The Most Talked About Christians of the Decade

01
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... And Why We Loved Talking About These Famous (And Infamous) Christians

The ten most talked about christians
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As we step from 2009 to 2010 into a new decade, I thought it might be worthwhile to look back at some of the most talked about and famous Christians of the last 10 years. A few of these personalities have been in the limelight because they are well-respected leaders, others because they are controversial figures, and some because of their remarkable accomplishments. We'll recall what each of these individuals has done to attract attention in the last decennium and we'll chat a bit more about why they are among the most famous (and infamous) Christians of the decade.
02
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Reverend Billy Graham

Reverend Billy Graham
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According to the Barna Group, American evangelist Billy Graham is the most favorable religious leader in the nation. In his lifetime, through world-famous evangelistic outreaches, he has led hundreds of thousands of people to faith in Jesus Christ. In June 2005, America's most-loved preacher gave his final stadium altar-call, ending a six-decade career of crusading for Christ. His last crusade was in New York, the same city where the nationally recognized events began in 1957.

In June 2007, Graham said goodbye to his faithful ministry partner and beloved wife of 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham, when she passed away at age 87. And on November 7, 2008, Billy Graham celebrated his 90th birthday. Earlier in the decade (September 14, 2001), he led a nationally televised prayer service at Washington National Cathedral for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

More talk about Billy Graham ...

03
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Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI
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On April 19, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger) was elected the 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church following the death of his predecessor John Paul II (April 2). Inaugurated on April 24, 2005, at age 78, he is the oldest pope in nearly 300 years and the first German pope in almost 500 years. He presided over the funeral of Pope John Paul II. In 2007, he published the popular Jesus of Nazareth, the first of a three-part study on the life of Jesus. Since then, he has published many other top-selling works.

One of the central themes of Pope Benedict's papacy is to improve the Catholic Church's relations with other faiths, particularly with Eastern Orthodoxy and the Muslim faith. In April 2008, Pope Benedict made his first visit to the United States, including a stop at Ground Zero, one of the sites of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In May 2009, during another much discussed trip, Pope Benedict visited the Holy Land.

More talk about Pope Benedict ...

04
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Pastor Rick Warren

Pastor Rick Warren
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Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of the most prominent churches in America with more than 20,000 members attending four campuses each week. The well-known evangelical Christian leader rose to worldwide fame in 2002 after publishing his wildly popular book, The Purpose Driven Life. To date, the title has sold more than 30 million copies, making it the top selling hardcover book of all time.

In 2005, TIME Magazine named Warren one of "100 Most Influential People in the World," and Newsweek Magazine counted him among "15 People Who Make America Great." Stepping his way onto the political stage, Warren hosted the Civil Forum on the Presidency featuring both John McCain and Barack Obama in August 2008.

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05
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Singer, Songwriter Bono

Singer, Song-writer Bono
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Lead singer of U2, one of the most popular rock bands of the last three decades, Bono is not only a rock star with a world-wide fan base, he's a devoted humanitarian, leading campaigns to end poverty, hunger, and Third World debt. As a performer, he has the uncanny ability to connect with his audience, inspiring profound love (some might describe as worship) and respect from millions of every-day individuals around the globe. As an activist, he has worked hard to make the world a better place.

These are just a few of his endeavors in the last decade: the Jubilee 2000 project to end AIDS and poverty in Africa, DATA (Debt, Aid, Trade, Africa) in 2002, the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History (USA) in 2004, and the Make Poverty History movement (UK) in 2005. Interestingly, this nearly five-year-old blog post asking the question, "Is Bono of U2 a Christian?," still receives frequent comments. Though it may leave you wondering if he's truly a believer, it proves that people love to talk about Bono.

More talk about Bono ...

06
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Televangelist Pat Robertson

Televangelist Pat Robertson
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Nearly as well-known, but a wee bit less widely-respected than Billy Graham, is televangelist Pat Robertson. He is founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and host of the 700 Club, one of the longest running religious television programs. Part of both his fame and infamy comes from his outspoken involvement in politics and government affairs. He is a strongly conservative political activist who, incidentally, ran for President in 1988 but withdrew prior to the primaries.

In August 2005, Pat Robertson made a stunning public call for the assassination of the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez. That certainly had people talking! And if that wasn't enough, each year in January he continues a tradition of making boldly controversial prophetic predictions for the upcoming year.

More talk about Pat Robertson ...

07
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NFL Quarterback Kurt Warner

NFL Quarterback Kurt Warner
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Kurt Warner's amazing story is the stuff of legends—urban legends, that is. The somewhat true, but factually inaccurate tale of his life has been circulating the Internet for almost a decade. But Kurt Warner's true story is just as inspiring. He was, in fact, a stock boy in a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, grocery store who went on to be named the NFL and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. And his success story is still being written.

Over the past decade, the ups and downs of his NFL career have garnered much media attention, including his 2008 "renaissance experience" of leading the Arizona Cardinals to their first ever Super Bowl competition. In addition, his strong and outspoken faith in God has been the focus of much public chit chat as well.

More talk about Kurt Warner ...

08
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Dr. Jerry Falwell

Dr. Jerry Falwell
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Dr. Jerry Falwell was a conservative Christian preacher and founding pastor of the more than 20,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. He also established Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971, which was later renamed Liberty University. Highly vocal in politics, Falwell set up the conservative lobbying group the Moral Majority in 1979, and went on to be one of the most controversial evangelical ministers in America.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Falwell received heavy criticism for blaming the attacks on pagans, abortionists, gays, lesbians, and other groups that try to secularize America. Although he later apologized for this statement, it was just one example of many bold, faith-based stands that gained Falwell a great deal of polemic notoriety from both enemies and friends. In 2006, Falwell celebrated his 50th anniversary as pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church. Less than a year later (May 2007), he died of heart failure at age 73.

More talk about Jerry Falwell ...

09
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Retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy

Retired NFL Coach Tony Dungy
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Tony Dungy is a former professional football player and retired coach for the Indianapolis Colts. Not only was he one of the most respected and popular NFL coaches in the league, colleagues and friends considered him to be a family man of great faith and Christian character. During seven years of this decade, he was head coach for the Indianapolis Colts, and in 2007, he became the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl.

Dungy published his first book (a bestselling memoir), Quiet Strength, in 2007, and Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance in February 2009. In the midst of a successful career, Dungy suffered a terrible loss and family tragedy in December 2005 when his 18-year-old son, James, committed suicide.

More talk about Tony Dungy ...

10
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Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.
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Some of you are angry with me (Aren't you?) for including Jeremiah Wright in this list, but you do have to admit that for a fleeting time in the past decade, he was the most talked about preacher in the United States. If you need help jogging your memory, Wright is the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ where President Barack Obama first affirmed his faith in Jesus Christ, where he remained a member for 20 years, where he and Michelle were married, and where his children were baptized.

While Obama campaigned for the presidency, Wright made headlines for what many considered highly offensive and controversial remarks during his sermons. Obama publicly denounced Wright's comments as "divisive" and "racially charged" and eventually resigned his membership at Trinity in May 2008.

More talk about Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. ...

11
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Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
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Admittedly, Sarah Palin is a latecomer to the chatter waves. However, the former Alaska Governor and John McCain's running mate in 2008, has attracted enough love-hate attention in the last two years of the decade to make up for her previous relative obscurity. Extreme popularity with the political right coupled with outright disdain and ridicule from the left, skyrocketed Palin into the public spotlight in August 2008 when John McCain announced her as his choice for Vice President.

In July 2009, she surprised just about everyone again with her bombshell announcement of early resignation as Alaska's Governor. Her memoir, Going Rogue, went bestseller with 300,000 copies selling on its first day, 700,000 during its first week (November 2009), and more than 1 million sold within two weeks of its release.

More talk about Sarah Palin ...

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Fairchild, Mary. "The Most Talked About Christians of the Decade." ThoughtCo, Mar. 24, 2017, thoughtco.com/famous-christians-of-the-decade-700352. Fairchild, Mary. (2017, March 24). The Most Talked About Christians of the Decade. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-christians-of-the-decade-700352 Fairchild, Mary. "The Most Talked About Christians of the Decade." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-christians-of-the-decade-700352 (accessed May 26, 2018).