Newsmax Lists 100 Most Influential American Evangelical Christians
Evangelicals come from many different Christian denominations, but they all have a common belief in the holiness of scripture and the centrality of faith in Jesus Christ for their lives.
The Pew Research Center estimates that about 25.4 percent of Americans, or about 62 million adults, are evangelicals.
The evangelical faith of these prominent Americans has shaped their lives and influenced their politics, morality, and careers, as well as their personal lives.
This Newsmax list of the 100 Most Influential Evangelicals in America includes pastors, teachers, politicians, athletes, and entertainers — men and women from all walks of life whose faith leads them to live differently and to help others in a variety of ways.
1. Billy Graham — Rev. Graham has slowed down in his active ministry — he will turn 100 next November — but he’s built a legacy as the greatest preacher of the gospel America has ever known. Graham has preached the gospel to nearly 215 million people in stadiums around the world and led more than 3.2 million people to Christ at his Crusades over the years. But his influence is felt beyond the call of invitation as well. Graham opposed racial segregation in the 1950s, integrated his services, and worked to dismantle the black and white divide in America’s church. He advised U.S. presidents on spiritual matters over the course of five decades.
2. Franklin Graham — A bit of a prodigal son in his youth, Franklin Graham eventually followed in his father Billy Graham’s footsteps while also forging his own influential ministry through Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that provides disaster and humanitarian relief and also offers the gospel to millions of people around the world.
3. Joel Osteen — Encouraging people to believe that God will bless them in big ways, Osteen’s messages are televised to more than 7 million viewers each week and 20 million each month in more than 100 countries. He pastors the largest church in America, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, with some 45,000 weekly attendees.
4. Mike Huckabee — The former pastor who served as governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, Huckabee was a Republican primary presidential candidate in 2008 and 2016, winning the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008. He had a talk show on the Fox News Channel from 2008 to 2015 and has also written best-selling books about the intersection of politics and religion. He now hosts “Huckabee” on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
5. Pat Robertson — Perhaps best known as the host of the “The 700 Club,” Robertson is the chancellor and CEO of Regent University and the chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also founded the International Family Entertainment Inc. (ABC Family Channel, now Freeform), and the American Center for Law and Justice, among other organizations, and is an important voice for conservative Christianity in the United States.
6. Rick Warren — The founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, a megachurch in California, Warren became a household name with the release of his book “The Purpose Driven Life,” which sold more than 32 million copies and is widely billed as one of the best-selling nonfiction hardcover book in history.
7. Jerry Falwell Jr. — The president of Liberty University, one of the largest evangelical Christian colleges in the U.S., Falwell took over after his father’s and the school founder’s death in 2007. He has made controversial remarks about gun rights and endorsed Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention in his support. Falwell Jr. also invested $5 million of Liberty’s endowment in Israel in 2016.
8. Joyce Meyer — A charismatic Christian author, Meyer has written more than 100 books and hosts a popular TV show, “Enjoying Everyday Life,” that teaches people how to live the Christian life and overcome their problems with faith in Christ and common sense.
9. Mike Pence — The former Indiana governor was chosen by Trump to be his vice president in large part for his traditional Christian conservatism. He is notably creationist and pro-life, and attributes many of his political stances to his evangelism. As one commentator put it, “Pence doesn’t simply wear his faith on his sleeve — he wears the entire Jesus jersey.”
10. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey — A married couple, Burnett and Downey are television and movie producers who have produced faith-based content like “The Bible” miniseries and 2016’s “Ben-Hur,” run Lightworkers Media, the family and faith division of MGM studios, and launched Light TV in 2016, a faith-based television channel through MGM.
11. Sarah Palin — The former governor of Alaska and vice-presidential running mate of John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, Palin was very open about her Christian faith but was also strongly targeted by the media and the left for her conservative religious views. She spent time as a commentator for Fox News and is the popular author of several books on faith and politics.
12. Creflo Dollar — A popular African-American pastor and televangelist, Dollar incidentally preaches a “gospel of wealth” from his megachurches, called World Changers Ministries, from Atlanta and New York.
13. John Hagee — A megachurch pastor known for his strong support of Israel and his interpretation of prophecies surrounding the end times, Hagee broadcasts his messages from Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, which can be seen on various inspirational television channels around the world.
14. Tony Perkins — The president of the Family Research Council, Perkins lobbies politicians in Washington, D.C., concerning conservative policies including traditional marriage and pro-life beliefs.
15. Gordon Robertson — The CEO of the Christian Broadcasting Network and son of founder Pat Robertson, Gordon Robertson often hosts “The 700 Club” as a fill-in for his father when needed. He’s also an executive producer for the show and produces the CBN children’s animated series “Superbook.”
16. Charles Stanley — The founder and president of In Touch Ministries and senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, of the Southern Baptist Convention for more than 40 years, Stanley has written more than 60 books, some of them best-sellers. He has hosted several television programs, including “In Touch With Charles Stanley,” leading to an induction into the National Religious Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame nearly 30 years ago.
17. T.D. Jakes — The pastor of the nondenominational megachurch The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, Jakes is also an author and filmmaker with a passion for women’s issues and abstinence for single Christians. His sermons can be experienced via nationwide TV programs, online livestreams, and through an official mobile app.
18. Dr. James Dobson — A psychologist who founded Focus on the Family in 1977, Dobson has written many books on parenting and family life and hosted radio programs for both Focus on the Family and his later nonprofit Family Talk, which he founded in 2010. Dobson advocates appropriate discipline of children and traditional marriage, among other conservative positions.
19. Dr. Alveda King — A niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., King is a former representative of the 28th District in the Georgia House, but she is also a best-selling author, a minister, and frequent Fox News Channel contributor. King is a dedicated pro-life advocate and director of Civil Rights for the Unborn. In addition to having been an educator, entertainer, and legislator, she is also a long-time Newsmax Insider.
20. Paula White — Often called President Trump’s spiritual adviser, the multicultural megachurch pastor in Florida hosts the television show “Paula White Today.” White also chairs the evangelical advisory board for President Donald Trump’s administration, and she delivered the invocation at his inauguration, becoming the first clergywoman to ever pray the invocation at a swearing-in.
21. Johnnie Moore — A speaker, communications expert, and frequent guest at the White House, Moore has advocated for persecuted Christians and was one of the first to identify ISIS as a threat. The best-selling author of “The Martyr’s Oath: Living for the Jesus They’re Willing to Die For,”Moore also owns The KAIROS Company, which does PR for many Christian organizations and personalities.
22. John Piper — One of the most prolific Calvinist writers of our time, Piper has authored more than 50 books on Christian faith. Born out of his work as a pastor and author, he founded DesiringGod.org, an online resource of spiritual materials named after his most famous book and based on his many famous sermons as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis over his 33 years behind the pulpit. Piper is currently the chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary.
23. David and Steve Green — This father-and-son founder and president, respectively, of Hobby Lobby operate close to 600 craft store locations in the U.S., which are closed on Sundays for religious observance. Son Steve also opened the highly anticipated Museum of the Bible this fall near the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
24. Ted Baehr — As chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, Baehr is also a publisher of “Movieguide,” a journal that evaluates movies and other forms of entertainment from a Christian perspective on suitability for family consumption. He is an advocate of Christian family-friendly Hollywood movies, and has received five Angel Awards from Excellence in Media.
25. Ralph Reed – Best known as the first executive director of the Christian Coalition in the 1990s, he went on to found the Faith and Freedom Coalition — a nonprofit that acts as the bridge between the Tea Party movement and evangelical voters.
26. Mark DeMoss — A former Liberty University board member, DeMoss resigned when Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump for president. DeMoss also runs a PR firm and serves on the board of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. He was a senior adviser for both of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns.
27. David Brody — The chief political correspondent at the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Brody’s got a book on President Trump’s spirituality in the works, and he recently launched a political talk show on Facebook Live called “Faith Nation.” He’s often tapped by major networks to comment on the intersection of politics and religion in today’s society.
28. Dave Ramsey— The author, radio host, and motivational speaker encourages listeners to get out of debt and live debt-free as well as being generous givers to charity. Five of his books have been New York Times best-sellers, most notably “Financial Peace” and “The Total Money Makeover.” He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2015.
29. Tim Keller— Redeemer Presbyterian Church, which Keller founded in 1989, is a bit of anomaly, as no one would expect to find a “megachurch” in the heart of New York City. Keller has built Redeemer on wrestling with the challenges of scripture rather than promising good feelings and fortune. He has written several best-selling books and recently stepped down as senior pastor of Redeemer in July 2017, splitting the multi-campus congregation exponentially into several churches; he also took a seminary post to prepare future urban church planters.
30. David Jeremiah – Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch in California. He has authored 54 Christian-based books, including nine New York Times best-sellers.
31. Ravi Zacharias — Called the “great apologist of our time” by Chuck Colson, Zacharias has traveled the world to defend the Christian faith through intellectual discourse as well as his numerous award-winning books.
32. David Barton — A biblical scholar who teaches that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, Barton rejects the separation of church and state as a principle of the Constitution.
33. Stuart Epperson — The co-founder and chairman of the board of Salem Media Group, Epperson has guided the media company that syndicates radio content and provides internet, magazine, and book content to Christian, conservative, and family audiences. Salem operates more than 100 radio stations around the country in addition to nearly 3,000 radio affiliates.
34. R.C. Sproul — The writer of more than 100 books, including the highly praised “The Holiness of God” and “Not a Chance,” Sproul also hosts the widely heard radio program “Renewing Your Mind.” His Ligonier Ministries, which produces the show, is based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area. The 78-year-old Sproul also serves as co-pastor at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida.
35. Alan Sears — As general counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group, he has won many lawsuits on behalf of conservative Christians. He also led the Meese Commission on pornography and wrote several books about religious liberty issues.
36. Alvin Plantinga — Once described as “America’s leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God” by Time magazine, Plantinga was awarded the Templeton Prize Laureate in 2017 for his life’s work proving that philosophy and religion can coexist.
37. Mark Noll — A historian and research professor at Regent College, Noll has studied and written about the history of Christianity and the evangelical movement in the U.S. Part of Noll’s work has encouraged a more intellectual approach to evangelicalism.
38. Michele Bachmann — Bachmann was the first Republican woman to represent Minnesota in Congress, and later ran in the 2012 presidential election. She is an outspoken pro-life advocate according to her Lutheran beliefs, and remains an influential voice in conservative media.
39. John MacArthur — A prominent author and pastor, MacArthur has authored or edited more than 150 books including the “MacArthur Study Bible,” which has sold more than 1 million copies in several translations.
40. Bill Hybels — As the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek megachurch in suburban Chicago, Hybels has created an association of churches around the country and a publishing arm that provides books and teaching materials by him and several other of the church’s pastors. He also started the Global Leadership Summit, which telecasts leadership conferences to a global audience.
41. Robert Jeffress — The pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, Jeffress hosts the television and radio program “Pathway to Victory,” airing on 1,200 television stations and 900 radio stations in 195 countries. He has been an outspoken defender of President Trump and delivered the sermon at the then-president-elect’s private worship service at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Inauguration Day.
42. Richard Land — Serving as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for 25 years, Land handled public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention until 2013. He is also executive editor of The Christian Post and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.
43. Josh McDowell — An author and speaker, McDowell has written and co-authored 150 books, including “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” named one of the most influential books on Christian thought in the last 50 years by World Magazine. He has also been honored twice by Russia for humanitarian work done there over many years.
44. Howard and Roberta Ahmanson — This wealthy financier couple has funded faith-based projects including intelligent design research, many Christian higher learning institutions, and other prominent Christian organizations.
45. Loren Cunningham — The founder of the international mission organization Youth With a Mission and University of the Nations, Cunningham has given thousands of Christian young people the opportunity to serve and do outreach around the world. He is still on the YWAM Global Leadership Team.
46. Pat Boone — A gospel singer who has sold more than 45 million records since the 1950s, Boone was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003. He is also a motivational speaker, television personality, and sometimes-conservative political commentator.
47. Anne Graham Lotz — The daughter of Billy Graham, Lotz is the founder of AnGeL Ministries and the author of 11 books including “Just Give Me Jesus,” on which she based popular revivals for women that are held in arenas and draw large audiences.
48. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez— A popular Assemblies of God pastor, Rodriguez founded of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which is the largest Hispanic evangelical organization in the world, according to The Christian Post, with more than 40,000 members.
49. David and Nicole Crank — The couple jointly pastor Faith Church, a megachurch with multiple locations in St. Louis, Missouri, and West Palm Beach, Florida, that has more than 18,000 active members. The Cranks’ ministry also operates a YouTube channel with more than 100,000 views and 3,000 subscribers.
50. Chuck Swindoll — The chancellor of the Dallas Theological Seminary, Swindoll hosts the Insight for Living radio broadcast and pastors Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. He has also authored dozens of books on Christian living.
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