16 T)erhaps the most dramatic example of the idea of self-improvement is the experience of A. being “bom again.” Some individuals who have had this experience say that when they truly opened their hearts to God and Jesus Christ, their lives were so completely changed, it was like being born again. Whether they identify themselves as born-again Christians, Evangelicals, mainline Protestants or Catholics, they tend to hold conservative religious beliefs. Estimates are that one-third to one-half of all Americans consider themselves to be religious conservatives, although they do not all have the same beliefs. For example, Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Republican President George W. Bush have both spoken publicly about their born-again experiences.
17 Many of those who are religiously conservative are also politically conservative. Since the 1980s, they have been gaining numbers and political strength in the United States. Under such names as the Religious Right or the Christian Coalition, these individuals have joined together to oppose legalized abortion or to support prayer in the public schools, among other issues.