Pope Francis is the sovereign of the Vatican City and head of the Catholic Church. He is the first Jesuit pope and first non-European pope since Pope Gregory III. Often praised for having a comparatively less formal approach, Pope Francis is popular for his humility, international visibility, and concern for the poor.
The recipient of Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award of India, Jaggi Vasudev is a mystic, yogi, and author. His spiritual program called inner engineering is famous all over the world, particularly in the Western world. Popularly known as Sadhguru, Jaggi Vasudev's yoga programs, environmental initiatives, and educational and social initiatives have earned him celebrity status in India.
Ram Dass was an American spiritual teacher and psychologist. Born as Richard Alpert in Boston, he embraced Hinduism on a visit to India and changed his name. He traveled extensively, giving talks, and authored or co-authored many books on spirituality. He also founded the charitable organizations, Seva Foundation, and Hanuman Foundation. He was openly bisexual.
Russell M. Nelson is an American religious leader and the current president of the Mormon Church. A former surgeon, Nelson is credited with co-developing the heart-lung machine, which was used in the first-ever open-heart surgery. He became a respected heart surgeon and went on to serve as the president of the Utah Medical Association before becoming a religious leader.
Louis Farrakhan, formerly known as Louis X, is the leader of the ‘Nation of Islam’ which has been called a black nationalist organisation and a hate group. He has been described as anti-Semitic by monitoring organisations and has been accused of promoting anti-white theology and black superiority over whites. He was banned from Facebook in 2019 for being an extremist.
Nigerian charismatic pastor, televangelist, and philanthropist T. B. Joshua is the founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN). He is extremely popular across Africa and Latin America, and his YouTube channel, Emmanuel TV, has over a million subscribers. He is considered one of the most influential people from Africa and is the recipient of several awards.
Rick Warren is an American pastor. He is credited with establishing Saddleback Church, one of the largest in the USA, where he serves as the senior pastor. Also an influential author, Warren's bible study book The Purpose Driven Life has sold over 30 million copies, making him one of the bestselling authors in the USA.
Born to Italian parents, amid poverty, in Ohio, Mother Angelica and her siblings were raised by her mother after her father abandoned them. Initially a factory worker, she later became a Poor Clare nun and also founded the Eternal Word Television Network, which streamed Catholic-oriented programs.
Aga Khan IV is the current Imam of Nizari Ismailism. Serving as the imam since 1957, Aga Khan claims to be a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Apart from being the current leader of the Institution of the Imamate, Aga Khan is also a business magnate and one of the world's richest royals, according to Forbes.
It is believed Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had started reciting the Bhagavad Gita by age 4. After graduating in Vedic literature and physics, he propagated Transcendental Meditation with his guru Mahesh Yogi and later established the Art of Living Foundation, which organizes spiritual courses worldwide.
The archbishop of New York, Timothy M. Dolan has previously also served as the archbishop of Milwaukee. He has also penned several religious books, such as Doers of the Word and Called to Be Holy. He was also assigned with the task of handling cases of priests engaging in sexual abuse.
Better known as Daddy Go, Nigerian pastor Enoch Adeboye serves the Redeemed Christian Church of God and has millions of followers. However, the media has often called out his sexist attitude, reflected in his social-media posts, one of which advised men to marry only women who could cook.
Gaur Gopal Das is an Indian lifestyle coach and motivational speaker. An alumnus of the College of Engineering, Pune, he worked as an engineer for several years before joining the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). He is the author of Life's Amazing Secrets and has millions of followers on YouTube.
David Miscavige is the current leader of the Church of Scientology. After serving as a deputy to L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church, Miscavige took on the mantle of leadership after the former's demise. Miscavige is credited with establishing the Religious Technology Center to control and supervise the use of texts, symbols, and trademarks of Scientology and Dianetics.
Justin Welby is the most senior bishop in the Church of England and the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. In the past, he was the vicar of Southam, Warwickshire, and has also been the bishop of Durham. He is known for exploring the evangelical tradition within Anglicanism in his theology. He worked in the oil industry before his ordination.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is an Indian social group leader best known as the head of a group named Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS). Prior to his rape conviction in 2017, Ram Rahim was a famous religious leader, music composer, actor, singer, songwriter, writer, and director. In 2015, he was named among the 100 most powerful Indians by The Indian Express.
Rowan Douglas Williams became the first archbishop of Canterbury who was not from the Church of England. The Welsh Anglican bishop has been quite liberal in his views on homosexuality. He has also taught theology courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and is a life peer.
Orthodox rabbi and author Shmuley Boteach, also known as the host of Shalom in the Home, soared to international fame with the release of his book Kosher Sex. The father of nine was a spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson and has founded the pro-Israel non-profit The World Values Network.
David Jeremiah is an American evangelical Christian author. He is credited with founding Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries which focuses on propagating his sermons through radio and TV. The Turning Point program has earned him many awards including the 2006 National Religious Broadcasters award. David Jeremiah also serves as a senior pastor at the Shadow Mountain Community Church.
Born in Uganda, John Sentamu was a Supreme Court lawyer in his country before he fled to the U.K., having faced jail for criticizing President Idi Amin. He later devoted himself to theology and became the Archbishop of York, thus also becoming first black Archbishop of Britain.
Nigerian terrorist Mohammed Yusuf founded the terrorist Islamist group Boko Haram in 2002 and drew followers from unemployed youth. He was reportedly inspired by the controversial Muslim preacher Maitatsine in Nigeria. Yusuf led Boko Haram until he was killed in the 2009 Boko Haram uprising, a conflict between the group and the Nigerian security forces.
Zinovia Dushkova is a Russian poet, historian, philosopher, and author. A prominent writer, Dushkova's works have been translated into seven languages. In 2015, she was honored with the 20 Years of Gagauzia Medal. In 2017, Zinovia Dushkova’s book, The Call of the Heart, was honored at the Nautilus Book Awards with a silver medal in the United States of America.
Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria is the 118th and current pope of Alexandria and patriarch of the See of St. Mark. He became leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria succeeding late Pope Shenouda III. He began his papacy amidst several changes in Egypt and supported the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état that deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
An Italian-born archbishop of the Catholic church, Carlo Maria Viganò has also previously been the Apostolic Nuncio to the US. He made headlines because of a 2018 letter in which he called for Pope Francis’s resignation for covering up a sexual abuse scandal. He also faced criticism for his conspiracy theories about COVID-19.
Abdalqadir as-Sufi was a Scottish playwright and actor who dedicated his life to popularize Islam after converting to the religion in 1967. He helped establish the Jumu'a Mosque of Cape Town, the Great Mosque of Granada, and the Ihsan Mosque in England. Abdalqadir as-Sufi is also credited with founding the Murabitun World Movement, which aims at restoring several Islam practices.
Indian-American public speaker and bestselling author Prem Rawat, son of an Indian guru who founded Divine Light Mission, pioneered the technique of meditation known as "peace education" and "knowledge." He often pilots his own private jet to preach his messages to various countries and has also launched a charitable foundation.
Gene Robinson is an American former bishop associated with the Episcopal Church. Gene Robinson is renowned for being the first openly gay man to be consecrated as a bishop in a prominent Christian denomination. His life and career have been the subject of articles in print media and films.
Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah was a twelver Shia cleric. He is credited with founding several Islamic religious schools. He also gave many lectures, wrote dozens of books, and established the Mabarrat Association. Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah is best remembered for his liberal views on women.
Vaishnava guru and New Vrindaban co-founder Kirtanananda Swami, better known as Bhaktipada, was born into a Baptist family. In spite of receiving a fellowship to study at Columbia University, he quit academics and joined ISKCON instead. He was later expelled from ISKCON after he was found guilty of child molestation.
American mystic and spiritual author J. Z. Knight claims she had channelized a spirit she calls Ramtha. She founded the Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, where she teaches Ramtha’s preachings, though she has courted controversy for her anti-semitic, homophobic, and unscientific comments. She believes Ramtha heals better than medicine.
Bob Larson is an American television and radio evangelist. Larson, who serves as a pastor at the Spiritual Freedom Church in Arizona, has written several books criticizing Satanism and rock music. He is also renowned for performing exorcisms over Skype and on calls.
Wilton D. Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, is widely known as the first African-American cardinal. He had aspired to become a priest even before being baptized at age 11. One of his greatest contributions was his efforts to counter incidents of child sex abuse within the church.