Ronald Reagan and Conservatives in the Wilderness

It seems like political conservatives are in the wilderness right now. Having been beaten in the November 2012 elections and fracturing even more since, some are turning on each other. Reagan has the answers. Recently, I was reviewing some of his speeches because I was looking for nuggets from him on the subject of prayer. He did not disappoint.

Gary Bauer served the Reagan administration in a couple different capacities, including as an adviser on domestic policy. He told me in a recent interview: “Ronald Reagan was very clear what the winning coalition was if you were a conservative. He referred to it as the three legs of the stool … the economic leg ... the foreign policy leg … and the third leg of the stool is the leg of values. He was pro-life. He was pro-family. He spoke out for religious liberty.”

I want to focus on that third leg. Consider what Reagan said about prayer: “We can't have it both ways. We can't expect God to protect us in a crisis and just leave Him over there on the shelf in our day-to-day living. I wonder if sometimes He isn't waiting for us to wake up, He isn't maybe running out of patience” (Landon Lecture, 9/9/82).

He pointed out why our society is in such a mess—which is even truer in our day than his: “Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience…. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure” (Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast, Dallas, 8/23/84).

Long before we became a nation, Americans were a praying people. Various colonies and then later Congress and presidents called for national days of prayer and fasting and thanksgiving. Ronald Reagan observed, “Throughout our history, Americans have put their faith in God, and no one can doubt that we have been blessed for it.”

In the same document, he proclaimed, “While never willing to bow to a tyrant, our forefathers were always willing to get to their knees before God. When catastrophe threatened, they turned to God for deliverance” (National Day of Prayer Proclamation, 3/19/81).

Reagan told the National Religious Broadcasters, certainly a sympathetic audience: “I was pleased last year to proclaim 1983 the ‘Year of the Bible.’ But, you know, a group called the ACLU severely criticized me for doing that. Well, I wear their indictment like a badge of honor. I believe I stand in pretty good company. Abraham Lincoln called the Bible ‘the best gift God has given to man.’ ‘But for it,’ he said, ‘we wouldn't know right from wrong.’”

And Reagan added, “Like that image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow at Valley Forge, Lincoln described a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also look to God their Father and Preserver. And their faith to walk with Him and trust in His Word brought them the blessings of comfort, power, and peace that they sought” (1/30/84, NRB in DC).

Somehow if one of our modern politicians, even many conservative ones, started talking like this, the rest of the establishment would start shifting in their seats—feeling embarrassed for the speaker, as if he had somehow lost his marbles. But Reagan has the answers.

Reagan was so opposed to the killing of the unborn that he wrote a book about it—Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation. It’s a great book. My copy is dog eared and heavily underlined.

He wrote that book in 1984, when he was running for re-election. It’s hard to imagine some of our modern “conservative” politicians writing a forthright book against abortion during an election year. But that was Reagan. He believed what he believed, and he expressed it well. And he won re-election in a landslide.

In Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation, Reagan wrote, “Despite the formidable obstacles before us, we must not lose heart. This is not the first time our country has been divided by a Supreme Court decision that denied the value of certain human lives. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 was not overturned in a day, or a year, or even a decade” (p. 19).

In that book, Reagan also wrote, “The question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life? The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother’s body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being” (p. 22).

It’s hard to picture a politician today being as bold as to write something like that—in an election year no less. Would that more of our leaders take a page from Ronald Reagan’s playbook.

Dr. Paul Kengor, a political science professor at Grove City College, has written a few books on our 40th president, including God and Ronald Reagan.

In 2004, I interviewed Kengor for a TV piece on Reagan’s faith. He said, “What the historical record has overlooked is that Ronald Reagan was carried by a set of Christian convictions that go back to the 1920s that carried him even longer, and that, in fact, informed those political convictions that came later. And that’s the side of Ronald Reagan that we all missed.”

For a nation wandering, as it were, in the political wilderness looking for guidance, consider this zinger from President Reagan at a prayer breakfast in Dallas on August 23, 1984: “If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”


Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is co-host of and spokesman for Truth that Transforms with D. James Kennedy (formerly The Coral Ridge Hour). He has also written or co-written 23 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation and Answers from the Founding Fathers. Jerry co-wrote (with Dr. Peter Lillback) the bestselling, George Washington's Sacred Fire.



  • Screeminmeeme

    ''If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

    My favorite Reagan quote.......and he was so right.
    The Bible says: Psa 144:15 Happy is that people..... whose God is the LORD.

    Since the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind has been a willing participant in unfathomable evil and history is replete with the countless examples of man's inhumanity to man. Ultimately, every nation has or will be judged and purged with the fire of a righteous God who will not countenance evil. And America is no exception.

    Just look at where we are now.... what’s in the news.. what’s happening to our children.

    The United States was founded on Judeo-Christian values and the natural rights given to us from God. Despite our having been blessed beyond measure, we have shown ourselves to be miserable stewards of all that God has entrusted to us....including our own children.

    Who ever would have imagined that the United States would one day be enthusiastically participating in human sacrifice via abortion every day? Who would have imagined that we would become so inured to it that we take no thought to the pain and suffering of these tortured little ones?

    We've removed God from the classroom, fathers from families, and discipline from homes and schools. The Bible is scorned and Christ, mocked. Exemplars who model such virtues as integrity, honor, humility, self-sacrifice, self-disciple, and industry are becoming a rarity, and the ubiquitous political correctness and doublespeak are being used to control our minds and redirect our thoughts away from all that's good, desensitizing us to evil. We've squandered the opportunity to be a shining light in a dark world.

    Because we have no discernment, we have voted a Marxist into the White House and he and his “czars” regularly wipe their feet on the Constitution and spend every waking hour trying to find new ways to dismantle what's left of the the goodness in America.

    We are at a crossroads....and if we are to preserve the America that our patriots died for, we must never forget:

    ''The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.''
    ~~~~Edmund Burke.

    • /.murphy

      ὁ λέγων ἐν τῷ φωτὶ εἶναι καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ μισῶν ἐν τῇ
      σκοτίᾳ ἐστὶν ἕως ἄρτι;

      If you are indeed the Christian you claim to be, you will have no trouble reading and reflecting upon the original Words that He gave to us.

      • Screeminmeeme


        1. We don't have the ''original words''. He ordained that thru copies of copies of copies of His Word, preserved by Him unto all generations, that mankind would learn of His plan for mankind.

        2. You've unfairly presented a false dilemma. I have nothing to prove to you.

        3. While I do not speak/read any other language but English, I am blessed to know that God is quite able to speak to me through His word. As with every believer, He has met me where I am and communes with me continually as He corrects, reproves, and instructs me in righteousness...and He does it all in the language that I understand.

        I know that I am His because He has told me so.
        The Spirit beareth witness with my spirit that I am a child of God, whereby I can cry, Abba, Father. (Rom 15,16)

        I am saved, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, baptized into the Body of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, accepted into the Beloved, blessed with all spiritual blessings, imputed with the righteousness of Christ, and am complete in Him.....and He alone gets all the praise and glory for it. (1 Cor 15:1-4, 12:13~~Eph 1:13, 4:30~~ 1Cor 6:19~~Eph 1: 3,6~~Rom 4~~Col 2:10)

        4. 1Cor 4:3, 13:4.

        • /.murphy

          No. We do have the original words. Who's been telling you we don't? They might as well be filling your head with cookie dough. Research the Bodmer Papyri for the oldest examples, but there are many, many other New Testament examples, all written in Koine Greek, a first-century lingua franca of the region. ...And just think what the Qumran scrolls have done for our understanding of the OT! They are now online here:

          Back to my original point. Lots of translation errors were made by the people who worked for James I of England. This is a well-known fact today, but it is one that is often not widely publicized in the English-language world, for obvious reasons. Someday, perhaps, I hope you'll be able to come to the Words He gave through his dedicated Apostle named in the text only as "the disciple loved by Jesus," whom it has become customary to call "John."

          I meant for you to ponder 1 John 2:9.

          On a side note... I, too, am a native speaker of English. I began studying Classical Greek as a college elective and took it to a new level by tackling the original New Testament. My friends thought it was a dumb idea. It was both an enriching experience and an eye-opener. But it took me far away from so-called "pastors" who could not read the original Word: it led me to see them only as money-changers who only sought to make a living from the faith of others, and they were exposed as mere interpreters of the interpretations of the interpretations of others, which they ultimately used to maintain control over what their flock actually believed. Being able to read the original NT was freedom! But be advised, it also was seen as a threat to a "pastor's" authority.

          Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ κύριος τῆς εἰρήνης δῴη ὑμῖν τὴν εἰρήνην διὰ παντὸς ἐν παντὶ τρόπῳ; May the Lord of Peace Himself grant you peace always and in every way. 2 Thess 3:16 (my translation)

        • Screeminmeeme

          1.My first point stands .No autographs but copies of copies of copies in many languages, including Koine greek. You're sounding like Bart Ehrman.

          I do agree that the misinterpretation of scripture has led many to err, but believe that those who spend time in study of the Word, trusting the Holy Spirit to enlighten them, will arrive at the truth, and be able to discern counterfeit teaching when it is presented. Still, we are all flawed and prone to error....and...we are all at various states of maturity, but hopefully growing in grace and understanding.

          2. Which of the Bible passages which I sited were mistranslated? DO you reject the the notion that God has fulfilled His promise to preserve His Word unto all generations? . If you're correct, then what Bible can be trusted as the sole rule for the faith?

          According to you no one can know God's Word unless they learn Greek and Hebrew....and Aramaic. THAT would be a colossally unfair demand of a capricious God for not everyone has the ability, time, circumstance, or will to learn those languages. Lucky for us He is the Master of every tongue and nuance of communication and is sufficiently capable of communing with whomever He wills.

          I'm extremely grateful that a Holy, Just and Good God has provided for the simplest sinner among us to know Jesus Christ as Savior. He has deigned to condescend to the least among us and required only a faith-filled assent to His Word in return.

          3. I agree with you about the many hirelings who wrest and twist the scriptures in order to suck the biblically ignorant into their ''churches'', to be milked dry. Without a blush, these shysters would take the last penny from granny. Invariably, money always seems to be the bottom line. That they exist is an indictment of an undiscerning ''church''.
          (Heb 5:12-14, I Tim 6:8-10 KJV.....or are these mistranslations too?)

          4. Over the many years that I've been a Christian, I've pondered 1 John 2:9 countless times, come up short, and used it for self-correction. Given the tenor of your comments, you might want to do the same.

          However, my lifetime of failures are grievous.....and yet His mercy is unlimited and His grace sufficient. Above all, His love is all encompassing.

          1Co 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
          1Co 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (KJV)

        • AnsonMac

          Imo, the most important phrase in the bible is 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'
          Or as I like to quote 'bill and ted'...
          "Be EXCELLENT to each other!"

          Or as the Pagans would have it
          'An it harm NONE, do what thou will' (ok that is a little different)

          Or as a founding father put it 'my freedom to swing my arms ENDS at your nose'

          I still prefer 'be excellent to each other'
          That which u sow, so you shall reap...

        • /.murphy

          Oh... and if you're wondering how a person could accomplish this: I don't watch TV in my spare time. I do intellectually productive things instead.

        • Screeminmeeme

          l.murphy...I wasn't.

        • /.murphy

          Of course you weren't. You're too busy with self-adulation. Peace.

        • Screeminmeeme


        • CARL jr

          I can think of no bigger waste of time than translating ancient religous texts from a dead language just to stick it to a 70 year old christian woman on a right wing christian reconstructionist website.

          .....I'm going to go watch Television.

        • /.murphy

          LOL! You were right on, Carl. She's quite close-minded. No thinker there... rather disagreeable, too.

        • Screeminmeeme

          l.murphy.....You're too kind. That arrogance, tho, is a real turn off.

        • azrt

          don't try to explain anything of merit to that loser. totally evil, brain washed know it all.

      • azrt

        murdered any babies lately sweetie?

  • jong

    Of course in this the first step was to stat to eliminate the Bible from public discourse or in the Universities. Many still do not know that this Republic was based upon scripture because they never study the founding fathers and in this case James Madison and his mentor John Witherspoon. Both of whom were trained as preachers before they went on to other subjects such as history and political science. Given this base and how the Constitution is written (along with the Federalist Papers which is also ignored by the marxists) is a contract much like the Children of Israel had with GOD. Since the infiltration of liberals into places of learning they have turned this nation from one of morals and ethics to one of "do as thou wilts". Of course in this we will return to the morals and ethics given us in both the Bible and the Constitution however, because of what has been allowed we will have to pay a price to excise this immorality and being unethical from us

  • CARL jr

    "We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson [of the Holocaust], for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief." - Ronald Reagan

    Speech to Temple Hillel and Community Leaders in Valley Stream (October 26, 1984)

    • /.murphy

      Look how far this country has deviated from what President Reagan was talking about. The level of bigotry is shameful, and he would certainly condemn it and the people doing it.

    • AnsonMac

      If only we remembered this...
      If only BOTH parties remembered this... however, the christian Right needs to remember this a little more than the secular Left... at least IMHO...

      Not tryin to bash anyone, but it seems that the right wants to force a religion (christianity) down the nations throaght...

  • Uptite

    Reagan was a man of conviction and to me was the best President and Leader in my time. I was raised a Democrat, but changed my party affiliation due to the the Reagan years.

  • /.murphy

    One thing President Reagan said that I really liked was: "disagree without being disagreeable." If there's a single real Reagan conservative to be found on a site like this ( although I doubt it), you should be able to observe them offering their opinions respectfully, with President Reagan's instruction in mind.

    • AnsonMac

      I am a (non dem) liberal, who likes 4eagan, Ike, and (suprise, suprise) nixon, as much as I like FDR, TeddyR, and JFK...
      And this is one of my fav quotes from 'the Great Communicator'... cause that is his TRUE legacy...communication, friendship beyond partisan divides, compromise and realism.

      I might have some problems with Reagans policies(and call him St Reagan disparagingly... cause repubs seem to think he mad NO mistakes...when even HE would admit that, as a human, he made mistakes...) however, at the end of the day, he, unlike our current crop of politicos, could have a good friendly dinner with his 'enemys'

      Its a shame that there aren't more like him in BOTH parties

  • tom nogaro

    ronnie was our moses then, and rand is now: both brilliant, likeable, unflappable, steely tough, and honest. rand/sarah 2016. (don't worry bout katie couric; she's old fish.)

  • Kristy Littlefield

    Ronald Reagan made me feel proud to be an American and he had such a remarkable sense of humor and was exceptionally wise. I miss him and his common sense.