List Recognizes 10 Most Influential GOP 'King Makers'

A list of the top 10 GOP "king makers" was recently released, highlighting some of the nation's most influential Christian leaders.

The list, which was published last week by Religion News Service (RNS), hopes to show the strong influence that religion has had on the "Grand Old Party" over the past years, and how these leaders' voices may solidify a candidate's run towards the presidency.

"When Focus on the Family founder James Dobson can raise doubts by questioning whether Fred Thompson is a 'Christian,' or prays the nation doesn't get 'stuck' with a President John McCain, that really reflects the power religious conservatives have to shape the GOP run for the White House," said Kevin Eckstrom, editor of RNS, in a statement. "We wanted to find out who the GOP candidates are talking to, and maybe more importantly, who is returning their calls."

Written by national correspondent Daniel Burke and senior correspondent Adelle M. Banks, the list features several outspoken Christian conservatives as well as activists and grassroots organizers.

The top GOP "King Makers," in no particular order, are as follows:

• James Dobson – founder of Focus on the Family who has around 220 million listeners from his radio broadcasts.

• Richard Land – the president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), the public policy entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest protestant denomination in the United States.

• Rod Parsley – pastor of the megachurch World Harvest Church, which has about 14,000 members. The church is located in Ohio, which is a major swing state during elections.

• Michael Farris – founder of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. According to RNS, one observer said he had "a network of home-schoolers that will do anything for him."

• Pam Olsen – president of the Florida Prayer Network who has a network of pastors throughout the state. Florida is also a key swing state for elections.

• Don Wildmon – head of the American Family Association (AFA) and major speaker about societal issues. He speaks on 185 radio stations in 36 states.

• Tony Perkins – president of the Family Research Council (FRC), an outspoken Christian lobbying group located in Washington.

• Steve Scheffler – head of the Iowa Christian Alliance which as 4,000 members. According to RNS, it is the most active and credible religious group in the state.

• Jay Sekulow – chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, originally founded by outspoken Christian Pat Robertson. Sekulow has argued several cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

• Tamara Scott – Iowa leader of Concerned Women for America, a large U.S. conservative Christian political action group. She has talked with nearly every GOP candidate, according to RNS.

Religion News Service is a Washington-based source of news about religion, ethics, spirituality and moral issues.