Franklin Graham is top of Newsmax's list of 100 most influential Christians in America

(Samaritan's Purse)

Outspoken conservative Franklin Graham has come out top of a list of the 100 most influential Christians in America today.

Other big names making the Newsmax's list are Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen and TV power couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who are behind the massively popular The Bible miniseries and A.D.:The Bible Continues.

Graham is the son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham and head of Samaritan's Purse, and has been particularly outspoken in his opposition to Islam and marriage equality.  His father was listed at No.5.

Newsmax appeared to list the 100 names in no particular order but described them as Christians who are making a "real impact on modern lives in 2015".

The list was full of familiar names like Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren, Mike Huckabee, Pat Robertson and T.D. Jakes.

Mark Driscoll, who was forced to resign from the helm of Mars Hill Church, was listed at No.36, just above Tim Tebow, the Christian quarterback who made "Tebowing" - bending on one knee to pray at games - popular during his time at the Broncos.  He has spent the last two years off the pitch devoted to his charities while waiting for his next break.  

There were some lesser known figures on the list too, such as Fred Luter, the first-ever black president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Dan T. Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A. 

Explaining its choices, Newsmax wrote: "Christianity's challenges in today's world of instantaneous information transmission and new brands of sin are not what they were a century ago, nor are they quite what they were during the socio-sexual revolution of the '60s. And not all the names below are occupants of pulpits — not traditional physical pulpits, anyway.

"Entertainment and sports stars are not usually considered religious leaders, but today their influence often exceeds that of pastors and televangelists.

"And what are stand-up comedians doing on a list of powerful Christians? Unlike some preachers, they don't put their audiences to sleep or send them to the exits with their holier-than-thou attitudes."

See the full list here

Copyright © 2015 Ecumenical News