(Barna Group) U.S. Lacks Notable Christian Leaders

A new Barna Group study illustrates that no single Christian leader captures the attention of the nation’s population. When asked to identify the single most influential Christian leader in the U.S. today, two out of every five Americans (41%) are unable to think of anyone who would meet that description.

Billy Graham is the name mentioned most often in response to the unaided survey question (a measure often described as “top-of-mind” awareness). One out of five Americans names the octogenarian evangelist, with 19% of adult residents identifying Mr. Graham as the nation’s most influential Christian leader.

Half as many adults (9%) believe “the Pope” or Pope Benedict to be the most significant Christian leader in the nation. Nearly the same proportion (8%) considers President Barack Obama to hold this prominent role.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

3 comments on “(Barna Group) U.S. Lacks Notable Christian Leaders

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    What a telling sign or symptom of the pervasive secularization and de-Christianization of the US. But even worse is that after Billy Graham and the Pope, the most influential Christian leader (at 5%) is none other than the notorious prosperity preacher Joel Osteen, with his false health-and-wealth gospel.

    I was expecting to find Rick Warren’s name at the top of the poll, but I was wrong. However, he would still get my vote as the most influential pastor in America. He deserves top billing. Osteen definitely doesn’t.

    David Handy+

  2. New Reformation Advocate says:

    P.S. It’s not that the US lacks great or “notable Christian leaders.” It’s just that the general public is woefully ignorant of who the top Christian leaders are. Very revealing.

    FWIW, on the Catholic side, for the most influential American leaders I’d nominate Cardinal George in Chicago or Cardinal Dolan in New York. Both are admirable leaders of the highest caliber and integrity.

    David Handy+

  3. Steven says:

    My question would be, is the survey reflective of Christian leaders in the nation, or is it reflective of a change in media attitude towards Christian leaders in the nation? A couple of generations ago, it was common to find Christian leaders who not only regularly appeared on television/radio, the newspapers, and the major news magazines, they were portrayed with respect and esteem by such media. It was in that era that leaders like Billy Graham emerged. As those leaders departed, they were succeeded by leaders who were granted less access to the mass media, which also held them in considerably less esteem.

    Then again, one could say much the same of leaders in other facets of American life. Well-known national “leaders” also included people (okay, with rare exceptions, men) in commerce, academia, publishing (including books and general, not just news, magazines) the military, and even sports (as “sportsmen,” not necessarily as “athletes”). And there were leaders who could be recognized as such over an entire generation, rather than simply the latest thing.

    Yet even that is reflective of an American culture that was still emerging at the beginning of the 20th century. Go back even 100 years from today, and would a similar survey have named any clear “national” Christian leaders?