There are a lot of great and admirable religious leaders. Gandhi. Some other guys.

But there are also a lot of bad ones.

Did you ever want to have a place to look up who these dudes are (and most, but not all, are dudes)? This may be especially helpful if you find yourself in conversations with people about the role of religion in moral guidance. No matter how valuable religion might be, for some, in this area (and it is a rather questionable assertion to begin with) if the leaders of various religions are responsible for grand acts of malice, hatred, social disruption, genocide, and more, it should be noted.

From the Inquisition to the Christian Coalition, many notable personalities have graced, as it were, society with their not very Christian behavior. In “God-Awful: The Worst Religious Leaders of the Western World,” Roger Bauman has compiled a short list of just over 50 famous religious leaders who give humans a bad name. For each he supplies ample biographical information and makes the case for their disdain. Popes, Kings, explorers, advisors to Popes and Kings, and TV Evangelicals are all sampled. The nearly 400 page volume is detailed, well written, and in its own way, a very fun read.


  1. #1 Wade Willson
    November 25, 2014

    25 Worst Atheist Leaders:
    1) Josef Stalin
    2) Adolf Hitler
    3) Mao Zedong
    4) Pol Pot
    5) Vladimir Lenin
    6) Nikita Khruschev
    7) Xian Thuy (N. Vietnam)
    8) Karl Marx
    9) Vladislaw Gomulka
    10) Benito Mussolini
    11) Fidel Castro
    12) Raoul Castro
    13) Che Guevara
    14) Kin Jong-il
    15) Kim Il-Sung
    16) Kim Jong-un
    17) Enver Hoxha (Albania)
    18) Napoleon
    19) Alfred Kinsey (he was a Micheal Jackson type of guy and not because of the singing)
    20) Than Shwe (Burma)
    21) Jeffrey Dahmer (necrophilic serial killer)
    22) Jim Jones (Jonestown, Guyana)
    23) Tito
    24) Prachanda
    25) Ho Chi Minh
    There are more Christian leaders, so there are more to get angry about. Some (like Martin Luther) weren’t that bad. If I had more time I could easily do 50.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    November 26, 2014

    Martin Luther was pretty antiemetic.

  3. #3 stewart
    November 27, 2014

    Luther’s writings are not antiemetic: soon as he gets to the Jews, I want to throw up. Wade, declaring someone an atheist leader because you don’t like them is not a strategy that works in print, where people have a chance to read and think over what you produce.