Ronald Reagan tried to convert Mikhail Gorbachev to Christianity, aide claims
A new biography that draws on recently declassified documents discloses a secret exchange between the two leaders that left at least one official present convinced that Reagan had tried to persuade his counterpart of God's existence.
The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan, by the former Los Angeles Times reporter James Mann, provides fresh insight into the former US president's religious convictions and the role they played in foreign policy. Reagan had apparently reached a conviction, which has since become well-documented, that Mr Gorbachev was a "closet Christian" after hearing the Soviet leader use the expression "God bless".
Advisers told Reagan not to read too much into the expression. Colin Powell, the national security adviser, told the president: "Don't see this as an expression of religious faith. It's almost idiomatic. He's not ready to get down on his knees for you."
But during their final summit meeting in Moscow in May, 1988, Reagan opened what appeared to be a pre-planned discussion about God.
Reagan took the opportunity he sought when Mr Gorbachev disclosed that he had been baptised into the Russian Orthodox faith by his mother but now had no religious belief.
He started by telling Mr Gorbachev a tale about a wounded Russian soldier during the Second World War who turned to God just before he died even though he had been raised an atheist.
One of the men recording the conversation, Rudolf Perina, the director of Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council, was convinced that Reagan had tried to convert his host.
comments powered by Disqus
- How the Vikings Saved Europe and Got a Terrible Reputation
- Hard Hats On: Members of the Media Tour Exhibits under Construction at the National Museum of American History
- Shaman dancers, coolies and suffragettes: rare photos of 1900s Beijing discovered from Austrian archive
- England's King Richard III died painfully on battlefield
- 93-year-old former Auschwitz guard charged
- Pro-Israel groups going after federal support of Middle East Studies
- 100th Anniversary of Beard's 'An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution' commemorated
- University of Illinois Bigwig to Native American Studies scholar Jean O’Brien: Drop Dead
- 2 of 21 MacArthur Fellows for 2014 are historians
- Ken Burns electrifies Jon Stewart show