Famous 21st Century Spiritual & Religious Leaders

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 21st Century Spiritual & Religious Leaders

 1 Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama
Famous As: Spiritual Leader of Tibet
Birthdate: July 6, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Taktser, China
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is known for his advocacy for peace in Tibet and has won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize. He belongs to a lineage of reincarnations of Avalokiteśvara. He fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion and formed a Tibetan government in exile.

 2 Pope Francis

Pope Francis
Famous As: Pope, Head of the Catholic church (Since 2013)
Birthdate: December 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Flores, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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.

 3 Billy Graham

Billy Graham
Famous As: Evangelist
Birthdate: November 7, 1918
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Died: February 21, 2018
Billy Graham was an evangelist and an ordained SBC minister. He had been on Gallup's list of the 10 most admired men 61 times. He broadcast his sermons through radio and TV, and organized annual "Crusades,” or evangelistic campaigns. He owned several media outlets and advised many U.S. presidents. 
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 4 Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle
Famous As: Spiritual teacher and self-help author
Birthdate: February 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lünen, Germany
Spiritual and self-help writer Eckhart Tolle is best known for his bestselling books The Power of Now and A New Earth. He collaborated with Oprah Winfrey, appearing in 10 live webinars and was also named to Oprah’s SuperSoul 100. He also launched Eckhart Teachings and the website Eckhart Tolle TV.

 5 Jaggi Vasudev

Jaggi Vasudev
Famous As: Yoga Guru
Birthdate: September 3, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mysore, Karnataka, India

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.

 6 Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan
Famous As: Singer, Civil rights advocate, Religious servant, Journalist, Politician, Violinist, Anti-vaccine activist, Muslim minister
Birthdate: May 11, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States

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.

 7 Ram Dass

Ram Dass
Famous As: Spiritual Teacher
Birthdate: April 6, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Died: December 22, 2019

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.

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 8 Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh
Famous As: Buddhist monk and peace activist who has founded dozens of schools and universities and has published over 100 books.
Birthdate: October 11, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Huế, Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, French Indochina

 9 Russell M. Nelson

Russell M. Nelson
Famous As: Religious Leader, Surgeon
Birthdate: September 9, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

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.

 10 Charles Stanley

Charles Stanley
Famous As: Pastor, Radio personality
Birthdate: September 25, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dry Fork, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Pastor of the First Baptist Church Charles Stanley had also established In Touch Ministries. A born-again Christian since age 12, he later gained fame with his show In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley, which was translated into 107 languages. He has also penned countless books on religion.

 11 T. B. Joshua

T. B. Joshua
Famous As: Televangelist, Faith Healer
Birthdate: June 12, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Arigidi, Nigeria
Died: June 5, 2021

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. 

 12 Bernice King

Bernice King
Famous As: Minister
Birthdate: March 28, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Bernice King is an American minister best known as the daughter of the popular activist and leader Martin Luther King Jr. Over the years, Barnice King has supported many noble causes for which she has been honored with several awards. In 2009, she was honored at the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Convention for her service to women.

 13 Stella Immanuel

Stella Immanuel
Famous As: Physician, writer
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Birthplace: Cameroon

 14 Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI
Famous As: Pope, Head of the Catholic church (2005-13)
Birthdate: April 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Markit, Germany
Pope Benedict XVI started off as a Hitler Youth member, but a finger injury prevented him from fighting in the German army. In 2005, he became the head of the Catholic Church. The liberal theologian-turned-conservative resigned in 2013, becoming the first pope to do so since the 1400s.

 15 Thomas S. Monson

Thomas S. Monson
Birthdate: August 21, 1927
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died: January 2, 2018
Thomas S. Monson was an American author and religious leader who served as the president of the Mormon Church from 2008 to 2018. Many adherents of the religion considered him to be a prophet, especially during his presidency. During his career, Monson received several honors, including the Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America.

 16 Rick Warren

Rick Warren
Birthdate: January 28, 1954
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States

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.

 17 Don Miguel Ruiz

Don Miguel Ruiz
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 26, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mexico

Best known for his influence on the New Thought movement, Don Miguel Ruiz is a Mexican author who has penned the bestselling Toltec Wisdom Series. Initially a neurosurgeon, he changed his course after a near-fatal accident and became a shaman. He now studies the spiritual aspect of the human mind.

 18 Ramdev

Famous As: Yoga Guru
Birthdate: December 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mahendragarh

 19 Rowan Douglas Williams

Rowan Douglas Williams
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: June 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Swansea, Wales

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.

 20 Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica
Famous As: Nun
Birthdate: April 20, 1923
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Canton, Ohio, United States
Died: March 27, 2016

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.

 21 Aga Khan IV

Aga Khan IV
Famous As: Imam of Nizari Ismailis
Birthdate: December 13, 1936
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland

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.

 22 Zinovia Dushkova

Zinovia Dushkova
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kongaz, Moldova

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.

 23 Ali Khamenei

Ali Khamenei
Famous As: Supreme Leader of Iran
Birthdate: July 17, 1939
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mashhad
Ali Khamenei has been serving as the supreme leader of Iran since 1989 and has previously been its president. He is one of the co-founders of the Islamic Republic Party and led his country during the Iran–Iraq War. His reign has also seen extreme treatment of journalists and protestors.

 24 Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Famous As: Spiritual & humanitarian leader
Birthdate: May 13, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Papanasam, Tamil Nadu, India

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.

 25 Bartholomew I of Constantinople

Bartholomew I of Constantinople
Famous As: Archbishop
Birthdate: February 29, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Zeytinliköy, Turkey

 26 Ali al-Sistani

Ali al-Sistani
Famous As: Theologian, Akhoond
Birthdate: August 4, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mashhad

 27 Gaur Gopal Das

Gaur Gopal Das
Famous As: Spiritual Leader, Motivational Speaker
Birthdate: December 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Maharashtra

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.  

 28 Enoch Adeboye

Enoch Adeboye
Famous As: Pastor
Birthdate: March 2, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ifewara, Osun State, Nigeria

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.

 29 David Miscavige

David Miscavige
Famous As: Leader of the Church of Scientology
Birthdate: April 30, 1960
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bristol Township, Pennsylvania, United States

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.

 30 Prem Rawat

Prem Rawat
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 10, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India

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.

 31 Roch Thériault

Roch Thériault
Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: February 16, 1947
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saguenay, Quebec, Canada
Died: February 26, 2011

 32 Kent Hovind

Kent Hovind
Famous As: Evangelist
Birthdate: January 15, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, United States

Kent Hovind is an American tax protester and evangelist. He is credited with establishing Creation Science Evangelism (CSE), which aims at propagating creationism. A controversial personality, Hovind was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2007 for failing to pay taxes, structuring cash transactions, and obstructing federal agents.

 33 Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais

Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais
Famous As: imam
Birthdate: February 10, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Riyadh

 34 John Sentamu

John Sentamu
Famous As: Politician, Priest, Cleric
Birthdate: June 10, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kampala

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.

 35 Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 15, 1967
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sri Gurusar Modia, Rajasthan, India

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.

 36 Shmuley Boteach

Shmuley Boteach
Famous As: Writer, Theologian, Rabbi
Birthdate: November 19, 1966
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Los Angeles

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.

 37 J. C. Watts

J. C. Watts
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 18, 1957
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eufaula, Oklahoma, United States

J. C. Watts is an American politician, athlete, and clergyman. A multi-talented man, Watts played professional football in the Canadian Football League. From 1995 to 2003, he served as a Republican in the United States House of Representatives, representing Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District. 

 38 Mata Amritanandamayi

Mata Amritanandamayi
Famous As: Spiritual Leader
Birthdate: September 27, 1953
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Parayakadavu, Alappad Panchayath, Kollam District, (now Kerala), India

 39 Mohammed Yusuf

Mohammed Yusuf
Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: January 29, 1970
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Yobe, Nigeria
Died: July 30, 2009

 40 Timothy M. Dolan

Timothy M. Dolan
Famous As: Theologian, University teacher, Catholic priest
Birthdate: February 6, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: St. Louis

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.

 41 Nazim Al-Haqqani

Nazim Al-Haqqani
Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: April 21, 1922
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Larnaca, Cyprus
Died: May 7, 2014

 42 Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria

Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: November 4, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mansoura, Egypt

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. 

 43 Robert Jeffress

Robert Jeffress
Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: November 29, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Texas

Best known as a senior pastor of the Dallas-based First Baptist Church, Robert Jeffress is also a major Fox News contributor. He boasts of multiple theological degrees and is married to his high-school sweetheart, Amy. He has reached millions through his religious program Pathway to Victory.

 44 Pietro Parolin

Pietro Parolin
Famous As: Cardinal
Birthdate: January 17, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Schiavon, Veneto, Italy

 45 Carlo Maria Viganò

Carlo Maria Viganò
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: January 16, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Varese, Italy

 46 Gene Robinson

Gene Robinson
Famous As: Bishop
Birthdate: May 29, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lexington, Kentucky, United States

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.

 47 Bob Larson

Bob Larson
Famous As: Television evangelist
Birthdate: May 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Westwood

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. 

 48 Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah

Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah
Famous As: Political figure
Birthdate: November 16, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Najaf, Iraq
Died: July 4, 2010

 49 Bhaktipada

Famous As: Guru
Birthdate: September 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Peekskill, New York, USA
Died: October 24, 2011

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.

 50 J. Z. Knight

J. Z. Knight
Famous As: Psychic, Writer
Birthdate: March 16, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Roswell

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.