Religious Leaders with Massive Bank Accounts, Ranked
It's no secret that society values wealth, but we don't often think of religious leaders as the ones who are living the high life. After all, their lives are devoted to worship and spiritual and moral guidance, right?
From Joel Osteen to Billy Graham, worship and guidance can pay big — as proven by this list of religious leaders with huge bank accounts. Whether you believe they have good things waiting for them in the afterlife or not, you can’t deny they have it more than good in this life.
31. Reverend Al Sharpton, $500,000
This civil rights activist and president of the National Action Network (NAN) non-profit organization has an estimated net worth of $500,000. NAN is based in Harlem, New York, but has expanded to include at least 47 other chapters. When it comes to religion, Sharpton is no amateur. He supposedly delivered his first sermon at just 4 years old.
30. Charles Stanley, $1.5 Million
This man not only founded In Touch Ministries in 1977, but he also authored more than 60 books, some of which made it to The New York Times bestseller list. A long-time pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia, Stanley has earned a spot in the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
29. R. C. Sproul, $2 Million
If you thought authoring 60 books was impressive, wait until you hear how many R.C. Sproul has written. This first president of Reformation Bible College and founder of Ligonier Ministries has penned more than 100 books in his lifetime. That's an average of more than one book a year!
28. Sri Chinmoy, $2 Million
The late Sri Chinmoy, originally from Bangladesh, enjoyed a net worth of$2 million in his lifetime. After his passing, a community of people still follows his teachings and swears by his practices. With such a serene smile, it's no wonder he touched the hearts of many.
27. Mark Driscoll, $2.5 Million
Unlike many other religious leaders, Mark Driscoll was not brought up in the religion he later taught. Instead, he began practicing the religion during his college years after a woman named Grace gave him a Bible. He always claims that changed everything.
26. Jack Van Impe, $2.5 Million
Jack Van Impe is a modern-day televangelist who devotes his TV program to the teachings of God. He hosts the show with his wife, Rexella Van Impe. On the show, they discuss current events and their connection to biblical prophecies.
25. Louis Farrakhan, $3 Million
Louis Farrakhan has established about $3 million of net worth, although his roots aren’t in religion. Originally, Farrakhan worked for symphonies in Boston, Massachusetts, after which he became a cabaret singer and performer. As unlikely as these beginnings are for a religious leader, he undoubtedly learned some useful skills related to commanding an audience.
24. Clifton Davis, $3 Million
Clifton Davis is another religious leader with unexpected beginnings. Davis' first love was actually music, and he participated in Broadway musicals and the Stellar Awards Gospel Music Show. He even wrote the 1971 Jackson 5 song "Never Can Say Goodbye." It's hard to believe this is the story of a minister, right?
23. N.T. Wright, $4 Million
Bishop N.T. Wright teaches at St. Andrews University in Scotland and has all his courses displayed on his personal website. Highly revered for his thinking and his insightful interpretations of religion, he has written more than 70 books in total.
22. Tony Campolo, $4 Million
With a net worth of $4 million, Tony Campolo has a long and decorated past as a professor at both Eastern University and the University of Pennsylvania. He didn’t always teach religious subjects, however. At Eastern, he was a professor of sociology. Campolo’s expansive knowledge led him to write more than 35 books over the course of his life.
21. Reinhard Bonnke, $4 Million
Reinhard Bonnke is a religious leader with a taste for travel. He went to Bible college in Wales, completed his ordination in Germany and then traveled across the immense continent of Africa. That journey led Bonnke to see Africa as his place of calling.
20. Joseph Prince, $5 Million
Like many religious leaders on our list, Joseph Prince is the author of several successful books, including Destined to Reign, Unmerited Favor and The Power of Right Believing. He also leads a broadcast gospel that reaches a wide audience of millions, according to his website.
19. Paula White-Cain, $5 Million
Paula White-Cain is a well-known evangelist who recently served as pastor for the New Destiny Christian Church in Orlando, Florida. The large church is well established and considers itself multicultural and non-denominational. She has certainly done well in the position, given her net worth of $5 million.
18. Eddie Long, $5 Million
The New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia enjoyed Eddie Long as its pastor for many years. His preachings included the belief that loyal followers of God were bound to see wealth during their lifetime. This particular religious interpretation is called "prosperity gospel."
17. Noel Jones, $5 Million
Pentecostal bishop Noel Jones grew up in a large family of seven in Spanish Town, Jamaica. Eventually, he found his way to Syracuse, New York, where religion became his whole life. At only 19 years old, he decided to study theology at Aenon Bible College. Upon graduating, he received a first pastorate at Bethel Temple of Longview in Texas.
16. John Hagee, $5 Million
John Hagee is the founder (and senior pastor) of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. He is also the chairman and founder of Christians United for Israel, an organization that encourages and supports pro-Israel churches and organizations. He doesn’t do everything alone, however — he likes to keep his family close to his church.
15. Walter Mercado, $5 Million
Part of what followers loved about Walter Mercado was his refusal to conform. Mercado has a gender-fluid identity and didn’t bat an eye at wearing make-up or dressing in feminine clothes. In the Latinx community to which he belonged (born in Puerto Rico), this is rare.
14. Joyce Meyer, $8 Million
Joyce Meyer is another religious leader that found God through hardship. Her life wasn’t an easy one. She suffered abuse at the hands of her father, lack of support from her mother and a marriage that only went one way: downhill. Despite all her struggles, she found hope in her faith.
13. Juanita Bynum, $10 Million
Not only has this woman preached and authored books like other religious leaders on this list, but she also sings her heart out. Juanita Bynum sings gospel music that has even the least religious among us seeing angels. Her followers have even given her the elegant title "Prophetess Juanita Bynum."
12. Ernest Angley, $15 Million
Ernest Angley is another great televangelist on our list of richest religious leaders. He is the founder (and pastor) of Grace Cathedral, where he spent many years preaching — although his reputation is not without stains. Like some other religious leaders, Angley has been accused of sexual misconduct.
11. T. D. Jakes, $18 Million
Bishop T. D. Jakes has a net worth of an astounding $18 million. How is that possible? Jakes has authored his fair share of books over the years, and he doesn't hesitate to encourage listeners to go out and buy them. With a following of 30,000 people, the profits can stack up fast!
10. Kirk Cameron, $20 Million
You're probably familiar with Growing Pains, Fireproof, Mercy Rule and Saving Christmas, right? Kirk Cameron got his start appearing in these shows and movies. He also had a stint co-hosting The Way of the Master and helped out with several documentaries. Not what you expect from a religious leader?
9. Billy Graham, $25 Million
This religious icon has quite the number of listeners. According to his website, Billy Graham has preached to more than 215 million people over the course of his life all over the globe. That's got to be some kind of record! He has the bank account to go along with all that work, of course, at about $25 million.
8. Rick Warren, $25 Million
Another famous pastor, Rick Warren founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. The church now has 19 other locations and seats about 30,000 people per week. That's a lot of loyal followers, even if they are dispersed around the country. He also created the website pastors.com, where pastors are able to connect.
7. Benny Hinn, $60 Million
Some religious leaders make the mistake of ignoring the internet because they aren’t sure how it works. Not Benny Hinn! He has utilized technology to his benefit, including developing a website and cellphone apps. He's clearly not afraid to keep up with the times when it comes to technology.
6. Victoria Osteen, $100 Million
It's not surprising that the wife of Joel Osteen is also on our list of richest religious leaders. Like her husband, she has a net worth of $100 million and teams up with Joel as co-pastor at Lakewood church.
5. Joel Osteen, $100 Million
Joel Osteen is one of the most famous — and richest — religious leaders on our list. His net worth is an unbelievable $100 million, thanks in part to a $200,000 salary from Lakewood Church and proceeds from book deals. He now leads a lavish life living in a $10 million house (even if he doesn't make a yearly salary anymore).
4. Kenneth Copeland, $300 Million
Televangelist Kenneth Copeland has gotten around quite a bit during his 52 years on the job. Not only does he speak with his wife on the television show Believer's Voice of Victory, but he has appeared on countless other TV programs and at countless Christian events, including the Christian Biker's Rally (pictured).
3. George Foreman, $300 Million
George Foreman was a successful boxer before he started living the religious life. In fact, he won Olympic gold in 1968 for his boxing skills. The day came, however, when Foreman lost to boxer Jimmy Young, and he reportedly had a "religious experience" in his room afterward. That marked the day that Foreman turned to religion as a career.
2. Supreme Master Ching Hai, Multimillionaire
Vietnamese-born Ching Hai is the head of what one cult expert, Margaret Singer, calls "one of the most well-organized cults in the United States and the world." She teaches her signature Quan Yin Method, which calls for daily meditation and adherence to five precepts.
1. Prince Shāh Karim al-Husayni, $13.3 Billion
The top spot on our list goes to Prince Shāh Karim al-Husayni, the current Imam of Nizari Ismailism, a group within the Shia Islam branch of Islam. Known as Mawlana Hazar Imam to his followers, this religious leader has a hefty bank account, with his total assets amounting to over $13.3 billion.