Religious Leaders with Massive Bank Accounts, Ranked

By Jake SchroederLast Updated May 5, 2020 7:13:30 PM ET
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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.

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Five years after that sermon, Sharpton received his license to become a Washington Temple Church of God & Christ Pentecostal minister. A New York City native, he grew up to make a good living as a well-known civil rights activist and church leader.

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.

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All of these accomplishments have earned Pastor Stanley a net worth of $1.5 million. Hard to believe? Just take a look at his website. With all the projects he has going on — and the loyal followers behind him — it would be strange if he wasn’t making a fortune.

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!

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He was also the founding pastor of Saint Andrew's Church of Florida, and he tried his hand at broadcasting. Care to guess his net worth? It's a whopping $2 million. That doesn't mean he intends to slow down. Sproul recently ventured into the world of the internet to continue sharing religious insight.

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.

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There was more to Chinmoy than his spirituality, however. He was supposedly very interested in physical strength, and he loved marathons and weightlifting. Can't imagine a religious leader pumping iron? Chinmoy did it daily. Kinesiology professor Terry Todd even joked that Chinmoy liked to say he lifted more than he actually did.

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.

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Thanks to Grace, Driscoll went on to found Mars Hill Church in Washington and The Trinity Church in Arizona. His career led to appearances on shows like Loveline, Nightline and Fox & Friends, and he has a net worth of $2.5 million. So, what happened to Grace? He married her!

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.

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Photo Courtesy: Jack Van Impe Ministries/YouTube

If you tune in, be prepared for some anti-Muslim talk, as the Van Impes are not known for being particularly open-minded. In fact, they denounce some Christian leaders as becoming "Chrislam." Not surprisingly, Trinity Broadcasting Network prohibited the airing of that particular episode. Nonetheless, his television show and JVI Ministries International have made him about $2.5 million.

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.

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In 1955, Farrakhan came across Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), and his life began to change. In 1977, he became the head of the NOI. He is known for negativity toward Jewish and Caucasian people.

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?

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Davis' skills at performing paid off in his life as a minister for a Baptist church — his listeners loved him. After a successful career with an interdenominational ministry, he established a net worth of $3 million, which is more than many singer/songwriters make in a lifetime.

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.

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Out of all the titles, he is most known for Paul and the Faithfulness of God, a book that offers a deep dive into the apostle Paul. It is the culmination of his life’s work and is his most praised book, by far. Bishop Wright clocks in at a net worth of about $4 million.

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.

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On top of teaching, he led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education in the past, and he continues to blog about his religious beliefs. He also won the Lifetime Achievement Award granted by the National Youth Workers Convention.

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.

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In Africa, he has conducted missionary work and gospel crusades in numerous locations. Apparently, the ministry was what Bonnke knew he wanted to do as a boy, after it came to him as a "calling." His intense determination and hunger for spreading God's word have earned Bonnke a net worth of $4 million.

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.

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Prince is also the senior pastor of New Creation Church, where he was a founding member and spent time as an "elder." At 56 years old, he has an impressive net worth of $5 million. Who knew religious projects were such a lucrative career choice? Things have worked out for leaders like Prince.

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.

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Part of what draws followers to White-Cain is her tumultuous childhood. She was a victim of abuse and lost her father at a very young age. It was her religion that pulled her through it all and led her to be an inspiration for others. White-Cain is a living example of the power of faith.

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."

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Long enjoyed wealth himself, with a $5 million net worth and luxurious living conditions. Despite his many admiring followers, however, he did receive some unholy accusations. Several people came forward and accused Long of sexual misconduct in the years before he passed away in 2017.

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.

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After moving many times throughout his life, Jones finally landed in Los Angeles, California, where he put down final roots and accumulated a net worth of $5 million. With his charming personality and impactful teaching style, followers can’t get enough of Noel Jones.

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.

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Hagee's son participates as a partner at Cornerstone Church, and both the father’s and son's wives are in charge of the women's ministries. It looks like a family that works together, stays together, right? Hagee has a net worth of $5 million.

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.

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Mercado is most known for his horoscope readings presented on television, so while he's not as traditionally religious as the other people on our list, he is certainly a spiritual leader. With such a large personality and unique way of seeing the world, he earned a net worth of $5 million before his recent passing in November 2019.

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.

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Thanks to Meyer's leadership, she earned many honorary degrees, including degrees from Grand Canyon University, Oral Roberts University and Life Christian University. Not bad for the training in the school of life experience! Nowadays, Meyers enjoys a net worth of $8 million.

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."

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Bynum's can-do attitude and explosive vocals have won her the admiration and loyalty of many people — along with an impressive paycheck. Her net worth is a shocking $10 million. If you want to listen to her sing (and preach), check it out on YouTube. You may need to catch your breath afterward!

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.

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While these allegations may have damaged his public image and caused him to lose followers, it doesn't show in his salary. He is worth $15 million — three times as much as Paula White-Cain! Who knows how much he would be worth if he hadn’t been involved in such scandals?

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!

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Apart from being an author, Jakes also founded The Potter's House Church in Dallas, Texas. Ultimately, he expanded this church to four different campuses in Texas — at a cost of $45 million. At 62 years old, Jakes doesn’t appear to be slowing down, either.

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?

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Cameron admits that he wasn't raised in a very religious household, and they didn't go to church. His "epiphany" didn't come until adulthood, when he heard his first gospel message while sitting in his fancy sports car. The rest is history. Today, he has a net worth of $20 million.

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.

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Graham's life wasn’t always so glamorous. He grew up in rural North Carolina on a dairy farm — something that a good chunk of his listeners can relate to in some way. When he turned 15, he decided to commit his life to the Lord's teachings, and he never looked back.

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, where pastors are able to connect.

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The site also provides resources and support for pastors who are just getting started, including the weekly newsletter Ministry Toolbox. So how much has Warren accumulated for his efforts? Only a humble $25 million. Pastor Rick, as his followers call him, is certainly doing well for himself.

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.

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Born in Israel and later living in Canada, Hinn felt the calling in 1972 after seeing a vision of people falling into hell (or the inferno). This intense sight caused him to drop everything and dedicate himself to spreading the word of God. It was certainly a good decision economically, considering his net worth is $60 million.

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.

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Similar to her husband, Victoria grew up in a religious household, with a deacon and a Sunday school teacher for parents. She followed in their footsteps upon reaching adulthood and has traveled extensively with her husband and his father to spread God's teachings. With books of her own and followers of her own, Victoria has earned just as much money as her husband.

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).

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Many have wondered, how can a pastor justify making so much money? Aren't they supposed to value a humble lifestyle, using only what they need? Despite these criticisms, Osteen continues to preach to followers and earn millions of dollars.

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).

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Off-screen, Copeland has spoken on podcasts and radio shows and via his magazine Believers' Conventions. At the end of the day, he has an unbelievable net worth of $300 million. Yes, you read that right, $300 million! It makes you wonder why he hasn't decided to retire yet — or donated chunks of his fortune.

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.

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And what a career move it was! Foreman has a net worth of $300 million. He says his childhood wasn't so great — he was a victim of bullying — but he is certainly on top now. (Of course, some of his fortune comes from George Foreman grill sales.)

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.

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Curious to see her in action? Simply pop into any Loving Hut vegan restaurant — a chain owned by Ching Hai herself — to watch her TV channel on all the screens. Although her exact net worth is not known, she is believed to be a multimillionaire. With her elegant clothes and growing following, that's not hard to believe.

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. 

Religious Leaders
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Prince Shāh Karim al-Husayni took over as Imam in 1957 at the young age of 20 after his grandfather, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III., passed away. Prince Shāh Karim al-Husayni is also a racehorse owner and breeder, an investor in luxury hotel chains, and a philanthropist.