They Were Clerics: Clerics who were well known for another role.

This thread is like several other recent ones, notably the "They were lawyers" and the "They were soldiers" threads, in that they'll be updated over time and are far from complete.  But, I thought it might be interesting to note people who are or were clerics, but who are known for some other role.
This one, I fear, might be a bit controversial as people are a bit predisposed to make some assumptions about anyone who is listed here.  They really ought not to. These individuals are just that, individuals.  They may be emblematic of their faiths, or they may be bad examples of it.  A person can't assume that just because they are listed here that some sweeping assumption can be made about that particular religion. For example, just because General Polk was a slave owning Confederate who was also the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana doesn't mean anything about the Episcopal Church at all, really, in and of itself. 

Nor does listing here amount to approval of anyone person.  It's just a list.
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Ida Margrete Meier Auken

Auken is a Socialist member of the Dutch Parliament and Environment Minister who is a Lutheran Pastor.


Category:  Lutheran Priest.  Politician. __________________________________________________________________________________

Margrete Auken

Margarite Auken is the mother of Ida Auken and was a member of the Dutch Parliament.  Like her daughter, she is also a Lutheran Priest.


Category:  Lutheran Priest.  Politician. __________________________________________________________________________________

John Bennett Bani

President of the island nation Vanuatu from 1999 to 2004, he is an Anglican priest.

Category:  Anglican Priest.  Politician.

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Timothy Wentworth Beaumont

Beaumont was the Baron of Whiteley and a member of the British Parliament from the Liberal Party and later the Green Party.  He was also an Anglican Priest.

Category:  Anglican Priest.  Politician.

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Kjell Magne Bondevik

Bondevik was Norway's longest running non Labor post World War Two Prime Minister.  He is a Lutheran Priest.

Category:  Lutheran Priest.  Politician.

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Ruđer Josip Bošković

18th Century physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, poet, theologian, who developed a precursor of atomic theory and made contributions to astronomy, including the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet  He discovered the absence of atmosphere on the Moon.  He was also a Jesuit priest.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Scientist.  Philosopher.  Diplomat.  Poet.

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John Chivington

John Chivington is infamously remembered as the commander of the 1st and 3d Colorado Cavalry, and the First New Mexico Volunteers at the Sand Creek Massacre.  This 1864 event is remembered as it was an unwarranted attack on a Cheyenne camp in Colorado that was at peace with the United States.  The attack has long been regarded as wholly unjustified. And, indeed, Congress investigated the event and said of Chivington:
As to Colonel Chivington, your committee can hardly find fitting terms to describe his conduct. Wearing the uniform of the United States, which should be the emblem of justice and humanity; holding the important position of commander of a military district, and therefore having the honor of the government to that extent in his keeping, he deliberately planned and executed a foul and dastardly massacre which would have disgraced the verist savage among those who were the victims of his cruelty. Having full knowledge of their friendly character, having himself been instrumental to some extent in placing them in their position of fancied security, he took advantage of their in-apprehension and defenceless condition to gratify the worst passions that ever cursed the heart of man. Whatever influence this may have had upon Colonel Chivington, the truth is that he surprised and murdered, in cold blood, the unsuspecting men, women, and children on Sand creek, who had every reason to believe they were under the protection of the United States authorities.
This event is so notorious that it overshadows Chivington's earlier contribution in the Battle of Glorietta Pass, in which his command decisions were sound.

It is often noted that Chivington was a Methodist minister, having been ordained in 1844.  He served in a variety of locations prior to the Civil War, sometimes with controversy due to his abolitionist stance.  He had at one time been sent as part of a mission to Indians in Kansas.  His service to the Methodist church became irregular upon his taking up military service during the Civil War.  He did not return to clerical duties upon leaving militia service in February 1865.

Category:  Methodist minister.  Soldier.

Date Added:  August 28, 2013.
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Nicolaus Copernicus

Copernicus is legendary as an astronomer, but surprisingly little is known about his personal life.  What is known is that he not only studied astronomy, but he practiced medicine as a physician.  The evidence is fairly strong that he also became at least a Deacon, or Archdeacon, in the Catholic Church and that he probably took holy orders, as he was mentioned as a candidate for an episcopal seat during his lifetime.  He had a degree in Canon Law, while none can be found for medicine, but that just reflects the degree to which the details of his life are unknown.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Astronomer.  Medicine.
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Robert John Cornell

Robert John Cornell was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin from 1975 to 1979.  Like Father Robert Drinan, he left office when Pope John Paul II required all Catholic religious to leave public office.


Category:  Catholic Priest.  Congressman.
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Miron Cristea

Prime Minister of Romania in 1938, he was the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church as well.

Category:  Romanian Orthodox Priest

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Georges Thierry d'Argenlieu

French admiral Georges Thierry d'Argenlieu commenced a naval career in 1912.  Following World War One, however, he entered religious study and became a  Discalced Carmelite friar in 1920.  He was ordained a Priest in 1925.  In 1939, however, he was recalled to military duty and served in the French navy again until 1947.  He was one of the officers who went with the Free French from the onset.  He is controversially associated with the start of the French Indochinese War as he recognized a Cochin Chinese government in contravention to the arrangement agreed to with Ho Chi Minh in France only slightly before that.  He retired from the Navy in 1947 and reentered religious life.

Category:  Naval Officer.

Date Added:  February 5, 2014

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John Claggett Danforth

Danforth was a U.S. Senator from Missouri and the US Ambassador to the United Nations in the George Bush II administration.  He is an Episcopal Priest.


Category:  Episcopal Priest.  Senator. Attorney General, Ambassador

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Robert Drinan

Robert Drinan was a Roman Catholic priest who was a member of Congress from 1973 to 1981, at which time Pope John Paul II required all Catholic religious to step down from political office.   Drinan was also a lawyer and a Georgetown law professor.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Congressman.  Lawyer.  Professor.
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Desiderius Erasmus

16th Century Dutch philosopher who is sometimes regarded as the most brilliant intellect of the period.  He was a Catholic Priest.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Philosopher.  Social Critic.

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Andrew Greeley

Greeley was a Roman Catholic priests who also was a novelist, columnist and social critic.  A devout Catholic, he was none the less controversial on occasion because of his published views.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Author, critic, columnist.

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Francesco Maria Grimaldi

17th Century Italian physicist and mathematician who discovered the diffraction of light.   He was also a Jesuit Priest.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Mathematician.  Physicist.

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Charles Hardy

Wyoming political candidate Charles Hardy, who has run for national office in Wyoming, was a Catholic Priest.


Category:  Catholic Priest.  Politician.

Date Added:  April 7, 2014.

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Delores Hart

Delores Hart was a well known actress of the 1950s who gave that up to become a Benedictine nun.

Category:  Catholic Nun.  Actress.

Date Added:  January 9, 2016

Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem


The Hospitalliers were one of several military monastic order during the Middle Ages.   Starting off as an organization dedicated to the care of the sick, it occupied a role analogous to the Knights Templar later on, with that role being focused on the defense of Christendom in the Middle East.  They never, however, lost their hospital role.

Unlike the Templars, however, the order still exists today, having survived the Moslem conquest of the Holy Land and the loss of its later bastion in Malta, although I am uncertain of the form it presently takes.  It is not a monastic order today.  Today, once again, it is dedicated to hospital work.

Category:  Catholic monastic order.  Soldiers.  Medicine.
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Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor

Hidalgo issued the famous "Cry of Delores" initiating the first Mexican rebellion against Spain on September 15, 1810.  He was the parish priest of Delores.  Mexico marks the day of the "Cry", which was aimed at bad government rather than the Spanish monarchy, as its independence day.

Category:  Catholic priest.  Revolutionary.

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Eddie James "Son" House, Jr.

House is legendary as being one of the true kings of the Delta Blues, having seen his career peak regionally while he was relatively young and then revive late in his life. But House's first calling was as a minister.

House began preaching in rural Louisiana near his home when he was only fifteen years old. later becoming a Baptist minister and then an African Methodist minister.  Married at age 19, he was a dedicated opponent of the blues which he regarded as evil until fate and circumstances took him to Clarksdale Mississippi where his views of the Blues changed after he became friend with legendary Bluesman Charlie Patton.  He went on to be a major regional Bluesman himself and was heavily locally influential in the Delta Blues before leaving for Rochester New York while in his early 40s to take a job as a railroad porter, whereupon he abandoned his musical career.  Rediscovered in the early 1960s, he reentered music at that time.  Even then, however, his early career showed with one of his famous tracts being John The Revalator.

Category:  Baptist Minister.  African Methodist Minister.  Musician

Date added:  October 28, 2013.

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Michael Huckabee

Former Lieutenant  Governor and Governor of Arkansas Michael Huckabee, who has been a Presidential candidate and who is sometimes mentioned as a potential candidate, is a Baptist minister.

Category:  Baptist Minister.  Politician.

Date Added:  April 7, 2014

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William Herbert Hudnut III

William Hudnut was a member of Congress in the 1970s and a long serving mayor of Indianapolis thereafter.  He was also a Presbyterian minister.


Category:  Presbyterian minister.  Politiican.

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Jesse Jackson

Social critic Jesse Jackson is a Baptist minister.

Category:  Baptist minister.  Social critic.

Date Added:  May 17, 2014

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Athanasius Kircher

17th Century polymath who wrote on just about everything, including geology, medicine and languages.  He discovered the connection between the Coptic languages and ancient Egpytian.  He was a Jesuit priest.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Scientist.  Linguist.

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Francesco Lana de Terzi

This 17th Century scientist is regarded as the father of aeronautics because of his early pioneering work in this field.  He was also a Jesuit priest.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Scientist.

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Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître

Lemaître was a physicists who was the first person to propose an expansion of the universe, the first to propose the "Big Bang" and he was also the first person to what is now known as Hubble's Law. The brilliant physicists was also a Belgian Catholic priest.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Physicist. Scientist.  Mathematician. 

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Walter Hadye Lini

Prime Minister of Vanautu, he is an Anglican Priest.

Category:  Anglican Priest.  Politician.

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Georgy Malenkov

Georgy Malenkov came of age just in time to participate in the Russian Civil War and, even though he was from a kulak background and a recent descendant of a  Russian Orthodox Priest, he joined the Red Army.  He entered the Soviet political system thereafter and, over time, came to rise up high in Stalin's administration.  After Stalin's death, he was Premier of the Soviet Union until pushed out and aside by Khrushchev.

After his fall from power, Malenkov had a change of heart and became a Russian Orthodox Lector, which in the Russian Orthodox Church is the lowest rank of clergy.

Category: Russian Orthodox Lector.  Soviet Politician.
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Noella Marcellino

Mother Noella Marcellino is a Benedictine nun who is a doctor of microbiology who has studied in that context in regards to cheese.


Category:  Catholic Nun, Scientist

Date Added:  January 9, 2016.

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John McLaughlin

Commentator John McLaughlin, widely respected as an intellectual, was at first a Jesuit Priest.  Ordained in 1959, McLaughlin ran for Congress without permission of his order in the early 1970s and then became a speech writer, while still a priest, for Richard Nixon thereafter.  In the early 1970s he left the priesthood and entered into a career as a political pundit.

Category:  Catholic Priest, Writer, Commentator

Date Added:  August 17, 2017

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Gregor Mendel

Austrian Gregor Mendel was a scientist who discovered the principles of genetics.  He was also an Augustinian friar.

Category:  Catholic Monk. Scientist

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Casper Star Tribune columnist Daniel Molyneaux is a Lutheran Priest.

Category:  Lutheran Priest.  Journalist.

Date Added:  April 7, 2014.

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Michail Christodolou Mouskos

A long serving President of Cyprus, he was also, as  Makarios III the Cyrpriot Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus.

Category:  Cypriot Orthodox Priest.  Politician.

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Barbara Nicolosi

Barbara Nicolois is a movie screenwriter who started off early in her life as a nun.  She left that vocation when her desires to more aggressively evangelize conflicted with the less aggressive views as to approach by her fellows, and she then went to film school.  She's also taught screenwriting and has been active in organizing and supporting Chrisitans in Hollywood.

Category:  Screenwriter, Professor.

Date Added:  January 12, 2016.

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Ian Paisley

Ian Paisley is a controversial politician from Northern Ireland.  He is also a Presbyterian minister.

Category:  Presbyterian minister.  Politician.

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Damaskinos Papandreou

Papandreou was the regent of Greece following World War Two until the king could return.  He was also a Greek Orthodox Archbishop.

Category:  Greek Orthodox Priest.  Politician
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Richard ("Little Richard) Wayne Penniman

Little Richard is famous as an earlier and flamboyant rock and roller, who also lead a very wild life.  In spite of that, however, by the late 1950s Penniman was convinced that he had a call to the ministry, and he abandoned his musical career for the cloth, becoming a protestant minister.

Penniman, whose personal life has occasionally been controversial, has gone in and out of ministry since that time, and has probably been a part time minister and full time musician more often than not.  In recent interviews, however, he's sounded much more like a minister than musician.

Category:  Protestant minister, musician.

Date Added:  October 30, 2013.

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Leonidas Polk

Polk is famously remembered as as Confederate general who killed in action in June, 1864, in Georgia.  But, prior to the war, he was the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana.  Indeed, he was the first Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana.   Polk pulled the Episcopal Church in Louisiana out of the American church, but he did not hope for war. Still, coming from a successful Southern slave owning farming family and owning many slaves himself, his eventual commission in the Confederate Army was perhaps inevitable.

Category:  Episcopal Priest.  Soldier. Farmer.
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The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (the Knights Templar)

This may seem like an odd entry, as people tend to think of the Knights Templar as Crusading Knights, or perhaps as characters out fanicful conspiracty movies, but in fact the Templars were a monastic order.

Founded to protect pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land, much of what is commonly imagined about the Templars is erroneous.  They did not arrive in the Holy Land as an invading army, but rather as a protective escort, and they were not initially numerous.  That they were a monasic order is also commonly not noted, but is part of what made them so effective.

Category:  Catholic monastic order.  Soldiers.
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Monique Pressley

Monique Pressley entered the news as the embattled Bill Cosby's new lawyer.  Pressley is also the founder of and figure behind Monique Pressley Ministries.

Category:  Lawyer

Date Added:  February 5, 2016
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Fred Rogers

Known as television's "Mister Rogers", Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister.

An odd persistent story that Rogers served heroically in the U.S. military is completely false.


Category:  Presbyterian Minister, television personality.

Date Added: May 17, 2014

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Albert M. Sawin

Albert M. Sawin was the first mathematics professor at the University of Wyoming, but he was a lawyer prior to that, as well as being a geologist.  After leaving the University of Wyoming, he continued on as a mathematics professor at various instructions, but also obtained a divinity degree in later years.

Category:  Mathematician, Professor, Geologist, Lawyer

Date Added:  November 18, 2014

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Pietro Angelo Secchi

This Italian astronomer was the first to propose a stellar classification and one of the first to definitively state that the Sun is a star.   He was also a Jesuit Priest.

Category:  Catholic priest.  Astronomer.

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Alfred Sharpton

Firebrand controversial social critic Al  Sharpton is a Baptist minister.

Category:  Baptist minister, social critic.

Date Added:  May 17, 2014

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Lazzaro Spallanzani

Spallanzani was a biologist whose worked formed the basis for what was later accomplished by Pasteur.  The 18th Century Italian was also a Catholic priest

Category:  Catholic priest.  scientist.

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Nicolas Steno

Nicholas Steno was a 17th Century geologist and astronomer who developed the geologic discipline of stratigraphy.  He was also a Danish Catholic Bishop.


Category:  Catholic priest.  Geologist.  Astronomer.
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Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem (Teutonic Knights)

Like the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights are a poorly understood group in modern times, as nothing really analogous to them exists today as they were in their original form.  One of the military monastic orders of the Crusades, the Teutonic Knights were unique in that they were principally composed of Germans whereas the Hopitalliers and Templars were not so nationally oriented.  While they originally started off as a Crusading order in the Middle East, their history is also unique in that they participated in the Northern Crusades against the pagan people to Germany's east, which the other military orders did not.

The Teutonic Knights still exist as a Catholic order, like the Hospitalliers, and also like them they endured a split during the Reformation so that a Protestant descendant made up of the knighted still exists. The Catholic order today is made up entirely of Catholic religious and associates.  Their black Maltese Cross symbol became so strongly identified with Germany that it still is used as the German army's symbol today.

Category:  Catholic monastic order.  Soldiers.
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Jozef Tiso

Tiso was a Slovakian Catholic Priest who grew up in the Austro Hungarian Empire.  He took Holy Orders just before World War One and was active as a pro Hungarian journalist during the war.  Growing up in an era of increasing nationalism in the declining empire, he became an ardent Slovakian after the war and was involved in politics.  When the Germans dismantled Czechoslovakia just before World War Two he became the president of Slovakia.


Tiso's Slovakian patriotism was paramount and blinded him to the larger realities of what was occurring in Europe, particularly in regards to Slovakia falling into being a German client state.  It had little choice in that matter, but arch Slovakian patriots like Tiso failed to appreciate the degree to which their Slovakian dreams were co-opted by the German reality.  The oddity of Tiso's position became apparent when the Vatican intervened to prevent the deportation of Slovakian Jews from the country, which did in fact halt them.

Tiso remained popular with Slovaks after the war but was arrested and sentenced to death for treason.  He was executed in 1947, but as recently as 2000 a Slovakian city was looking towards placing a plaque in commemoration of him in their city.

Category:  Catholic Priest.  Author.  Politician.

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 Antonio Lucio Vivaldi

Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi, more often simply called by his last name, was a Catholic Priest.  Many of his compositions were written for a home for abandoned children at which he labored.

Category:  Catholic Priest, Composer

Date added:  March 25, 2016
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Demond Wilson

Wilson is remembered for portraying Lamont Sanfort in the 1970s television series Sanfort and Son, where he played the younger Sanfort along side Redd Foxx.  He served in the Army, and was wounded, in Vietnam and became an actor after his service.  He acted up until 1982, when a long simmering call to the ministry caused him to abandon being a full time actor to become an ordained Protestant minister, although he still acts a bit.

Category:  Soldier.  Actor.  Protestant minister.

Dated Added:  March 15, 2015

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John Knox Witherspoon

Witherspoon was a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.   He was also a Scottish born Presbyterian minister.  He was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independance.   He was also the president of Princeton, which was a Presbyterian university.

Category:  Presbyterian Minister.  Politician.  Educator.

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Related Posts

They had been lawyers.
They were farmers.

They had been soldiers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You could add President James Garfield, who was a Disciples of Christ lay-minister. I've also heard that Lyndon Johnson was ordained but have never been able to find any confirmation.