Famous children of pastors and ministers

As we follow the likes of celebrities and their respective careers, we sometimes forget that they are someone’s child. Prior to being the famous individual they are today, the men and women on this list were once just the children of. What makes these well-known individuals different from other’s is the fact that they were born to a member of the clergy. All of these famous children have a father or mother (or both) who are either a minister, pastor, reverend or priest. Some of these celebrities were even raised among missionaries and got into their respective careers through their churches. Unlike children of celebrities who are in music or films, almost all of the famous ‘children’ on this list departed from their parent’s religious roots in terms of their profession. However, despite the fact that they are no members of the clergy themselves, they did take with them an element from their religious upbringing.

Katy Perry

Singer and pop sensation Katy Perry has a funky sense of style, outspoken attitude and the opposite demeanor of a pastor’s daughter. Both of Katy’s parents are members of the clergy and raised her and her siblings in a religious home and environment. Perry listened to gospel songs growing up as secular music was prohibited. She even went to Christian schools throughout her life. However, nothing would stop Katy from making her dream of becoming a singer a reality and along the way dropping her guard from the many years of religious education.


Aretha Franklin

The queen of soul herself was born to a pastor. Her father was a pastor at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. Aretha has her father to thank for introducing her to the world of gospel as he was so famous at one point that he was paid to give sermons all over the country and through that met many famous people. Aretha was raised by him and other women as her mother passed away when she was 10 years old.


Jessica Simpson

Singer and former reality television star Jessica Simpson was raised by a minister in a devout Christian home. She was given a purity ring when she was younger to carry her through her wedding day (which it did to her wedding with Nick Lachey) and began her singing career in her church choir and retreat. Simpson would go on to have a pretty incredible musical career, although it is waning now, she is more focused on her husband and children.


Phil Jackson

The current president of the New York Knicks, Phil Jackson, is also a former NBA player and coach (you know, those who can’t do, teach). He is also the son of Pentecostal ministers. Jackson’s upbringing was so strict that the first time he saw a film was in his senior year of high school and the first time he attended a dance was during his college years. Jackson thought he would become a minister as well but his basketball career found him.


Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole is a legend in music. He first got noticed as a jazz pianist and then as a singer who made jazz a whole new tier of music. Nat’s father was a Baptist minister in their local Chicago church. His mother taught him how to play the organ and started performing when he was just 4 years old. Nat was a musical giant and left behind a legacy of swing and jazz sounds.


Vincent Van Gogh

Post-Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh was the son of a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. He was raised by a god-fearing mother who cared much more about her social status and the family’s name than her children’s well-being. Vincent was sent away to boarding schools where he learned to paint and the rest is history. Vincent was not successful during his life and ended it himself in 1890 when he was just 37 years old.


Jane Austen

If you read Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma, then you know the inner world of author Jane Austen. Austen was born in 1775 to a father who was a country clergyman. Austen became famous for her literary works and her ability to bring to life the most incredible characters and storylines. Austen’s use of irony in her novels made for some of the best social commentaries in her novels.


Alice Cooper

Funny enough, rocker Alice Cooper is actually the son of a minister. He couldn’t have had an image that was less like that of a minister’s son, but he absolutely made it in life. Cooper is much more than a rock and roll legend, he is a film score composer, songwriter, and actor. He has been in film slike Scream, Wayne’s World, Dark Shadows, and Dazed and Confused.


Joe Jonas

Joe Jonas, who shot to fame with his brothers in their band The Jonas Brothers, is the son of a former Christian minister. His father is also a songwriter and musician who brought up his sons with faith and music as the ultimate combination for success. Joe himself is not as religious as the rest of his family, which has also gone more secular in recent years, but Joe is more focused on his own singing and modeling career that is making him super well-known in Hollywood.


David Tennant

Doctor Who himself, actor David Tennant, is the son of a Presbyterian minister. David is also famous for his roles in Harry Potter and the goblet of Fire, voicing a character in How to Train Your Dragon, and Fright Night. The Scottish actor was obsessed with the Doctor Who character from a very young age and so when he was given the opportunity to portray the character as an adult, he was absolutely thrilled.


Marcus Mumford

Marcus Mumford, the lead singer of the band Mumford & Sons, is the son of two leaders of the Vineyard Church. Marcus and his band are stupendously successful both in his native England and in the United States. He is married to actress Carey Mulligan and has one daughter, Evelyn, with her. Marcus’ band’s third album came out in May of 2015 and is called Wilder Mind.


Condoleezza Rice

The former Secretary of State of the United States, Condoleezza Rice, was born to a part-time Presbyterian minister. Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama during the time when the South was racially segregated. She obviously went on to be extremely successful, all the way up the ranks in American government and policy making. After her time in Bush Jr. government, Rice started teaching at Stanford University in the political science coursework.


Denzel Washington

Hollywood heavyweight actor Denzel Washington, known for his incredible roles in American Gangster, Inside Man, The Bone Collector, Training Day, and Man on Fire; is the son of a Pentecostal minister. A Pentecostal minister works within the renewal movement of the Protestant Christianity. Washington was raised in a home where religion was a very important element until he was 14 that is when his parents decided to divorce.



Musician Kelis is the daughter of a jazz musician and a church minister. Kelis was born and raised in Harlem in New York City. She struck gold with her song Milkshake which has been featured in films like Mean Girls. Kelis has released six studio albums in total with several labels over the years. These days she is more low key than she was in the early 2000s but her music is still very much a part of pop culture.


Katherine Paterson

Author Katherine Paterson has written some of the most popular works of literature of the 20th century. She is also the daughter of Catholic missionaries. Her works of literature include The Day of the Pelican, Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved, and The Great Gilly Hopkins. Her father’s missionary work took the family to many places all over the world (she was born in China) but they finally settled in North Carolina.


Arsenio Hall

Arsenio Hall is a comedian, talk show host, and actor who is known for his sidekick abilities and incredible comedic timing. Hall is the son of a Baptist minister and grew up performing magic shows. Hall is famous for his roles in films like Coming to America, Harlem Nights and co-hosting alongside Alan Thicke on the talk show Thicke of the Night. Most recently, Hall has participated in the fifth season of Celebrity Apprentice.


Marvin Gaye

Singer and songwriter Marvin Gaye was the son of a minister who grew up singing at his local church with his father playing the piano by his side. Gaye’s most famous songs include Ain’t That Peculiar, I Heard It Through the Grapevine and Let’s Get It On. In a sad twist to his story, Gaye was actually killed by his own father, and inspiration for his music, on April 1, 1984. Gaye tried to break up a fight between his parents which lead his father to shoot him twice and end his life.


Caleb Followill

Caleb Followill is another musician on here who is part of a very successful band and the child of a preacher. Followill is in the band Kings of Leon along with his brothers Jared and Nathan and their cousin Matthew. The Followill’s are sons of a Pentecostal preacher and use their Oklahoma and Tennessee roots to influence their music as they write it. The band recently released their seventh album, WALLS, and have won four Grammy Awards.


Daniel Tosh

Funny man Daniel Tosh is the son of a Presbyterian pastor. We would never have guessed that Tosh was raised in a religious way considering his humor is rather dark and very dirty at times. Tosh was born in Germany and raised in Florida, which he gives credit for his humor as there was nothing to do there and it gave him most of his material for his initial comedy skits. He moved out to Los Angeles after college and began with the comedy club route until he got noticed.


Ryan Tedder

Lead singer of the alternative rock band OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder, was raised in a family of pastors and missionaries belonging to the Christian church. He met his band mate Zach Filkins during his senior year of college in Colorado Springs where the two played soccer together at the Christian School. Besides being a member of OneRepublic, Tedder has written songs for artists like Adele, Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lopez and Taylor Swift.


Malcolm X

It is no surprise that civil rights and human rights activist and writer Malcolm X would come from a line of preachers. His father was a Baptist preacher who tried to instill in his son the very basis of human rights – faith, before his untimely death when Malcolm was just 6 years old. Malcolm became an African-American Muslim minister during his adult life and was considered one of the most influential African-Americans in American history. Malcolm was killed in 1965 when he was just 39.


Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean is a composer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, politician and public figure. He used his platform to bring to light world issues and has done so in collaboration with other major musical heavyweights. Jean must have learned a thing or two from his father, a pastor at Good Shepherd Church of the Nazarene in Newark, New Jersey. Jean is also an actor and has been in film slike love Actually, Hotel Rwanda and Quantum of Solace.


Demetri Martin

There is something with comedians who were fathered by members of the church! Demetri Martin, a comedian, and actor, is the son of a Greek Orthodox priest. Martin is known for his contributing work with The Daily Show, Comedy Central and his own show, Important Things with Demetri Martin. Martin first turned to writing while he was in college at Yale University, which he graduated from in 1995. He wrote a poem about Alcoholism that got him noticed among his peers. These days, Martin is very respected among his fellow comedians and has also come out with comedy shows that he released albums of.


Nina Simone

Singer Nina Simone was the daughter of a handyman and preacher in North Carolina. She showed musical talent from a very early age as she learned to play the piano at just 3 years of age. She then went on to perform at her family’s church. Her mother was a Methodist minister and housemaid herself. Nina was a part of the civil rights movement as she was opposed to the fact that her parents needed to move back in a room when she was singing to make room for the white individuals who were attending.


Joel Osteen

For gospel preacher Joel Osteen, leading a congregation of people runs in the family. Osteen is the son of the founder of the Lakewood Church and former Southern Baptist preacher. After college, Osteen came back home and founded Lakewood’s television program, broadcasting his father’s sermons until his father’s untimely death in 1999. Osteen is now the senior pastor of the Lakewood Church, taking over for his father. Osteen is also a published author and borderline celebrity through his very public speaking.


Martin Luther King Jr.

One inspirational man introduced another inspirational man into the world. Martin Luther King Jr. the late great civil rights activist and revolutionary, was born to a pastor who worked at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. King learned a lot from his father – faith, community, public speaking, and many more traits that we can only imagine were innate in the civil rights leader.


Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche was a philosopher, author, and poet who has influenced modern thought to this day. Nietzsche’s father was a Lutheran pastor in his home town of Naumburg, Germany where they lived in what is today known as Nietzsche-Haus. Nietzsche’s work, which discussed religion, science, culture and history, among other genres, have been greatly criticized but also praised, depending on your own school of thought.


George Stephanopoulos

Journalist and broadcaster George Stephanopoulos is the son of a reverend in the New York City Dean at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. George’s career has been a long list of important roles from Senior Advisor to the President, White House Director of Communications, to ABC News co-anchor on Good Morning America. His name and face are recognized nationally and is respected by many of those who are his captivated audience.


Joy Williams

Singer and songwriter Joy Williams in the daughter of executive director and preacher at Mt. Hermon Christian Conference Center. Joy herself is a contemporary Christian singer with an added flare of folk rock. Williams signed with Reunion Records and began recording faith-based music. Joy is a four-time Grammy Award-winner who has four solo albums to her name. Joy is a shining example of how one’s upbringing can affect their choices later in life.


Anne Heche

Actress Anne Heche is famous for her roles in films like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Donnie Brasco, Volcano and Return to Paradise. She is also the daughter of a choir director and Baptist minister. Heche had a terrible relationship with her father who was abusive towards her. He passed away from AIDS in 1983 when she was 13 years old. Heche was discovered when she was 16 years old but had to wait until she was 18 as her mother would not let her go until that time.