Prominent American Religious - Biographies By Last Name
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Allen, Richard

Richard Allen (1760-1831) was an influential black minister who established the first black denomination in the United States.

Asbury, Francis

Francis Asbury (1745-1816) was the preeminent leader of American Methodism after the Revolutionary War.

Brownson, Orestes

Orestes Brownson (1803-1876) was a public intellectual who defended Catholicism and its compatibility with American Society.

Carroll, John

John Carroll (1735-1815) served as the first Catholic bishop in the United States and helped expand the Catholic Church domestically.

Chavez, Cesar

Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) was a prominent labor leader who fought on behalf of American farm workers.

Coughlin, Charles

Charles Coughlin (1891-1979) was a Catholic "radio priest," who was controversial for his anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi views leading up to World War II.

Crosby, Frances "Fanny"

Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) wrote thousands of famous hymns, including "Blessed Assurance," "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross," and "To God Be the Glory."

Day, Dorothy

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was a Catholic activist, known for co-founding the Catholic Worker movement, leading anti-war and anti-nuclear proliferation movements, and promoting assistance to the poor.

Eddy, Mary Baker

Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) founded the Christian Science movement.

Edwards, Jonathan

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is the most influential theologian in American religious history and helped start the First Great Awakening.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) promoted Transcendentalist thought, which emphasized experiencing God through lived experience and intuition.

Finney, Charles

Charles Finney (1792-1875) was a prominent evangelical and revivalist during the Second Great Awakening.

Fuller, Charles Edward

Charles Fuller (1887-1968) was a prominent evangelist on the popular evangelical radio show "The Old Fashioned Revival Hour" and founded Fuller Theological Seminary.

Gibbons, James

James Gibbons (1834-1921) was an American cardinal archbishop who guided the Catholic Church through historic changes and mediated relations between American Catholics and the Vatican.

Graham, William "Billy"

Billy Graham (1918-present) was the preeminent evangelist of the second half of the 20th century, preaching to millions in the United States and abroad.

Heschel, Abraham Joshua

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) was an important Jewish theologian and social activist in the 20th century.

Hubbard, L. Ron

L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) founded Scientology, a controversial new religious movement.

Hughes, John

John Hughes (1797-1864) was a New York archbishop, who oversaw growth in the American Catholic Church due to Irish immigration and advocated Catholic parochial education.

Judson, Adoniram

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was one of the first American missionaries to travel to Burma, inspiring other Protestants to engage in overseas missionary work.

King, Martin Luther

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was an African-American Baptist minister and civil rights leader who combined Gandhi’s nonviolent philosophy and Christian love to fight racism.

Merton, Thomas

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a Catholic monk and prolific writer, who denounced social inequality and opened up interfaith dialogue.

Miller, William

William Miller (1782-1849) predicted that the return of Christ would occur in 1843, garnering both religious fervor and criticism.

Moody, Dwight L.

Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) was a 19th century Protestant revivalist, whose popularity led to the Moody Bible Institute and the growth of fundamentalism.

Niebuhr, Reinhold

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) was an influential theologian who advocated social justice and critiqued aspects of theological liberalism. He also is credited with the Serenity Prayer.

Ockenga, Harold John

Harold John Ockenga (1905-1985) led the new evangelical movement by helping co-found Fuller Seminary, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Christianity Today.

O'Connor, Flannery

The American writer Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) depicted fictional Southern characters confronting grace in depressing circumstances.

of Constantinople, Athenagoras I

Athenagoras (1886-1972) was an important archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America and later served as Patriarch of Constantinople until his death in 1972.

Penn, William

William Penn (1644-1718) was a Quaker activist, religious tolerance advocate and founder of the Pennsylvania colony.

Rauschenbusch, Walter

Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) was the main founding theologian of the Social Gospel.

Russell, Charles Taze

Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) sparked the religious tradition later known as the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Ryan, John A.

John A. Ryan (1869-1945) was a Catholic priest and moral theologian who fought for economic justice. He helped inspire and support Roosevelt’s New Deal Programs.

Schaeffer, Francis

Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) was a famous evangelical apologist who denounced the spread of relativism in modern society.

Serra, Junipero

Junipero Serra (1713-1784) was a Spanish Franciscan priest who strengthened Spanish control of California and helped bring Catholic faith to the New World.

Sheen, Fulton

Fulton Sheen (1895-1979) was a popular Catholic leader, who appeared on popular radio programs ("Catholic Hour") and television programs ("Life is Worth Living").

Smith, Joseph

Joseph Smith (1805-1844) was the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a controversial and influential new religious movement in America.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) was a women’s rights advocate who pioneered feminist theology through her controversial biblical commentary known as the The Woman’s Bible.

Sunday, William "Billy"

Billy Sunday (1862-1935) was a prominent evangelist who led revivals, appealed for a prohibition of alcohol, and strengthened conservative Protestantism.

Tillich, Paul Johannes

Paul Tillich (1886-1965) was a German American theologian and public intellectual who connected Christian faith to modern culture.

VI, Paul

Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) oversaw the completion of the Second Vatican Council and authored Humanae Vitae, an important and controversial document in modern Catholicism.

Wesley, Charles

Charles Wesley (1707-1788) was an important leader of the Methodist movement, the younger brother of John Wesley, and an influential hymn writer.

Wesley, John

John Wesley (1703-1791) founded the Methodist movement.

White, Ellen Gould

Ellen Gould White (1827-1915) was the co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She promoted Saturday as the Christian Sabbath and advocated biblically-based health initiatives.

White, James Springer

James White (1821-1881) was the co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church along with his wife, Ellen Gould White.

Whitefield, George

George Whitefield (1714-1770) was the leading preacher and revivalist of the First Great Awakening in the American colonies.

Willard, Frances

Frances Willard (1839-1898) was a social activist who promoted temperance, women’s suffrage, labor reform and home-centered family life.

Williams, Roger

Roger Williams (1603-1683) was a theologian, advocate for the separation of civil and church authority, and founder of Rhode Island.

Winthrop, John

John Winthrop (1588-1649) was the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was famous for describing the colony as a "city on a hill."

Witherspoon, John

John Witherspoon (1723-1794) was a Presbyterian minister, president of the College of New Jersey, and the only clergy signatory of the Declaration of Independence.

X, Malcolm

Malcolm X (1925-1965) was an active minister and spokesman for the Nation of Islam from the mid-1950s until 1964.

XXIII, John

Pope John XXIII (1881-1963) called the Second Vatican Council, one of the most significant events in the modern Catholic Church.

Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918-2008) was the founder of Transcendental Meditation and a popular religious figure of the 1960s and 1970s.

Young, Brigham

Brigham Young (1801-1877) succeeded Joseph Smith as Mormon president. He led a Mormon exodus to Utah and helped expand the church to 150,000 members.


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