Famous American Preachers

If you asked a true-blue Christian what is the highest and greatest and the most glorious calling in the world, he would inarguably say preaching the biblical truth. And rightly so! After all, the Bible too says, "If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." Now only if you thought that preaching was just about textual exposition, contextual analysis and inspirational writing, know that delivering homiletics is as much an exercise in eloquence as an act of devotion, and it surely takes some serious skill to sow seeds of spirituality, inspire Godliness and change lives from behind that pulpit. America has produced an avalanche of such great men of God including Martin Luther King, Jr and Fred Phelps who have moved the churchgoers in unfathomable ways. From Rick Warren to Chuck Colson and from David Barton to Douglas Coe, America's influential lot of evangelists has led the nation to greatness and goodness in profound spiritual ways. Check out this space to explore the biographies, trivia, and interesting facts about some such famous American preachers.

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

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 1 Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen.
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Famous As: American Preacher & Televangelist
Birthdate: March 5, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Houston

Joel Osteen is an American pastor, author, and televangelist. He is one of the most popular televangelists in the world, with his televised sermons being watched by millions of people every week in over 100 countries, including 10 million viewers in the US alone. In 2006, he was named in the 10 Most Fascinating People list published by Barbara Walters.

 2 C. L. Franklin

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Famous As: Baptist minister
Birthdate: January 22, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sunflower County, Mississippi, United States
Died: July 27, 1984

C. L. Franklin was an American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. Dubbed the man with the million-dollar voice, Franklin was renowned for preaching his sermons throughout the country. During the 1950s and 1960s, Franklin worked towards ending prejudicial practices against the black people in Detroit. He is also credited with encouraging his daughter Aretha Franklin to pursue music.

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 3 Cotton Mather

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Famous As: Church Minister
Birthdate: February 12, 1663
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boston
Died: February 13, 1728

Cotton Mather is remembered as one of the most significant New England Puritans. However, he exhibited a curious mixture of science and traditions, as he promoted vaccination against smallpox, while supporting the Salem witch trials. He had penned works such as Curiosa Americana and was a Royal Society member.

 4 Kent Hovind

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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.

 5 Ted Haggard

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Famous As: Pastor, Priest, Preacher
Birthdate: June 27, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Yorktown

Ted Haggard is an evangelical pastor who founded New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is also the founder of the Association of Life-Giving Churches. He is against same-sex marriages. In 2006, it was revealed that he had paid a male sex worker for sexual favors and also purchased some illegal drugs from him. 

 6 Fulton J. Sheen

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Famous As: Archbishop
Birthdate: May 8, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: El Paso, Illinois
Died: December 9, 1979

Catholic bishop Fulton J. Sheen was also a prominent radio and TV personality. Known for his stint on the NBC radio show The Catholic Hour, he also hosted the popular TV programs Life Is Worth Living and The Bishop Fulton Sheen Show. He also wrote extensively on communism, love, and peace.

 7 James Dobson

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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana

The founder of the Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson is a qualified psychologist and has also had long stints with a children’s hospital and as a professor of pediatrics. Known for his popular radio program Family Talk, he has penned countless books, such as the bestseller Bringing Up Girls.

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 8 David Berg

Joel Osteen
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Famous As: Preachers
Birthdate: February 18, 1919
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States
Died: October 1, 1994

The founder of the hippie Christian cult named Children of God, or The Family International, religious leader David Berg, was also known as Father David. He was later accused of encouraging pedophilia and asking women to be “Hookers for Christ.” He also communicated with fellow cult members through codes.

 9 Warren Jeffs

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Famous As: Former President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ
Birthdate: December 4, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: San Francisco, California

Wareen Jeffs is the Leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ. He is currently in jail after being convicted of sexual assault on minors. Like his father, Warren Jeffs is also notorious for polygamy and presiding over murky affairs at his church. Born prematurely, he appeared in the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List in 2006 following allegations of arranging marriages of underage girls.

 10 John Osteen

Joel Osteen
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Famous As: Pastor
Birthdate: August 21, 1921
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, Texas, United States
Died: January 23, 1999

Pastor and televangelist John Osteen is best remembered for his 16-year stint on the show John Osteen. He also established the Lakewood Church in Houston and penned countless books, such as Becoming a Man of Unwavering Faith. His son Joel Osteen followed in his footsteps.

 11 Kenneth Erwin Hagin

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: August 20, 1917
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: McKinney, Texas, United States
Died: September 19, 2003

Christian preacher Kenneth Erwin Hagin is widely remembered as the father of the modern faith movement. He had an almost-70-year stint with the Christian ministry. The founder of The Word of Faith movement, he popularized it through magazines, CDs, and books of the Faith Library Publications.

 12 Pema Chodron

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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 14, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, New York (state) New York, United States

Pema Chodron is an American Tibetan Buddhist and an ordained nun. Born as Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in New York, she began studying with Tibetan Buddhist Lama Chime Rinpoche as a young woman. She eventually became a fully ordained nun or bhikṣuṇī. She is the author of several dozen books and audiobooks. She is the principal teacher at Gampo Abbey. 

 13 Father Divine

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Birthdate: 1877 AD
Birthplace: Hutchinson Island
Died: September 10, 1965

African-American religious leader George Baker, better known as Father Divine, founded Peace Mission, a movement that is now considered the basis of the civil rights movement. Father Divine claimed that divine intervention had caused the death of the judge who had sentenced him to prison for arranging meetings in Sayville.

 14 Charles Grandison Finney

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Famous As: Evangelist
Birthdate: August 29, 1792
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Warren, Connecticut, United States
Died: August 16, 1875

Charles Grandison Finney, dubbed as the Father of Modern Revivalism, began his career with the Presbyterian Church, where his style of preaching fermented spirited revivals. Later, his dissatisfaction with Presbyterian theology led to formation of Broadway Tabernacle and he started promoting abolitionism and equal education for women and blacks. He spent his last years as minister of Oberlin’s First Congregational Church.

 15 Henry Ward Beecher

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Famous As: Clergyman, Preacher & Abolitionist
Birthdate: June 24, 1813
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Litchfield, Connecticut, U.S
Died: March 8, 1887

Congregational minister Henry Ward Beecher, the eighth child of Reverend Lyman Beecher, was a skilled orator and a prominent Protestant speaker. He was known for anti-slavery stance and his belief in God's love, One of his best works is the pamphlet Seven Lectures to Young Men.

 16 William J. Seymour

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: May 2, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Louisiana
Died: September 28, 1922

William J. Seymour was an African-American holiness preacher. He is credited to have initiated the Azusa Street Revival, an influential event in the rise of the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. He was a student of the early Pentecostal minister Charles Parham. He played a major role in the spread of Pentecostalism to various parts of America. 

 17 Adoniram Judson

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Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: August 9, 1788
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Malden
Died: April 12, 1850

Baptist missionary Adoniram Judson is remembered for his long stint in Burma, where he established a church, founded schools, and baptised many people. He also translated the Bible into Burmese and worked on a Burmese-English dictionary. He was also one of the first from America to travel abroad for missionary activities.

 18 Dwight L. Moody

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Famous As: Editor, Philosopher, Writer, Evangelist, Hymnwriter
Birthdate: February 5, 1837
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Northfield
Died: December 22, 1899

Dwight L. Moody was an American publisher and evangelist. He is credited with founding the Moody Church which went on to become the most well-known religious outreach of its kind. He gave up his lucrative shoe business to focus solely on revivalism. He played an important role in the Civil War, working with the United States Christian Commission of YMCA.

 19 Lyman Beecher

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Famous As: Clergyman
Birthdate: October 12, 1775
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Haven
Died: January 10, 1863

Known for his stance against alcoholism, publishing six time-honored sermons on it, Presbyterian minister Lyman Beecher also worked for women’s education. An active participant in theological controversies, adhering to the New School Presbyterian branch of schism, he was once tried for heresy. However, he is equally remembered for fathering thirteen children, seven of whom earned distinction in their chosen field.

 20 Hal Lindsey

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: November 23, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Houston

Hal Lindsey is an evangelist and Christian writer. He graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary, following which he worked with Campus Crusade for Christ. He was also a Sunday school teacher. He has authored many books, including The Late, Great Planet Earth and Apocalypse Code. He serves on the executive board of Christian Voice and has hosted many Christian TV shows. 

 21 John Humphrey Noyes

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: September 3, 1811
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brattleboro, Vermont, United States
Died: April 13, 1886

John Humphrey Noyes was an American preacher, religious philosopher, and utopian socialist. He was the founder of the Putney, Oneida, and Wallingford Communities. He decided to devote his life to religion at a young age and studied at the Yale Theological Seminary. He was also involved in political activism and helped organize an anti-slavery society in the United States. 

 22 Johnny Lee Clary

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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: June 18, 1959
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Martinez
Died: October 21, 2014

A prominent 1980s’ wrestling champion, Johnny Lee Clary later came to be known as Johnny Angel. He had been part of the Ku Klux Klan and had also appeared on shows such as Oprah, where he defended racism. He later renounced the Klan and became a Christian evangelist.

 23 Harold Kushner

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Famous As: Rabbi, Writer
Birthdate: April 3, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States

Harold Kushner is an American rabbi and author. He is best known for his 24-year tenure as the congregational rabbi of Temple Israel of Natick. Kushner is also renowned for writing several books including best-sellers, such as Living a Life That Matters: Resolving the Conflict Between Conscience and Success and When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

 24 Bill Bright

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Famous As: Evangelist
Birthdate: October 19, 1921
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Coweta, Oklahoma, United States
Died: July 19, 2003

Bill Bright was an American evangelist. He is credited with founding an interdenominational Christian parachurch organization called Campus Crusade for Christ. In 1996, Bill Bright was honored with the $1.1 million Templeton Prize which he donated to support and popularize the spiritual benefits of prayer and fasting.

 25 Edward Hicks

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Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: April 4, 1780
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Langhorne, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: August 23, 1849

Initially a Quaker preacher, folk painter Edward Hicks is best remembered for his work The Peaceable Kingdom and its 100 versions. His interest in painting perhaps stemmed for his early years as a coach painter. He mostly depicted the landscapes of New York and Pennsylvania. His works also featured animals.

 26 William Ellery Channing

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: April 7, 1780
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Died: October 2, 1842

William Ellery Channing was an American preacher. One of the most important Unitarian preachers in the early-19th century, Channing was also one of Unitarianism's most prominent theologians. Remembered for his impassioned and articulate public speeches and sermons, Channing had a major influence on the New England Transcendentalists. In 1903, he was honored with a statue at the Boston Public Garden.  

 27 Charles Emmanuel Grace

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: January 25, 1881
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brava Island, Cabo Verde
Died: January 12, 1960

Charles Emmanuel Grace, also known as Sweet Daddy Grace, was born in Portuguese-occupied Cape Verde and later moved to the U.S., where he formed the United House of Prayer for All People. The African-American bishop had a peculiar sense of style, replete with flowing hair and painted fingernails.

 28 Orestes Brownson

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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 16, 1803
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Stockbridge, Vermont, United States
Died: April 17, 1876

American theological and philosophical writer Orestes Brownson had been through massive religious confusion in his early days, when he switched from Presbyterianism, to Universalism, to Unitarianism, before finally converting to Catholicism. His writings include The Convert and The American Republic. He also wrote extensively on Transcendentalism.

 29 Gary Spivey

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Famous As: Radio Personality
Birthdate: September 5, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Star, North Carolina, United States

Psychic Gary Spivey from Montgomery County has gained fame as a spiritual healer. He not only claims to have predicted major disasters, but is also able to see dead people. He has appeared on shows such as Entertainment Tonight, regularly appears on the radio, and has also co-written a book.

 30 George A. Smith

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Famous As: Political leader
Birthdate: June 26, 1817
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Potsdam, New York
Died: September 1, 1875

George A. Smith was one of the first leaders of the Latter Day Saint movement which was founded by Joseph Smith. He played an important role in Zion's Camp, which aimed at helping members of the church in Missouri. George A. Smith also played a key role in the events leading up to the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857.

 31 Peter John Gomes

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: May 22, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: February 28, 2011

Listed by Time Magazine as one of "Seven Stars of the Pulpit", Peter John Gomes was a much respected preacher and theologian. Also Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard Divinity School and Pusey Minister at Harvard's Memorial Church, he authored two bestselling books and published ten volumes of sermons. A celibate gay, he also worked for acceptance of homosexuality.

 32 Barton W. Stone

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Famous As: Evangelist
Birthdate: December 24, 1772
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Charles County, Maryland, United States
Died: November 9, 1844

Barton W. Stone was an evangelist who played an important role during the Second Great Awakening in the US. He is credited with forming the Christian Church, which worked towards restoring primitive Christianity. Today, many church groups including Churches of Christ have historical connection to Stone's efforts. Atlantic Christian College in North Carolina was renamed Barton College in his honor.

 33 Benjamin Hooks

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Famous As: Minister
Birthdate: January 31, 1925
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died: April 15, 2010

Civil rights leader and Baptist minister Benjamin Hooks was also a jurist and had served the NAACP as its executive director. He had studied law at the Chicago-based DePaul University College of Law since no law school in Tennessee, his home state, allowed Blacks back then.

 34 Peter Cartwright

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: September 1, 1785
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Amherst County, Virginia, United States
Died: September 25, 1872

Peter Cartwright was an American Methodist, preacher, and revivalist. A Methodist missionary, Cartwright helped start the Second Great Awakening in America; he is credited with baptizing twelve thousand converts. Peter Cartwright was also a writer and his autobiography made him popular throughout the country. 

 35 Carl McIntire

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Famous As: Evangelist
Birthdate: May 17, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ypsilanti, Michigan, United States
Died: March 19, 2002

Carl McIntire was an American evangelist best remembered for his efforts that eventually led to the formation of the Bible Presbyterian Church where he also served as a minister. He is also credited with founding the American Council of Christian Churches as well as the International Council of Christian Churches, serving as a long-time president of the latter.

 36 Eldred G. Smith

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Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: January 9, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lehi, Utah, United States
Died: April 4, 2013

Patriarch of the LDS Church for 32 years, Eldred G. Smith was the oldest Mormon Church authority when he died at 106. In his lifetime, he had given over 18,000 blessings. Initially an engineer, he worked with clocks. He was also the oldest man from Utah when he died.

 37 Steve Brown

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Famous As: Wuthor
Birthdate: 1940 AD
Birthplace: North Carolina, United States

Apart from being a Christian author, Steve Brown is also a radio broadcaster and a seminary professor. After being a pastor for over two decades, he launched the radio broadcast Key Life. Of his numerous books, two of the notable ones are Scandalous Freedom and What Was I Thinking?

 38 Moishe Rosen

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Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: April 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Died: May 19, 2010

Moishe Rosen was an American minister who founded a non-profit organization called Jews for Jesus. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the organization focuses on evangelism to the Jews around the world. Moishe Rosen served as the executive director of the organization before stepping down from his position in 1996. He remained a member of the board until his death.

 39 James Augustine Healy

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Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: April 6, 1830
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Macon, Georgia, United States
Died: August 5, 1900

Born to an Irish immigrant father and his African-American slave wife, James Augustine Healy was the first Black Roman Catholic bishop of the U.S. However, he identified as White Irish, owing to his mixed race. Although he voiced his support for Native Americans, he never specifically spoke on African-American issues.

 40 Allen Allensworth

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Famous As: Baptist Minister, Educator, Army Officer
Birthdate: April 7, 1842
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky
Died: September 14, 1914

Born into slavery, Allen Allensworth successfully disguised himself in a uniform and marched to freedom, along with the Union soldiers during the Civil War. He later served the U.S. Navy and eventually became a Baptist preacher. The first Black American lieutenant colonel, he also formed the town Allensworth.

 41 Edward Robinson

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Famous As: Translator
Birthdate: April 10, 1794
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Southington, Connecticut, United States
Died: January 27, 1863

Edward Robinson was a biblical scholar best remembered for his work Biblical Researches in Palestine. Regarded as the first major work in Biblical Archaeology and Biblical Geography, his work earned him the titles, Founder of Modern Palestinology and Father of Biblical Geography. He is also remembered for translating scriptural works.

 42 Sheldon Jackson

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Famous As: Clergyman
Birthdate: May 18, 1834
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Minaville, Montgomery County New York, USA
Died: May 2, 1909

Sheldon Jackson was a Presbyterian minister, political leader, and missionary. He is credited with establishing over 100 churches and missions throughout the Western United States. Jackson is also remembered for his efforts to subdue Native American languages. The Sheldon Jackson College in Alaska was named in his honor.

 43 Isaac Backus

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: January 9, 1724
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Connecticut, United States
Died: November 20, 1806

Isaac Backus was a Baptist minister who played an important role during the American Revolution. He is best remembered for campaigning against New England's state-established churches. Influenced by the works of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, Backus became a preacher. His work titled Government and Liberty Described and Ecclesiastical Tyranny Exposed is considered a historically important article.

 44 Mary Joseph Rogers

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Famous As: Missioner
Birthdate: October 27, 1882
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 9, 1955

The founder of the Maryknoll Sisters, a woman’s congregation that took up missions abroad, Mary Joseph Rogers was initially a zoology student but later devoted her life to her faith. Her group of Christian nuns were initially known as Teresians. The first foreign mission of the Sisters was in China.

 45 William Richards

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Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: August 22, 1793
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Plainfield, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 7, 1847

William Richards was a politician and missionary whose work on a formal land title system gave rise to the Great Mahele in 1848. He also helped popularize a liberal constitutional monarchy in the Kingdom of Hawaii. He also served as a translator to King Kamehameha III and later helped translate much of the Bible into Hawaiian. 

 46 Mary Hannah Fulton

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Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: May 31, 1854
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ashland, Ohio, United States
Died: January 7, 1927

Mary Hannah Fulton was a medical missionary who was sent by the Presbyterian Church to South China. She established a dispensary in Kwai Ping and also helped establish the Hackett Medical College for Women which aimed at training women in medicine. Mary Hannah Fulton also preached the Presbyterian faith in China and helped translate English medical volumes into Chinese.

 47 Fidelia Fisk

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Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: May 1, 1816
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Shelburne, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 26, 1864

Fidelia Fisk was a noted American missionary to Persia (Iran), who championed the cause of women’s education and health in Urmia, Iran. Initially a teacher, she had later moved to Iran to be part of the Nestorian Christians. However, she eventually went back to the U.S. with failing health.

 48 Lori Bakker

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Famous As: Former Televangelist, Speaker
Birthdate: August 30, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: United States

The wife of televangelist Jim Bakker and The Jim Bakker Show co-host, Lori Bakker had previously led a reckless life. Following five abortions, she switched to spirituality and joined the Phoenix First Assembly. She later formed the Mourning to Joy Ministry, to help women survive post-abortion trauma.

 49 Lucy Whitehead McGill Waterbury Peabody

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Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: March 2, 1861
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kansas, United States
Died: February 26, 1949

American missionary Lucy Whitehead McGill Waterbury Peabody had been part of a several major Baptist missions across the world. She is remembered for her work in India. Back in Boston, she established the Farther Lights Society and the missionary magazine Everyland. She also headed the Woman’s Baptist Foreign Missionary Society.

 50 John M. Mason

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Famous As: Preacher
Birthdate: March 19, 1770
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 26, 1829

John M. Mason was an American theologian and preacher who served as the Provost of Columbia College in the 1810s. In the early-1820s, he also served as the president of Dickinson College. An excellent orator, John M. Mason served as a pastor for 17 years.