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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                    Friday, June 11 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Church and state and Ronald Reagan

On Wednesday I linked on my Christian News and Media Portal webpage an article discussing the transforming influence of the late President Ronald Reagan on the Republican Party. It was unusual because it hardly touched on the world of religion in the narrow sense, which is the general focus of that website. But I considered it significant because it made a substantive argument that Mr. Reagan not only energized the nation out of the doldrums it had sunk into during the Jimmy Carter administration, but it had given the Republican Party a new lease on life.

That in itself doesn't ring my bell, having been a Democrat much more of my life than a Republican (in fact, having finally changed my voter registration to Republican earlier this year). But it wasn't the Party that mattered, it was the new life infused into American Conservativism through his leadership and success in public life that was Reagan's monumental contribution. It was said on one of the discussion programs on cable news the same day that much as Abraham Lincoln had given life to the Republican Party, Reagan had given it a new lease on life. Before his national success, many—including yours truly—often said, "there's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats." Since Reagan, that has not been true. And to the extent that this change is true, he can be credited for returning America to a two-party system rather than a system with one party with two only superficial, cosmetic, faces. In this political revival in our national life, the Christian community has regained a sense of purpose comparable to the purpose of the Old Testament people of God and the early church who knew that the Creator God's realm cannot be overshadowed by the civil religious gods of the Caesars.

Many things, in any movement of history, contribute to whatever changes take place. Was the Supreme Court's Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand throughout the nation just as important as Reagan in awakening the conservative conscience of the nation? Were Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her attack on Bible reading in the public schools and religion in general, and her successes in the courts, similarly significant wake-up calls? Was Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as a big a factor in the dismantling of the Communist Eastern bloc as Reagan's policies were; were the influence and ideas of the Pope, Lech Walesa, Václav Havel, Alexander Solzhenitzin? These are questions beyond final resolution, but the fact is they all came together, with even more factors, to make a major upheaval on world history in and for the last quarter of the 20th century.

Earlier this week a member of our online Forum list, Sallie Covolo, sent a link to a web page, "Remarks at an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas," a speech by President Reagan on August 23, 1984. I had already selected it as that day's link on the Xnmp page, because it's a splendid speech full of concise and mind-opening and broadening facts and assertions. It cuts through all the rhetoric about religion and politics not being a good fit and shows how they have to fit if democracy is to survive: "politics and morality are inseparable. And as morality's foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related," for example.

I highly recomment you read it—it takes under 10 minutes—and read it again. But to whet your appetite, here is my choice for the heart of it:

George Washington referred to religion's profound and unsurpassed place in the heart of our nation quite directly in his Farewell Address in 1796. Seven years earlier, France had erected a government that was intended to be purely secular. This new government would be grounded on reason rather than the law of God. By 1796 the French Revolution had known the Reign of Terror.

And Washington voiced reservations about the idea that there could be a wise policy without a firm moral and religious foundation. He said, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man (call himself a patriot) who (would) labour to subvert these . . . firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere Politician . . . (and) the pious man ought to respect and to cherish (religion and morality)."

And he added, ". . . let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion." I believe that George Washington knew the City of Man cannot survive without the City of God, that the Visible City will perish without the Invisible City.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Elementary poli-sci

How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

Ronald Reagan 

Thought for today

Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we're mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

President Ronald Reagan
Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast, August 23, 1984 

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