Top 10 Religious Leaders of the 20th/21st Century

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6. Bishop Desmond Tutu


The emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town, he used his pre-eminent status to oppose Apartheid and help South Africa stand up as a unified nation after Mandela came into power. Even after retirement he works on issues concerning democracy and human rights.


7. Master Li Hongzhi


He founded the spiritual discipline Falun Gong in China in 1992. Today it is believed that he has over 70 million followers. Presently based in the US, his “heavy emphasis on morality makes it appear to be a religion”.


8. Archbishop Makarios


One of the few religious leaders who played dual roles as a religious leader and as an elected head of the Government. He was the Archbishop of the Cypriot Orthodox Church and also as the President of the Republic of Cyprus. Even though his reign was full of controversies, yet he remained one of the most notable religious and political figures of his time.


9. Louis Farrakhan


A controversial religious leader, he commands a large following in the “Nation of Islam” and he is one Black America’s strongest advocates. His influence extends more due to his standing as an African American, rather than as a religious leader.


10. Ayatullah Khomeini


Believed by many to be the greatest Islamic leader of the 20th Century, his defiance of the West, and his ability to preside over the overthrow of a brutal regime in Iran, made him a figure to revered and feared. A religious leader who was also a master strategist, he led a revolution and changed the course of history in the Middle East.

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