Several gay and lesbian organizations are demanding an apology from one of America's most popular television evangelists for his stand against homosexuality.
In a Wednesday interview with CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen stated that he believed homosexuality is a sin.
"The scriptures show that it's a sin," Osteen said. "But you know, I'm not one of those that are out there to bash homosexuals and tell them that they're terrible people and all of that. I mean, there are other sins in the Bible too…I don't believe homosexuality is God's best for a person's life."
"I think sometimes the church, and I don't mean this critically, but we focus on one issue or two issues and there are plenty of other ones," he continued. "I don't believe that homosexuality is God's best for a person's life," Osteen added. "I mean sin means to miss the mark."
The Human Rights Campaign -- the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization - called Osteen's comments hateful.
"One would hope Mr. Osteen would use his pulpit, with an audience of over 7 million people, to tell all human beings that they are loved just the way they are. Instead he chose to send a dangerous and irresponsible message," HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement.
The Houston Area Pastor Council, an inter-racial and inter-denominational coalition of local pastors, defended the megachurch pastor, saying he has the right to make statements in keeping with his faith.
"Joel Osteen not only has the right to answer a question by an interviewer about the homosexual lifestyle, he has a duty as a pastor to express the truth found in the Bible he teaches from," the council said in a statement.