followers on Instagram, and multiple television shows airing weekly, Osteen has touched the lives of a lot of people.
Of course, there are plenty of people who aren’t fans of Osteen and his sometimes-controversial teachings. On top of embracing the prosperity gospel, which critics claim is exploitative and greedy, Osteen also attracted some hate for temporarily refusing to offer Lakewood Church as a shelter for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. But on the flip side of that coin, there are plenty who have looked to Osteen for guidance — some of whom are very famous. These are the celebs who (figuratively) worship at the altar of Joel Osteen.
Kanye West is an interesting fan of the pastor
Kanye West is obviously a controversial figure in American pop culture. The “Black Skinhead” rapper has practically built his entire career on getting people talking. Whether it’s interrupting a teenage girl’s acceptance speech, putting on an interesting performance, or endorsing a highly-contentious president, West is no stranger to conflict. But since West started his own Sunday Service in 2019, he has started to embrace his own faith more and more, which led to an appearance with Joel Osteen at his church in Texas.
West and Osteen have grown closer since West’s religious awakening, and TMZ even reported that before the coronavirus pandemic, West was set to perform an encore show with Osteen at an even bigger venue, Yankee Stadium. But the fact that the rapper and pastor have collaborated shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, as both figures have one undeniable thing in common: they love the spotlight.
Speaking with Good Morning America, however, Osteen explained that the unlikely pair’s connection in now deeper than that. “You know, Kanye’s had a turn of events in the last year or so, and I got a text from him, and we just struck up a conversation and a friendship,” he said. Osteen and West may seem like an odd couple, but clearly, the dynamic works. The video of Osteen and West’s intense conversation at Lakewood Church has over 2 million views on YouTube, so people definitely love to see them together.
Mariah Carey has shown Joel Osteen her support
A lot of mainstream celebrities keep their religious or political affiliations quiet, if for not other reason than to avoid alienating fans with different beliefs. As such, paling around with someone like Joel Osteen could create controversy that could, in turn, affect the numbers at the box office or on the charts. However, Mariah Carey hasn’t shied away from supporting the megachurch pastor, and Osteen even told TMZ that he’s “known Mariah from years passed.” So really, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Carey went out of her way to perform for Osteen’s 2020 virtual Easter service.
Carey ended up singing her hit song “Hero,” which she dedicated to first-responders. “I want to take this time to acknowledge and honor the sacrifices of those who work every day taking care of their communities in this time of need and uncertainty. The heroes who are making our daily lives possible,” she said in the pre-recorded video for Osteen’s service. “Let’s continue to support them and each other.” Carey and Osteen might not be jetting off to go on vacations together, but the fact that Carey went out of her way to show Osteen support is some solid proof that the two have a strong relationship.
Tyler Perry went to bat for Joel Osteen
Tyler Perry’s spirituality is no secret. The multi-talented actor, writer, and director has made his faith the subject of much of his work. That said, it’s also probably not too shocking that Perry loves Joel Osteen, as the two have Christianity in common. But what might be shocking is just how much Perry admires Osteen, and the lengths he has gone to defend his friend.
When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas in 2017, Osteen was heavily criticized for temporarily refusing to let people take shelter at Lakewood Church. But Perry wasn’t going to let his friend be nailed to the cross for a sin he didn’t commit. In a Facebook video, Perry stood up for Osteen. “I know that there’s been some controversy about Joel Osteen and him not opening doors of the church,” Perry began. “Let me tell you something: Joel and Victoria are amazing people. There is no way they would lock people out of the church and not let people in for shelter.” Perry went on to cite that “there were some safety concerns” the Osteens had to take into consideration. Perry also explained he trusted Osteen so much, he was sending money to help with hurricane relief. “I’m sending $250,000 to Lakewood to make sure that they can get all the supplies that people need. I know that they will, I know for sure that they will, because that’s the kind of person he is.” Perry and Osteen are clearly tight.
Jimmy Fallon thinks Joel Osteen is funny
It might seem strange for a Texas pastor to be interviewed by Jimmy Fallon — you know, the same man who interviews actual celebrities for a living — but for Joel Osteen, it’s just another day in the life of a megachurch pastor. Osteen doesn’t live in California or attend a lot of Hollywood events, but he does get plenty of publicity, thanks in some part to Fallon.
In return, the pastor and author told his 22+ million Facebook followers that the late-night comedian is a “great guy!” But the affection isn’t one-sided. As it turns out, Fallon is pretty fond of Osteen as well. When Osteen appeared on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, the host gushed over him almost as if he was an A-list celebrity. “I felt so good — I feel so good — every time I watch you,” Fallon told Osteen, adding, “You put me in a good mood.” Later in the interview, Osteen told a pretty cheesy joke for Fallon, but Fallon loved it, and said, “That’s funny, that’s great!” Whether or not Fallon is as religious as Osteen, it’s clear that he loves the southern pastor. And with as much charm as Osteen has, who could blame him?
Kristen Chenoweth was a fan of Joel Osteen before working with him
Kristen Chenoweth is known for her big personality, gorgeous voice, and of course, her spirituality. Chenoweth has made it clear that she’s a woman of faith, telling Parade that she wants people to know that her version of “Christianity was based in love and tolerance and forgiveness and acceptance,” and that’s what she’s here for.
In a 2010 interview with The New York Times, Chenoweth described how she was a fan of Joel Osteen. “But Sundays are in my view God’s day, and I do try to do something to remember that,” she explained of her weekend plans. “There’s a minister out of Houston I like called Joel Osteen. If I’m going to Our Lady of Sealy Posturepedic in the morning, I’ll watch him at night.”
Ten years later, Chenoweth went from fan and follower to collaborator, when she got the chance to work with Osteen. In 2017, Chenoweth and Osteen teamed up for an animated take on the Christmas story, The Star. The film tells the journey of a group of animals who help with the birth of Jesus Christ. Osteen lent his voice to the project, playing the part of Caspar, while Chenoweth played Abby, a mouse. A total full circle moment if there ever was one.
Does Donald Trump low key love Joel Osteen?
Although Joel Osteen has remained somewhat apolitical over the years, he has maintained a friendship with Donald Trump. And that friendship has landed him in some pretty hot water.
In a 2015 interview on Fox News Talk Radio‘s Kilmeade & Friends, before Trump won the U.S. presidency, Osteen gave Trump a shout out. “Mr. Trump, he’s an incredible communicator and brander,” the pastor said, adding, “He’d been a friend to our ministry. He’s a good man.” Many took that as Osteen endorsing Trump, though his church clarified that he did not. “Pastor Joel Osteen has not endorsed any candidate for President of the United States,” the church website claimed, per the Christian Post.
Still, Osteen’s kind words about Trump were revealing. In 2019, Financial Times highlighted the link between Osteen and Norman Vincent Peale, the so-called “grandfather of the prosperity gospel.” Trump outwardly loved Peale, which the outlet translated to an inferred love of Osteen, however, Trump was allegedly keen that “any public association [with him] could damage Osteen.” So their relationship reportedly remains low key. One source even told the publication that Trump quietly invited Osteen to his NYC apartment and offered lavish gifts. “Trump took out a box of gold watches and said to Victoria: ‘Pick out any one you like,'” the source said. “Then he offered Joel any Trump tie he liked. He could not have been more charming.” Osteen and Trump may not be public BFFs, but their alleged history is interesting, to say the least.
Oprah Winfrey says Joel Osteen 'literally' changed her life
It’s only natural that two inspirational people would become friends. Such is the case with Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey. The pair of successful authors and inspirational speakers have had many conversations together, but it really all goes back to a certain sermon Osteen preached that changed Winfrey’s life.
In a video shared on Oprah’s OWN network, the talk-show-host-turned-mogul highlighted one of Osteen’s most popular sermons, titled “The Power of ‘I Am.’ The description explaining its importance read, “It’s the sermon that changed the way Oprah sees her life.” Additionally, on an episode of Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast, the two talk about the power of words. “I don’t think anybody was more excited than I when I saw the cover of your new book,” Winfrey said at the beginning of the podcast, referring to the “I Am” sermon. “That sermon literally changed how I spoke power into my own life,” she continued. Winfrey and Osteen had such a natural back-and-forth on the podcast, and clearly get along great. The fact that Osteen practically changed Winfrey’s life is just the cherry on top of their friendship.
Barack Obama has relied on Joel Osteen in the past
Though Joel Osteen has been tied to Donald Trump in the past, that doesn’t mean he discriminates when a president reaches out to him. In fact, when Barack Obama was in office, he reportedly relied on Osteen for guidance, and the two really got along.
During an appearance on Fox News’ Huckabee (via Praise 107.9), Osteen said the 44th POTUS had sought him out. “He has reached out to us,” Osteen explained, “And we have done some of the leadership things there at the White House with him and been able to pray with him — just simple things like that. And he’s been very kind and friendly to our ministry.”
Osteen was also asked whether or not he wanted Obama to attend church publicly, and he was a bit dodgy on the question, seemingly not wanting to condemn the president for any wrongdoing. “Maybe all the things that come with the presidency, the security and all that — maybe that plays into it,” Osteen said. “But I believe he loves the Lord and things. I don’t know. But in the ideal world, yes [he would attend regularly].” Osteen and Obama might not be besties, but the fact that Obama had Osteen over to pray and talk shows that the former president really valued his opinion and guidance.
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