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.
5 Ram Dass
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Actor Leigh Taylor-Young had initially studied economics, before switching to theater. After gaining fame with the soap Peyton Place, she delivered a Golden Globe-winning performance in the film I Love You, Alice B. Toklas. She also won an Emmy for her role in the series Picket Fences.
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.
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.
18 Prem Rawat
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.
Radhanath Swami is an American activist, author, community-builder, and spiritual teacher. He is credited with inspiring ISKCON's free midday meal program, which benefits more than a million school kids across India. He also played a major role in establishing the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in India. He is much revered among ISKCON devotees for his immense contribution as a spiritual teacher.
24 J. C. Watts
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.
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.
Irish-American theologian John Dominic Crossan, who has previously been a Roman Catholic priest, was also associated with the Jesus Seminar. It is believed, he had quit Catholic priesthood to marry Margaret, his professor wife, and had then focused on teaching and writing. His written works include Who Killed Jesus?
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.
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.
Born to a Sanskrit teacher, Pandurang Shastri Athavale was taught as part of a separate school system set up by his father. The Padma Vibhushan-winning activist and spiritual leader later started his own Vedic movement known as the Swadhyaya Parivar. Shyam Benegal’s Antarnaad was based on his movement.
Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was a British Archbishop of Westminster and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He made headlines when he was serving as the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton; he was subjected to public scrutiny when a priest in his diocese was accused of sexually abusing children.
Katharine Jefferts Schori made headlines when she became the first woman to be the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Initially a Catholic, she joined the Episcopal Church at 8. A Stanford alumna, she also boasts of a PhD in oceanography and has worked with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Paul Marcinkus was an American religious leader best remembered for his service as the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church. From 1971 to 1989, he also served as the president of the Vatican Bank. One of the most controversial archbishops of the 20th century, Marcinkus' life and career inspired many film characters, including Archbishop Gilday in The Godfather Part III.
Francis Eugene Cardinal George was a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. From 1997 to 2014, he served as the Archbishop of Chicago. He also served as the Bishop of Yakima from 1990 to 1996. In 1998, he was created a cardinal and later served as president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) between 2007 and 2010.
40 Edward Egan
Edward Egan was a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. From 1988 to 2000, he served as Bishop of Bridgeport. From 2000 to 2009, he served as Archbishop of New York. A controversial personality, Egan vehemently opposed gay marriage and criticized the American film industry for glorifying same-sex marriage.
Apart from achieving the feat of being the first Asian-American to become a rabbi and a cantor, Angela Warnick Buchdahl has also amazed everyone with her musical skills. A Yale alumna, she was featured in the documentary 18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre, which explored the musical history of Jewish synagogues.
The Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr. was a Christian clergyman and peace activist. A multi-talented person, Coffin took part in peace movements and the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s and 1970s. He was also a talented pianist, athlete, and CIA officer during his younger days. He was honored with prestigious awards, such as World War II Victory Medal.
John Joseph Cardinal O'Connor was a prelate of the Catholic Church. From 1984 to 2000, he served as Archbishop of New York. On March 7, 2000, he was honored with the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal. He was also honored with several posthumous awards, including the Jackie Robinson Empire State Medal of Freedom on December 21, 2000.