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Tags: religious | leaders | influential | top 10 | best of | lists

America's 10 Most Influential Religious Leaders

cardinal timothy dolan looks up to the heavens during a sermon
Cardinal Timothy Dolan (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Michael Dorstewitz By Tuesday, 05 May 2020 04:51 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Religious liberty is ingrained in American history. The Pilgrims made the journey to the largely uncharted land to seek religious freedom, and the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantee those freedoms.

Accordingly, the United States has been a fertile ground for the faithful to practice the religion of their choice. Despite the attempts of some leftists to transform the United States into a secular society, crises such as the current coronavirus pandemic prompt Americans to turn to religious leaders for guidance and answers.

Here are Newsmax's picks of America's 10 most influential religious leaders, listed in alphabetical order:

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of the global social action agenda at the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Cooper has fought for Jewish and human rights for most of his adult life, and those activities have taken him to five continents.

Most recently he accompanied Rev. Johnnie Moore on an interfaith African fact-funding mission, following a deadly rampage targeting Christian churches by members of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.

Cooper assisted Rabbi Marvin Hier in the founding of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization.

Rev. Luis Cortes Jr. is a Baptist minister and the founder, president and CEO of Esperanza, a leading Hispanic faith-based Evangelical network.

The organization was founded upon and is directed by the teachings of Matthew 25:40, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

Although Cortes and George W. Bush formed a bond while the latter was campaigning for president, the group is apolitical. Its keynote speakers have included Presidents Bush and Barack Obama, as well as Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Mike Pence.

Dr. James Dobson is the founder of the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, "a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive."

Dobson stepped down as president of that organization in 2003 so as to dedicate more time to political activities. He also founded the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, currently headed by Tony Perkins.

Although age 84, Dobson still remains active through his newsletters from the Dobson Policy Center and the Dr. James Dobson Family Center that concentrates on religious freedom, plus pro-life and pro-family issues.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan was named Archbishop of New York by Pope Benedict XVI, and was installed in that post April 15, 2009 after previously serving as Archbishop of Milwaukee.

He is probably the most visible voice of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, and is a frequent contributor to cable and broadcast TV news programs from his headquarters at New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral.

In 2012 he was included in Time's list of 100 most influential people. After he successfully challenged the Obama administrations mandate that Catholic organizations, such as hospitals, pay for contraceptive services for female employees.

Franklin Graham is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, named after his late father, and of Samaritan's Purse, which describes itself as "a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world."

Samaritan's Purse has been in the news recently because of its response to the coronavirus pandemic. It established field hospitals in New York City's Central Park, as well as in Cremona, Italy, to treat patients with respiratory ailments.

Graham has met with and counseled five U.S. presidents, plus numerous state leaders in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Dr. Alveda King is the niece of the late civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the daughter of the slain civil rights activists A.D. King and his wife, Naomi Barber King.

She heads up the Alveda King Ministries, which was established "to inform and transform a culture by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ while promoting the Beloved Community, which embraces the dignity and sacredness of every human personality."

King is also fervently pro-life, and is the director of Civil Rights for the Unborn as well as the African American outreach director for Priests for Life.

Rev. Johnnie Moore is an evangelical leader and president of The Congress of Christian Leaders (CCL), an organization he co-founded with Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.

He told The Christian Post the CCL seeks to bridge a "gap between evangelicalism in the United States and around the world."

Moore accompanied Rabbi Cooper on the Nigerian fact-finding mission earlier this year, where thy met both Christian and Muslim religious leaders following acts of religious persecution committed by members of the Islamic State of West Africa, also known as Boko Haram.

Pastor Joel Osteen is a Houston-based televangelist and author, and is often referred to as the "most popular preacher on the planet." And for good reason: his weekly sermons are viewed by several million in over 100 foreign countries, as well as more than 100 million in the United States.

He is the pastor of the Lakewood Church, a non-denominational Christian megachurch, having one of the largest congregations in the United States, with 52,000 attendees each week.

Pastor Rick Warren is an author and senior pastor at the Saddleback Church, a 22,000 congregant megachurch based in Lake Forest, California, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Warren was also named as one of Time's 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

When Warren delivered an invocation at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009, he tried to strike an inclusive tone.

"We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequalled possibility where the son of an African immigrant can rise to highest level of our leadership," he said.

Rabbi Andrea Weiss, Ph.D., is the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, the largest Jewish seminary in North America for Jewish studies, and serves as an associate professor of Bible there.

She also launched the American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days, 100 Letters, an innovative response to political and religious intolerance.

Weiss explained, "Words and actions during and after the [2016] election seemed to call into question fundamental values that have long defined our nation."

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Michael Dorstewitz delivers Newsmax's picks of America's 10 most influential religious leaders.
religious, leaders, influential, top 10, best of, lists
Tuesday, 05 May 2020 04:51 PM
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