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Famous "Born Again" Christians
Listed below are famous "born-again" Christians for which we have a dedicated spiritual biography page on this website, and for whom we have as yet been unable to properly classify on a regular denominational list:
Jane Fonda - actress
Willie Aames - actor, Eight is Enough, "Bibleman"
Karla Faye Tucker - convicted murderer who became "born-again Christian" while on death row and asked for pardon; was first woman executed in Texas since Civil War era
David Berkowitz - seria killer known as "Son of Sam" (raised Jewish; became "born-again Christian" after his conviction)
Norma McCorvey - the woman known as "Roe" in "Roe Versus Wade" case which legalized abortion; she later became staunch anti-abortion advocate
Johnny Hart - cartoonist, "B.C." comic strip
Gary Busey - Academy Award-nominated film actor
Vitor Belfort - Brazilian martial arts champion
George Foreman - heavyweight world boxing champion
Kurt Warner - football quarterback
The following individuals, who have been known as "born again Christians," although that may or may not be the best way to identify and classify them, ARE listed on proper denominational pages, but are also listed below for reference purposes:
Bono - lead singer for Irish rock band U2; humanitarian
The phrase "born again" is used by people of all religious denominations and all religions, as well as by people who profess no organized religious faith. In general terms, its most frequent meanings are to "begin a new life" and to "renew one's commitment to one's previously held values and beliefs." In many ways, these two definitions seem contradictory.
The phrase "born again" has been in use within Christianity since the earliest days of the religion. The phrase is found in the New Testament in a passage describing a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3:1-5): "Jesus answered him, 'Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again... Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.'" (New Revised Standard Version)
Traditionally, Jesus's reference to being "born of water" has been interpreted as baptism and being born of Spirit has been interpreted as receiving the "Holy Spirit" ("Holy Ghost", to use the term from the King James Version of the Bible). However, the precise meanings of the phrases "born again" and "born of water and Spirit" as used in this passage are not agreed upon across (and sometimes even within) various Christian denominations. Even within the Evangelical movement there is much difference of opinion about this subject, and there is much disagreement about whether certain famous individuals should properly be identified as "Born Again."
When used as the sole identifier for a person's religious faith or religious affiliation, the phrase "born again" (or "born-again") is most frequently encountered in reference to "born again Christians," i.e., people who claim a certain types of religious experience. The phrase is usually used within the Evangelical Christian movement, a Protestant movement that began in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the meanings that contemporary Evangelicals attach to the phrase "born again Christian" have little or no precedent prior to the 1930s. Also, until about 1960, it was rare for any person to identify themself solely as a "born-again Christian." Prior to that time, Christians would typically identify themselves in some cases simply as a "Christian" or in other settings by identifying the denomination to which they belonged. If they had experienced some kind of conversion, rejuvinating, or powerful spiritual experience, they might describe this in a testimony or explnation of their faith, but they would not use this as a basis for a personal label or classification.
Because the phrase "born again Christian" has so many disparate definitions in common usage, and because it is not generally used in sociological contexts, but is primarily a theological term, we have avoided using it as a classification in the "Famous Adherents" section. Where individuals have identified themselves as "born again," we have included that information on the spiritual/religious biography pages dedicated to the individual.
Generally speaking, we have no argument whatsoever with anybody's attempt to create a list of "born-again Christians", a list that fits their definition of the term. However, when we look at substantial public efforts to create such a list (such as those found on Wikipedia.org and NNDB.com), we can't help but notice the multiplicity of names over which Evangelicals argue about. There seems to be no end to the disagreements about whether celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Tom Hanks, Bob Dylan, President George W. Bush, Eldridge Cleaver, Jeffrey Dahmer, Andrea Yates, Martin Luther, David Berkowitz, Jack Chick, Sting, Jose Padilla, Charlie Sheen, Shannon Daugherty, Brittany Spears, Darryl Strawberry, Bono, Terry Nichols, Samantha Fox, Glen Campbell and many more should even be classified as "Christian," much less as "Born Again Christian." Respectfully, these are debates which we simply do not have the time or resources to engage in.
For reference purposes, below are names from lists on two other websites: the "Religion: Born-Again Christian" category on NNDB.com and the "List of born-again Christian laypeople" page on Wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_born-again_Christian_laypeople; viewed 25 October 2005). More details about these individuals can be found on those sites. Consult this list with caution, as there are likely many innacuracies. Many of the people listed below can be found listed on specific denominational pages in the "Famous Adherents" section.
Bill "Bubba" Bussey
Brian "Head" Welch
Charles Colson (Chuck Colson)
Daniel arap Moi
Duane "Dog" Chapman
Efrain Rios Montt
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
George W. Bush
Jake "The Snake" Roberts
James Ah Koy
Jay van Andel
Karla Faye Tucker
Kathie Lee Gifford
Larry Mullen Jr.
Mark "Gator" Rogowski
Ratu Josefa Iloilo
S. Truett Cathy
Tammy Faye Bakker
William J. Murray
Famous Born-Again Christians / Born again Christian webpage copyright © 2005 by Adherents.com.
Web page created 25 October 2005. Last modified 14 February 2006.
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