Americans will forever argue over the part religion played in the founding of their nation, but it cannot be denied that they have turned to God in times of trial. “In God we trust,” for example, became the official motto of the United States in 1956 at the height of the Cold War. All the same, they defend religious freedom, including the freedom not to believe. Thus when president Ronald Reagan actively promoted religious freedom in the former Soviet Union during his several summits with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he was well within the parameters established by his predecessors in office.
Reverend Ron reaches out
Less known, and only recently revealed, is that Reagan went further and sought in a private meeting to convert Gorbachev away from atheism, if not quite to Christianity. That was unprecedented. The story of Reagan’s evangelistic efforts appeared in James Mann’s 2009 book The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War. Mann based the story of Reagan’s evangelism on declassified notes taken by two Reagan aides – now available for viewing at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.In an excerpt reprinted in the Wall Street Journal, Mann reported that at the fourth summit with the Russians, Reagan, in a private meeting with Gorbachev, turned a discussion about human rights into a talk about religion. He began by stating that what he was about to say had to be kept secret, and that if any portion of their discussion got out, he “would deny he had said anything about it.”
After some preliminary discussion of religious freedom, Reagan went into full evangelist mode, telling Gorbachev a story about the battlefield conversion of a Russian soldier in the Second World War, and then mentioning that his son, Ron, was also an atheist. It was his idea, the president said, to serve his son a gourmet dinner and then “ask him if he believed there was a cook.” Gorbachev was non-reactive.
President Obama slaps down faith
Contrast that with President Barack Obama. Instead of defending religious freedom internationally, he has attacked the principle in his own country, with the result that over 60 lawsuits have been filed against the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), by hospitals, charities, religious colleges, and other for-profit institutions, because it forces Christian employers and caregivers to violate their consciences over contraception and abortion.
In addition, historian David Barton has documented 50 explicitly anti-Christian and anti-Jewish actions taken by the Obama administration, from refusing to host services for the National Prayer Day in May 2009 (a day established by federal law) to defunding a Young Marines chapter in Louisiana this past June because their oath mentioned God. “Many of these actions are literally unprecedented,” Barton writes. “The hostility of President Obama toward Biblical faith and values is without equal from any previous American president.”