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Pope Francis bests Protestants in visibility contest

Pope Francis gets more press than any other Christian religious leader.
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Pope Francis met with Bolivian President Evo Morales Friday, and journalists around the world rushed to post news reports on the event. The Pope and the President held talks on bilateral and international issues, discussing Bolivia’s socioeconomic situation and the struggle against poverty and social inequality.

The question is, why are Protestant leaders so absent from the world stage? Why does the Pope get all the press, while Protestants are nearly invisible?

One big reason: Since the Protestant fold is so splintered by its very nature, no one single Protestant denomination can hope to match the size of the Catholic church. And no Protestant bishop, general minister, chief elder, or other leader has either the stature or the following to compete with a religious figure as well-known as Pope Francis.

Ironically, if one were to take a survey, very few people would be able to name even a single Protestant denominational head – unless it were their own.

Here’s the roundup of Protestant leadership:

  • United Methodists: five U.S. jurisdictions, with a Secretary over each jurisdiction, and bishops for each regional or statewide jurisdiction.
  • United Church of Christ: Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President.
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson.
  • The Episcopal Church: Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori.
  • The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev. Gradye Parsons; Moderator of the 220th General Assembly, Rev. Neal D. Presa.
  • Disciples of Christ: General Minister and President, Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins.
  • The American Baptist Church: General Secretary, A. Roy Medley.
  • Southern Baptist Convention: Richard Land.
  • Moravian Church in America: Two provinces, Northern and Southern, led by self-governing executive boards, synods, and bishops.
  • The Church of England: The Queen of England is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, with two provinces, one led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the other led by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu.

Ever hear of any of these individuals? If you do know any of them, then you’re better informed than the general populace.

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