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Pastors Franklin Graham, Joel Osteen Top List of 'Most Influential Christians in America'

( [email protected] ) Apr 21, 2015 11:42 AM EDT
Newsmax recently revealed its "Top 100 Christian Leaders in America" list, and some familiar names have earned top spots, including pastors Franklin Graham, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren.
Franklin Graham, President and CEO of both Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, tops the list of "100 Most Influential Christians in America." Samaritan's Purse

Newsmax recently revealed its "Top 100 Christian Leaders in America" list, and some familiar names have earned top spots, including pastors Franklin Graham, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren.

The list of influential faithfuls features church leaders, Christians in the entertainment industry, sports, business, and politics.

"Christianity's challenges in today's world of instantaneous information transmission and new brands of sin are not what they were a century ago, nor are they quite what they were during the socio-sexual revolution of the '60s. And not all the names below are occupants of pulpits - not traditional physical pulpits, anyway," the article notes.

Graham, who is president of both Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in addition to being an influential speaker and author, comes in first, beating out his father, evangelist Billy Graham, who is listed fifth-- just ahead of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren.

The younger Graham is followed closely by televangelist Joel Osteen, who is known for his vibrant ministry and multiple best-selling books. Osteen's wife, Victoria, places 18th on the list.

Additional family duos on the list include Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the Hollywood power couple behind a variety of successful faith-based projects, including The Bible series, and A.D: The Bible Continues.

Other Christians in the entertainment industry who make an appearance are filmmaker Kirk Cameron , the lead singers of Stryper and Boston, and country music star Carrie Underwood.

Among the Christian athletes on the list are Tim Tebow at 37, golfer Bubba Watson at 59, retired Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs at 75, and New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher at 88.

"Entertainment and sports stars are not usually considered religious leaders, but today their influence often exceeds that of pastors and televangelists," the article explains.

Several politicians also make an appearance; Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee is the highest ranking politician on the list at no. 7, with fellow potential presidential candidate Rick Santorum at 36 and Sarah Palin listed 87th.

Other church leaders mentioned include former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll (36), controversial televangelist Creflo Dollar (46), Rev. T.D. Jakes (14), and Charles Stanley (44).

"Authors like Mark and Grace Driscoll, who reach spouses in troubled marriages who might never have encountered Christian evangelism, make our list because they go where no minister has gone before," the article notes.

Newsmax also recognizes influential Christians in the business/food industry: CEO of Chick-Fil-A, Dan C. Cathy is placed at 51, and the founder of Domino's Pizza, Tom Monaghan at 61.

"The evangelist's soapbox is obsolete. Accepting Christ and committing sin against Him are both done sitting at a computer screen today. In response, the new world is bringing forth Christian leaders from some unexpected walks of life," the article concludes.