Megachurch pastor Joel Osteen said he believes Mormon's are Christians, even though other denominations may disagree with some aspects of the faith.
"I don't know if it's the purest form of Christianity, like I grew up with. But you know what, I know Mormons," Osteen told The Washington Times in an article published Wednesday, regarding recent criticism of GOP candidate Mitt Romney's Mormon beliefs.
"I hear Mitt Romney -- and I've never met him -- but I hear him say, 'I believe Jesus is the son of God,' 'I believe He's my savior,' and that's one of the core issues," he added.
Romney's faith came to the forefront again after a prominent pastor backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry called Mormonism a "cult."
Osteen, who pastors Lakewood Church in Houston, was in Washington for a book signing for his latest release, "Every Day a Friday."
He plans to return to the nation's capital during election season next April for an "America's Night of Hope" event.
While in Washington, Osteen shied away from political questions, but did say he prays for Perry as both a candidate and friend.
Despite the dreary economy, Osteen also said America's faith and hope for the better is "at an all-time high" right now.
Osteen, who's widely known for his charisma and optimistic sermons, added that a positive attitude will eventually pay off for those who are struggling.
"Part of our core message is that seasons change, and when you believe, if you don't get bitter, and you don't get discouraged, you may not change overnight, but you can get peace," he said.
Osteen's 40,000-member Lakewood Church is the largest in the U.S.
At his book signing, Osteen said he wants everyone to know and believe God is "on our side" and "can help us overcome."
*Original post Oct. 26, 2011.