Ronald Reagan’s attempt to convert Mikhail Gorbachev

The Wall Street Journal today discloses the strange turn that President Ronald Reagan’s fourth summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev took in 1988:

It was during the first one-on-one session in Moscow that Reagan engaged in a bold but questionable endeavor well beyond his mandate as president of the United States. According to the memo of their conversation, which was based on notes taken by two Reagan aides and has now been declassified and made available at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Reagan secretly attempted to persuade Gorbachev of the existence of God…

As the meeting ended, Reagan became even more direct and personal. He noted that his own son Ron did not believe in God either. “The President concluded that there was one thing he had long yearned to do for his atheist son. He wanted to serve his son the perfect gourmet dinner, to have him enjoy the meal, and then to ask him if he believed there was a cook.”

Of the two American notetakers who were present for this extraordinary conversation, one took Reagan’s effort at face value. “Reagan thought he could convert Gorbachev, or make him see the light,” said Rudolf Perina, who was then the director of Soviet affairs on the National Security Council in a 2005 interview.

4 comments Add your comment

Chris Broe

March 7th, 2009
7:30 pm

You know, Nancy Reagan had a similar standoff about God with Gorbachev’s wife. They were viewing priceless medieval paintings of the virgin birth (on 60 minutes, in Moscow) and Nancy remarked about the religious significance, but Gorby’s wife said it was just a painting of a woman and her child. Nancy retorted that she couldn’t understand how anyone could not see the religion in the painting. Gorby’s wife just stared at her, with only an eyebrow to scold Nancy for pressing the point in spite of the secular sanctuary implied by any diplomatic forum. Those two clucks coulda started Armeggedon right there. Whose idea was it to let those woman alone with each other anyway? Where’s the supervision?


March 9th, 2009
11:44 am

Keep in mind that Mr. Reagan wasn’t fully in control of his faculties by that time. Alzheimer’s had set in.

Leftists = Secularists

March 9th, 2009
6:16 pm

Anyone who suggests that a person who believes in a higher power (Jesus Christ) possesses that belief because he is afflicted by Alzheimer’s is disgusting and despicable.

In addition to religious bigotry, what other groups of people do you hate?

Typical of the secular left who believe that government is the higher power in their lives.


March 10th, 2009
9:13 am

Umm, Reagan DID have Alzeimer’s. Medical fact. Religious belief had nothing to do with it.

Said condition may have played a role in his irrelevant ramblings on religious matters when he was supposed to be conducting business, but it has nothing to do with his faith itself. He might have also dwelled on his favorite old movies, or last night’s dinner.