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Faith and the PresidencyFrom George Washington to George W. Bush$

Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195300604

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300604.001.0001

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 Ronald Reagan

 Ronald Reagan

Making America God's Shining City on a Hill

(p.325) Chapter Ten Ronald Reagan
Faith and the Presidency

Gary Scott Smith (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Ronald Reagan’s religious convictions were crucial to his understanding of the world and performance as president, but few scholars have provided substantive analysis of his faith and its impact on his policies during his tenure in the White House. Although the circumstances of Reagan’s life and the seeming inconsistencies between his beliefs and his practices make his faith difficult to explain, it appears to have been genuine, very meaningful to him, and essential to his political philosophy. Reagan firmly believed and often declared that God intended America to be a beacon of hope, faith, freedom, and democracy — “a city on the hill”. Reagan was deeply influenced by his godly mother, Nelle, and raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Reagan’s firm belief that God had a plan for his life was fortified by his survival of an assassination attempt in March 1981. In many addresses, proclamations, letters, and private conversations, Reagan stressed his faith in God and prayer, the inspiration of the Bible, and the divinity of Jesus. Numerous leaders of the religious right were troubled by his infrequent church attendance and his wife’s interest in astrology. Although historians debate the nature of Reagan’s personal faith, they concur that he used religious rhetoric, discussed religious themes, and spoke to religious groups more than any other 20th-century president. Religion played a very important role in Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign. Reagan’s personal life was not a paragon of evangelical piety, but his worldview was strongly shaped by his understanding of biblical teaching. His faith affected many of his policies, most notably his endeavors to curb abortion, pass a school prayer amendment, secure tuition tax credits, and oppose communism.

Keywords:   abortion, astrology, church attendance, communism, 1984 election, prayer, school prayer amendment, religious rhetoric, religious right, tuition tax credits

My daily prayer is that God will help me to use this position so as to serve him.

Letter to Greg Brezina, Oct. 25, 1982

Religion is a guide for me. To think that anyone could carry out the awesome responsibilities of this office without asking for God's help through prayer strikes me as absurd.

“Written Responses to Questions Submitted by France Soir Magazine,” Nov. 3, 1984

We can work to reach our dreams and to make America a shining city on a hill.

Address to National Religious Broadcasters, Jan. 31, 1983

Ronald Reagan's religious convictions were crucial to his understanding of the world and performance as president, but few scholars have provided substantive analysis of his faith and its impact on his policies during his tenure in the White House.1 Although the circumstances of Reagan's life and the seeming inconsistencies between his beliefs and his practices make his faith difficult to explain, it appears to have been genuine, very meaningful to him, and essential to his political philosophy. Reagan firmly believed and often declared that God intended America to be a beacon of hope, faith, freedom, and democracy, “a city on the hill.”2 Although the nation was in moral decline, its citizens still retained the power, as Thomas Paine put it in Common Sense, “to begin the world over again.”3 Reagan's presidency was (p.326) devoted to helping the United States fulfill this divine destiny. Like other presidents, Reagan's tenure is filled with ironies. His bellicose rhetoric and fierce anticommunism scared many, but his use of force was limited and he helped end the cold war. Reagan oversaw a huge military buildup but negotiated the first treaty that reduced nuclear weapons. He promised to reduce the size and scope of government, but the federal debt, the number of government employees, and federal spending increased. His admirers considered him to be a forceful and effective leader, but his critics lampooned him as an “empty suit,” “a disengaged manager” whose staff deserved credit for the accomplishments of his administration.4 Although critics offer radically different assessments of his administration, he helped the United States and the world realize more fully the values of this shining city.

Reagan's Faith

Like several other presidents, Reagan had a godly mother (Nelle) who was his primary religious influence. She was baptized into the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on Easter in 1910, after a deeply moving conversion experience.5 For the rest of her life, she was active in the church. She taught Sunday school and Bible school classes, wrote columns for the church newspaper, served as president of the missionary society, led a women's Bible study, passed out tracts and food to prisoners, cared for the destitute, and wrote plays for the congregation she joined in Dixon, Illinois.6 Nelle imparted her optimistic outlook to her son.7 Maureen Reagan claimed that her grandmother “had the gift of making you believe you could change the world.”8 Nelle taught her son to “believe that God has a plan for everyone,” “that everything in life happened for a purpose.” She maintained that “even the most disheartening setbacks” “were part of God's Plan.”9 Reagan insisted that his mother planted her faith in God's goodness “very deeply in me.”10

Reagan was baptized on June 21, 1922, symbolizing his commitment to Christ and the Disciples' church, and as a youth he attended church several times a week.11 He gave dramatic recitations and acted in church plays and skits written by his mother. While in high school, Reagan taught Sunday school classes, led Bible studies and prayer meetings, participated in a Christian Endeavor group, and entertained patients at Dixon State Hospital in his church's monthly programs there.12 Interested in both religious matters and the minister's daughter, Margaret, whom he dated for several years, Reagan spent a lot of time at the home of his pastor, Ben Cleaver. Garry Wills argues that Cleaver served as a father figure to Reagan, advising him on many issues and helping him get into college.13 One of Reagan's favorite books as a youth was Harold Bell Wright's That Printer of Udell (1903). The book, Reagan explained, “made a lasting impression on me … because of the (p.327) goodness of the principal character.”14 Like other Social Gospel novels, Wright's hero applies the principles of Christianity to remedying social ills. By the end of the book, upright businesses have replaced burlesque shows, and the indigent and disreputable have found wholesome jobs.15 When Reagan finished reading the book, he told his mother, “I want to be like that man,” and a few days later he requested to be baptized.16

After graduating from high school, Reagan attended Eureka College in Illinois, a small school affiliated with the Disciples. Biographer Anne Edwards claims that the Bible “was a daily and vital part” of Reagan's life during his four years at Eureka.17 Stephen Vaughn argues that his church and college training during these years strongly influenced many of Reagan's later beliefs as president, instilling in him “faith in Providence and prayer, … [the] presumption that poverty is an individual problem” best dealt with by private charity rather than the state, belief in the work ethic, admiration of the wealthy, hatred of communism, commitment to family values, and the conviction that God had chosen America to serve his purposes.18

During his years as a radio broadcaster and a Hollywood film star, Reagan's involvement in organized religion was minimal. In an article entitled “My Faith,” which he wrote for Modern Screen in 1950, Reagan admitted that his participation in the church was limited and his religious convictions were not very specific. He occasionally attended Hollywood Beverly Christian Church. The Christian Church, he claimed, “has little hard and fast dogma but is based on a literal interpretation of the New Testament.” “I wouldn't attempt to describe what God is like, although I place my greatest faith in Him.” The Bible declared that God is love, Reagan asserted, which described God as closely as words could. Reagan argued that “an all wise and loving father” would not “condemn any of his children to eternal damnation.” “I believe in prayer,” he testified. “There hasn't been a serious crisis in my life when I haven't prayed and when prayer hasn't helped me.”19

During the 1960s, Reagan became acquainted with several influential charismatic evangelicals, and in 1964 he started attending Bel Air Presbyterian Church and formed a friendship with its evangelical minister, Donn Moomaw.20 Only after being elected governor of California in 1966, as he wrestled with the immense challenges of the job, however, did his faith again become more significant in his life. The week before he was inaugurated, Reagan declared his intention to follow the teachings of Jesus in his work as governor and to rely on God's help in discharging his duties. After a few months in this position, Reagan declared, “I have spent more time in prayer these past months than in any previous period I can recall.” He thanked God for the “wisdom and strength” he received “from these times of prayer.”21 While governor, he twice invited Billy Graham to speak to the state assembly, often stressed the importance of the Bible and prayer in letters and addresses, attended prayer breakfasts, and occasionally prayed in his office with evangelical friends.22

(p.328) In October 1970, Reagan and his wife, Nancy, hosted George Otis of High Adventure Ministries, entertainer Pat Boone, and others at their home in Sacramento. As these guests prayed with the Reagans, Otis prophesied that if Reagan remained faithful to God, someday he “would reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” Years later, Otis was “struck by the fact that his prayer‐turned‐prophecy had been so precise about Reagan's future.” To many charismatic supporters, Reagan's election as president in 1980 demonstrated God's approval of his actions.23

Reagan firmly believed that God had a plan for his life, although sometimes he was not sure what it was.24 “I've always believed there is a certain divine scheme of things,” he told an interviewer in 1968.25 Reagan declared in 1976, “Whatever I do has meaning, only if I ask that it serves His purpose.”26 Reagan “felt ‘called’ to lead the nation,” biographer Frank van der Linden argued in 1981, “as ministers are ‘called’ to their congregations.” The president had “a remarkable serenity that comes directly from his belief that God has a plan for his life.”27 Patti Davis reports her father as declaring, “I pray that whatever God's will is, I'll be able to accept it with grace and have faith in His wisdom.”28 “Is there any truth that gives more strength,” Reagan asked the National Religious Broadcasters in 1988, “than knowing that God has a special plan for each of us?”29

Nine weeks after taking office, Reagan gave a speech at the Washington Hilton. As he exited the hotel, John Hinckley Jr. fired six shots at the president. One of them bounced off his limousine, struck Reagan under his left arm, and stopped in his lung, only an inch from his heart. Bleeding profusely and gasping for breath, Reagan was rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where surgeons operated to remove the bullet. Lying on a stretcher in the hospital, Reagan “silently asked God to help him [Hinckley] deal with whatever demons had led him to shoot us.”30

The attack fortified Reagan's faith. As he recuperated, he concluded that God had intervened to preserve his life. Terence Cardinal Cooke of the Archdiocese of New York visited the president in the hospital to discuss why his life had been spared, provide spiritual counsel, and pray with him. “I have decided that whatever time I have left,” Reagan confided to Cooke, “is for Him.”31 Reagan also shared this testimony with Moomaw, Graham, Mother Teresa, and other religious leaders.32 Reagan wrote in his diary, “Whatever happens now I owe my life to God and will try to serve him in every way I can.”33 The president emerged from this experience, declared aide William Norton Smith, “more convinced than ever that he was doing God's work.”34

Reagan's faith is demonstrated by several factors. He maintained relatively close relationships with a number of Christian leaders, including Moomaw, Boone, Graham, Cardinal Cooke, Mother Teresa, Jerry Falwell, Louis Evans Jr., Pat Robertson, and Richard Halverson.35 Reagan was very interested in biblical prophecy, the Shroud of Turin, creationism, and other religious (p.329) topics.36 In many addresses, proclamations, letters, and private conversations, Reagan stressed his faith in God and prayer, the inspiration of the Bible, and the divinity of Jesus. “Faith,” Reagan declared, “is integral to my public and personal life. Having had a brush with death, I realized that my time on earth belongs to someone else.”37 He assured many who wrote to him that the Lord could live in people's hearts.38 By talking openly and freely about spiritual matters, Patti Davis testified, her father passed on to her a “deep, resilient faith that God's love … is constant, unconditional, and eternal.”39

Reagan repeatedly asserted his belief in the power of prayer and thanked Americans for praying for him in hundreds of public statements and personal letters. In closing his speech accepting the Republican nomination in 1980, he asked, “Can we begin our crusade joined together in a moment of silent prayer?”40 In his first inaugural address, Reagan declared that he was “deeply grateful” for the “tens of thousands of prayer meetings being held this day.”41 He repeatedly emphasized the role prayer had played in American history, lauded the benefits of prayer, and called on Congress to pass an amendment to restore prayer in the schools. He reminded citizens that William Bradford, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and many other Americans leaders had relied on God's power to lead them in trying times; that the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence asserted America's recognition of God's power and authority; that Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison all accentuated God's providential guidance and the importance of prayer;42 and that the Founding Fathers ensured that Congress began each day with prayer because they valued it so highly.43 “At every crucial turning point in our history,” Reagan insisted, Americans' faith had enabled them to “overcome great odds.” “Prayer has sustained our people in crisis, strengthened us in times of challenge, and guided … our daily lives since the first settlers came to this continent.”44 It had helped make America free, secure, and a force for good.45 Reagan lamented that secularizing trends were “removing religion from its honored place” and especially deplored the banning of prayer and Bible reading in public schools.46

Reagan rejoiced that God answered prayers, and he claimed to derive great benefits from praying.47 “My mother gave me a great deal,” he said, “but nothing she gave me was more important than … the knowledge of the happiness and solace to be gained by talking to the Lord.”48 “I grew up in a home,” he explained, “where I was taught to believe in intercessory prayer.”49 “My father taught me to talk with God,” wrote Patti Davis. Although God answered all prayers, he told her, people did not always get the answers they desired.50 Reagan often echoed Lincoln's assertion that as president “he had been driven to his knees because he had nowhere else to go.”51 When individuals told him that they were praying for him, he often joked that if they ever got a busy signal, it was because he was there ahead of them.52 “Nothing means more to us,” Reagan told Mother Teresa, “than the many prayers that are offered on our (p.330) behalf.”53 Considering prayer to be deeply personal, not for public display, Reagan never permitted the press to photograph him praying. Aides reported that Reagan sometimes knelt in the Oval Office and prayed with visitors and that when pastors occasionally laid their hands on his head and prayed for him, he was visibly moved.54 Unlike Eisenhower, he did not open cabinet meetings with prayer. When someone suggested that he do so, he replied, “I do,” implying that he prayed privately about the meetings before they began.55 His friend Pat Boone and some of Reagan's aides hoped that Reagan would someday be bold enough to lead the nation in prayer, but unlike Franklin Roosevelt, he never did.56 He regularly prayed for his family and friends, world peace, and God's will to be done on earth.57 Reagan also prayed for specific world leaders and for divine assistance at his summits with Mikhail Gorbachev.58

Reagan professed deep respect for the Bible and cited it frequently in public addresses. He insisted that he had never had any doubts about the Bible's divine origin, especially because Old Testament prophecies had “predicted every single facet” of Christ's life and death hundreds of years before he was born.59 Moomaw labeled Reagan's knowledge of the Scriptures impressive.60 From 1981 to 1985, he and Nancy served as the honorary chairpersons for Laymen's National Bible Week. Proclaiming 1983 to be the Year of the Bible, Reagan urged Americans to read and study God's Word. He agreed with Lincoln that the Bible was “ ‘the best gift God has given to man.’ ”61 Like many other presidents, he asserted that no other factor was “more fundamental and enduring than the Bible” in shaping the United States.”62 Within its covers are answers “to all the problems that face us today.”63 Around the world, millions had been “imprisoned, tortured, [or] harassed for even possessing a Bible or trying to read one,” a privilege too many Americans took for granted.64 Reagan identified II Chronicles 7:14 and John 3:16 as his favorite verses. At both of his inaugurations, the Bible he used—his mother's—to affirm his oath was open to the former verse: “If my people … shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven … and will heal their land.”65 The New Testament verse, a favorite of evangelicals, declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”66

Reagan told David Frost in a 1968 interview that the person he most admired was Jesus, an assertion he repeated on other occasions.67 Reagan complained in a 1978 radio address that many seminaries were minimizing Christ's divinity and regarding him as “merely human”; by so doing, they were explaining away the world's greatest miracle—the incarnation.68 That same year, he used a well‐known argument of Christian apologist C. S. Lewis in responding to a Methodist pastor who had written Reagan that he esteemed Christ's teachings but did not believe he was the son of God. Jesus' own statements, Reagan replied, “foreclose … any questions as to his divinity. It (p.331) doesn't seem to me that he gave us any choice: either he was what he said he was, or he is the world's greatest liar. It is impossible to believe that a liar or charlatan could have had the effect on mankind he has had for 2000 years.”69 Reagan also testified to his belief in Christ's bodily resurrection, “the triumph of life over death.”70 Like other presidents, Reagan rarely mentioned Jesus in public addresses, except as the Man from Galilee, unless he was speaking to Christian audiences. However, in a national radio address in 1983, Reagan declared, “Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great teacher and philosopher. But to other millions of us, Jesus is much more. He is divine, living assurance that God so loved the world He gave to us his only begotten Son so that believing in Him and learning to love each other we could one day be together in paradise.”71

Although Reagan was reluctant to parade his faith and often reticent about sharing his personal testimony with others, he sometimes discussed his faith with friends and strangers, expressed concern about others' spiritual state, witnessed to individuals, and praised evangelism. People sometimes wrote Reagan to ask him theological questions. A sixteen‐year‐old Argentine inquired, “Is it possible that the present world is just a big chaos and not a perfect and marvelous creation of God?” In a lengthy letter, Reagan responded that the world “could become perfect if we would all pray to God for help in learning our roles in His plan to save a fallen world.”72 Learning that his agnostic father‐in‐law was dying, he wrote in his diary, “I want so much to speak to him about faith. … I want so much to help him” turn to God. Reagan wrote him a letter to explain how faith in Jesus Christ was essential to salvation and eternal life.73 On several occasions, Reagan confessed he had had “an unholy desire” to serve “the most fabulous gourmet dinner that has ever been concocted” to some atheists and then “ask them if they believe there was a cook.”74 Congratulating Billy Graham on his sixty‐fifth birthday, Reagan declared that as a result of his ministry “countless thousands” had “made decisions that changed their lives forever. God has surely blessed your work and you have kept the commandment of the Lord Jesus” to proclaim the gospel to all nations.75

While many conservative Christians strongly supported Reagan because of his personal faith and political policies, they (and others) were troubled during his presidency by his infrequent church attendance and his wife's interest in astrology. His absence from church seemed to contradict his professed beliefs and disappointed the widespread expectation that presidents display public piety. Reagan claimed that he yearned to attend church but did not want to endanger and inconvenience other worshipers. He feared that his entourage of Secret Service agents, police, SWAT teams, and reporters would distract others from worshiping. Because of the assassination attempt and subsequent threats on his life, the Secret Service required certain crowds, including worshipers, to be electronically screened when the president appeared in public.76 Moreover, like Franklin Roosevelt, Reagan often felt ill at ease in church, fearing that his (p.332) mere presence would distract others from worshiping.77 In his debate with Walter Mondale in 1984, Reagan was asked why he did not go to church. “I have gone to church regularly all my life,” he replied with considerable exaggeration, “and I started to here in Washington.” However, it did not seem right to attend church if it threatened the lives of several hundred others. He noted that his minister (Moomaw) supported him in this decision and added, “I miss going to church, but I think the Lord understands.”78 Billy Graham also defended Reagan's decision.79 His biggest disappointment about the weekends he spent at Camp David, Reagan noted in his autobiography, was that he could not go to church. Offering a rationalization that neither Theodore Roosevelt nor many other Christians accepted, he continued, “But I prayed that God would realize that when I was out in the beautiful forest I felt as if I was in His temple.”80 Although still accompanied by Secret Service agents, the Reagans resumed attending church after he left office, took membership classes, and joined the Bel Air Presbyterian Church, where they had worshiped periodically before 1980.81

During his presidency, those concerned about the president's spiritual nurture or public image proposed remedies. In February 1982, Jack Reitz encouraged the president to attend religious services of different denominations to promote the theme “America Prays Together.” Church members at services the president chose to attend would gladly submit to the necessary screenings. By attending church and holding services in the East Room, he argued, Reagan could publicly affirm his belief that God had saved his life and could worship with minorities and the poor.82 Others also urged Reagan to hold private services on Sundays at the White House as Nixon had done, but the president rejected this alternative.83 Concerns about the safety of others, critics stressed, did not prevent him from spending time with groups of Hollywood celebrities or businessmen. (Nor did they later stop George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush from attending church, although none of them almost died from an assassin's bullet.) Had Reagan been more concerned with appearances, he would probably have attended church, as almost all his predecessors did, despite the risks (or at least held private services at the White House) because of public expectations.

Even more damaging to Reagan was his wife's fascination with astrology, which became a public issue in 1988. Nancy had long been interested in astrology, and before Reagan became president, they both had regularly read their horoscopes.84 Her interest in the stars increased after her husband was shot, and she turned to astrology, especially the services of Joan Quigley, in an effort to determine the most propitious times for him to schedule trips, major addresses, and other events.85 Although advisors such as Michael Deaver and Donald Regan considered her “zodiacal inclinations inconvenient, sometimes irritating, and potentially embarrassing,” they tolerated them.86 After resigning, however, a disgruntled Regan revealed Nancy's practices in his 1988 (p.333) memoirs, provoking an uproar. “Virtually every major move and decision the Reagans made during my time as White House Chief of Staff,” he claimed, “was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes to make certain the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise.”87 Others asserted that Reagan scheduled INF Treaty negotiations with the Soviets after astrological consultation and that he chose press conferences according to the fullness of the moon. The president insisted that astrology played no role in his daily schedule and that he had never made any policy decisions based on astrological predictions.88 Several of Reagan's closest aides testified that he never discussed astrology with them.89

Despite Reagan's denials, concerned Christian friends, including Pat Boone and George Otis, exhorted him to renounce any involvement with astrology. Unlike many other Americans who faithfully attended church and regularly consulted their horoscopes, they and most other evangelicals saw the practices as contradictory. While publicly declaring that the daily astrology forecast was “no more interesting or meaningful” to Reagan than a comic strip, Boone privately reminded the president that “God decisively” condemned “astrology as a counterfeit religion” and warned that anyone who placed confidence in it would be led astray and suffer. Because the concerns of the Christian community were “deep and valid” and the practice was so spiritually dangerous, he counseled Reagan to definitively denounce it.90 Otis warned Reagan that if he did not repudiate the practice of astrology, it would legitimize “the occult and set our nation on a collision course with God.”91 Other leading evangelicals protested that consulting the stars was incompatible with Reagan's frequent profession that the Bible was God's inspired Word.92 Religious Roundtable founder Ed McAteer lamented that the president's actions showed he did not have “a good grasp of biblical truth.” Conservative columnist Cal Thomas called the Reagans' alleged use of astrology “the last straw for a lot of religious people. The president used to say, ‘The answer to all of life's problems can be found in the Bible.’ I guess he put God on hold and consulted Jeane Dixon.”93 The president of the Moral Majority, on the other hand, insisted his constituency would be worried only if it was conclusively shown that Reagan “had consulted the stars in making political decisions.”94 Hundreds of thousands of Americans signed petitions urging Reagan to “Say No to Astrology in the White House.”95 Despite this pressure, Reagan never publicly condemned the practice of astrology.96

Had they known, conservative Christians would have also been upset by Reagan's apparent belief in mystical experiences and spiritual visitations, his conviction that he had inherited some of his mother's psychic powers, his superstitious practices, and his entertaining the possibility that ghosts might be real. He asserted that at his father's funeral in 1941, he heard Jack say, “I'm okay and where I am it's very nice. Please don't be unhappy.” Convinced that his father had spoken to him, Reagan's desolation disappeared.97 He insisted (p.334) that some of his mother's belief in hunches had rubbed off on him and that sometimes he knew, or at least had a strong feeling, that particular things would happen.98 His press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, claimed that Reagan considered some numbers to be lucky. Aides revealed that he knocked on wood and kept a good‐luck penny in his pocket.99 The frightened reaction of his dog Rex to the Lincoln Bedroom, Reagan wrote in An American Life, nearly convinced him that Lincoln's ghost haunted parts of the second floor of the White House.100

Another issue that might have caused trouble for Reagan was his belief in the Battle of Armageddon, described in the Book of Revelation as the climatic confrontation of good and evil. While governor of California, Reagan frequently discussed with evangelical friends how the founding of Israel in 1948 fulfilled biblical prophecy and suggested that the end of the world was near. Reagan invited Graham to speak to a joint session of the state legislature about the Second Coming of Christ. The future president read Hal Lindsey's 1970 best‐seller, The Late Great Planet Earth, which depicted this final ferocious battle. In an interview in 1980 on Jim Bakker's PTL Network, Reagan declared, “We may be the generation that sees Armageddon.” As president, he discussed Armageddon so often with so many people that one of his campaign strategists feared that the media might publicize his fascination with the topic.101 It did surface briefly in the 1984 campaign, when Reagan was asked during his second debate with Mondale if the U.S. plans for nuclear war were related to his belief in Armageddon. No one knows, Reagan responded, if “Armageddon is a thousand years away or the day after tomorrow. So I have never seriously warned that we must plan according to Armageddon.” Some liberal Protestant and Jewish leaders feared that “a theology of nuclear Armageddon” might unduly influence Reagan's foreign policy, but the subject did not become a significant campaign issue.102

The next year, Reagan's use of a biblical text to support a stronger national defense provoked considerable controversy. Speaking to business and trade representatives at the White House and the National Religious Broadcasters at their annual convention on the same day in February 1985, Reagan invoked Scripture to justify his policy. He reminded the audiences of Jesus' words in Luke 14:31–32: “What king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with 10,000 men to encounter the one coming against him with 20,000. Or else, while the other is still far way, [he] sends a delegation and asks the terms of peace.” Applying the passage to America's situation, the president concluded, “I don't think the Lord that has blessed this country, as no other country has ever been blessed, intends for us to have to someday negotiate because of our weakness.”103 Asked at a news conference a couple weeks later whether it was appropriate to use the Bible to defend political positions, Reagan replied that he had consulted several clergymen and theologians who assured him that he (p.335) had interpreted the passage correctly and therefore its use was “perfectly fitting.” He had never exploited the “Bible to further political ends,” he added, but it contained “an answer to just about everything and every problem that confronts us.”104 Critics accused the president of ignoring hundreds of other verses that promoted peace and nonresistance. They urged him to avoid the “business of Bible interpretation” and to refrain from using the Scriptures to defend specific policies.105

Unlike many of his predecessors, there was little about Reagan's personal morality that religious conservatives would have considered objectionable. As will be discussed later, they tended to ignore the fact that he was divorced. He occasionally drank a glass of wine, normally at public events.106 He told some stories that many of them would have deemed somewhat irreverent, and he occasionally used profanity in male company.107 No evidence indicates that Reagan was ever sexually unfaithful to his wife.

Considering Reagan's assertions and actions, it is not surprising that friends, associates, and journalists did not fully agree about the nature of his faith. Like many other presidents, he was quite private about his relationship with God, as close friends and observers noted. Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt insisted that Reagan was a “loner” in his relationship with God. Charles Wick and his wife were one of the couples closest to the Reagans, but he was unable to tell an interviewer much about Reagan's religious beliefs.108 Dinesh D'Souza, who worked as a policy analyst in the Reagan administration, argues that the Republican was “reserved and understated about his personal beliefs because he didn't want to sound self‐righteous or exhibitionistic.”109 On the other hand, evangelical friends and colleagues such as Pat and Shirley Boone and Senator Roger Jepsen and his wife, Dee, reported that Reagan talked openly about his faith in private conversations.110 Others claimed that Reagan interjected biblical ideas into cabinet meetings, sessions with senior advisors, and at dinners.111 “The president,” Attorney General Edwin Meese insisted, “was able to talk about religion in a comfortable way.”112 “God is real to him,” declared Peggy Noonan, who wrote speeches for Reagan for five years.113

Catholic Patrick Buchanan, who served as the White House communications director, and Moomaw called Reagan “a self‐taught Christian.” He was “a very simple Christian,” Buchanan added, who focused on his “personal relationship with God.” Later in his life, he had “become more and more an outspoken believer in God. He talks about it often.” From 1963 on, Reagan maintained a close relation with Moomaw, whom he called “my pastor” even while he was living in Washington. Moomaw helped lead a special worship service at St. John's Episcopal Church prior to Reagan's first inauguration.114 The Presbyterian gave the invocation at both inaugurals, and they communicated fairly frequently. Moomaw insisted that they were “friends and Christian brothers” who shared a “deep loyalty.”115 Reagan has a “deep private faith,” Moomaw insisted, “that has not been instructed too much by Bible (p.336) classes, prayer meetings, or worship services.” He did read the Bible, pray, and worship, but the last had not been a regular experience for him throughout his life. His faith, Moomaw judged, was “more experiential than intellectual.”116 Like many other Americans, Reagan's faith was “highly individualistic.” It rested on a personal relationship with God and had little theological specificity.117

Others who observed Reagan closely offered a different view of his spirituality. Some described his faith as earnest but superficial.118 To historian Martin Marty, Reagan's religion was “sincere but inauthentic.”119 Others denounced it as bland, shallow, politically motivated, and self‐serving. One critic labeled it “Revised Standard Country Club Piety.”120 Another censured him as a “stay‐in‐bed faker who used the alibi, ‘Oh, I don't go to church because the Secret Service men would disturb the congregation.’ ”121 Some accused Reagan of hypocrisy. His infrequent church attendance, meager donations to charities, and estrangement from his son Michael, maintained Robert Kaiser, indicated that it was “extremely unlikely that religion means much in Reagan's life.”122 Calvin College professor Richard Mouw lamented that Reagan did not “show the marks of an evangelical Christian”—personal spirituality, a solid grasp of Christian doctrine, or desire to help the poor.123

The issue of whether Reagan was born again in the way most evangelicals use the term is also difficult to determine definitively. In 1976, he announced, “I certainly know what the meaning” of born again “is today. … [I]n my own experience there came a time when there developed a new relationship with God. … So yes, I have had an experience that could be described as ‘born again.’ ”124 During the 1980 campaign, Reagan told a reporter that his joining the Christian Church at age twelve “represented a conscious decision to accept Christ. ‘If that's what you mean by born‐again, you could call me born‐again.’ ”125 The term, he told another questioner, was not used in the Christian Church in which he was raised. “But there you were baptized when you yourself decided that you were, as the Bible says … born again.”126 That same year, Adrian Rogers, a prominent Southern Baptist pastor, directly asked Reagan, “Do you know the Lord Jesus or do you only know about Him?” To which he replied, “I know Him,” testifying that he had a personal relationship with Christ as his redeemer.127 Similarly, Reagan told Moomaw that had he died after he was shot in 1981, he would have been all right with God because he had accepted Jesus as his savior.128 In a statement in the files of his presidential library, entitled “Ronald Reagan's Religious Beliefs,” he wrote, “Jesus Christ has been a part of my life almost from the time I was born. … There was no great dramatic moment when I accepted Christ.”129 The Web site of the Reagan Library states under the heading “Religion” that Reagan “considers himself a ‘born‐again Christian.’ ”130 Although disappointed that Reagan did not consistently state unequivocally during his presidency, as did Carter, that (p.337) he was a born‐again Christian, most evangelicals considered Reagan one of them. Ignoring Carter, Pat Robertson declared, “He is probably the most evangelical president we have had since the founding fathers.” Herb Ellingwood insisted that he was “a born again Christian.”131 Pierard and Linder argue, on the other hand, that Reagan's somewhat vague explanations put him “squarely in the mainstream of general Protestantism” and assured Americans he was not a religious fanatic.132

Although historians debate the nature of Reagan's spirituality, they concur that he used religious rhetoric, discussed religious themes, and spoke to religious groups more than any other twentieth‐century president. Arguably, of all American presidents, only Lincoln talked about spiritual and moral issues as often as Reagan. Critics protested that Reagan's religiosity was evident in every pronouncement “from his State of the Union Address to the quickest offhand comments.”133 Whereas Carter was better known for his personal religiosity, he spoke much less frequently to religious groups and discussed religious topics in substantive ways much less often than Reagan. His use of religious metaphors, biblical quotations, and evangelical theology, Paul Boase argues, “pales by comparison with Reagan's direct, blunt use of religious terminology.”134 No president spoke to more religious gatherings during his tenure in office than Reagan.135 Moreover, evidence indicates that Reagan played a major role in writing his speeches in which he emphasized the nation's religious heritage, the importance of public and private morality, and the necessity of national dependence on God.136 He argued that public policies must rest on moral values, insisted that America's problems stemmed in large part from its citizens' disobedience to God's commandments, and called for spiritual renewal.

Like many other presidents, Reagan stressed (critics said he exaggerated) the religious commitments of the Founding Fathers and maintained that the United States would flourish only if its people acted morally. The founders “believed faith in God was the key to our being a good people and America's becoming a great nation.”137 The Western ideas of freedom and democracy, he insisted, sprang “directly from the Judeo‐Christian religious experience.”138 Reagan regularly recounted how great Americans, especially Washington, Lincoln, and Eisenhower, had relied on God in leading the nation.139

Reagan often asserted that America's success depended on its relationship with God. The nation had overcome many challenges by relying on God's power and protection.140 “If we ever forget that we're one nation under God,” he proclaimed in 1984, “then we will be a nation gone under.”141 He also repeatedly maintained that God had chosen America for a special mission. “Can we doubt,” he told the Republican National Convention in 1980, “that only a Divine Providence placed this land … here as a refuge for all those (p.338) people in the world who yearn to breathe free?”142 “I've always believed,” he declared in 1983, “that this blessed land was set apart in a special way.”143 Because God had given America such freedom and abundance, it must aid “less fortunate brothers and sisters around the world.”144 The mission of America was to model liberty, democracy, free enterprise, and Christianity and to export them to other nations. “Democracy,” Reagan argued, “is just a political reading of the Bible.”145 The nation's “intellectual and spiritual values,” Reagan proclaimed, “are rooted in … a belief in a Supreme Being, and a law higher than our own.”146

Reagan repeatedly contended that the First Amendment was not meant to “keep traditional moral values away from policymaking.” It was “not written to protect people and their laws from religious values” but rather “to protect religion from the interference of the government and to guarantee … ‘the free exercise of religion.’ ”147 As a pluralistic society, the United States must protect all religions, but it must not twist the concept of freedom of religion “to mean freedom against religion.”148 Recent court rulings, Reagan protested in 1984, displayed instead “government hostility to religion,” which must be changed.149 “We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever,” Reagan declared. “We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings.” Those with faith “must be free to speak of and act on their belief, to apply moral teaching to public questions.”150

To Reagan, America's many problems stemmed from its failure to live by God's teachings and to fulfill the mission he had assigned it. The breakdown of the family; lack of community; spread of secularism; rampant pornography and sexual promiscuity; large numbers of abortions, teenage pregnancies, and children born out of wedlock; and eroding patriotism all plagued America. Throughout history, great empires had fallen, he warned, after their people had forsaken their gods. “I don't want us to be another great civilization that began its decline by forsaking its God.”151 Reagan denounced efforts to end the tax‐exempt status of churches, eliminate the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, and remove “In God We Trust” from the currency.152 He argued that if the United States curbed the size and power of the federal government, unleashed the entrepreneurial spirit of its citizens, and reformed its moral practices, it could be a shining city on a hill, arrest the spread of atheism and communism, and promote liberty, democracy, and capitalism around the world.153 Like Franklin Roosevelt and Eisenhower, Reagan repeatedly called for a national spiritual revival or rejoiced that one was occurring.154 In 1983, for example, to buttress his claim that the nation was in the midst of a “spiritual awakening and a moral renewal,”155 he pointed to surveys that revealed an overwhelming majority of Americans disapproved of adultery, teenage sex, pornography, abortion, and hard drugs and expressed a deep reverence for family ties and religious beliefs.

(p.339) Reagan's Relations with Religious Constituencies

As president, Reagan sought to maintain close bonds with the religious right, improve his relationship with mainline Protestants, and gain the support of both groups for his policies. His administration assigned several staff members in the Office of Public Liaison to work with Protestants.156 They arranged meetings between Reagan and key Protestant groups and leaders, met with selected religious constituents, conferred with influential leaders, and spoke to Protestant gatherings. These liaisons also circulated drafts of legislation to Protestant ministers, editors, and parachurch leaders and conveyed their concerns to the president.157

Believing they had played a major role in Reagan's victory and that the president shared many of their values, conservative Christians expected to be richly rewarded with political appointments, attention, and the implementation of their social agenda. Although they had greater access to Reagan's administration than to any other in the twentieth century, many of them were still disappointed by his actions. A few evangelicals received high‐level posts. Donald Hodel, James Watt, and Elizabeth Dole served, respectively, as secretary of the interior, secretary of the interior, and secretary of transportation.158 C. Everett Koop was named surgeon‐general and Bob Billings assistant secretary of education for nonpublic schools.159 Other evangelicals served in the Justice Department, Health and Human Services, as liaisons with religious conservatives or women, and as speechwriters. Reagan appointed relatively few religious conservatives to his administrative team because few of them had the proper credentials, because he wanted to distance himself somewhat from the Christian right, and because of the opposition of his inner circle.160 On the other hand, there were enough committed Christians in the Reagan White House for Bible study and prayer groups to flourish.161

During his first two years, Reagan also upset many evangelicals by not pressing their issues as strongly as they desired. This stemmed in part from the argument of his pollsters that abortion, school prayer, and busing were “no‐win issues.” As the 1984 election approached, Reagan improved his relationship with evangelicals by speaking to several of their conventions, holding briefings for their leaders, meeting privately with their spokespersons, and emphasizing the importance of faith, prayer, and God's designs for America in major speeches. He repeatedly called for spiritual renewal and reasserted his promises to work for tuition tax credits, a school prayer amendment, and more restrictive abortion laws.162 Administration officials also hosted the Evangelical Press Association in May 1984 to discuss Reagan's policies on family issues and civil liberties.163 Despite their disappointments, conservative Protestants remained firmly in Reagan's camp, providing support not only for the administration's moral and social agenda but also for its economic and defense (p.340) policies.164 During his second term, Reagan and his staff met regularly with evangelicals to solicit their help to push his agenda on the family, education, tax reform, Central America, South Africa, and other matters.165

While providing considerable access to religious conservatives, Hadden and Shupe argue, no twentieth‐century president “so completely snubbed” the nation's “established religious leadership” as did Reagan.166 The protests of mainline Protestant leaders that Reagan was ignoring them prompted his staff to schedule twelve briefings with several hundred of them in 1984 and 1985.167 Each briefing dealt with the moral dimensions of a particular policy, such as tax reform, Central America, South Africa, family, civil rights, arms control, refugees, or social and economic justice.168 Persuaded by the arguments they heard, some participants supported Reagan's policies in sermons, articles, and radio programs. Others, however, accused administrative spokespersons of presenting only carefully selected facts that backed Reagan's positions.169 Reagan's aides refuted the criticism that Reagan was “absolutely in concert with the far Right Religious community.” They emphasized that many religious conservatives had opposed Sandra Day O'Connor's nomination to the Supreme Court and protested Reagan's establishing of formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican. They also claimed that the White House was eager to hear the views of mainline Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and Jews.

During Reagan's tenure, some Protestants were troubled by other matters. Various groups protested that the government was interfering in religious affairs, especially through its Internal Revenue Service policies that appeared to try to enforce certain social policies on religious organizations and its alleged use of missionaries in Central Intelligence Agency operations.170 Numerous Protestants censured the Reagan administration's support of the contras in Nicaragua.171

The Reagan administration also took many steps to try to establish good rapport with Catholics, who had become a major force in American politics. They accounted for more than a quarter of the members of Congress, and church leaders were issuing strong statements on a host of political issues. Robert Reilly, a former staff member of the U.S. Information Agency, served the longest as Reagan's liaison to Catholics.172 Reagan spoke to many Catholic groups, typically discussing abortion, school prayer, tuition tax credits, and volunteerism and often quoting Pope John Paul II and Catholic theologians and authors.173 Catholics played many important roles in the Reagan White House: His three national security advisors—Richard Allen, William Clark, and Robert C. McFarland—were all Catholics. Clark, who was one of Reagan's most trusted advisors, regularly read the Bible and prayed with him.174 Reagan's two secretaries of state (Alexander Haig and George Shultz), CIA director William Casey, Attorney General William French, Communications Director Patrick Buchanan, and Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler were all Catholics. So were speechwriters Tony Dolan and Peggy (p.341) Noonan and Ambassador Vernon Walters. The president met with John Paul II three times and worked closely with him to aid Catholic churches in Poland and undermine communism.175 Reagan met with Mother Teresa several times, corresponded with her, and awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.176

Reagan's opposition to abortion and campaign for tuition tax credits endeared him to many Catholics. So did his support for traditional family values, efforts to restore prayer in the schools, condemnation of human rights violations in Communist countries, and fight against drugs and pornography. Three Catholic lay organizations, most of whose members were blue‐collar Reagan Democrats, especially supported his social policies: the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Daughters of America, and the Catholic Golden Age.177 Many Catholics were pleased with his decision in January 1984 to appoint an ambassador to the Vatican. Speaking for the majority of Catholics, James Malone, the president of the U.S. Catholic Conference, insisted that this act affirmed the role played so effectively by John Paul II and his predecessors “on behalf of peace and justice in the world.” The president of the Southern Baptist Convention declared that he was “ ‘deeply disappointed’ ” by Reagan's decision and warned that it might hurt his reelection campaign. Upgrading relations with the Vatican, Jerry Falwell contended, set “a bad precedent.” Would Mecca request an ambassador next? he asked. Many mainline Protestant and Jews, most notably Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, also denounced Reagan's act.178

Meanwhile, many leading Catholics, especially the American Catholic bishops, strongly disagreed with Reagan's policies on the economy, defense, and Central America, despite diligent efforts by administration officials to shape Catholic perspectives on these matters. His staff especially concentrated on trying to influence the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' letters on war and peace and social and economic issues and on working with conservative Catholics who supported their positions on these issues.

In December 1982, twenty‐four Catholic Congressmen defended Reagan's peace‐through‐strength position. Quoting frequently from statements by popes, Catholic theologians, bishops, and John F. Kennedy, they challenged many of the positions espoused in the recent draft of the bishops' pastoral letter. The policies of the Soviet Union, these Catholic legislators argued, had made the arms race necessary. America's nuclear deterrent was not “a threat to peace, but … a guarantor of peace.” In condemning nuclear weapons, they protested, the bishops ignored the fact that conventional weapons could be just as destructive. The bishops also ignored the United States' extensive efforts to limit nuclear weapons. These Catholic politicians urged the bishops to remember, foreshadowing Reagan's “evil empire” speech, that the crisis they confronted did “not involve two morally equally forces, but … human freedom against totalitarianism.” Peace without justice, they contended was “moral violence.”179

(p.342) In January 1983, State Department officials met with a delegation of Catholic bishops to discuss the bishops' stance on defense spending and nuclear weapons. They emphasized Reagan's commitment to achieving world peace and negotiating arms control agreements. They discussed the moral dilemmas inherent in political action and in dealing with an adversary whose “behavior required our … insistence on strong defense.” Officials emphasized that the pope had recently reaffirmed the morality of nuclear deterrence as long as it was coupled with efforts to stop the buildup of arms.180 Despite these efforts, the bishops' Pastoral Letter on War and Peace issued in May 1983 supported a nuclear freeze and declared that “the deliberate initiation of nuclear warfare, on however a restricted scale,” could not “be morally justified.”181 Disagreeing with this position, four Catholic organizations created the American Catholic Conference to support Reagan's defense policies.182

In 1983, Catholic bishops also began a study of the relationship between Christianity and capitalism, focusing on employment, poverty, trade, and economic policy.183 Fearing that their letter would attack free enterprise, political conservatives strove to counteract its “potentially negative impact.” They urged Catholic businessmen, community leaders, professors, and students to discuss with their bishops and priests “why the letter should recognize the positive moral role played by the free market economy,” and they created a commission of prominent Catholic professionals to study Catholic social thought and the economy.184 The first draft of the bishops' Pastoral on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, issued in November 1984, pronounced “the level of inequality in income and wealth in our society” “morally unacceptable.”185 Contesting this perspective, the commission's report argued that the American economic system was “concerned for the welfare of all,” including the unemployed and needy.186

Other Catholics also criticized the bishops' letter. Business executive Gerald Lynch argued that the economic and political programs the bishops supported had “been implemented and found wanting in every country of the Western World.” Moreover, they ignored factors that had always “propelled the American economy, such as capital formation, incentive, … risk, reward, productivity, [and] discipline.” Capitalism was “infinitely superior in terms of economic results” to all other economic systems, including modern‐day versions of socialism.187 As with the earlier pastoral letter, the efforts of the Reagan administration and its supporters had little impact on the final draft of the bishops' letter issued in late 1986.188 In sum, conservative Catholics who agreed with Reagan's stance on abortion, school prayer, tuition tax credits, pornography, drugs, and family values provided strong support for his administration. More liberal Catholics, especially the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, who disliked his policies on defense, Central America, and the economy, were some of his most vocal critics.

(p.343) Reagan and his staff, led by Orthodox Jew Marshall Breger, also worked diligently, with limited success, to maintain positive relations with Jews. Reagan praised Jewish contributions to Western civilization, denounced anti‐Semitism, worked to stop the persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union and to facilitate their emigration, and celebrated the Jewish religious heritage.189 He spoke to numerous Jewish organizations and met personally with dozens of Jewish leaders.190 Other administration officials met with many Jewish groups and spoke at Jewish gatherings.191 Reagan appointed Morris Abrams to the Civil Rights Commission, Elliot Abrams as an assistant secretary of state, and Alan Greenspan and Murray Weidenbaum as economic advisors.

During his first term, Reagan enjoyed generally good relations with Jews, in large part because he strongly supported Israel, which he did for both strategic and moral reasons.192 The president backed a Jewish homeland as a compensation for their long‐standing persecution, as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and as a strategic bulwark to help stop Soviet intervention into the Middle East.193 The American Jewish community was also pleased by Reagan's promise in 1983 that if Israel were ever forced out of the United Nations, “the United States and Israel would leave together.”194 On the other hand, some Jewish leaders and organizations objected to Reagan's close relationship with conservative Christians and argued that he ignored the separation between church and state.195 Administration officials countered that the president strongly endorsed “religious tolerance and forbearance” but objected to recent court decisions that limited religious freedom.196 During the 1984 campaign, a few Jews urged their coreligionists to vote for Reagan because of his economic policies and “liberal softness toward Israel.”197 Although many Jews were repulsed by the religious right's alleged efforts to abolish the wall of separation between church and state and Christianize America, Reagan won about 35 percent of the Jewish vote in 1984, a high percentage for a Republican candidate.198

Controversy erupted in April 1985 over Reagan's scheduled trip to West Germany. He had accepted an invitation from Chancellor Helmut Kohl to lay a wreath at a cemetery in Bitburg to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the end of World War II and to demonstrate that their two nations were now allies. Bitburg was the staging area for the Battle of the Bulge, the final German assault on the western front. When Reagan agreed to go, he did not know that forty‐nine members of the Waffen SS had been buried at this cemetery in 1945. Veterans' groups, prominent Republicans, and Jewish leaders all pointed out the negative implications of visiting Bitburg and begged him not to go.199 Clergymen exhorted Reagan to cancel his visit to underscore the point that the Holocaust was “the greatest moral crime of the century.”200 In remarks to reporters before leaving for Germany, Reagan accepted the distinction the Germans made between the regular SS forces, the Nazi regime's most fanatical agents, and the Waffen SS, who were young teenagers “forced into military (p.344) service in the closing days of the Third Reich.” Thus, he argued, “they were victims,” just as were those who died in the concentration camps. Moreover, he insisted, Americans should not “ask new generations of Germans to live with this guilt forever without any hope of redemption. This should be a time of healing.”201 Reagan's efforts to equate the slain SS soldiers with the Jewish victims of the Holocaust convinced few and outraged many. The New York Times labeled the episode the “biggest fiasco” of Reagan's presidency.202 Lou Cannon contends that “Reagan abandoned the moral high ground of his intense convictions about the Holocaust” to help Kohl politically.203 Dinesh D'Souza counters that Reagan wanted to underscore the point that the West could better “resist the contemporary evil of totalitarianism by permitting postwar Germany to outlive its Nazi past, recover its national pride, and join the fraternity of free nations on an equal basis.”204 In private letters, Reagan defended his decision as “the morally right thing to do.”205 The president paid a high price for going to Bitburg: He was severely criticized and never regained the trust of the Jewish community.206

The Election of 1984

Pierard and Linder argue that “probably in no election campaign in American history, not even 1928 or 1960, did religion receive a larger billing than in 1984,” a campaign that pitted Reagan and George H. W. Bush against Carter's vice president, Walter Mondale, and New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, a Catholic.207 The Christian right, Catholic bishops, and black Protestants all spoke loud and often about political matters, and religion touched on numerous issues, most notably abortion, school prayer, tuition tax credits, the threat of nuclear war, and how to best help the poor. While two large black denominations—the National Baptist Convention and the African Methodist Episcopal Church—supported Mondale and the Catholic bishops attacked Reagan's economic policies and refusal to support a nuclear freeze, the Christian right engaged in Herculean efforts to reelect the president.208 Moreover, Reagan's repeated use of religious rhetoric during the campaign provoked considerable controversy. Newsweek contended that the religious differences between Reagan and Bush and their Democratic opponents involved “a whole range of assumptions and beliefs about the nature of society and a Christian's role in it.”209 At stake in the election, added Time, were several “specific policy matters with a clear religious dimension” and more abstract questions, such as “How should faith inform public policymaking?” and “Should clergy involve themselves and their congregations directly in politics?”210

In the late 1970s, many conservative Christians became convinced that they could arrest negative social trends by political activism. They were disappointed that Reagan had not done more to advance other items of their (p.345) agenda: promotion of family values and opposition to abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment, affirmative action, environmentalism, school busing, and gun control.211 Nevertheless, they generally admired Reagan's economic policies and anticommunism, efforts to provide a strong defense, support for a school prayer amendment, and willingness to combat abortion, pornography, and moral decline. They applauded his seemingly strong personal faith and his frequent discussion of spiritual and religious themes. Although disappointed that he had not appointed more evangelicals to positions in his administration, they appreciated their increased access to the president and his sensitivity to some of their concerns. Now that the economy was improving, religious conservatives hoped Reagan would concentrate on fighting the social evils they despised. Certainly, Mondale would not advance their agenda. Moreover, Reagan worked vigorously in 1984 to “rally religious conservatives of all stripes to his cause.”212 He stressed the importance of a spiritual revival in his State of the Union Address and proclaimed January 22 “National Sanctity of Human Life Day.” At major evangelical conclaves and in speeches to other groups, Reagan called for tuition tax credits, protection for unborn children, and “voluntary” school prayer.

All these factors prompted many leaders of the religious right to labor strenuously to help Reagan win. During the campaign, three evangelical publishers issued books accentuating Reagan's religious commitments.213 Christian Voice distributed almost a million copies of a “Presidential Biblical Scoreboard” that rated the candidates on fifteen “biblical‐family‐moral issues.” Especially important was the creation of the American Coalition for Traditional Values (ACTV) in June 1984. Led by Tim LaHaye, its thirty‐three board members included many of the nation's most influential televangelists and evangelical pastors, who promised to encourage their followers to vote for “pro‐moral candidates.” In July, the ACTV invited three hundred evangelical and fundamentalist ministers to Washington to hear Reagan speak and meet with Bush, Meese, and Clark. That same month, Senator Paul Laxalt, the Republican campaign chair, sent letters to 45,000 carefully chosen ministers and priests to exhort them to persuade their parishioners to register to vote and to work for Reagan's reelection.

Leaders of the religious right also played a prominent role at the Republican National Convention by endorsing Reagan's policies and assuring Americans that he represented moral righteousness. Evangelist James Robison opened the convention with a prayer, thanking God for Reagan's leadership. W. A. Criswell, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, gave the closing benediction. In platform appearances, Falwell called Reagan and Bush “God's instruments in rebuilding America” and E. V. Hill, a prominent black pastor in Los Angeles, labeled Republicans the “Prayer Party.”214 During the convention, Reagan addressed a huge ecumenical prayer breakfast at Reunion Arena, declaring religion and politics “inseparable.”215

(p.346) Reagan's religious rhetoric during the campaign prompted a barrage of criticism. William Safire charged that he wanted to “impose a religious government,” and others protested that he did not respect the separation of church and state.216 Washington Post writer Sidney Blumenthal castigated Reagan for considering the evangelical right “a division of Christian soldiers in the conservative army” who believed the GOP was on the “path of political salvation.”217 The Atlanta Constitution indicted the president for trying to base public policy on “religious dogma” and granting “governmental favor to some religious groups.”218 Other critics denounced Reagan as a “self‐appointed national preacher‐in‐chief” who sought to “enshrine the social‐policy particulars” of the religious right into national law.219 Some detractors even claimed Reagan identified himself with God, sought to Christianize America, and made himself the judge of what was good and bad religion. They accused him of maintaining that “good Christians” supported “school prayer, a ban on abortion, and unlimited military spending and opposed a nuclear freeze and social programs for the poor.”220

Reagan's staff countered that the president sought not to make the government religious but rather to make it “tolerant and accommodating toward religious belief, expression, and conduct.” Rather than promoting religion, his administration respected “religious convictions that individuals adopt[ed] entirely apart from government.” Republican advisors counseled Reagan to avoid general statements about the role of religion in politics, which the “establishment media” could turn against him, and focus instead on the “specific application of moral principles and values to the task of governing.”221 During the last days of the campaign, Reagan sought to strike a delicate balance, as he solicited the support of the Christian right while trying not to drive away other voters by appearing to be a religious zealot.

Rebuffing Reagan, Mondale echoed the argument of New York Governor Mario Cuomo that “religion and faith were private matters, not symbols to be exploited by partisan politicians.”222 Nevertheless, the former vice president felt compelled to defend his religious pedigree and convictions. In the first presidential debate, he emphasized that his father was a Methodist minister. “I don't know if I've been born again, but I know I was born into a Christian family. … I have a deep religious faith. … It's probably the reason I'm in politics. I think our faith … instructs us about the moral life we should lead.” He denounced the “growing tendency to try to use one's own personal interpretation of faith politically … and to try to use the instrumentalities of government to impose those views on others.” The United States was the most religious nation on Earth because it had prevented politicians and the state from interfering with the personal exercise of faith.223 Ignoring such statements, Tim LaHaye, in attempting to discredit the Democrat with conservative Christians, contended that “Mondale admits he's a humanist.”224

(p.347) While Reagan's staff worked hard to retain the support of the religious right, they also developed a comprehensive strategy to win Catholic votes and convince Catholics to make the GOP “their new permanent political home.” A public effort to achieve this aim might cost Republicans votes in the Bible Belt or the Deep South. Therefore, the “best way to disguise this maneuver” was to emphasize moral issues rather than appeal directly to Catholics. Strategists recommended cultivating close relations with the Vatican, consulting frequently with Catholic prelates, developing cordial associations with various Catholic groups, appointing Catholics to major administrative posts, speaking at Catholic gatherings, increasing the number of Catholic leaders in the Republican Party, and focusing on issues that were important to Catholics: abortion, tuition tax credits, family values, sex and violence on television, anticommunism, and the concept of volunteerism.225 Strategists also insisted that the president's positions on these issues must be widely publicized in Catholic and ethnic communities. The values he shared with most Catholics and ethnic Americans must be constantly accentuated through the media. Because of the liberal bent of the U.S. Catholic Conference, advisors suggested, the Reagan administration must work closely with other Catholic organizations that were “neutral and objective.”226 During the campaign, his team put ads in many Catholic newspapers showing him meeting with Pope John Paul II and proclaiming his support for “basic family values,” “the rights of the unborn,” voluntary prayer in schools, and tuition tax credits. Catholics for a Moral America and the Catholic Center for Private Enterprise, Strong Defense, and Traditional Values labored vigorously for Reagan's reelection.227 Although many Catholic prelates disliked Reagan's positions, the bishops' pastoral letter strongly criticized his defense policies, and Ferraro was a Catholic (although pro‐choice on abortion), Reagan captured 55 percent of the Catholic vote, the highest percentage ever won by a Republican candidate.228

The efforts of conservative Christians to register voters and mobilize support for Reagan were very successful, as about 80 percent of white evangelicals cast ballots for the president, contributing to his landslide victory (Reagan won 59 percent of the vote and forty‐nine states).229 Many commentators conclude, however, that Reagan could have won handily without the enthusiastic support of religious conservatives because his personal popularity was so great and Mondale's campaigning so lackluster. Richard Pierard's assessment rings true: “the election was essentially a referendum on his performance as president, not an affirmation of his social policy.”230 Nevertheless, Mondale and Ferraro's argument that religious values did not “belong in the political arena” and their assault on Reagan's religious convictions and policies as unchristian backfired, because millions of Americans felt their own beliefs were under attack.231

(p.348) Reagan's Faith and Public Policies

Reagan proclaimed in 1984 that “politics and morality are inseparable.” “And as morality's foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide.”232 Although Reagan's faith affected many of his policies, his endeavors to curb abortion, pass a school prayer amendment, secure tuition tax credits, and oppose communism shed the most light on the relationship between his religious convictions and his policies.

Many who shared his religious presuppositions applauded his approach to these issues, but others who disagreed sharply with his guiding assumptions denounced it as misguided, improper, unfair, dangerous, and detrimental. The editors of the New Republic rejected the president's claim in 1983 that “policy decisions must have religious reasons.” “By what authority does this man claim to administer the Judeo‐Christian tradition? We elected a President, not a priest.” Reagan “is not in the White House to save our souls, but to protect our bodies; not to do God's will, but the people's.” Reagan did not understand, they argued, that the positions he repudiated—communism without and secularism within—were based not in sin but on different points of view. He misrepresented the views of the Founding Fathers on the separation of church and state, oversimplified issues, and offered a religious analysis of abortion and school prayer that contradicted “the American political tradition.” Reagan's rhetoric, they protested, was “deeply divisive.233 No president had “presumed to associate God with his political philosophy,” complained Wilbur Edel in 1987, “as persistently” as Reagan.234

Reagan's opposition to abortion is well known. He campaigned in 1980 and 1984 as an opponent of abortion, and he strove to reduce the number of abortions in the country by writing a short book on the subject and sponsoring pro‐life bills in 1987 and 1988. He repeatedly denounced abortion as a slaughter of innocents and “a wound of our national conscience.”235 In the final analysis, however, he was unable to stem the tide, and many pro‐life proponents expressed disappointment that he had not devoted more time, energy, and political resources to the cause. While governor of California, Reagan, urged on by his physician father‐in‐law, had signed a therapeutic abortion bill, even though pro‐life groups strongly opposed it. Although he later professed regret that he had signed the law, and he privately deplored the state's huge increase in abortions, he never tried to tighten the law during his tenure as governor.236

As president, however, Reagan's approach was different. He met with the leaders of the pro‐life movement at least once each year.237 Reagan appointed C. Everett Koop, a staunch antiabortion advocate, as surgeon general, frequently denounced abortion in major speeches, and wrote Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation (1984) to promote the pro‐life position. The president (p.349) protested that abortion diminished the value of all human life. He endorsed the Respect Human Life Bill, which prohibited the federal government from paying for abortions except to save the lives of pregnant women. The president denounced late‐term abortions and urged Americans to work to overturn Roe v. Wade. In numerous speeches, Reagan called the protection of human life “the first duty of government.”238 “This nation,” he declared in 1984, “cannot continue turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the taking of 4,000 unborn children's lives every day.” Since 1973, fifteen million “helpless innocents” had been slaughtered. “Doesn't the constitutional protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness extend to the unborn”? The medical evidence indicated that the unborn were living human beings, he said,239 and abortion was rampant because many Americans, ignoring Judeo‐Christian teaching, viewed sex as a purely physical act that had no “potential for emotional and psychological harm.”240 The president commended efforts to improve foster care, increase adoptions, and provide crisis counseling centers and other services for pregnant women.241

Although Reagan spoke out often and forcefully against abortion, he did not invest as many political resources in obtaining an antiabortion amendment to the Constitution as evangelicals wanted. The president refused to address in person the March to Life rally that assembled each year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Reagan provided little support for the 1981 Human Life Statute, which contributed to its defeat and baffled and annoyed most opponents of abortion. This bill declared that “human life shall be deemed to exist from conception.” If passed, it would have enabled the states to define abortion as murder. Conservatives were further frustrated when Reagan failed to endorse the Family Protection Act in 1981, which included, among its thirty‐one provisions, a measure to prohibit abortion. They also fought unsuccessfully against the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor for the Supreme Court because of her position on abortion. In 1982, Reagan did endorse an antiabortion bill and lobbied for its passage, but the bill was defeated in the Senate.242

Given the views of the Supreme Court justices and the Congress, Reagan realized that Roe v. Wade could not be overturned. He therefore focused his efforts on trying to pass a bill to further restrict public funding for abortion. In 1987, Reagan sent to Congress the President's Pro‐Life Bill, also called the Hyde Amendment, the first antiabortion legislation initiated by a president. It argued that abortion took the life of an unborn human being and criticized Roe v. Wade for not recognizing the humanity of the fetus. It mandated that no federal funds be used to perform abortions except when a woman's life was endangered and that private organizations that provided or referred clients for abortions (such as Planned Parenthood) would not be eligible for government monies.243 Stripped of this second provision, the Hyde Amendment passed in 1988, and Reagan signed it into law.

(p.350) Several considerations prompted Reagan to drag his feet on abortion: Nancy pressured him to not push the issue, Republicans were divided over abortion, and many of his aides urged him to avoid the subject for political reasons.244 Many conservative Christians complained that Reagan did not make the fight against abortion a high enough priority.245 Others pronounced Reagan's abortion crusade harmful because his policies were not consistently pro‐life (he did not oppose the death penalty or support gun control or a nuclear freeze). By linking abortion to a larger conservative political agenda that was “decidedly not pro‐life,” Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners, protested, Reagan had “cut the moral heart out of his concern for the sacredness of life.”246 Another evangelical castigated him for funding the “slaughter of children in Central America,” escalating the risk of nuclear war, and severely reducing “social service programs necessary for the survival and health of low‐income children.”247 Supporters of abortion rights complained that his proposals, if implemented, would rob women of the right to choose, place immense psychological and financial burdens on them, limit the ability of poor women to have abortions, and bring into the world unwanted children who were likely to be neglected and mistreated. Shortly before leaving office, Reagan declared that his greatest disappointment as president was that he had not been able to do more to protect the unborn. As long as abortion on demand was legal, he added, the United States would never be “completely civilized.248 In another interview the same week, he urged Americans to continue to pray for “the end of the abortion holocaust.”249

Reagan made passing a school prayer amendment a higher priority but had no success. In May 1982, he submitted an amendment stating, “Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or any State to participate in prayer.” In dozens of addresses, Reagan urged Congress to pass this amendment and offered reasons they should do so. School prayer should be reinstated, he argued, because it was consistent with the Constitution and a long‐standing American practice. It acknowledged God's authority, would benefit children, and could help restore morality (“if we could get God and discipline back in our schools, maybe we could get drugs and violence out”).250 Moreover, he insisted that schoolchildren should have the same right as members of Congress to begin each day with prayer and emphasized that the vast majority of Americans favored school prayer.251 The argument that voluntary prayers violated the rights of others, Reagan alleged, was “twisted logic.”252 “The Constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying,” he argued; “its declared purpose was to protect their freedom to pray.”253 In a radio address in February 1984, Reagan contended that if religious exercises were not allowed in schools, religion was “placed at an artificial and state‐created disadvantage.” The refusal to permit such exercises was not state neutrality but “the establishment of the religion of (p.351) secularism.”254 “No one will ever convince me,” he added, “that a moment of voluntary prayer will harm a child or threaten a school or State.”255 “God, source of all knowledge,” Reagan repeatedly objected, “should never have been expelled from our children's classrooms.” He continually denounced court decisions that prohibited schoolchildren from saying grace before meals, voluntarily meeting for prayer or Bible study, reciting poems with religious motifs, or simply getting together to talk about their faith.256

Behind the scenes, Reagan's staff worked to garner support for a school prayer amendment. They assembled lists of Christian organizations and celebrities who supported it, sent letters to hundreds of Christian leaders to urge them to work for its passage, mailed materials to newspaper and magazine editors across the country, called senators to try to persuade them to vote for the bill, and wrote op‐ed pieces for leading newspapers.257 Reagan met several times with Congressmen and groups of supporters to promote the amendment.258

Many Protestants and Catholics and some Jews lobbied for the bill. The Leadership Foundation distributed more than 42 million pamphlets and letters supporting school prayer and produced a television special, “Let Our Children Pray,” which aired on more than a hundred stations. Christian Voice created Project Prayer Coalition to push for the amendment, and Pat Robertson of CBN spearheaded “a massive grassroots letter‐writing campaign” to persuade senators to support the amendment.259 While admitting that school prayer would not save souls, supporters argued it recognized God's supremacy and could help reverse the trend toward secularism and promote revival. Despite Reagan's passionate exhortations in dozens of speeches, the Senate vote on the amendment in the spring of 1984 fell eleven short of the two‐thirds majority required. In 1985, his administration began a second push for an amendment, but the Senate eventually defeated it as well.260 Some analysts argue that the White House did not strongly pressure Senators to pass the amendment because a number of prominent Republicans disliked it.261

Opponents contended that school prayer was a state‐imposed religious practice, divisive, and a meaningless exercise. This vacuous faith in faith did little to help theists and offended unbelievers or made them uncomfortable. “The inherently religious ritual of public prayer,” argued a rabbi from New York City, “must be reserved for synagogue, church, or home.”262 House Speaker Tip O'Neill charged that Reagan's advocacy of the amendment was “politically inspired” and opined that a man who did not go to church should not talk about prayer.263 Although some saw no Constitutional objections to school prayer, they instead urged the government to focus on supplying vouchers or tuition tax credits to enable parents who wanted the option to send their children to religious schools, where each day could begin with genuine prayer.

Reagan also failed to obtain tuition tax credits. He regularly promised religious groups he was working to secure these credits for deserving families. (p.352) Attracted by their strong religious values and high educational standards, five million American children, Reagan emphasized, attended private schools. Their families, most of whom earned less than $25,000 a year, paid tuition for their children to attend these schools while also paying taxes to support public schools. They were entitled to relief.264 Responding to critics, Reagan argued that tuition tax credits “would only threaten public schools if you believe that more competition, greater parental choice, and stronger local control will make our schools worse, not better.”265 These credits would help the nation by promoting educational diversity and excellence, allowing the working class and poor to send their children to private schools, and jolting “public education out of its lethargy.”266 “I have not forgotten my promise regarding tuition tax credits,” Reagan wrote to a Catholic bishop in April 1982, “but have been constrained by our economic situation and the unwillingness of leaders on the Hill to move on this matter.”267 In June, Reagan submitted a bill to Congress entitled “The Educational Opportunity and Equity Act,” to furnish tuition tax credits to parents whose children attended private elementary and secondary schools, but it was defeated by the Senate in 1983. He blamed its failure principally on the opposition of the National Education Association, which strongly lobbied against the bill.268

Unlike abortion, school prayer, and tuition tax credits, the battle against communism did not intrinsically involve religion. For Reagan, however, the war against communism was at heart religious, and he made its defeat a central goal of his administration.269 Reagan departed radically from Carter's course. The Democrat had initially portrayed the Soviet behemoth as having a limited capacity to affect the world.270 Although events, especially the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979, changed Carter's mind, he never, like his successor, denounced the USSR as a belligerent, godless regime. To Reagan, by contrast, communism was an inherently evil and expansionist system that was destined to fail because it was contrary to human nature, biblical principles, and God's plan for history. Because God directed the course of events, “free men and women, inspired by their deeply held religious beliefs and values,” could turn the historical tides and set “them running again in the cause of freedom.”271 Communism's central flaw was that it denied people freedom, which was essential to human happiness and economic prosperity.272 “The cause of freedom,” he trumpeted, “is the cause of God.”273 Because Communist governments rejected God, they denied people religious, political, and economic freedom. They ignored “the rights God bestows” and suppressed freedom of speech, restricted emigration, jailed dissidents, and put intellectuals in mental hospitals.274 Reagan complained that the Communist Party had “substituted Karl Marx for God” and insisted that the “Marxist vision of man without God” would “eventually be seen as an empty and false faith.”275 He claimed that the United States and the Soviet Union offered competing worldviews. “Two visions of the world (p.353) remain locked in dispute,” he declared in 1983. “The first believes all men are created equal by a loving God who had blessed us with freedom. … The second vision believes that religion is the opium of the masses. It believes that eternal principles like truth, liberty, and democracy have no meaning beyond the whim of the state.”276 “The struggle between freedom and totalitarianism,” Reagan insisted, was not ultimately a battle of arms or missiles, but a “spiritual struggle.”277 Because it was the enemy of God and freedom, communism could not last.278

In March 1983, Reagan delivered the most controversial speech of his presidency to the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida. “There is sin and evil in the world,” Reagan averred, “and we're enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might.” “If history teaches anything,” he proclaimed, “it teaches that simple‐minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly.” The president then turned his guns on the atheistic philosophy and sins of the Soviet Union. Following Lenin, the Soviets repudiated all religion and contended that morality was “entirely subordinate to the interests of class warfare.” Because the Soviets “preach[ed] the supremacy of the State” and sought to dominate the planet, he argued, “they are the focus of evil in the modern world.” He urged Americans to pray that “all who live in that totalitarian darkness” would “discover the joy of knowing God.” Attacking those who supported a nuclear freeze, Reagan warned against the temptation to believe that both sides were equally to blame for the arms race. Doing so ignored “the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.” Those who took this approach retreated “from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.” The United States, he maintained, must “never stop searching for a genuine peace,” but it must be a “peace through strength.” He urged his listeners to support his administration's efforts to “keep America strong and free, while we negotiate real and verifiable reductions in the world's nuclear arsenal and one day, with God's help, their total elimination.” “I've always maintained,” he concluded, that this struggle “will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it's a test of moral will and faith.”279

Many evangelicals (and other Reagan supporters) enthusiastically applauded his message.280 Since the 1920s, many conservative Christians had made defeating communism a focal point of their politics. It served to “funnel more diffuse fears of atheism, evolution, and modernism into a single embodied enemy.”281 Despite the fact that Wilson had accused the Bolsheviks of “mass terrorism,” “barbarism,” and “wanton acts,” and Eisenhower decried communism as a “hostile,” “atheistic,” “ruthless” ideology, numerous commentators deplored Reagan's “stunning breach of international protocol.”282 Judging by how frequently they quoted him, many agreed with Henry Steele Commager that it was “the worst presidential speech in American history” (p.354) because of its “gross appeal to religious prejudice.”283 Hugh Sidey protested in Time that Reagan's “fiery sermon mixed statecraft and religion.” “How we deal with the Soviets,” he argued, “is not something that can be decided by self‐appointed soldiers of God armed with unbending judgments about who and what are good and moral.”284 In the New York Times, Anthony Lewis condemned the speech as “simplistic,” “terribly dangerous,” “outrageous,” and “primitive.” By attempting to “apply religious concepts to the contentious technical particulars of arms programs,” he argued, Reagan ignored the facts that the United States had led the way in almost every new weapon development in the last thirty years, that millions of Americans did not agree with conservative Protestant or Catholic theology, and that many religious groups had endorsed a nuclear freeze.285 Jim Wallis complained in Sojourners that it was “not only bad theology, but dangerous heresy to suggest that evil in the world” was “mostly located to the north of the Caspian Sea.”286 A Washington Post editorial accused Reagan of enlisting “God on our side in the Cold War.”287 Many Western Europeans, fearful that they would be caught in the cross fire of a nuclear war between the superpowers, deprecated Reagan as a “binary‐minded simpleton” who thought complex issues “could be reduced to checked boxes marked YES or NO.”288 Not surprisingly, the Soviet press and leadership vehemently objected to Reagan's characterization of them as international pariahs.289

Although many disagreed at the time, Reagan saw himself as a peacemaker and often declared that his ultimate goal was to halt the production of nuclear weapons and then reduce their number.290 He insisted, however, that the United States must first achieve military superiority over the USSR and be able to negotiate from a position of strength. To a Catholic priest, Reagan wrote, “I'm sure the Bishops supporting the ‘freeze’ and unilateral disarmament are sincere and believe they are furthering the cause of peace. I am equally sure that they are tragically mistaken. What they urge would bring us closer to a choice of surrender or die.”291 Although nuclear freeze “had a nice‐sounding emotional appeal,” Reagan argued in 1990, the agenda of its supporters “could have been written in Moscow.” Like his religious critics, Reagan saw nuclear war as both immoral and unwinnable. It would cause hundreds of millions of casualties, poison the planet, and end civilization.292 Reagan proposed his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a shield to stop incoming missiles, because the United States had a “moral obligation to pursue technological breakthroughs that could permit us to move away from exclusive reliance on the threat of retaliation and mutual nuclear terror.”293 SDI would eliminate the necessity of mutually assured destruction (MAD), which he despised on moral grounds, and move the world closer to his dream of “a world free of nuclear weapons.” Reagan denounced MAD as “madness,” the “craziest thing I ever heard of.” It was like “two westerners standing in a saloon aiming their guns at each other's head—permanently.”294

(p.355) Moderating his militant rhetoric during his second term, Reagan developed a good working relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev, who became the Soviet premier in 1985. Holding four summits in two and a half years (Geneva in 1985, Reykjavik in 1986, Washington in 1987, and Moscow in 1988), they negotiated the Intermediate‐Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which eliminated all intermediate‐range missiles and, for the first time in history, reduced the nuclear arsenal of each nation. After the historic Washington summit, which included the signing of the INF Treaty, Reagan told a nationwide television audience, “Let us then thank God for all His blessings to this nation, and ask Him for His help so that we might continue the work of peace and foster the hope of a world where human freedom is enshrined.”295

Reagan also sought to provide greater spiritual opportunities for the residents of Communist nations. He was convinced that many living behind the Iron Curtain had a deep desire for spiritual things and that, despite Communist antagonism, a religious revival was occurring there. Although overthrowing this repressive system was his ultimate goal, Reagan also tried to further this revival by working to increase the freedom of citizens of Communist countries to worship God, discussing religious themes in his speeches to them, and exhorting Americans to pray for them. In a 1983 address, Reagan quoted British writer Malcolm Muggeridge: “ ‘The most important happening in the world today is the resurgence of Christianity in the Soviet Union… .’ ” Reagan claimed that “the most awesome military machine in history” was “no match for that … single man, hero, strong yet tender, Prince of Peace. His name alone, Jesus, can lift our hearts, soothe our sorrows, heal our wounds, and drive away our fears.”296 In 1987, Reagan maintained that Billy Graham's recent crusades in the Soviet Union confirmed the “hunger for religion there.”297 In numerous addresses, Reagan expressed his hope that people behind the Iron Curtain would come to know “the liberating nature of faith in God.”298

Reagan repeatedly denounced the lack of religious freedom in Communist nations, met with several Soviet dissidents, and urged the Soviet Union to allow more Jews to emigrate.299 Both Marx and Lenin, he asserted, recognized that religious belief would subvert communism.300 In 1983, Reagan warned that those who sought to “crush religious freedom,” jailed believers, closed churches, confiscated Bibles, and harassed priests and rabbis would “never destroy the love of God and freedom that burns in their hearts.”301 Later that year, he protested that people in many countries were not “even allowed to read the Bible. It is up to us to make sure that the message of hope and salvation gets through.”302 Reagan continually applauded and secretly supported the struggle of the Polish people to throw off the yoke of Soviet oppression. “Nowhere in the world is there a more splendid affirmation of this connection between religious values and political freedom,” Reagan avowed, “than in the ideals, the faith, and heroism of the Polish people and the leaders of Solidarity.”303 Reagan also asserted in 1983 that the communist‐inspired (p.356) revolution in Central America was “no match for the much greater force of faith that runs so deep among the people,” as demonstrated by Pope John Paul II's recent visit to the region.304

Reagan frequently used his opportunities to speak to communist audiences to stress religious themes. He argued in 1988 that “the most fitting way to mark the millennium of Christianity in Kiev Rus” would be to grant all Soviets the right to “worship their God, in their own way.”305 During his trip to Moscow in May of that year to meet with Gorbachev, Reagan told religious leaders that he hoped the Soviet Union was ready to reopen churches. He argued that faith was as elemental to the nation as its dark and fertile soil and hoped that perestroika would “be accompanied by a deeper restructuring, a deeper conversion” and that glasnost would “let loose a new chorus of belief, singing praises to the God who gave us life.”306

Historians have extensively debated the factors that led to the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war. Many give Gorbachev the lion's share of the credit for transforming East‐West relations.307 Some insist that communism was doomed to fail and emphasize factors beyond the control of leaders: The USSR's bloated bureaucracy and economic inefficiency, low birth rate, problems with alcoholism, and lagging technology combined to make its rate of economic growth far below that of the United States. Meanwhile, the cost of supporting Communist nations in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, fighting a war in Afghanistan, and trying to compete militarily with the United States drained its resources. Suffering from chronic economic problems, diminished productivity, low morale, political mismanagement, and overextension, the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight. Both Reagan and Gorbachev hastily improvised to keep up with these forces and events. To these scholars, Reagan simply happened to be president when the Soviet Union changed, for reasons he neither understood nor influenced. This lucky bumbler was too ill informed and inept to have engineered the toppling of the empire he denounced as evil.308 Others maintain that all the presidents from Truman to Reagan deserve equal credit for the victory over communism.309 Many of those who attribute the end of the cold war to the Reagan administration credit his staff, not Reagan himself, whom they judge to have been too aloof and passive to have managed the effort.310

Rejecting these interpretations, other scholars insist that Reagan resolutely directed some major aspects of his administration's foreign policy, including its relationship with the world's other superpower. Lou Cannon maintains that Reagan, not his staff, set the priorities for his administration, including the nation's military buildup and the decision to negotiate with Gorbachev.311 Some of those who argue that Reagan played the decisive role in bringing down the Soviet Union and ending the cold war maintain that he devised and coordinated a comprehensive strategy for doing so.312 According to this view, his carefully conceived plan for toppling the Soviet Union (p.357) centered on improving the American economy, overseeing the largest peacetime military buildup in the nation's history, changing the foreign policy from détente to confrontation, deploying Pershing and cruise missiles, and trying to develop a missile shield to protect the nation from a Soviet nuclear attack. Recognizing that the Soviet Union's resources were stretched dangerously thin, the Reagan administration worked to further weaken its economy by denying it favored‐nation trade status, increasing the global production of oil to undercut Soviet revenue, using diplomacy to prevent the construction of a Soviet oil pipeline, and supporting anticommunist insurgency around the world, especially by aiding Solidarity in Poland, the contras in Nicaragua, and the mujahedin in Afghanistan.313 Reagan insisted the Soviet Union's economic woes and seething discontent made it very vulnerable. It was “ultimately too weak to withstand a challenge from the morally and technologically superior West.”314 Despite widespread disapproval of his defense policies, “criticism from elder statesmen, ridicule from the media, and withering attacks from his political opponents,” Reagan relentlessly pursued his grand design.315 Although many American scientists and military experts dismissed SDI as unfeasible, Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders took it seriously. They feared that trying to compete militarily would wreck their economy and prevent perestroika from succeeding.316

By acting tough toward Moscow during his first term (upsetting the doves) and conciliating Gorbachev during his second term (antagonizing the hawks), Reagan accomplished what Henry Kissinger termed “the greatest diplomatic feat of the modern era.”317 To save itself from imploding, the Soviet Union had to change. Communism had failed to deliver what it promised, economically or politically. The Soviet Union collapsed, Reagan concluded in his autobiography, because communism had bankrupted the nation “economically and spiritually,” sapping people's incentive to “produce and excel,” and inhibiting their opportunity to worship their Creator.318 When congratulated for ending the cold war, Reagan countered that it was “not my success, but a team effort [directed] by divine providence.”319 Although he had substantial help from Gorbachev, John Paul II, Great Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Czech President Vaclav Havel, and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, D'Souza argues, Reagan played the decisive role in ending the cold war. He possessed what Edmund Burke called moral imagination, the belief that there was right and wrong in the world.320 Thatcher put it simply: “Ronald Reagan won the cold war without firing a shot.”321

A Final Assessment

A chorus of critics demeaned Reagan's intelligence, deprecated his leadership, denounced his policies, and deplored their consequences.322 In religion, as in (p.358) every other facet of life, Reagan was a “virtuoso politician,” a journalist averred, a man who played “the emotions the way Artur Rubinstein played a Steinway.”323 Unfortunately, Reagan did not use “his considerable communication skills to rally people to noble causes or to remind them of their obligations to others.”324 Critics attributed Reagan's accomplishments to “ ‘incredible luck’ ” (he was the “beneficiary of vast social and political trends he had little or nothing to do with”) and argued that “his short‐term gains” would be “greatly outweighed by the long‐term liabilities” with which he had “burdened the country.”325 They complained that his huge tax cuts, trade policies, and mammoth defense budget produced unprecedented budget deficits. By slashing government social programs, his administration brought greater hardships to minorities and the poor.326 Many Catholics and mainline Protestants argued that Reagan's policies toward the destitute and unemployed violated the “norms of Christian compassion and justice.”327 While opposing abortion, Reagan pursued a “broader ideological agenda” that degraded “human life in favor of private profit and military dominance.”328 Reagan preached the importance of morality and, like Carter, “was widely viewed as incorruptible,” Lou Cannon argued, but he never established an ethics code for his administration, tolerated dishonesty, and practiced cronyism. As a result, ethical practices tended to depend on the personal standards of officeholders, and his administration was riddled with improprieties and scandals, most notably the Iran‐contra affair.329 The Reagan years, predicted a journalist, would be remembered “for hustling, hypocrisy, lying, sleaze, and stasis.”330 Protesting that Reagan had done little to combat racism, global environmental problems, nuclear mismanagement, homelessness, the financial IOUs we are leaving our children, corruption in government, or income disparity, the Catholic journal Commonweal insisted that what the nation needed after eight years of his presidency was “a fierce and cleansing wind.”331

Some castigated Reagan for presiding over a decade of decline, decay, debt, despair, and unfulfilled dreams. To Haynes Johnson, the 1980s produced neither the spiritual revival nor the widespread prosperity Reagan prophesied. Rather, it brought an orgy of materialism and self‐gratification and an even larger gap between the rich and the poor. Top‐rated television shows like Dallas and Dynasty and songs like Madonna's “Material Girl” portrayed Americans' self‐absorption and preoccupation with acquisition. Tycoons on Wall Street, politicians in Washington, and televangelists across the country all proclaimed the virtues of selfishness and bellowed that “greed is good.”332

Others refuted many of these charges. To Alonzo Hamby, many of liberals' criticisms of Reagan reflect their acceptance of a postmodern mentality that rejects the idea of ultimate truth and clear‐cut moral distinctions. Unlike many of his detractors, Reagan believed there were objective standards for truth and virtue. The Republican's conviction that God had a special plan for his life, (p.359) Hamby adds, drove “his critics to a fury.”333 Even his generally sympathetic biographer Edmund Morris criticized “the fundamentally childlike, bipolar quality” of Reagan's mind, “its tendency to see all moral questions in terms of opposites.”334 Meanwhile, many conservatives complained privately that “Reagan was a kindly old bumbler,” a “malleable figurehead” who was “easily controlled by his wife and pragmatic advisors.” Both camps, D'Souza maintains, greatly underestimated Reagan. They failed to understand how he conceived and realized his grand objectives.335

Supporters laud Reagan's domestic and foreign policies. He halted inflation, cut taxes, and presided over the greatest economic expansion in American history. Admirers claim that his supply‐side economics were rooted in compassion and justice, which focused on creating wealth, not simply redistributing it. Writing in the Washington Post, T. R. Reid labeled the 1980s a decade of creed, not greed, when the number of Americans who gave their time to religious, civic, and educational causes increased much faster than the population.336 Christianity Today rejoiced that Reagan had “heightened the visibility of Christianity in America by taking virtually every opportunity to convey a God‐centered philosophy of life.” Thus he had also helped to counter the nation's unbridled secularism that strove to marginalize religion.337 His defenders also argued that Reagan rebuilt America's defenses, restored its prestige, dealt with the Soviets from a position of strength, negotiated arms limitations and reductions, and helped overthrow communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. When he left office, peace, democracy, and capitalism were flourishing in many parts of the world, they said, and Americans' morale was high once again.338 Only Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt could “claim a legacy of comparable distinction.”339

Others object to the way Reagan used religious rhetoric, the type of religion he promoted, and the impact his approach and actions had on religion in America. Pierard and Linder fault Reagan for elevating civil religion to new heights and basing national moral and spiritual renewal on “a highly generalized, albeit theistic, public faith.” To them, his repeated calls for restoring prayer in the public schools illustrate this point. Had his amendment passed, schoolchildren would have invoked the name of the deity of American civil religion, not the God worshiped by Christians, Jews, Muslims, or any other religious group. Though possessing a meaningful personal faith, Reagan sacrificed it on the altar of public theology to promote the nation's purposes as he understood them and his own political agenda.340 Like many of his predecessors, Jim Wallis contends, “Reagan promulgated an American civil religion, which was an amalgam of the Judeo‐Christian heritage and the national experience.” It “mixes piety with patriotism, invokes God's name when speaking of the national destiny, and generally blurs the distinction between biblical faith and cultural religion.” Reagan was the “new high priest of American civil religion,” who comforted citizens, assured them of “their (p.360) basic goodness and the soundness of their institutions,” and proclaimed “the righteousness of the national purpose and destiny.” In his theology, the United States was the “first, best, richest, most righteous, and always, most powerful [nation] in the world.” It favored “the rich over the poor [and] the strong over the weak.” Instead of subjecting himself to the Word of God, Reagan claimed to be on God's side. He reduced God to “a narrow American tribal deity” and used him to bless American ambitions and aspirations.341

Other critics were equally caustic. As a result of Reagan's alliance with the televangelists, Johnson maintained, the combination of religion and politics became “a new and disturbing phenomenon in American life.”342 Wilbur Edel protested that Reagan transformed the presidency into an amalgamation of “Theodore Roosevelt's ‘bully pulpit,’ a fundamentalist chapel, a Hollywood stage, and a Madison Avenue public relations office.” He accused Reagan of trying to “alter the basic framework of the Constitution to accommodate his fundamentalist religious principles.” “Reagan's frequent plea for a return to the religious precepts of the Founding Fathers” reflected a “child's view of American history—sincere, reverent, and patriotic, but with little understanding of the forces and ideas that have shaped U.S. society.”343

Still others castigated Reagan for using conservative Christians to serve his own purposes.344 He “kept his Religious Right followers happy through rhetoric and symbolic gestures,” argues William Pemberton, “rather than through effective action on their agenda.”345 The rates of abortion, out‐of‐wedlock births, divorce, and drug usage continued at high levels; sex and violence increased on television and in the movies; and prayer was still not allowed in public schools. Although most religious conservatives never wavered in their support of Reagan, many disliked some aspects of his administration, his party, and his lifestyle. Although frustrated that their votes were courted but their views were often ignored, they had nowhere else to turn. By the end of Reagan's tenure, many evangelicals feared that they had become pawns in the political power game. Some lamented that they had succumbed to the allure of power, the attraction of being invited to the political table for the first time.346 Speaking for this group, Ed Dobson argued that during the Reagan years, the Christian right had access and influence but made little progress in promoting its social agenda, except for the publicity it received in the three presidential elections of the 1980s.347 Others countered that Reagan's legitimation of their causes and their organizations had a very positive impact. Moreover, they argued, his relationship with religious conservatives, as well as their political activism, dominance of the airwaves, and increasing numerical and financial strength, coupled with the decline of mainline Protestantism, shifted the balance of religious power in America.348

Most religious conservatives strongly supported Reagan, even though they disliked his divorce and earlier participation in a Hollywood culture they viewed as a den of modernism, hedonism, and sexual immorality. Like them, (p.361) the president strongly stressed the importance of families, and he was portrayed by his supporters as an exemplar of family values, even though he did not have a close relationship with his four children.349 While they emphasized active participation in the life of the local church through Sunday morning worship, Sunday school classes, Bible studies, and discipleship groups, he rarely even attended worship services during his presidency. Linder and Pierard term the transformation of a veteran movie actor into “ ‘a great man of faith’ ” “one of the most remarkable public relations stories of the twentieth century.”350

Why, then, did most religious conservatives support Reagan over Carter—who was perceived to be more devout, thought to know the Bible better, participated much more in church activities, and was much more willing to publicly discuss his personal relationship with God? Garry Wills contends that they found Reagan more appealing because Carter lacked his exuberant confidence in people and their achievements and in America. Carter believed in original sin and people's aggressive tendencies, argued there were limits to growth, and called for sacrifice and self‐denial. Reagan, by contrast, painted a more glowing, optimistic picture of human potential and America's future. Carter's religion was more in line with historic Calvinism or what William James called the “sick soul.” It stressed man's fall, need for repentance, and humility. Reagan's religion, Wills maintains, is what James labeled “healthy‐mindedness.” For it, sadness, rather than sin, was the enemy of human nature. Evangelicals were moving up in the world. They preferred Reagan's upbeat emphasis on national pride and assertiveness, economic growth, and success over Carter's pessimistic jeremiad of national peril and stagnation and the need to accept limits.351 Many evangelicals rejected Carter, a sincere believer in the gospel, and embraced Reagan, who held a “hodgepodge of make‐believe beliefs,” Wills maintained, because he offered “a more marketable God.” While Carter's God was a “downer,” Reagan's God cheered people up, enabled them to stand tall, filled their pockets, liked Americans more than other people, and did not demand individual or national humility or repentance. Reagan's “God” was an idol that he carried around “in his pocket with his other amulets and rabbit's feet.”352

Another critic accused Reagan's religious supporters of idolatry. Captivated by his charisma and character, they portrayed him as chosen and anointed by God, as a man “of great faith and Christ‐like forbearance and rectitude.” Religious conservatives saw Reagan as God's agent, who would bring spiritual renewal and political redemption. If the United States recaptured its Christian identity, it could help redeem the rest of the world. “Reagan's power over the faithful, then, stemmed from his ability to summon up a world of memory and illusion and to equate divine and national purpose in an overarching world mission.”353

Although a number of these assertions cannot be substantiated, others contain elements of truth. They overlook, however, the simpler explanation (p.362) for why many religious conservatives were so enthusiastic toward and supportive of Reagan. Despite their differences with him, which they largely ignored, most members of the religious right (including conservative Catholics and Mormons) considered him a brother in Christ, a kindred spirit. Reagan spoke their language often, beautifully, not just to individuals or congregations, but to the nation and the world. He shared their opposition to secularization, moral decay, and the spread of iniquity, and perhaps most important, he shared their political conservatism. Reagan invited them to the White House, gave them private briefings and opportunities for photo‐ops, listened to their concerns, spoke at their gatherings, and provided them with enough political appointments and social legislation to assure them that he was on their side. Moreover, he strove valiantly to remedy the nation's vices and heal its sin. Reagan called for a spiritual revival, insisted God had chosen America to fulfill his purposes in the world, and advanced many of their causes. For many of them, this was what ultimately counted.354

Moreover, these critics often overstate their case, provide little or no evidence to support their claims, or base their analysis on debatable assumptions about goodness and truth. Although Reagan's personal life was not a paragon of evangelical piety, his worldview was strongly shaped by his understanding of biblical teaching.355 To religious conservatives, Reagan's quest to inject spiritual and moral values into the nation's government and life was commendable. Pierard and Linder argue that Reagan performed the role of “the high priest of American civil religion” “more unabashedly, forcefully, compellingly, and with greater national acceptance than any previous president.”356 However, he not only emphasized the priestly, comforting aspects of civil religion but also stressed its prophetic dimension. While in the priestly version the president makes the nation itself, rather than God, the ultimate standard for judging the country's actions, Pierard and Linder explain, in the prophetic version he evaluates the nation's actions in relationship to God's will.357 Although frequently accused of asserting that God supported his positions, Reagan declared that “we must be cautious in claiming God is on our side. I think the real question we must answer is, are we on His side.”358 Reagan argued that Americans were accountable to transcendent standards, lamented that in many ways they fell short of them, and urged them to repent. Only then would God heal their land and use them as his instrument. While very proud of America's achievements and extremely optimistic about its potential, Reagan did not make the United States the ultimate reference point or suggest that its behavior was blameless. Reagan never claimed that God had chosen the United States in the same way that he had selected Israel to be his unique agent in the world. Rather, God could use the United States (and other nations) to carry out his mission in the world. But Americans must put their own house in order before they could be a beacon of freedom, hope, and democracy.

(p.363) Like the Puritans and numerous other presidents, Reagan believed that the United States had a larger role to play in God's plans than other nations. His inveterate optimism led him to conclude that revival was occurring, morality was improving, and God's kingdom was growing on Earth. Near the end of his presidency, he rejoiced that Americans had “done great things” in the last eight years, inspired by the “brilliant vision of America as a Shining City on a Hill.”359 “I've spoken of the shining city all my political life,” Reagan proclaimed in his Farewell Address. “[I]t was a tall, proud city built on rocks, … God‐blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.” “We made the city stronger,” Reagan concluded, and “we made the city freer.” “We meant to change a nation,” he trumpeted, “and instead we changed the world.”360 “Reagan may not have been a great president,” Cannon maintains, “but he was a great American” with “a compelling vision of his country.”361 By his powers of persuasion, argued the Albuquerque Journal, he made Americans feel good about themselves and “brought us measurably closer to the ideal of a ‘shining city upon a hill.’ ”362 Although the United States did not embody all the aspects of this city during Reagan's watch, it did take significant steps toward realizing some of its principal values. (p.364)


(1.)  For bibliographies on Reagan, see Lou Cannon, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991), 895–910; and William E. Pemberton, (p.586) Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1998), 259–82.

(2.)  Two anthologies of Reagan's addresses focus on this theme: D. Erik Felten, ed., Shining City: The Legacy of Ronald Reagan (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998); and James C. Roberts, ed., A City upon a Hill (Washington, DC: American Studies Center, 1989). See also Amos Kiewe and Davis W. Houck, A Shining City on a Hill: Ronald Reagan's Economic Rhetoric, 1951–1989 (New York: Praeger, 1991).

(3.)  See Garry Wills, Reagan's America: Innocents at Home (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1987), 355. John Winthrop applied the words of Jesus to the Puritan mission in America in his sermon, A Model of Christian Charity. The theme of a city on the hill was also emphasized by Alexander Campbell, the founder of the Disciples of Christ; Ben Cleaver, Reagan's pastor during his formative years; and Reagan's mother, Nelle. See Wills, Reagan's America, 28; and Terry L. Miethe, “The Philosophy and Ethics of Alexander Campbell,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California, 1984.

(4.)  Pemberton, Exit, xiv.

(5.)  Founded by Campbell and Barton Stone in 1831, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) grew rapidly during the nineteenth century. During the early twentieth century, the Disciples emphasized education, revivalism, and social reform. See Lester G. McAllister and William Tucker, Journey in Faith: A History of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (St. Louis: Bethany, 1975); Kenneth L. Teegarden, We Call Ourselves Disciples (St. Louis: Bethany, 1975); and David Harrell, A Social History of the Disciples of Christ (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003).

(6.)  On Nelle Reagan's religious commitments, see Wills, Reagan's America, 16–17, 22–26; Anne Edwards, Early Reagan: The Rise to Power (New York: William Morrow, 1987), 59–60; Stephen Vaughn, “The Moral Inheritances of a President: Reagan and the Dixon Disciples of Christ,” PSQ 25 (Winter 1995), 109–27; and Paul Kengor, God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (New York: Regan, 2004), 10–16.

(7.)  Cannon, Reagan, 211.

(8.)  Maureen Reagan, First Father, First Daughter (Boston: Little, Brown, 1989), 64.

(9.)  Ronald W. Reagan, An American Life (Norwalk, CT: Easton, 1990), 20–21. Also see Nancy Reagan with William Novak, My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan (New York: Random House, 1989), 108.

(10.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks … [to] Women Leaders of Christian Religious Organizations,” Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Ronald Reagan, 1981–1989, 8 vols. (Lanham, MD: Bernan, 1995) (hereafter PP), Oct. 13, 1983, 1450.

(11.)  See Edwards, Early Reagan, 58; Vaughn, “Moral Inheritances,” 112–13. The Disciples required those being baptized to publicly confess their faith in Christ as their savior.

(12.)  Edwards, Early Reagan, 59; Vaughn, “Moral Inheritances,” 113.

(13.)  Wills, Reagan's America, 18. On Cleaver's life and his close relationship with Reagan, see also Vaughn, “Moral Inheritances,” 109–12; and Kengor, Reagan, 32–38.

(14.)  Quoted in Jerry Griswold, “I'm a Sucker for Hero Worship,” NYT Book Review, Aug. 30, 1981, 11. Cf. Edmund Morris, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan (New York: Random House, 1999), 40.

(15.)  See Morris, Dutch, 40–42; and Kengor, Reagan, 17–26. Morris and Kengor see clear parallels between the book and Reagan's approach to combating social problems and communism.

(16.)  Morris, Dutch, 42. See also Reagan, American Life, 32. Reagan told Harold Bell Wright's daughter that his book “set me on a course I've tried to follow even unto this (p.587) day” (RR to Jean B. Wright, Mar. 13, 1984, Dixon Public Library, Dixon, Illinois, as cited by Kengor, Reagan, 19).

(17.)  Edwards, Early Reagan, 84–86, quotation from 85.

(18.)  Vaughn, “Moral Inheritances,” 120. Vaughn used Ben Hill Cleaver's papers in the Disciples of Christ Archives in Nashville, the Reagan‐Cleaver family correspondence at Culver‐Stockton College, Canton, MO, and the Records of the First Christian Church in Dixon, and interviewed a number of people who knew the Cleavers and the Reagans (120).

(19.)  Ronald Reagan, “My Faith,” Modern Screen, June 1950, 37–39.

(20.)  Moomaw claimed that whenever they were in Los Angeles between 1963 and 1980, the Reagans attended his church regularly (David Shepherd, Ronald Reagan: In God I Trust [Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1984], 6). He explained that Reagan was “always very attentive in worship” (quoted in Bob Slosser, Reagan Inside Out [Waco, TX: Word, 1984], 49). See also Morris, Dutch, 351. On Moomaw's life and Bel Air Presbyterian Church, see Laurence Jones, “Reagan's Religion,” Journal of American Culture 8 (Winter 1985), 62. Patti Davis maintains that her father's participation in worship was enthusiastic and very meaningful (Angels Don't Die: My Father's Gift of Faith [New York: HarperCollins, 1995], 78–79).

(21.)  Quoted in Frank van der Linden, The Real Reagan (New York: William Morrow, 1981), 90.

(22.)  Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 51.

(23.)  Ibid., 13–20, quotations from 15. See also George Otis, High Adventure (Van Nuys, CA: Bible Voice, 1971), 185ff.

(24.)  E.g., Edward Kosner, Karl Fleming, and William Cook, “Ronald Reagan: Rising Star in the West?” NW, May 15, 1967, 36; Michael Deaver, “The Elusive Ronald Reagan,” NYT, Sept. 29, 1999: “he had an unshakable belief that God had a purpose for him”; and Maureen Reagan, “A President and a Daughter,” WT, June 16, 2000, A23.

(25.)  William Rose, “The Reagans and Their Pastor,” Christian Life 30 (May 1968), 43–44.

(26.)  A 1976 letter quoted in Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, The Reagan Revolution (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1981), 208.

(27.)  Van der Linden, Real Reagan, 26. Cf. Helene von Damm, ed., Sincerely, Ronald Reagan (New York: Berkley, 1980), 88; von Damm, At Reagan's Side (New York: Doubleday, 1989), 61; and Rose, “The Reagans,” 43–44.

(28.)  Davis, Angels, 48.

(29.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks … [to] the National Religious Broadcasters Association,” PP, Feb. 1, 1988, 159. Reagan often emphasized this point in personal letters. E.g., von Damm, ed., Reagan, 26, 86, 93, 123–26. See also Morris, Dutch, 429–33; and Mary Beth Brown, Hand of Providence: The Strong and Quiet Faith of Ronald Reagan (Nashville, TN: WND, 2004).

(30.)  Reagan, American Life, 261, 263, quotation from 261. He told his daughter Patti that his own physical healing depended directly on his ability to forgive Hinckley (Davis, Angels, 27).

(31.)  Quotation from Morris, Dutch, 434. See also Reagan, American Life, 262–63; and Michael Deaver, A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years with Ronald Reagan (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 145–47.

(32.)  Tom Freiling, Reagan's God and Country (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant, 2000), 9. Reagan had earlier discussed spiritual matters in the hospital with Moomaw. See (p.588) Richard Hutcheson, God in the White House: How Religion Has Changed the Modern Presidency (New York: Macmillan, 1988), 165. See also Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast,” PP, Feb. 4, 1982, 109.

(33.)  Reagan, American Life, 263. See also Reagan, First Father, 279.

(34.)  Quoted in Freiling, Reagan's God, 10.

(35.)  Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 135–38. The Grahams stayed at the White House twice during Reagan's first term, and the evangelist and president corresponded occasionally. Reagan met several times with Mother Teresa and visited and prayed with Cardinal Cooke in New York in September 1983. See “President Pays Visit to the Bedside of Cardinal Cooke,” WP, Sept. 26, 1983.

(36.)  See Hutcheson, White House, 171; Gary Wills, Under God: Religion and American Politics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 150.

(37.)  Interview with Cardinal O'Connor, Jan. 12, 1989, Religious Matters (hereafter RM) 031 Catholic (600000–end), RM, Box 7, Ronald Reagan Library (hereafter RL).

(38.)  E.g., RR to Stephanie Atkins, May 24, 1982, RM, 020 Prayers, 080001–081200.

(39.)  Davis, Angels, 1–2, 5, 46–47, 50; quotation from 5.

(40.)  Ronald Reagan, “Three Grave Threats to Our Way of Life,” July 17, 1980, in Alfred A. Balitzer and Gerald M. Bonetto, eds., A Time for Choosing: The Speeches of Ronald Reagan, 1961–1982 (Chicago: Regnery Gateway, 1983), 235.

(41.)  Ronald Reagan, “Inaugural Address,” PP, Jan. 20, 1981, 3.

(42.)  E.g., Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, TX,” PP, Aug. 23, 1984, 1166. Reagan sometimes used quotations from these individuals that did not reflect the historical context of their remarks.

(43.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast,” PP, Feb. 5, 1987, 110.

(44.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks … in Observance of a National Day of Prayer,” PP, May 6, 1982, 574.

(45.)  Reagan, “Prayer Breakfast,” 1987, 110. Cf. Reagan, “Women Leaders,” 1450.

(46.)  Reagan, “Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast,” 1166.

(47.)  Rose, “The Reagans,” 23–24; Doug Wead and Bill Wead, Reagan in Pursuit of the Presidency—1980 (Plainfield, NJ: Logos, 1980), 183–85; Brown, Hand of Providence, 14–16, 141–43.

(48.)  Quoted in Freiling, Reagan's God, 24.

(49.)  Reagan, “Prayer Breakfast,” 1987, 110.

(50.)  Davis, Angels, 1, 50, quotation from 1.

(51.)  Cf. RR to Cardinal Bernard Law, Aug. 19, 1985, President's Handwriting File (hereafter PHF), Presidential Records (hereafter PR), Series II, Box 13, 5/29/85–10/31/85, Folder 198, RL; and Reagan, “Remarks at a Candle‐Lighting Ceremony for Prayer in Schools,” PP, Sept. 25, 1982, 1219.

(52.)  E.g., RR to Bill Orozco, Aug. 14, 1985, PHF, PR, Series II, Box 13, 5/29/85–10/31/85, Folder 198; and RR to Phil Regan, Nov. 21, 1988, ibid., Box 21, Folder 341.

(53.)  RR to Mother Teresa, Dec. 18, 1984, PHF, PR, Series II, Box 11, 12/18/84 cont.‐2/28/85, Folder 154. The files at the Reagan Library contain hundreds of letters from Reagan to clergy, military personnel, and ordinary citizens, many of which are originally handwritten, that express the same point. E.g., RR to Mrs. Frank Miller, Apr. 14, 1981, RM 000001–030000; RR to Patricia James, Dec. 18, 1984, RM020, Prayers, 280000–304999, Folder 44; RR to Brother Gary Gerke, Dec. 22, 1986, PHR, PR, (p.589) Box 17, Folder 271; and RR to Bernard Cardinal Law, Mar. 11, 1987, PHR, PR, Box 18, Folder 282.

(54.)  Dinesh D'Souza, Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader (New York: Free Press, 1997), 213.

(55.)  Hutcheson, White House, 170. Secretary of the Interior Donald Hodel is the source of this story.

(56.)  Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 172–73.

(57.)  Interview with O'Connor.

(58.)  Reagan, American Life, 229, 292, 365. He also thanked God for the release of the hostages from Iran and the success of the military operation in Grenada (ibid., 236, 455). When the dean of the faculty at St. George's School of Medicine thanked him for sending troops, Reagan replied, “We're grateful to God for His help in making our mission a success” (Oct. 29, 1983, PHR, PR, Box 8, Folder 106).

(59.)  Von Damm, ed., Reagan, 83; “Ronald Reagan–George Otis Interview,” in Wead and Wead, Reagan in Pursuit, 181.

(60.)  Freiling, Reagan's God, 37. Pastor Harald Bredesen was also impressed by Reagan's knowledge of the Bible (Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 19).

(61.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks … [to] the National Religious Broadcasters,” PP, Jan. 30, 1984, 118. Cf. Reagan, “Remarks … [to] the National Religious Broadcasters,” PP, Jan. 31, 1983, 152.

(62.)  Ronald Reagan, “Proclamation of the Year of the Bible, 1983,” PP, Feb. 3, 1983, 179.

(63.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1983, 152. Cf. RR to Rev. Paul T. Butler, May 31, 1985; and Butler to RR, Feb. 22, 1985, both in PHF, PR, Series II, Box 13, 5/29/85–10/31/85, Box 13, Folder 198.

(64.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast,” PP, Feb. 3, 1983, 178.

(65.)  Nelle wrote in her Bible beside this verse, “A most wonderful verse for the healing of the nations” (Reagan, “National Prayer Breakfast,” 1983, 179).

(66.)  See Ronald Reagan Facts, Favorites, 1, http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/reference/facts.html. Reagan also gave Psalm 106:2‐5 as his favorite passage (“Reagan–Otis Interview,” 182).

(67.)  Cannon, Reagan, 288; D'Souza, Reagan, 214.

(68.)  Ronald Reagan, “Christmas,” radio broadcast transcript, 1–2/78, excerpted in Ronnie Dugger, On Reagan: The Man and His Presidency (New York: McGraw‐Hill), 511.

(69.)  Von Damm, ed., Reagan, 90. A letter Reagan wrote to Billy Graham was very similar: Christ “gave us reason to accept literally the miracle of his birth and resurrection. … Indeed … either we believe him, or we must assume He was the greatest liar who ever lived” (89).

(70.)  Ronald Reagan, “Radio Address … on the Observance of Easter and Passover,” PP, Apr. 2, 1983, 488.

(71.)  Ronald Reagan, “Radio Address … on Christmas,” PP, Dec. 24, 1983, 1747. Morris maintains that Reagan's favorite hymns were “Rock of Ages” and “The Old Rugged Cross,” both of which focus on Christ's atonement (Dutch, 55).

(72.)  Ariel Sergio Malnate to RR, Sept. 13, 1983; RR to Malnate, Nov. 30, 1983, both in RM 180001–204000.

(73.)  Reagan, American Life, 319, 321, quotation from 319; Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 130.

(74.)  E.g., Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast,” PP, Feb. 4, 1988, 173; Reagan, “Remarks to Soviet Dissidents at Spaso House in Moscow,” PP, May 30, 1988, 677.

(75.)  RR to Graham, Nov. 4, 1983, White House Office of Records Management (hereafter WHORM), ME 001–02, 183199.

(76.)  Reagan explained that after he took office, he and Nancy had decided to worship at National Presbyterian Church (which they attended several times before the assassination attempt). See Ronald Reagan, “The Role the Bel Air Presbyterian Church Has Played in Our Lives,” Bel Air Presbyterian Church Images 12 (Summer 1990), #1. However, the “unholy procedure” of having churchgoers pass through a magnetometer to be checked for weapons, forcing them to wait for the presidential motorcade when coming to and leaving services, and the possibility they could be hurt by a terrorist attack directed at him, compelled the president not to attend church (Reagan, American Life, 396).

(77.)  Reagan, American Life, 396. Cf. Morris, Dutch, 427.

(78.)  “Debate between the President and Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, Louisville, KY,” PP, Oct. 7, 1984, 1447. As noted, Reagan had not “regularly gone to church” all his life. Slosser argues that Moomaw urged Reagan to “take the risk” that attending public worship entailed, perhaps by going to different churches and not revealing his plans in advance (Reagan Inside Out, 170–71). Moomaw told Hutcheson a couple years later, however, that he agreed with Reagan's decision because his attendance inconvenienced others. The metal detectors, motorcycles, security cars, and countersniper squads up on the roof created “an unnatural atmosphere” (White House, 167).

(79.)   WP, Apr. 16, 1984, A2.

(80.)  Reagan, American Life, 399.

(81.)  Reagan, “Bel Air Presbyterian Church.” “Nancy and I have been churchgoers all our lives,” Reagan claimed, “and that eight‐year absence was hard to take… .” Christianity Today reported in October 1983 that Reagan had attended the National Presbyterian Church about six times since assuming office (Beth Spring, “Rating Reagan,” Oct. 7, 1983, 45).

(82.)  Reitz to Meese, Feb. 26, 1982, RM 030001–750000. See also Meese to Reitz, Mar. 16, 1982, ibid.

(83.)  Shepherd claims Reagan considered this alternative “self‐serving, predictable, and religiously safe” (Ronald Reagan, 7). For efforts to persuade Reagan to hold private services, see, for example, Thomas L. Munson to Fred A. Ryan Jr., Sept. 20, 1983; Peter Rusthoven to Fred Fielding, Oct, 28, 1983; Frank Hamblen to RR, Mar. 23, 1984, all in RM 161001–180000. Hamblen proposed that Reagan appoint a personal chaplain who could hold services for him and his staff and provide “Biblical counsel on important matters.” Ira Lee Eshleman, who initiated pregame chapel services for the NFL, suggested that Reagan hold chapel services or Sunday evening vesper services at the White House or Camp David. See Eshleman to RR, Nov. 14, 1984, RM020, Prayers, 245724–262999. Military chaplains also offered to hold special services for the president in areas where he visited, but he rarely accepted their offers. E.g., David Forden to RR, July 11, 1983; Ryan to Forden, Sept. 8, 1983, both in ibid.

(84.)  See Patti Davis, The Way I See It: An Autobiography (New York: Putnam, 1992), 118–19; Ronald Reagan with Richard G. Hubler, Where's the Rest of Me? (New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1966), 283. An astrologer in Los Angeles, Joyce Jillson, (p.591) claimed the Reagans consulted regularly with her and other astrologers while he was governor of California. See OA 17971, Bell, Mariam, Astrology [2 of 4], 9, RL. Carroll Righter alleged that both of the Reagans were his clients during their years in Hollywood. See Linda Goodman, Linda Goodman's Sun Signs (New York: Bantam, 1968), 394–403.

(85.)  “Astrology,” Nancy explained, “was simply one of the ways I coped with the fear I felt after my husband almost died (Reagan and Novak, My Turn, 44). She also prayed continuously and talked with Moomaw and Graham (45). “While I was never certain that Joan's astrological advice was helping to protect Ronnie, … nothing like March 30 ever happened again” (47). She was not sorry she had consulted Quigley, but she did regret the embarrassment it caused (47–48). Quigley admits that she never directly gave advice to the president. See Joan Quigley, What Does Joan Say? (New York: Carol, 1990), 72–73.

(86.)  Kenneth Franklin Kurz, The Reagan Years A to Z (Los Angeles: Lowell, 1996), 18.

(87.)  Donald Regan, For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988), 3–5, 28, 68, 70–71, 72–74, 90, 93, 300–1, 359, 367–70; quotation from 3.

(88.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at … the Small Business Person of the Year Awards,” PP, May 9, 1988, 572; Reagan, “Interview with Foreign Television Journalists,” PP, May 19, 1988, 611; George Hackett and Eleanor Clift, “Of Planets and the Presidency,” NW, May 16, 1988, 20; OA 17971, Bell, Mariam, Astrology [2 of 4], 10, 15, 8. See also Reagan, My Turn, 49.

(89.)  Edwin Meese, Richard V. Allen, and speechwriter Ben Elliott, all based on interviews with Paul Kengor in 2001 (Reagan, 193).

(90.)  Boone to RR, June 4, 1988, OA 17971, Bell, Mariam, Astrology [1 of 4], Box 6.

(91.)  Otis to RR, May 27, 1988, ibid.

(92.)  See Laura Session Stepp, “Astrology Reports Disturb Some Evangelical Leaders,” WP, n. d., OA 17971, Bell, Mariam, Astrology [4 of 4]. “ ‘Most of us cherish the notion that Reagan trusts Jesus Christ,’ Len Solomon, pastor of the McLean Bible Church, said. ‘It has never been confirmed’ ” that his wife does. See also David Neff, “Suckers for the Zodiac,” CT 32 (July 15, 1988), 15.

(93.)  Quoted in Hackett and Clift, “Of Planets and the Presidency,” 20.

(94.)  Mark Silk, “Reagan's Stargazing Concerns the Christian Right,” Atlanta Constitution, May 5, 1988.

(95.)  Many petitions are in OA 17971, Bell, Mariam, Astrology [4 of 4]. See also Otis to Mariam Bell, June 27, 1988; News Release of Creative Communications Associates, n. d., both in ibid.; “Petitions from Conservative Christian Urge the Reagans to Reject Astrology,” LAT, June 21, 1988, Part 1, 21. Otis campaigned vigorously for Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

(96.)  Reagan's sparse contributions to the church and other charitable causes also led some to question the sincerity of his faith. In 1979, he donated only 1 percent of his adjusted gross income to charitable organizations, a pattern that continued while he was president (Hutcheson, White House, 165). See also Richard Pierard, “On Praying with the President,” CC 99 (Mar. 10, 1982), 262. Some argued that Reagan gave considerable sums to needy individuals or groups that did not have tax exempt status. See Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 54; and Edwards, Early Reagan, 125–26, 135, 56. See also Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, eds., Reagan: A Life in Letters (New York: Free Press, 2003), 653–59.

(97.)  Morris, Dutch, 11–12.

(98.)  Reagan, Where's the Rest of Me? 84.

(99.)  Briefing in Astrology file, 18–9, RL; D'Souza, Reagan, 213.

(100.)  For the full description of the incident, see 400–1. See also Fitzwater's statement in OA 17971, Bell, Mariam, Astrology [2 of 4], 19; Davis, Angels, 65; and Michael Deaver with Mickey Herskowitz, Behind the Scenes (New York: William Morrow, 1987), 106.

(101.)  Jones, “Reagan's Religion,” 64–66, provides the most complete description of Reagan's interest in biblical prophecies about the end times. See also Howell Heflin's reported conversation with Reagan in the NYT, Oct. 28, 1981; and Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1983, 1708–13.

(102.)  Some critics feared that Reagan might consider nuclear war a divine instrument. E.g., Richard Ostling, “Armageddon and the End Times,” Time 124 (Nov. 5, 1984), 73; Cannon, Reagan, 288–90; Kenneth L. Woodward, “Arguing Armageddon,” NW 104 (Nov. 5, 1984), 91; “Armageddon and Mr. Reagan,” America 157 (Nov. 10, 1984), 286; “Critics Fear That Reagan Is Swayed by Those Who Believe in a Nuclear Armageddon,” CT 28 (Dec. 14, 1984), 48, 51.

(103.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks … [to] the National Religious Broadcasters,” PP, Feb. 4, 1985, 118.

(104.)  “President's News Conference,” PP, Feb. 21, 1985.

(105.)  E.g., Dean Peerman, “Presidential Proof‐Texting,” CC 102 (Feb. 20, 1985), 176; and Allan Fotheringham, “Reagan Recruits the Lord,” Maclean's, Feb. 18, 1985, 60.

(106.)  Martin Anderson, Revolution: The Reagan Legacy (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institutional Press, 1990), 280.

(107.)  Morris, Dutch, 427.

(108.)  See Cannon, Reagan, 194; and Charles Wick, interview with Paul Kengor, May 17, 2001.

(109.)  D'Souza, Reagan, 213.

(110.)  Hutcheson, White House, 170; Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 40.

(111.)  Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 117, reporting on interviews he conducted.

(112.)  Quoted in Freiling, Reagan's God, 38.

(113.)  Peggy Noonan, What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era (New York: Random House, 1990), 200.

(114.)  Interview with Hutcheson, White House, 167–68.

(115.)  Interview with Hutcheson, White House, 165. See NYT, Jan. 21, 1981; and Graham to RR, Feb. 2, 1981, WHORM, Box FG, Organizations, Box 82. The correspondence between Moomaw and Reagan was limited during Reagan's years in the White House. Moomaw wrote to congratulate him on his reelection, assure him he was praying for him, and inform him about the church's plans. Their only substantial exchange was about claims that American churches were aiding the persecutors rather than the victims in Nicaragua. See RR to Moomaw, July 27, 1987, PHR, PR, Box 18, Folder 297; RR to Moomaw, Oct. 20, 1987, ibid., Box 19, Folder 306; and RR to Moomaw, Dec. 21, 1987, ibid., Box 18, Folder 314. Reagan also regularly received tapes of Moomaw's sermons.

(116.)  Hutcheson, White House, 167–68.

(117.)  Sociologist Robert Bellah discusses this type of belief in Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985). See also Hutcheson, White House, 171.

(118.)  Personal conversation with Doug Bandow, Mar. 2002.

(119.)  Martin Marty, “Presidential Piety: Must It Be Private?” CC 101 (Feb. 1984), 188. This phrase seems contradictory. D'Souza labels Reagan's religiosity “generic and a little suspect” and argues that Reagan's jokes often lampooned “ostentatious piety” and “the pretensions of the clergy” (Reagan, 213). “Yet there is no doubt about the sincerity of his deep faith in God and his acceptance of the fundamental truths of Christianity” (214). While Reagan discusses how his faith sustained him several times in his 726‐page An American Life, his description of his religious commitments in the work is rather limited.

(120.)  Tom Teepen, “View from the Reagan Pulpit,” Atlanta Constitution, Feb. 7, 1984.

(121.)  Nicholas Von Hoffman, “Reagan's Piety Is No Match for Carter's,” Arizona Daily Wildcat, Sept. 18, 1984, 4.

(122.)  Robert Kaiser, New York Review of Books, June 28, 1984.

(123.)  Quoted in Kenneth Woodward with Elizabeth Bailey, “Who's a Good Christian?” NW 104 (Aug. 6, 1984), 30.

(124.)  “Reagan–Otis Interview” (1976) 173. See also “Reagan on God and Morality,” CT 20 (July 2, 1976), 39–40.

(125.)  Quoted in David Nyhan, “ ‘Born‐Again’ Run the Race for President,” Boston Globe, May 26, 1980, 10–11.

(126.)  Quoted in Elizabeth Drew, Portrait of an Election: The 1980 Presidential Campaign (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981), 172–73.

(127.)  Quoted in Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 49.

(128.)  Hutcheson, White House, 165.

(129.)  “Ronald Reagan's Religious Beliefs,” Vertical File, Reagan, Ronald W.—Religion, RL. Later in the statement, however, Reagan asserted that “[p]erhaps there was a dramatic awakening” because he realized anew his need to trust God for direction after being elected governor of California.

(130.)  Ronald Reagan Facts, 6.

(131.)  Robertson's statement is in the WSJ, Sept. 18, 1984, 1; Herbert Ellingwood, “Ronald Reagan: ‘God, Home, and Country,’ ” Christian Life 42 (Nov. 1980), 50. Ellingwood reported that Reagan told an interviewer that John 3:16 meant “that having accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I have God's promise of eternal life in Heaven” (50). See also RR to Charles W. Lowry, Dec. 27, 1985, RM, Box 2, WHORM, RM, 250001–RM010End.

(132.)  Richard V. Pierard and Robert D. Linder, Civil Religion and the Presidency (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988), 272.

(133.)  Jim Castelli, “Reagan Religiosity Threatens Separation,” Journal‐Constitution, Sept. 3, 1984.

(134.)  See Paul H. Boase, “Moving the Mercy Seat into the White House: An Exegesis of the Carter/Reagan Religious Rhetoric,” JCR, Sept. 1989, 3.

(135.)  He addressed the National Prayer Breakfast eight times, the National Religious Broadcasters five times, and the National Association of Evangelicals twice. In these five addresses to the NRB, Reagan quoted the Bible fifty‐four times and used some of them to discuss the connection between faith and policy making. He also spoke to many interdenominational, evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish groups.

(136.)  His handwritten revisions of his speeches at the Reagan Library provide ample evidence. For an example, see his revision of the speech he gave in September 1982 at (p.594) Kansas State University. Reagan contributed much of the religious content of the address, which is restated in many subsequent speeches (PHF, Series 3, Presidential Speeches, Box 6, 8/4/82–10/22/84, Folder 104).

(137.)  Reagan, “Women Leaders,” 1450. See also Reagan, “Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast,” 1166.

(138.)  Reagan, “Remarks … [to] the Knights of Columbus in Hartford, CT,” PP, Aug. 3, 1982, 1110.

(139.)  E.g., Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast,” PP, Feb. 6, 1986, 145.

(140.)  Reagan, “Annual Prayer Breakfast,” 1983, 178.

(141.)  Reagan, “Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast,” 1168; Reagan, “Remarks at a Question‐and‐Answer Session with Local High School Honor Students,” PP, May 23, 1983, 756.

(142.)  Ronald Reagan, “Acceptance Speech,” Vital Speeches of the Day 46 (Aug. 15, 1980), 642–46.

(143.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1983, 152.

(144.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks following a Meeting with Pope John Paul II in Vatican City,” PP, June 7, 1982, 737.

(145.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at a Spirit of America Festival in Decatur, AL,” PP, July 4, 1984, 1001.

(146.)  Ronald Reagan, “Address at the Commencement Exercises at the University of Notre Dame,” PP, May 17, 1981, 434.

(147.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1983, 152 (first and second quotations); Reagan, “Prayer in Schools,” 1182 (third quotation). Cf. “Responses to Soir Magazine,” 3; Reagan, “Women Leaders,” 1450; Reagan, “Remarks at Kansas State University … on Public Issues,” PP, Sept. 9, 1982, 1122. See also Robert D. Linder, “Reagan at Kansas State: Civil Religion in the Service of the New Right,” Reformed Journal, Dec. 1982, 13–15.

(148.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the … American Legion in Salt Lake City, Utah,” PP, Sept. 4, 1984, 1229.

(149.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the … National Association of Evangelicals in Columbus, OH,” PP, Mar. 6, 1984, 309.

(150.)  Reagan, “Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast,” 1167.

(151.)  “Interview with the Knight‐Ridder News Service on Foreign and Domestic Issues,” PP, Feb. 14, 1984, 207.

(152.)  Reagan, “Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast,” 1167.

(153.)  Reagan, “American Legion,” 1231; Reagan, “Inaugural Address,” 1981, 3; Reagan, “Easter and Passover,” 488. Cf. “Proclamation [of a] National Day of Prayer, 1984,” PP, Dec. 14, 1983, 1698; Reagan, “National Day of Prayer,” 574; Reagan, “National Association Evangelicals,” 1984, 306–7.

(154.)  Reagan, “Women Leaders,” 1450; Reagan, “Address at the Commencement Exercises at the U.S. Military Academy,” PP, May 27, 1981, 462; Reagan, “Remarks at a Meeting with Editors and Publishers of Trade Magazines,” PP, Sept. 24, 1982, 1214; Reagan, “National Association Evangelicals,” 1983, 362; and Slosser, Reagan Inside Out, 166. Reagan also often emphasized this point in personal letters. E.g., RR to Blake Steele, Apr. 6, 1983; and RR to Rolf McPherson, May 25, 1983, both in RM 115001–150000.

(155.)  Reagan, “National Association Evangelicals,” 1983, 362. Reagan began his calls for spiritual renewal in the 1970s. See von Damm, ed., Reagan, 91; “Reagan–Otis Interview,” 167–69.

(156.)  Most important were Morton Blackwell, J. Douglas Holladay, Faith Whittlesey, and Carolyn Sundseth. Before joining Reagan's team, Blackwell had worked for the new right leader Richard Viguerie's direct mail operation. An evangelical Episcopalian, Holladay had studied with Francis Schaeffer at L'Abri, directed a Young Life chapter, and worked to establish prayer and fellowship groups among Washington politicians. See “A White House Aide Reaches Out to Reagan's Opponents,” CT 28 (May 18, 1984), 80–81. Sundseth focused on evangelical, fundamentalist, and conservative women's groups.

(157.)  In May 1984, for example, Reagan aides discussed education, U.S. humanitarian assistance, drug policies, and Reagan's position on the relationship of church and state with a group of mainline Protestant bishops, evangelists, pastors, and lay leaders. See James Johnson to RR, Oct. 4, 1983; and Briefing Agenda for National Coalition of Concerned Citizens, May 7, 1984, both in OA 12271, Holladay, J. D., Nat'l Coalition of Concerned Citizens, May 5, 1984.

(158.)  By Linder and Pierard's count, only four—Watt, Dole, Hodel, and Meese (who later served as attorney general)—of Reagan's thirty‐one cabinet appointments were known evangelicals (“Ronald Reagan,” 70).

(159.)  Discussing areas where “a God‐centered world view” was making a big difference, Christianity Today pointed to the work of Koop, Billings, Meese, Douglas Holladay, Dee Jepsen, Reagan's liaison with women's groups, Carl Horn of the Justice Department, and Marjory Mecklenberg and Jerry Regler in the Department of Health and Human Services (Spring, “Rating Reagan,” 47–48).

(160.)  See William Martin, With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America (New York: Broadway, 1996), 221–22.

(161.)  See The Christian Embassy Update, summer 1983; Jones, “Reagan's Religion,” 65, 69.

(162.)  See Richard Pierard, “Ronald Reagan and the Evangelicals” in Marla J. Selvidge, ed., Fundamentalism Today: What Makes It So Attractive (Elgin, IL: Brethren, 1984), 57–60.

(163.)  Beth Spring to J. Douglas Holladay (hereafter JDH), Apr. 6, 1984; Schedule Proposal, Apr. 19, 1984; Spring to JDH, May 11, 1984, all in OA 12271, Evangelical Press Assoc., 5/8/84, Holladay, J. D.

(164.)  See A. James Reichley, “The Evangelical and Fundamentalist Revolt,” in Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Cromartie, eds., Piety and Politics: Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Confront the World (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1987), 86–87. Also see James David Fairbanks, “Reagan, Religion, and the New Right,” Midwest Quarterly, Spring 1982, 327–45.

(165.)  E.g., OA 12272, Evangelical Briefing (Virginia), Trible, 4/26/85; OA 12272, Evangelical Press on Freedom Fighters and Budget, 4/19/85; OA 15050, Christian Media, Tax Reform, Aug. 1, 1985, Anderson, Carl, Box 2; and JDH to Chester Crocker, David Miller, and Frank Wisher, Dec. 6, 1985; OA 12266, Holladay, J.D., 9/27/85–1/3/86.

(166.)  Jeffrey K. Hadden and Anson Shupe, Televangelism: Power and Politics on God's Frontier (New York: Henry Holt, 1988), 36.

(167.)  E.g., “A White House Aide Reaches Out to Reagan's Opponents,” 80; Spurgeon M. Dunnam, III to Elizabeth Dole, July 23, 1981, RM 030 (000001–199999), Box 6.

(168.)  See OA 12271 Mainline Church Briefings, Box 11; ibid. Holladay, J. D., Religion and Politics, Dec. 20, 1984, Box 12. J. Douglas Holladay claimed that most participants appreciated the “openness and informative nature of the meetings” and that many (p.596) had “become ardent and active supporters of the Administration's policies” (JDH to Phil Ringdahl, Sept. 19, 1985). See also David Ochoa to RR, Sept. 25, 1985; James M. Dunn to William Keucher, Oct. 4, 1985; Ernestine Galloway to JDH, Oct. 16, 1985. All these are in RL, OA 12272, Mainline Church Briefing in South Africa, 9/23/85, Holladay, J. D., Box 14.

(169.)  E.g., Rev. R. Dennis Macaleer to JDH, July 27, 1984, OA 12271, Holladay, J. D., Briefing—Letters of Response, Box 11.

(170.)  See William P. Thompson to RR, Nov. 4, 1982; Excerpts from Remarks of the President in a Meeting with Hispanic, Labor and Religious Press, and William Clark to RR, n. d, all in RM 115001–150000.

(171.)  E.g., August Wenzel to RR, July 2, 1985, RM 033–08, Lutheran Bodies, RM 031, 340000‐RM 039‐end; James Andrews to RR, Aug. 28, 1987, RM 033–11, Presbyterian Bodies, RM 031, 340000‐RM 039‐end.

(172.)  See Steve Askin, “Liaison Works to Align White House, Catholics,” National Catholic Reporter, Dec. 30, 1983, 6–7.

(173.)  Most of these speeches are referenced in other footnotes in this chapter. See also Ronald Reagan, “Remarks to the Students and Faculty of Archbishop Carroll and All Saints High Schools,” PP, Oct. 17, 1988, 1339; Reagan, “Remarks at the St. Ann's Festival in Hoboken, NJ,” PP, July 26, 1984, 1097–1100; and “President Reagan's Remarks,” CGA World, Sept.–Oct. 1984, 29–30.

(174.)  Clark interview with Paul Kengor, Aug. 24, 2001, in Reagan, 123. See also William Clark, “President Reagan and the Wall,” Address to the Council of National Policy, San Francisco, Mar. 2000, 11. Edmund Morris claims that Clark was the only person in the Reagan administration who enjoyed any type of “spiritual intimacy” with the president (interview with The American Enterprise, Nov.–Dec. 1999). See also James G. Lakely, “ ‘God's Plan’ Guided Reagan's Life,” WT, June 7, 2004.

(175.)  See Reagan, “Pope John Paul II,” 736–39; and Reagan, “Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for Pope John Paul II in Fairbanks, AK,” PP, May 2, 1984. They also talked on the phone and exchanged letters.

(176.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mother Teresa,” PP, June 20, 1985, 802. See Mother Teresa to RR, June 21, 1985, PHF, PR, Series II, Box 13, File 192.

(177.)  See Rebecca G. Range to Frederick J. Ryan Jr., Oct. 6, 1988, RM031 Catholic, 600000‐end, RM, Box 7.

(178.)  All these quotations are from Jeremiah O'Leary, “Vatican Ties Upgraded with Wilson as Envoy,” WP, Jan. 11, 1984, 1, 12A. See also Arthur Jones, “Reagan Pushes Full Vatican Ties,” National Catholic Reporter, Oct. 21, 1983, 1–2; Kenneth Briggs, “Church Groups Denounce Reagan Move,” NYT, Jan. 11, 1984; “Recognizing Rome—and Politics,” ibid., Jan. 13, 1984: Reagan is “presumably banking on this as a vote‐getter among the nation's 52 million Roman Catholics, and [as] not so offensive to … conservative Protestants that they will abandon him.” “Appointment of an Ambassador to the Vatican Meets Mild Opposition,” CT 28 (Feb. 17, 1984), 40–41, described the Catholic response as “positive but quiet” (41). See also D. Peerman, “The Vatican Connection,” CC 101 (Jan. 25, 1984), 67–68; Kenneth Kantzer and V. G. Beers, “That Controversial Appointment,” NW 103 (Mar. 16, 1984), 12–13; and “Vatican Tie Challenged,” CC 101 (Oct. 10, 1984), 919–20. The Southern Baptist Convention repeatedly urged Reagan to dissolve the post.

(179.)  Henry Hyde et al. to Joseph Louis Bernardin, Dec. 15, 1982, RM 031 Catholic, 000001–124999, RM, Box 6.

(180.)  Sven Kraemer to William P. Clark, Jan. 8, 1983, RM031, Catholic, 125–232368, Box 6.

(181.)  See NYT, May 5, 1983. On this pastoral letter, see T. J. Reese, “The Bishops' Challenge of the Peace,” America 148 (May 21, 1983), 393–95; K. A. Briggs, “Bishops' Consensus,” CC 100 (May 25, 1983), 519–20; Michael Novak, “The Bishops Speak Out,” National Review 35 (June 10, 1983), 674–81; and “Catholic Bishops Say No to Nuclear Arms,” CT 27 (June 17, 1983), 39.

(182.)  Daniel R. Browning, “National Body Opposes Bishop on Nuclear Arms,” Anaheim Hills News‐Times, Mar. 2, 1983, 1.

(183.)  E.g., “The Bishops Take on Conservative Economics,” Business Week, Dec. 19, 1983, 79–80.

(184.)  See “The American Bishop's [sic] Pastoral Letter on the American Economy,” RM 204001–211000, Box RM 000001–250000 (quotation); Faith Whittlesey to Frederick Ryan, Nov. 13, 1984, “Lay Commission on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy,” both in RM 204001–211000, Box RM 000001–250000.

(185.)  Report excerpted in the NYT, Nov. 8, 1984.

(186.)   NYT, Oct. 29, 1984.

(187.)  Lynch to Archbishop Philip M. Hannan, Dec. 4, 1984. See also Lynch to Edwin Meese, Dec. 5, 1984, both in RM 204001–211000, Box RM 000001–250000.

(188.)  In October 1985, the bishops invited Reagan to comment on the second draft of the pastoral letter. Because the final letter was bound to be unsatisfactory, Patrick Buchanan recommended that the administration take no official stand on it until it was published. See Rembert Weakland to RR, Oct. 7, 1985, RM031, Catholic, 340000–599999, RM, Box 7; Buchanan to Donald Regan, Sept. 30, 1985, RM031, Catholic, 340000–599999, RM, Box 7.

(189.)  E.g., Ronald Reagan, “Proclamation [of] Jewish Heritage Week,” May 1, 1981, PP, 401–2; Reagan, “Proclamation [of] Jewish Heritage Week,” PP, Apr. 19, 1985, 462–63; Reagan, “Remarks … [to] the National Conference of Christians and Jews,” PP, Mar. 23, 1982, 357–58; Reagan, “Remarks … [to] Jewish Leaders,” Feb. 2, 1983, PP, 173–75; Reagan, “Remarks … [to] the Anti‐Defamation League of B'nai B'rith,” PP, June 10, 1983, 847–48. For Jews' appreciation of his efforts, see Morris Abram to RR, Nov. 5, 1987, RM032, Jewish, 325000‐end, Box 7.

(190.)  Reagan's Meeting with Rabbi H. D. Yoseph, Feb. 17, 1983, OA 10854, Breger, Marshall; Moshe Feller, “Rabbis Explain ‘Top to Top,’ ” American Jewish World, June 8, 1983.

(191.)  See Al Abrams to Beth Barnes, Feb. 2, 1982, “National Association of Jewish Legislators, OA 10853, Breger, Marshall; UJA Top Leadership White House Briefing, Mar 3, 1983, ibid.; “Talking Points for Meeting with Rabbi Lubinsky,” May 17, 1982; and Memorandum for Red Caveney, Feb. 5, 1983, WHORM, RM020, 187310‐end; and Jack Stein, Speech to B'nai Zion, June 18, 1981, OA 10852.

(192.)  See “President's Remarks to Jewish Leadership,” Nov. 19, 1981; Meeting with the President and Fisher Group, Nov. 11, 1981, OA 10852, Breger, Marshall; Elizabeth Dole, “Meeting with Reagan/Bush Jewish Supporters, Nov. 19, 1981, ibid.; “Meeting with the President and Jewish Leaders,” June 7, 1983, OA 10854, Breger, Marshall; National Jewish Coalition, Apr. 4, 1985, OA 10371, and Breger, Marshall, Box 3; President's Meeting with UJA Top Donors, Aug. 6, 1983, ibid.

(193.)  See Cannon, Reagan, 391. For his support of Israel, see, for example, Ronald Reagan, “Remarks to … Jewish Community Leaders in Valley Stream, NY,” PP, Oct. 26, 1984, 1652–55.

(194.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington … ,” PP, Dec. 4, 1983, 1650–51.

(195.)  E.g., “Reagan Fails to Allay Worry at Jewish Parley,” NYT, Sept. 7, 1984, A14.

(196.)  Marshall Breger to Marshall Wolke, Nov. 2, 1984. See also Wolke to RR, Sept. 10, 1984; Adler to Breger, Oct. 17, 1984; Breger to Samuel Adler, Nov. 5, 1984; and Norman Lent to RR, Sept. 14, 1984, all in RM 235001–250000; and “Conservative Rabbis Urged to Mobilize against Moral Majority,” Global News Service of the Jewish People, Apr. 28, 1982, RM032, Jewish, 000001–169999.

(197.)  E.g., Irving Kristol, “The Political Dilemma of American Jews,” Commentary 74 (July 1984), 23–29; and Lucy Davidowicz, “Politics, the Jews and the ‘84 Election,” Commentary, Feb. 1985, 25–30. The quotation is from Richard V. Pierard, “Religion and the 1984 Election Campaign,” Review of Religious Research 27 (Dec. 1985), 107.

(198.)  See Marshall Breger, “Jews and American Politics, 1984 and After,” This World, 25–30.

(199.)  Among others, fifty‐three senators, his wife, and Elie Wiesel urged him not to go. For Wiesel's concerns, see “Remarks on Presenting the Congressional Gold Medal to Elie Wiesel,” PP, Apr. 19, 1985, 462.

(200.)  D' Souza, Reagan, 233.

(201.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks … with Regional Editors and Broadcasters,” PP, Apr. 18, 1985, 457; Reagan, “Remarks at a Joint German‐American Military Ceremony at Bitburg … ,” PP, May 5, 1985, 565–68, quotation from 566.

(202.)  Bernard Weintraub, “Reagan Joins Kohl in Brief Memorial at Bitburg Graves,” NYT, May 6, 1985.

(203.)  Cannon, Reagan, 573. Kohl claimed that a presidential snub might topple his administration.

(204.)  D'Souza, Reagan, 235.

(205.)  RR to Philip M. Hannan, May 28, 1985, PHF, PR, Series II, Box 12, Folder 186; RR to George Smathers, May 28, 1985, ibid. Reagan told Hannan he had received many letters from World War II veterans, some of whom had been POWs, supporting his decision.

(206.)  Cannon, Reagan, 587. Prominent Jewish Republicans met with Reagan staff on April 16, 1985, to try to persuade Reagan not to go to Bitburg (578–79). The fullest descriptions of this episode are Cannon, Reagan, 573–89; and Morris, Dutch, 521–26.

(207.)  Pierard and Linder, Civil Religion, 266.

(208.)  Some evangelicals took a less partisan approach. See Kenneth Kantzer, “Our November Call to Conscience,” CT 28 (Sept. 21, 1984), 12–13; “Billy Graham: Churches Should Shun Partisan Politics,” USN, Oct. 8, 1984, 12.

(209.)  Woodward, “Who's a Good Christian?” 30. Woodward noted that Mondale, like Reagan, seldom attended church and was “vague about his doctrinal commitments.” Strongly influenced by the Social Gospel, he saw helping others as the “mark of a true Christian and justice as the sign of a Christian society.” Time offered a different perspective: Mondale was the “pious and principled son of a Methodist pastor” who “apparently feels his faith deeply and knows what he believes” (Kurt (p.599) Anderson, “For God and Country,” Time [Sept. 10, 1984], 10). Also see Steven Tipton, “Religion and the Moral Rhetoric of Presidential Politics,” CC 101 (Oct. 31, 1984), 1010–13.

(210.)  Anderson, “For God and Country,” 8. See also Beth Spring, “Republicans, Religion, and Reelection,” CT 28 (Oct. 5, 1984), 54–58; and “Partisan Politics: Where Does the Gospel Fit?” CT 28 (Nov. 9, 1984), 15–17.

(211.)  Many commentators conclude that Reagan gave only “pro forma support” to the proposals of the New Right for restoring school prayer, tuition tax credits, and a right‐to‐life amendment. E.g., Leo Ribuffo, “God and Contemporary Politics,” Journal of American History 79 (Mar. 1993), 1522.

(212.)  Pierard, “1984 Election Campaign,” 104. This paragraph depends heavily on Pierard's article.

(213.)  These were Reagan's Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, Bob Slosser's Reagan Inside Out, and David Shepherd's edited compilation entitled Ronald Reagan: In God I Trust.

(214.)  Pierard, “1984 Election Campaign,” 104.

(215.)  Reagan, “Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast,” 1167.

(216.)  William Safire, NYT, Aug. 27, 1984; Haynes Johnson, WP, Aug. 26, 1984; “Church‐State Separation Is Still Sacred,” Business Week, Sept. 24, 1984, 24; “A Christian Country?” National Review, Sept. 21, 1984, 18–19.

(217.)  Sidney Blumenthal, “The Religious Right and Republicans” in Neuhaus and Cromartie, eds., Piety and Politics, 272–73.

(218.)  “The Theory of Trickle‐Down Religion,” Atlanta Constitution, Sept. 10, 1984. Reagan defended his speech at Dallas in “Informal Exchange with Reporters … ,” PP, Sept. 2, 1984, 1219; and PP, Sept. 4, 1984, 1233.

(219.)  Teepen, “Reagan Pulpit.”

(220.)  Castelli, “Reagan Religiosity.” Newsweek called Ferraro's claim that Reagan was not a “good Christian” “an ill‐chosen way to dramatize her contention that cutbacks in social programs violated traditional religious notions of charity and compassion.” See “Politics and the Pulpit” 104 (Sept. 17, 1984), 25. See also Woodward, “Who's a Good Christian?” 30. For other critiques of Reagan, see Danny Collum, “What's At Stake … and What Isn't,” Sojourners, Sept, 1984, 12–16; and James Wall, “Looking at Candidates through a Mirror,” CC 101 (Oct. 10, 1984), 915–16.

(221.)  Stephen Galebach to John A. Svahn and Bruce Chapman, Aug. 28, 1984, RM 220001–235000, Box RM 000001–250000.

(222.)  “Politics and the Pulpit,” 26; the quotation is that of the Newsweek writers summarizing Mondale's position. See Walter Mondale, “Religion Is a Private Matter,” CS, Oct. 1984, 12–15; “God and the Ballot Box,” Time 124 (Sept. 17, 1984), 26; Joseph Carey, “Religion and Politics: Furor Keeps Building,” USN, Sept. 17, 1984, 29–30; and Charles Krauthammer, “The Church‐State Debate,” NR 191 (Sept. 17 & 24, 1984), 15–18.

(223.)  “Debate between the President and … Mondale,” 1447.

(224.)  Quoted in Blumenthal, “Religious Right,” 285.

(225.)  “General Plan of Appeal to Catholics,” OA 12450 Catholic Strategy, Blackwell, Morton.

(226.)  “A Plan on How to Proceed,” OA 12450, Catholic Strategy, Blackwell, Morton, Box 7. See also “Ethnic/Blue Collar Strategy Outline,” Dec. 10, 1982; Elizabeth Dole to Edwin Meese, James Baker, and Michael Deaver on Ethnic/Catholic Strategy, n. d.; and Thomas Melady to Michael McManus Jr., Mar. 31, 1983, ibid. These documents (p.600) discussed the various Catholic ethnic groups, provided lots of statistical analysis, and proposed specific steps to win Catholic votes.

(227.)  Pierard, “1984 Election Campaign,” 109; William Droel and Gregory Pierce, “The Catholic Vote,” CMW 111 (Sept. 7, 1984), 455–56.

(228.)  Wilson Carey McWilliams, “The Meaning of the Election,” in Gerald M. Pomper, ed., The Election of 1984: Reports and Interpretations (Chatham, NJ: Chatham, 1985), 172. Numerous Catholic bishops, most notably New York Archbishop John J. O'Connor, Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia, and Bishop Bernard Law of Boston, supported Reagan, and many Catholic editors sharply criticized Ferraro's position on abortion. See “Politics and the Pulpit,” 25; Wilson Carey McWilliams, Beyond the Politics of Disappointment? American Elections, 1980–1988 (New York: Chatham, 2000), 38–40.

(229.)  See Adam Clymer, “Religion and Politics Mix Poorly for Democrats,” NYT, Nov. 25, 1984; Albert Menendez, Christian College News, Dec. 1984, 1–2; and James Wall, “Both Parties Helped Reagan Win,” CC 101 (Nov. 14, 1984), 1051–52.

(230.)  Pierard, “1984 Election Campaign,” 113.

(231.)  Robert Dugan, “Election '84: Some Surprising Winners and Losers,” CT 29 (Jan. 11, 1985), 43. Cf. James M. Wall, “Ban Neutrality from Campaign Talk,” CC 101 (Sept. 12–19, 1984), 819–20.

(232.)  Reagan, “Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast,” 1167. Cf. “Responses to Soir Magazine,” 3.

(233.)  “Reverend Reagan,” NR 188 (Apr. 4, 1983), 7–9.

(234.)  Wilbur Edel, Defenders of the Faith: Religion and Politics from the Pilgrim Fathers to Ronald Reagan (New York: Praeger, 1987), 149.

(235.)  Ronald Reagan, “Address … on State of the Union Address,” PP, Feb. 4, 1986, 128.

(236.)  The bill enabled doctors to perform abortions whenever they concluded that a pregnancy endangered a woman's physical or mental health. See Pemberton, Exit, 75–76; D'Souza, Reagan, 66–67; Morris, Dutch, 351–52; and von Damm, ed., Reagan, 100–3.

(237.)  See Meeting with Right to Life Volunteers, Jan. 21, 1988, OA 19222, Abortion, Bauer, Gary, Box 1; See also Meeting with National Leaders of Pro‐Life Movement,” OA 12448, Blackwell, Morton, 1/23/84.

(238.)  Reagan, “Knights of Columbus,” 1012. See also Reagan, “National Association Evangelicals,” 1983, 361. “I think it comes down to one simple answer: You cannot interrupt a pregnancy without taking a human life,” Reagan told an interviewer. “And the only way we can justify taking a life in our Judeo‐Christian tradition is in self‐defense” (“Reagan–Otis Interview,” 178).

(239.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1984, 119. Cf. “Responses to Soir Magazine,” 2; RR to Malcolm Muggeridge, July 9, 1984, PHR, PR, Series II, Box 9, Folder 133; RR to Archbishop John J. O'Connor, Mar. 29, 1985, ibid., Box 12, Folder 176.

(240.)  Reagan, “National Association Evangelicals,” 1983, 360–61.

(241.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1984, 119; “Memorandum Promoting Adoption,” PP, Nov. 13, 1987, 1329; “Proclamation [of] National Adoption Week, 1987,” PP, Nov. 19, 1987, 1358; “Proclamation [of] National Adoption Week, 1988,” PP, Nov. 18, 1988.

(242.)  See Bill Peterson, “New Right Defeated on Abortion,” WP, Sept. 16, 1982, A1. Christianity Today argued that Reagan had been reluctant to “endorse any particular (p.601) initiative because prolife groups failed to patch up their intramural differences” (Spring, “Rating Reagan,” 50).

(243.)  See Steven Roberts, “Reagan Said to Back Measure to Bar Any Federal Aid for Abortion,” NYT, Feb. 10, 1987, A20; George Archibald and Amy Bayer, “Anti‐Abortion War Resumed by Reagan,” WT, July 31, 1987, A1; Fred Barnes, “Bringing Up Baby,” NR 197 (Aug. 24, 1987), 10–12; OA 17976, Prolife Bill Chronology Summary, Bell, Mariam (2), (3), (4) and (5). For background, see Administration Abortion Bill, June 20, 1986, OA 17964, Bell, Mariam, Abortion–General [1] and RR to Henry Hyde, Mar. 19, 1987, OA 17955, Pro‐Life (2), Bell, Mariam, Box 1.

(244.)  Pemberton, Exit, 124; Blumenthal, “Religious Right,” 286; “Reagan Abortion Stand Opposed,” USA Today, Sept. 4, 1985, 3A.

(245.)  E.g., “Prolifers, Wake Up,” National Catholic Register, May 4, 1986; Nellie Gray to RR, Jan. 12, 1987, OA 17955, Pro‐Life (2), Bell Mariam, Box 1: “It is a puzzlement and great disappointment that actions of your Executive branch do not follow your good words.”

(246.)  Jim Wallis, “The President's Pulpit: A Look at Ronald Reagan's Theology,” Sojourners, Sept. 1984, 21. See also Wallis, “Dissenting from the Right,” in “The Roles Religion Plays,” NW, 104 (Sept. 17, 1984), 32. Cf. Colman McCarthy, “On This Issue, Reagan Is Morally Right,” WP, May 21, 1983.

(247.)  Collum, “Reagan's Election Crusade,” Sojourners 13 (Apr. 1984), 4.

(248.)  Julie Johnson, “Reagan Vows to Continue Battle on Abortion,” NYT, Jan. 14, 1989; “Reagan Says Ending Abortion Will Mean U.S. Is Civilized,” NYT, Jan. 16, 1989. Cf. William P. Clark, “For Reagan, All Life Was Sacred,” NYT, June 11, 2004.

(249.)  Interview with O'Connor. “Abortion” is not an item in the index of Reagan's An American Life.

(250.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1984, 120.

(251.)  Reagan, “Message to the Congress … on Prayer in the School,” PP, May 17, 1982, 647–49. See also Reagan, “Message to the Congress … on Prayer in the Schools,” PP, Mar. 8, 1983, 364–65.

(252.)  Reagan, “Candle‐Lighting Ceremony,” 1218.

(253.)  Reagan, “Prayer,” 1182. See also Reagan, “Remarks … [to] the National Parent‐Teacher Association in Albuquerque, NM,” PP, June 15, 1983, 871. Reagan made this same point in dozens of letters on school prayer. E.g., RR to Lois Picard, June 13, 1984, RM020, Prayers, 220000–245723.

(254.)  Reagan, “Prayer,” 1182.

(255.)  Reagan, “National Day of Prayer,” 574.

(256.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1984, 120. See also Reagan, “National Association Evangelicals,” 1984, 309; and Reagan, “Remarks at a National Forum on Excellence in Education, Indianapolis,” PP, Dec. 8, 1983, 1669.

(257.)  See Elizabeth Dole to Edwin Harper, Apr. 26, 1982, RM020 Prayers, Prayer Periods, 065021–072000; RM020, 207055–334999. Staff assigned to call senators were given key talking points for particular individuals, answers to probable questions, and major public statements by the president on school prayer. Letters from Reagan were sent to all 26,300 individuals who had written to commend him for proclaiming 1983 to be the Year of the Bible. See School Prayer Amendment Letter, Feb. 7, 1984, RM 020, Prayers, Box 4. The file RM020 Prayers, Prayer Periods, 187310–200000 contains letters Reagan sent in 1984 to congressmen on school prayer and letters to religious leaders. See RM020, Prayers, Box 4. See also “Questions and Answers on the President's School Prayer Amendment,” Mar. 5, 1984, ibid.

(258.)  See materials in RM 020, Prayers, 150001–180000 for Reagan's talk to pro‐school prayer leaders on July 12, 1983.

(259.)  See RM020, Prayers, Box 4; RM020, Prayers, 150001–180000; Robertson to RR, Sept. 9, 1983, ibid. Concerned Women of America, Save Our Schools, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Southern Baptist Convention all strongly promoted the amendment (RM020, Prayers, 200001–204500, Box 4; RM020, Prayers, Prayer Periods, 072001–072849). See also Tom Wicker, “The Baptist Switch,” NYT, June 22, 1982. For an example of Jewish support, see Seymour Siegel, “School Prayers—Yes!” Jewish Spectator, Fall 1982, 53–55.

(260.)  See Mary Kay Quinlan, “New Push on for School‐Prayer Amendment,” USA Today, July 24, 1985, 4A; Kristen Burroughs, “Coalition Vows Hard Drive for Vocal Prayer in Schools,” WT, July 24, 1985; and Keith Richburg, “Hill Conservatives, Students Lobby Congress for School Prayer,” WP, Aug. 3, 1985, B6.

(261.)  Martin, With God on Our Side, 233. Beth Spring argued in 1983 that Reagan had “expended very little political capital on the prayer issue” (“Rating Reagan,” 50).

(262.)  Morris S. Friedman to RR, Sept. 7, 1984, RM020, Prayers, 245724–262999. See also The Synagogue Council of America to RR, May 4, 1982, RM020, Prayers, Prayer Periods, 075001–080000 (this file also contains letters of protest from other Jewish organizations sent in May 1982). See also Linder, “Reagan at Kansas State,” 15; and Charles Krauthammer, “Rectifying the Border,” Time, Sept. 24, 1984, 79–80.

(263.)  T. R. Reid, “Prayer Bill Foes Attack ‘Election‐Year Religiosity,’ ” WP, Mar. 7, 1984. More than a dozen Jewish groups and Christian denominations met to reiterate their strong opposition to the amendment. See also, John C. Danforth, “Why Many Religious People Oppose It,” WP, Mar. 11, 1984.

(264.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1983, 153. See also Reagan, “Remarks … during an Administrative Briefing in Chicago, IL … ,” PP, May 10, 1982, 591. Reagan, “Remarks to … Archbishop Carroll and All Saints High Schools,” 1341.

(265.)  Reagan, “Women Leaders,” 2. See also Thomas P. Melady, “Tuition Tax Relief: Educational Priority,” Catholic Transcript, Sept. 2, 1983, 2.

(266.)  Reagan, “Knights of Columbus,” 1012.

(267.)  RR to Thomas J. Welsh, Apr. 5, 1982, PHF, PR, Series II, Box 3, Folder 34.

(268.)  RR to John F. Meyers, Nov. 29, 1983, RRL, PHF, PR, Series II, Box 8, Folder 107.

(269.)  Paul Kengor explains that Reagan's understanding of communism as an evil empire was influenced by a number of individuals, especially Soviet dissident and author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Whittaker Chambers. See Reagan, 77–88. See especially Whittaker Chambers, Witness (New York: Random House, 1952) and Solzhenitsyn, Alexander Solzhenitsyn Speaks to the West (London: Bodley Head, 1978).

(270.)  Jerel A. Rosati, The Carter Administration's Quest for Global Community: Beliefs and Their Impacts on Behavior (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987), 52–54, quotation from 52.

(271.)  Reagan, “Knights of Columbus,” 1013. Kengor, Reagan, 329, points out that Reagan referred to God's providential direction of history in most of his milestone speeches, including the 1964 “Time for Choosing,” address, both inaugural addresses as California's governor, his 1979 speech announcing his campaign for the presidency, his speech accepting the Republican nomination in 1980, his two presidential inaugural addresses, and his farewell address.

(272.)  E.g., Reagan, “Inaugural Address,” 1981, 3; Reagan, “Address … on State of the Union Address,” PP, Feb. 6, 1985, 279; Reagan, “Remarks … Marking … Captive Nations Week,” PP, July 19, 1983, 1053.

(273.)  Reagan, “Captive Nations Week,” 1053. Cf. Reagan, “State of the Union,” 1985, 279; Reagan, “Inaugural Address,” 1981, 3.

(274.)  Reagan, “National Association Evangelicals,” 1984, 307.

(275.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference Dinner,” PP, Mar. 20, 1981, 278.

(276.)  Reagan, “Captive Nations Week,” 1053.

(277.)  Ronald Reagan, “Address before … the Irish National Parliament,” PP, June 4, 1984, 811.

(278.)  Clark, “President Reagan and the Wall,” 2.

(279.)  Reagan, “National Association Evangelicals,” 1983, 362–64. Although many pundits accused Reagan of “recklessly and unconsciously provoking the Soviets into war,” he claimed he made this speech and others like it “with malice aforethought.” Reagan later explained that in his address he wanted to reach Americans “who—like my daughter Patti—were being told the path to peace was via a freeze … that if implemented, would leave the Soviets in a position of nuclear superiority” (American Life, 568–70). He also insisted that since the Soviet Union clearly was an evil system, “why shouldn't we say so?” (Ronald Reagan, Speaking My Mind: Selected Speeches [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989], 168–69). See also Anthony R. Dolan, “Premeditated Prose: Reagan's Evil Empire,” American Enterprise, Mar.–Apr. 1993, 24–26. In other addresses, Reagan denounced the idea that the United States and the USSR were “morally equivalent.” E.g., Reagan, “Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner for Senator Paula Hawkins in Miami,” PP, May 27, 1985, 674.

(280.)  E.g., William F. Buckley Jr., “Reagan at Orlando,” National Review 35 (Apr. 15, 1983), 456; Richard V. Pierard, “Mending the Fence: Reagan and the Evangelicals,” Reformed Journal 33 (June 1983), 18–21; Beth Spring, “Reagan Courts Evangelical Clout against Nuclear Freeze,” CT 27 (Apr. 8, 1983), 44–45; James Wall, “Mr. Reagan Speaks Only to Believers,” CC 100 (Mar. 23–30, 1983), 259; “Presidential Pulpit,” CMW 110, Mar. 25, 1983), 164–65; and “The Presidential Pulpit,” America 148 (Mar. 26, 1983), 223.

(281.)  The quotation is from Michael Lienesch, Redeeming America: Piety and Politics in the New Christian Right (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 211, who is summarizing the argument of George Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 206–11.

(282.)  Woodrow Wilson, “Statement on Russia,” Sept. 1918, in James Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 20 vols. (New York: Bureau of National Literature, 1917), 17:8589–92 (see also Wilson, “Address to Congress,” Dec. 4, 1917, ibid., 17:8403; and Wilson, “Seventh Annual Message to Congress,” Dec. 2, 1919, ibid., 18:8819); Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People,” PP, Jan. 17, 1961, 1037; the third quotation is from Anderson, Revolution, xxxii.

(283.)  Commager as quoted in the WP, Mar. 8, 1983. He added, “No other presidential speech has ever so flagrantly allied the government with religion.” See also Albert Menendez, “ ‘The Right Rev. Ronald Reagan’?” CS, May 1983, 16; and Morris, Dutch, 475.

(284.)  Hugh Sidey, “The Right Reverend Ronald Reagan,” Time 121 (Mar. 21, 1983), 18. Even Jimmy Carter “never mixed God and government as baldly as Reagan did at (p.604) Orlando.” See also Arthur Schlesinger Jr., “Pretensions in the Presidential Pulpit,” WSJ, Mar. 17, 1983, 26.

(285.)  Anthony Lewis, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” NYT, Mar. 10, 1983.

(286.)  Wallis, “President's Pulpit,” 20.

(287.)  Richard Cohen, “Convictions,” WP, May 26, 1983, C1.

(288.)  Morris, Dutch, 473.

(289.)  Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of the Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), 263. Ironically, a decade later, many Russians acknowledged that their nation had been an evil empire. See also Kengor, Reagan, 254–57.

(290.)  E.g., RR to Rabbi Dov Bidnick, June 9, 1981, RM020, Prayers—Prayer Periods, 000001–065019.

(291.)  RR to Stephen Majoros, Mar. 15, 1983, PHF, PR, Box 5, 12/21/82–3/16/83. See also RR to John Kmech, Feb. 1, 1983, ibid.; and to Robert E. Kent, Apr. 18, 1983, ibid., Series II, Box 6, Folder 79.

(292.)  Reagan, American Life, 552–53, 550, quotations from 552–53.

(293.)  Reagan, “American Legion,” 1230.

(294.)  Reagan, American Life, 550, 13, 547, quotations in that order. On Reagan's aversion to nuclear weapons and war, see Edwin Meese III, With Reagan: The Inside Story (Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway), 186–87; Anderson, Revolution, 72; and George Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph (New York: Scribner's, 1993), 189.

(295.)  Ronald Reagan, “Address to the Nation on the Soviet–United States Summit Meeting,” PP, Dec. 10, 1987, 1502.

(296.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1983, 154. See also Muggeridge to RR, Mar. 1983: “I am sure that Solzhenitsyn is right, that now … there is a higher percentage of believing Christians in the USSR than in the UK or the USA,” despite the concerted effort “to extirpate the Christian faith.” See also RR to Muggeridge, Apr. 18, 1983, both in PHF, PR, Series II, Box 6, Folder 78.

(297.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks … with Area High School Seniors in Jacksonville, FL,” PP, Dec. 1, 1987, 1405. On Reagan's fascination with religious revival in the USSR, see also Morris, Dutch, 519.

(298.)  Reagan, “National Association Evangelicals,” 1984, 307.

(299.)  E.g., Ronald Reagan, “Address to the Nation about Christmas and the Situation in Poland,” PP, Dec. 23, 1981, 1186–87; Reagan, “Statement in Signing Legislation concerning Human Rights in the Soviet Union,” PP, Mar. 22, 1982, 350; Reagan, “Remarks on Signing the International Human Rights Day Proclamation,” PP, Dec. 10, 1984, 1882–83; Memorandum of Conversation, Reagan‐Gorbachev Meetings in Geneva, Nov. 1985, Third Private Meeting, OA 92137, Geneva Meetings, Memcons of Plenary Sessions and Tete‐a‐tete, 11/19/85, Matlock, Jack, Box 6; and Reagan, American Life, 675, 698, 706. In meetings with Soviet leaders, Reagan also lobbied for ending religious repression (An American Life, 558).

(300.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at a Conference on Religious Liberty,” PP, Apr. 16, 1985, 437–40.

(301.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1983, 154.

(302.)  Reagan, “Remarks on Signing … Human Rights Day and Week Proclamation,” PP, Dec. 9, 1983, 1675.

(303.)  Reagan, “Knights of Columbus,” 1014. Among other actions, Reagan allowed Catholic Relief Services to buy unlimited amounts of surplus food at “concessionary (p.605) prices” to distribute to the Polish people. See John Cardinal Krol to RR, Aug. 4, 1981, RRL, PHF, PR, Folder 6.

(304.)  Reagan, “Easter and Passover,” 488.

(305.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks … on Religious Freedom in the Soviet Union,” PP, May 3, 1988, 550.

(306.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks to Religious Leaders at the Danilov Monastery in Moscow,” PP, May 30, 1988, 675. See also, Reagan, “Soviet Dissidents,” 676–77. Cf. “New Year's Messages of President Reagan and Soviet Secretary Gorbachev,” PP, Jan. 1, 1986, 1; and Reagan, “Remarks at Fudan University in Shanghai, China,” PP, Apr. 30, 1984, 606.

(307.)  See “Man of the Decade, Gorbachev,” Time 135 (Jan. 1, 1990), 42–45; Strobe Talbott, “Rethinking the Red Menace,” ibid., 66–72; and Raymond L. Garthoff, The Great Transition: American‐Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1994).

(308.)  George F. Kennan, “The G.O.P. Won the Cold War? Ridiculous,” NYT, Oct. 28, 1992, A21; Richard J. Barnet, “A Balance Sheet: Lippmann, Kennan, and the Cold War,” in Michael J. Hogan, ed., The End of the Cold War (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 113–27.

(309.)  E.g., Gates, From the Shadows.

(310.)  E.g., Don Oberdorfer, “Reagan's Triumph: Personal or Institutional?” in Kenneth W. Thompson, Foreign Policy in the Reagan Presidency: Nine Intimate Perspectives (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1993), 159–78.

(311.)  Cannon, Reagan, 833.

(312.)  Both Peter Schweizer and Paul Kengor argue that Reagan seemed to believe that God had spared his life to confront communism. See Schweizer, Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty‐Year Struggle and Final Triumph over Communism (New York: Doubleday, 2002), 3, 134–37, 180; and Kengor, Reagan, 198–99.

(313.)  Peter Schweizer, Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994), esp. xiii–xx. This strategy also included a “sophisticated and detailed psychological operation to fuel indecision and fear among the Soviet leadership,” “a comprehensive global campaign … to reduce drastically Soviet access to Western high technology,” and “a widespread technological disinformation campaign, designed to disrupt the Soviet economy.” See also Schweizer, Reagan's War, 152–59, 284, where he provides a breakdown of the financial costs Reagan's strategy imposed on the Soviets. Meese provides an insider perspective on Reagan's strategy in With Reagan, 163–73. Samuel F. Wells Jr., “Nuclear Weapons and European Security during the Cold War,” in Hogan, ed., The End of the Cold War, 63–75, offers a similar perspective. The president and the pope worked to aid Solidarity in Poland to order to puncture the Iron Curtain and foster spiritual renewal. See Carl Bernstein, “The Holy Alliance,” Time, Feb. 24, 1992, 28, 30; “The Pope and the President: A Key Advisor [William Clark] Reflects on the Reagan Administration,” Catholic World Reporter, Nov. 1999; and Reagan, American Life, 301–3. Beth A. Fischer argues that Reagan did not have a grand design but rather dramatically shifted his approach in late 1983 and early 1984. See Fischer, The Reagan Reversal: Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997), 1–5, 109–43. See also Don Oberdorfer, The Turn: From the Cold War to a New Era (New York: Poseidon, 1991), 438.

(314.)  Condoleezza Rice, “U.S.‐Soviet Relations,” in Larry Berman, ed., Looking Back on the Reagan Presidency (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), 74. See also Reagan, American Life, 551, 660; Schweizer, Victory, 107.

(315.)  Schweizer, Victory, 281.

(316.)  Pemberton, Exit, 155; Gates, From the Shadows, 263. Gorbachev claimed that their personal relationship was pivotal to the arms control agreements they reached (Mikhail Gorbachev, “A President Who Listened,” NYT, June 7, 2004). See also Jack Matlock, Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended (New York: Random House, 2004).

(317.)  Statement by Kissinger, video commemoration of Ronald Reagan, Republican National Convention, San Diego, 1996, as quoted by D'Souza, Reagan, 134.

(318.)  Reagan, American Life, 708.

(319.)  William Clark, “NSDD‐75: A New Approach to the Soviet Union,” in Peter Schweizer, ed., Fall of the Berlin Wall (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2000), 75.

(320.)  D'Souza, Reagan, 28–29. Other positive appraisals of Reagan's role in ending the cold war include Andrew E. Busch, “Ronald Reagan and the Defeat of the Soviet Empire,” PSQ 27 (Summer 1997), 451–66; Douglas J. Hoekstra, “Presidential Beliefs and the Reagan Paradox,” ibid., 429–50; and John Lewis Gaddis, The United States and the End of the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 119–32. Gaddis contends that Reagan “had a decisive impact upon the course of events” through his proposal of SDI, endorsement of the “zero option” on intermediate‐range nuclear missiles in Europe, real reductions in warheads under START, the quickness with which he engaged in serious negotiations with Gorbachev, and his eagerness to consider alternatives to the nuclear arms race (131).

(321.)  Statement at a Heritage Foundation dinner in 1991, quoted in Meese, With Reagan, 173. Taking a very different perspective, some scholars maintain that because the United States paid such a huge economic and social price in waging the cold war that it, like the Soviet Union, lost the war, as Germany and Japan emerged from the “era with healthier economies” than that of the United States. See Michael Kort, “The End of the Cold War,” in James D. Torr, ed., The 1980s (San Diego, CA: Greenhaven, 2000), 125. See also Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein, We All Lost the Cold War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), esp. 369–76.

(322.)  E.g., Robert Wright, “Legacy: What Legacy?” NR 200 (Jan. 9 and 16, 1989), 6; Mark Hertsgaard, On Bended Knee: The Press and Ronald Reagan (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1988); Mark Green and Gail MacColl, Reagan's Reign of Error (New York: Pantheon, 1987); and Johnson, Sleepwalking, 14, 447. For an overview of Reagan's critics, see Anderson, Revolution, xxviii–xxxi, xl–xlvi.

(323.)  Joe Dolman, “Carter, Reagan Pose a Religious Mystery,” Atlanta Constitution, Sept. 18, 1984.

(324.)  “Ronald Reagan's America,” St. Louis Dispatch, Jan. 13, 1989, in Paul S. Boyer, ed., Reagan as President: Contemporary Views of the Man, His Politics, and His Policies (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1990), 270.

(325.)  The first quotation is from James Tobin, “Reaganomics in Retrospect” in B. B. Kymlicka and Jeane Matthews, eds., The Reagan Revolution? (Chicago: Dorsey, 1988), 93; the second is from Jeffrey Bell, “Man of the Century: Ronald Reagan,” Human Events 55 (Dec. 31, 1999), electronic version, 2; the third is from D'Souza, Reagan, 11.

(326.)  Pierard and Linder, Civil Religion, 259; Robert Lekachman, Visions and Nightmares: America after Reagan (New York: Macmillan, 1987).

(327.)  Woodward, “Who's a Good Christian?” 30.

(328.)  Collum, “Reagan's Election Crusade,” 5.

(329.)  Cannon, Reagan, 794–99, quotation from 798. See also Pemberton, Exit, 146; Johnson, Sleepwalking, 184–87. On the Iran‐contra affair, see Theodore Draper, A Very Thin Line: The Iran‐Contra Affair (New York: Hill and Wang, 1991); and Lawrence E. Walsh, Firewall: The Iran‐Contra Conspiracy and Cover‐Up (New York: Norton, 1997).

(330.)  Paul H. Weaver, “The Intellectual Debate,” in David Boaz, ed., Assessing the Reagan Years (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 1988), 413.

(331.)  “Gone with the Wind,” CMW 116 (Feb. 10, 1989), in Boyer, ed., Reagan, 270–71.

(332.)  Johnson, Sleepwalking, 194–96.

(333.)  Alonzo Hamby, Liberalism and Its Challengers: F.D.R. to Reagan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 374, 339, quotation from 339.

(334.)  Morris, Dutch, 458.

(335.)  D'Souza, Reagan, 21, 23, quotation from 21.

(336.)  T. R. Reid, “A Flirtation with Greed, but Bedrock Beliefs Stay Solid,” WP, Dec. 14, 1989. See also Richard B. MacKenzie, What Went Right in the 1980s (San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1994).

(337.)  Spring, “Rating Reagan,” 44.

(338.)  E.g., Ed Rubenstein, “The Real Reagan Record,” National Review 44 (Aug. 31, 1992), 25–26.

(339.)  D'Souza, Reagan, 23–24.

(340.)  Pierard and Linder, Civil Religion, 281, 283, quotation from 281.

(341.)  Wallis, “The President's Pulpit,” 21. Historian George Marsden contended that Reagan expressed a religious nationalism that was not explicitly Christian. His common‐denominator appeal favored religion in general instead of Christianity (quoted in Spring, “Rating Reagan,” 45). Cf. “Mr. Reagan's Civil Religion,” CMW 111 (Sept. 21, 1984), 483–85: when Reagan called for a “ ‘rebirth of faith,’ ” it was not the “faith of the Talmud” or “of Jesus' death and resurrection” but faith in “ ‘bedrock values’ ” he appeared to have in mind (484).

(342.)  Johnson, Sleepwalking, 203.

(343.)  Edel, Defenders, 208, 152; first two quotations from 208, third from 152.

(344.)  Pierard, “Ronald Reagan and Evangelicals,” 60.

(345.)  Pemberton, Exit, 137.

(346.)  See Marci McDonald, “Fire on the Religious Right,” Maclean's, Jan. 18, 1988, 22; Randy Frame, “Were Christians Courted for Their Votes or Beliefs?” CT 33 (Feb. 17, 1989), 38.

(347.)  Interview in Martin, With God on Our Side, 236.

(348.)  Hadden and Shupe, Televangelism, 295, 35.

(349.)  Pierard and Linder, Civil Religion, 268. See also Richard V. Pierard, “Reagan and the Evangelicals: The Making of a Love Affair,” CC 100 (Dec. 21–28, 1983), 1182–85. Most of the blame for the Reagan family problems was placed on Nancy. See Pemberton, Exit, 123.

(350.)  Robert D. Linder and Richard V. Pierard, “Ronald Reagan, Civil Religion and the New Religious Right in America,” FH, 23 (Fall 1991), 58.

(351.)  Wills, Reagan's America, 198, 382–86.

(352.)  Garry Wills, “Faith and the Hopefuls: The Race for God and Country,” Sojourners, Mar. 1988, 15–16.

(353.)  James Combs, The Reagan Range: The Nostalgic Myth in American Politics (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1993), 107, 123, 126, 129; first quotation from 107, second from 129.

(354.)  See Pierard, “Ronald Reagan and Evangelicals,” 47–53; and William Martin, “How Ronald Reagan Wowed Evangelicals,” CT 48 (June 22, 2004).

(355.)  Hadden and Shupe, Televangelism, 294.

(356.)  Pierard and Linder, Civil Religion, 258.

(357.)  Linder and Pierard, “Ronald Reagan, Civil Religion,” 66.

(358.)  Reagan, “National Religious Broadcasters,” 1984, 119. See also Reagan, “Address … on the State of the Union,” PP, Jan. 25, 1984, 91.

(359.)  Ronald Reagan, “Remarks … Honoring Representative Jack F. Kemp of New York,” PP, Dec. 1, 1988, 1583. Cf. Reagan, “A Farewell Address to the Nation,” PP, Jan. 11, 1989, 1722; Reagan, “Remarks at the Republican National Convention,” PP, Aug. 15, 1988, 1081.

(360.)  Reagan, “Farewell Address,” first three quotations from 1722, fourth from 1720.

(361.)  Cannon, Reagan, 836.

(362.)  “Reagan's World View, Albuquerque Journal, Jan. 14, 1989, in Boyer, ed., Reagan, 280–81. Cf. Robert J. Samuelson, “The Enigma: Ronald Reagan's Goofy Competence,” NR 200 (Jan. 9 and 16, 1989), in ibid., 268–69; and David R. Gergen, “Ronald Reagan's Most Important Legacy,” USN, Jan. 9, 1989, in ibid., 273–74; “America Is Standing Tall Again,” Indianapolis Star, Jan. 8, 1989, in ibid., 267–68; and “Roosevelt and Reagan,” Denver Post, Jan. 15, 1989.