A leader in the civil rights movement in the mid-twentieth century, Martin Luther King Jr. is best remembered for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience. A man of Christian faith who was inspired by Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent activism, he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial inequality.
Charles Spurgeon was an English Particular Baptist preacher who was a powerful figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition. Hailed as the "Prince of Preachers", he was well respected by Christians of various denominations. He was pastor of the congregation of the New Park Street Chapel for almost four decades. He was the author of several books, sermons, and commentaries.
Thirteenth-century Portuguese Catholic priest Anthony of Padua was the friar of the Franciscan Order. He is remembered for his self-less devotion to the poor and the sick and is revered as the patron saint of lost items. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1946.
6 St Paul
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.
John Bunyan, the noted author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, was known for his belief in Puritanism. The son of a brazier, he initially quit school to join his father’s trade. He was later inspired by chapbooks, to write his iconic works and has also become a preacher.
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.
10 James Dobson
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.
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.
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.
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.
14 David Berg
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.
15 Pema Chodron
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.
17 Joel Osteen
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hailed as the Prophet of the Poor, William Booth was the co-founder and the first the General of the Salvation Army, a Christian church known for its world-wide charitable work. Initially a Methodist preacher, he was moved by the plight of the poor and formed the Salvation Army, aiming to deliver salvation by meeting both their physical and spiritual needs.
24 Zakir Naik
Islamic preacher Zakir Naik is also the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation and his own broadcast network, Peace TV. Though a qualified surgeon, he later gained fame as a public speaker. His channel is banned in multiple countries, such as India, Bangladesh, and the UK, for its extremist nature.
William Brewster was an English official. He was among the passengers that traveled in Mayflower from England to the New World. When the ship landed at Plymouth Colony, William Brewster was accepted as the senior elder and hence became the religious leader of the colony. Eventually, he ended up serving as an adviser to Governor William Bradford.
Abu Hamza al-Masri is an Egyptian cleric who served as the imam of London's Finsbury Park Mosque. He was accused by the British authorities for inciting racial hatred and violence and the court found him guilty in 2006. In 2012, Hamza was extradited to the USA to face terrorism charges. In 2014, he was found guilty of 11 terrorism charges.
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.
28 John Osteen
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.
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.
31 Edir Macedo
Edir Macedo is a Brazilian evangelical bishop, writer, and billionaire businessman. He is the founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) and the co-owner of RecordTV, the third-largest TV network in Brazil. He began his career as a civil servant before moving to a religious career. He has been accused of racism and misogyny.
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.
37 Pope Pius I
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.
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.
43 Hal Lindsey
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.
Remembered as a radical reformer, Thomas Müntzer was a major force in the German Peasants' War of 1525. Initially a priest and a linguistic specialist, he gradually began representing the middle class and worked toward church reforms. He was eventually executed, and his head wad displayed as a warning.
Abdul Qadir Gilani was a Sunni Muslim ascetic, mystic, preacher, theologian, and jurist. He is best remembered for founding the Qadiriyya tariqa of Sufism, which is named after him. Abdul Qadir Gilani was famous for his preaching and is credited with converting numerous Christians and Jews.
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.
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.
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.