Best Religious Leader (2002)
Quick, finish this sentence: "We believe in new beginnings, we..." If you answered "believe in you" without skipping a beat, you are one of the thousands who have gladly been sucked in with one of the best marketing campaigns in Houston history -- that of Lakewood Church. The catchy jingle is the brainchild of Joel Osteen, our pick for best religious leader. Osteen, who took over the position as head pastor when his father, John, passed away a few years ago, has managed to expand the megachurch while retaining the same folksy charm that made him popular in the first place. A modest, quiet man, Osteen concentrates on spreading God's love instead of his damnation, and his sermons are full of feel-good messages that would cheer up even Winnie-the-Pooh's Eeyore. With that approach, it's no wonder the church is bursting at the seams. Next on Osteen's agenda? Shepherding the roughly 30,000 members of the church into Compaq Center.