Southern Baptists among list of top 100 Christian leaders

by Karen L. Willoughby, |
Ronnie Floyd, Southern Baptist Convention president, leads in prayer for repentance, renewal and awakening Nov. 2, 2014, during the "I Stand Sunday" rally at Grace Fellowship Church in Houston. | Photo by Joni B. Hannigan

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Christian Examiner) – Four of the first 10 people on Newsmax Media's list of the top 100 Christian leaders who make a real impact in America today are members of Southern Baptist churches.

The list includes laymen, entertainment stars, and those involved in the political process as well as pastors.

Newsmax Media is a conservative news organization founded in 1998 by Christopher Ruddy, and operates, publishes the Franklin Prosperity Report and Newsmax magazine and runs the Newsmax TV cable news channel.

The Newsmax Top 100 list, released April 20, was topped by Franklin Graham, a Presbyterian and president of the Samaritan's Purse international relief organization and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, while his father, the revered Southern Baptist evangelist Billy Graham, now 96, was listed as fifth.

Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, and his wife Victoria, were ranked second and 18th, respectively. They are adherents of the Word of Faith movement.

But, Mark Burnett (Presbyterian) and Roma Downey (Roman Catholic), creators of "The Bible" television series and several other Christian productions, earned third place together for their combined impact on the nation. "The Bible" was seen by more than 100 million people when it launched in 2013, and more than 1 million copies have been sold of the DVD.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington was number four, and one of 12 people known to be Catholic who are on the list.

Pat Robertson (Pentecostal), chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, was number 10 on the list.

Including the elder Graham, four Southern Baptists were among the top 10:

-- Rick Warren. Pastor of Saddleback in Lake Forest, Calif. (sixth)

-- Mike Huckabee, Baptist minister and former governor of Arkansas, and now a potential 2016 presidential candidate (seventh)

-- Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. (eighth)

Other Southern Baptists in the top 100 are Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas (11); Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, N.C. (12); Tim LaHaye, ordained pastor, co-author of the best-selling "Left Behind" novels (19); David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby (26); Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow (37); Tony Perkins, preisdent of the Family Research Council (43); Charles Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia (44); Chuck Norris, martial artist and actor, evangelical author (50); Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A (51st); and, Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church of New Orleans and the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention (52); Gary Bauer, president of American Values, 2000 Republican presidential candidate, and Reagan administration domestic policy adviser (65); Joe Gibbs, retired Washington Redskins head coach who won three Super Bowls, and champion NASCAR team owner (75); William J. Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition and son of murdered atheist activist Madalyn Murray O'Hair (80); Gary Chapman, marriage counselor and author of "The 5 Love Languages" series (89).

Multiple Baptist groups were represented on the list as well as a number of diverse traditions: Pentecostal, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, African Methodist Episcopal, Methodist, Assembly of God, Presbyterian, Anglican Church in North America, Christian, Bible, Church of God in Christ, and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Thomas Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was listed in 13th place.

The complete list can be accessed at