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 
Cotton Mather
(Church Minister)

Cotton Mather
6
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.

 2 
Ted Haggard
(Pastor, Priest, Preacher)

Ted Haggard
6
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. 

 3 
James Dobson
(Writer)

James Dobson
8
Birthdate: April 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana, United States

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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 4 
Fulton J. Sheen
(Archbishop)

Fulton J. Sheen
12
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.

 5 

Kenneth Erwin Hagin
5
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.

 6 
C. L. Franklin
(Baptist minister)

C. L. Franklin
4
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.

 7 
David Berg
(Preachers)

David Berg
6
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.

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 8 
Pema Chodron
(Philosopher)

Pema Chodron
3
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. 

 9 
Joel Osteen
(American Preacher & Televangelist)

Joel Osteen
16
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.

 10 
Father Divine
(Former Preacher who founded International Peace Mission movement)

Father Divine
3
Birthdate: 1876 AD
Birthplace: Rockville, Maryland, United States
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.

 11 

Charles Grandison Finney
3
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.

 12 
Nouman Ali Khan
(Preacher)

Nouman Ali Khan
0
Birthdate: May 4, 1978
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

 13 
Henry Ward Beecher
(Clergyman, Preacher & Abolitionist)

Henry Ward Beecher
3
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.

 14 

William J. Seymour
3
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. 

 15 
John Osteen
(Pastor)

John Osteen
3
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.

 16 
Adoniram Judson
(Missionary)

Adoniram Judson
3
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.

 17 
Dwight L. Moody
(Editor, Philosopher, Writer, Evangelist, Hymnwriter)

Dwight L. Moody
7
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.

 18 
Anne Hutchinson
(Puritan spiritual adviser, Preacher)

Anne Hutchinson
3
Birthdate: February 5, 1837, 1591
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Alford, Lincolnshire, England
Died: August 20, 1643

 19 
Lyman Beecher
(Clergyman)

Lyman Beecher
3
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 
William Miller
(Preacher)

William Miller
3
Birthdate: February 15, 1782
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pittsfield, Massachusetts, United States
Died: December 20, 1849

Baptist preacher William Miller launched the movement Millerism, which propagated the idea of the advent of Christ. Millerism paved the way for groups such as the Seventh-day Adventists. He and his followers believed the Second Coming was to happen on October 22, 1844, but it never did.

 21 
Hal Lindsey
(Preacher)

Hal Lindsey
3
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. 

 22 
Peter Marshall
(Preacher)

Peter Marshall
3
Birthdate: May 27, 1902
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Coatbridge, Scotland
Died: January 26, 1949

Peter Marshall was a Scottish-American preacher who served as the pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. His life and career inspired a biography titled A Man Called Peter. Written by his widow, the book achieved popularity and was later made into a film of the same name. 

 23 
Harold Kushner
(Rabbi, Writer)

Harold Kushner
3
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 
Johnny Lee Clary
(Theologian)

Johnny Lee Clary
3
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.

 25 
Kent Hovind
(Evangelist)

Kent Hovind
8
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.

 26 
Edward Hicks
(Painter)

Edward Hicks
3
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.

 27 
John Cotton
(Theologian & Preacher)

John Cotton
5
Birthdate: December 4, 1585
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Derbyshire, England
Died: December 23, 1652
John Cotton was a clergyman in the American and England colonies. He was widely regarded as the greatest theologian and minister of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A prolific writer, John Cotton is credited with writing the first known children's book by an American, Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes.

 28 
Bill Bright
(Evangelist)

Bill Bright
3
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.

 29 

Charles Emmanuel Grace
2
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.

 30 

Orestes Brownson
2
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.

 31 
Gary Spivey
(Radio Personality)

Gary Spivey
3
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.

 32 
George A. Smith
(Political leader)

George A. Smith
2
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.

 33 
Barton W. Stone
(Evangelist)

Barton W. Stone
2
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.

 34 
Steve Brown
(Wuthor)

Steve Brown
2
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?

 35 
Moishe Rosen
(Religious leader)

Moishe Rosen
4
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.

 36 
Allen Allensworth
(Baptist Minister, Educator, Army Officer)

Allen Allensworth
2
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.

 37 

Peter John Gomes
2
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.

 38 

John Humphrey Noyes
3
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. 

 39 
Benjamin Hooks
(Minister)

Benjamin Hooks
2
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.

 40 
Thomas Hooker
(Preacher)

Thomas Hooker
5
Birthdate: July 5, 1586
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Marefield, United Kingdom
Died: July 7, 1647

Thomas Hooker was an English colonial leader. Hooker is credited with founding the Colony of Connecticut and is hence referred to as the Father of Connecticut. Thomas Hooker, who played a major role in the development of colonial New England, was one of the founders of the state of Connecticut as well as the city of Hartford.   

 41 
Carl McIntire
(Evangelist)

Carl McIntire
2
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.

 42 
Edward Robinson
(Translator)

Edward Robinson
2
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.

 43 
Isaac Backus
(Preacher)

Isaac Backus
1
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 

William Ellery Channing
3
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.  

 45 
William Richards
(Missionary)

William Richards
1
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 
Mar Samuel
(Archbishop)

Mar Samuel
1
Birthdate: December 25, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Turkey
Died: April 16, 1995

 47 

Peter Cartwright
2
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. 

 48 
Eldred G. Smith
(Religious leader)

Eldred G. Smith
2
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.

 49 
James Augustine Healy
(Religious leader)

James Augustine Healy
2
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.

 50 
Sheldon Jackson
(Clergyman)

Sheldon Jackson
2
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.