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25 Most Influential Religious Leaders

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 78, Autumn 1998 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

On 6 September 1998 the PBS program “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” named and identified the world’s 25 religious leaders of the 20th Century who have been most influential in the United States. The list included Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Buber, the Dalai Lama, Dorothy Day, Mary Baker Eddy, Mohandas Gandhi, Billy Graham, Gustavo Guitierrez, Carl Henry, Abraham Heschel, Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, Martin Luther King Jr., Ayatollah Khomeni, C. S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Elijah Mohammed, Reinhold Niebuhr, Norman Vincent Peale, Walter Rauschenbusch, Albert Schweitzer, Menachem Schneerson, Mother Teresa, and Elie Wiesel.

Rev. Martin Marty (America’s premier church historian), Phyllis Tickle (a religion editor for Publishers’ Weekly), and Peter Steinfels (of the New York Times) offered critical responses. They questioned inclusion of Schneerson and lamented omission of such figures as William James and Desmund Tutu. Most important of all was omission of the founders of the great Pentecostal movement.