Ron Reagan Jr

January 30, 2019

Ron Reagan Jr, Atheist

The other night late on television there was a brief ad with President Reagan’s son touting the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FRF), the “nation’s largest, most effective association of atheists and agnostics,” it boasts.

“I’m Ron Reagan, unabashed atheist,” he explained. “And I’m alarmed by the intrusion by religion into our secular government.” He urged keeping church and state separate “just as the Founding Fathers intended.” Then he signed off as a “lifelong atheist. Not afraid of burning in hell.”

Ten years ago Reagan Jr. got the annual “Emperor Has No Clothes Award” award from FRF and explained his life journey away from his parents’ Christianity, which apparently wasn’t fully lifelong but began in later childhood. He didn’t like spending much of every Sunday driving a half hour each way to two-hour worship services at Bel Air Presbyterian Church.

Reagan Jr. asked his father why church was necessary if God was everywhere, and his father avuncularly answered: “Well, you know, God says, wherever two or more shall gather, there shall I be.” Reagan Jr. was unimpressed by the answer. He also had unanswerable questions about the sequence of cavemen versus Adam and Eve. So at age 12 he announced to his father he didn’t believe in God and would no longer attend church. His father was surprised but didn’t argue, going to church with Nancy but without their son.

Later Reagan Sr. tried “quiet persuasion” at “some length” but failed to persuade his son about God or church. So he asked Bel Air Pastor Don Moomaw, a formidable former UCLA football player and large personality, to visit the Reagan home and persuade his son, also without success. Reagan Jr. has ever since been a firm atheist, ostensibly respecting others’ religious beliefs but opposing their political application.

“Religion may indeed inspire acts of great kindness and courage,” he told FRF in 2009. “But it also trains people to believe things for which there is no evidence. This makes religion’s intrusion into the political sphere all the more troubling.” He cited gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, and President George W. Bush’s support for “torture” despite his religion.

Reagan Jr. expressed confidence that atheism would eventually prevail over religion:

Religions may persist, but they come and they go. Where are the old Norse gods today? Where are the worshippers of Amon-Ra today? A thousand years from now, what will people make of a man tortured to death on a cross, of a prophet who was said to ride a white horse up to a mythical heaven?

“Faith will fade, religions will flower and vanish, but reason remains,” Reagan Jr. concluded. “Reason is where I put my faith, if you will. Reason is where I stand, and I am happy to stand there with you.”

Apparently Reagan Jr.’s 2009 speech to FRF was a hit because he was invited back in 2015, rehashing earlier memories about rejecting church to his father, offering cartoonish caricatures about Bible stories, claiming religion never explains why evil exists, blaming belief in God for climate change denial, defending Planned Parenthood, and denouncing the “bigotry” of the small town county clerk in Kentucky who wouldn’t sanction same sex marriage.

Reagan Jr. didn’t confine his critique to Christianity and chided Islam for its “oppression” of women and for creating cultures in places like Saudi Arabia that are “not worth preserving” because they’re “repressive.”

How is “oppression” defined?” Reagan Jr. didn’t explain as presumably it’s self-evident. He insisted atheists aren’t just critics:

We believe in truth, we believe in beauty, we believe in a shared humanity. These are things worth fighting for. And don’t forsake the numinous and the transcendent either.

What is truth? Reagan Jr. like other atheists believes it’s based on reason alone. And he’s sort of an evangelist for this sort of reason, because apparently it’s important for everyone to know the truth, even though they are accidents of creation and destined to oblivion.

Reagan Jr.’s ad for FFR was made in 2014 but wasn’t accepted by most networks until 2017, arousing predictable controversy. His older stepbrother Michael Reagan denounced networks for airing the ad and insisted his father was “crying in heaven,” having once confided, after hearing Reagan Jr.’s atheism spiel at the dinner table, his hope that his atheist son would become a Christian.

The ad appropriately appears now late at night with loan sharks and psychics, selling a message that is negation, making claims that from its own perspective shouldn’t matter. Hopefully the father’s prayer some day will be answered.


27 Responses to Ron Reagan Jr, Atheist

  1. Jason says:

    Minor correction in that Michael and Ronald Jr. are *half* brothers not step brothers, Michael being adopted by Ronald Reagan and his first wife Jane Wyman.

  2. David says:

    I would rather see the atheist ads between TV evangelists with their loud jackets, Plexiglas pulpits, and followers waving their arms in air.

  3. William says:

    The dude says he’s not afraid of burning in hell.

  4. Mary says:

    I saw your ad on TV bragging about being an atheist and not being afraid of going to hell. When you get there, see if you say that between the weeping & gnashing of teeth. Lord have mercy on you.

  5. Anne K. says:

    Some people never outgrow rebelling against their parents. Pathetic. I feel sorry for him.

  6. Bill Williams says:

    God and he’ll are like gravity you still fall if you don’t believe

    • Marco Bell says:

      And you may fall (to Hell), even if you DO believe.
      What does it really matter if there is, or isn’t, a “Heaven” or “Hell”?

  7. Fran says:

    Why do you think there is some doubt about the oppression of women in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, so that you have to put scare quotes around the word? Women are required to have a male escort when leaving home. Women finally can drive, but the women who led protests for that right were arrested. And I don’t see where you refuted any of Ron Reagan, Jr.’s arguments.

  8. Woody Hingle says:

    Ron, Jr. believes in truth, beauty, and a shared humanity– all commendable. The problem is that his atheistic worldview — which asserts that our brains are the product of an unguided, random, purposeless process, much like leaves scattered under a tree– provides no foundation to trust what our brains tell us is true, beautiful, or exist outside of ourselves. As often happens, atheists smuggle the benefits of God in the back door while asserting a worldview without meaning.

  9. Ruth says:

    To me, atheism is a profound display of sheer egotism. Who are you to declare there is no God? At least be an agnostic and leave some room for doubt. Alas for Ron, faith itself is a gift from God. Recent science studies even indicate that people who have faith have a whole area of brain cells activated that those without faith lack. Poor Ronnie got short-changed at birth. I pray for his Damascus moment.

    • Brian says:

      Wouldn’t it be more ‘egotist’ to assert that there is a god, that you know his teachings, and that those who do not believe as you will be damned to hell? (Not saying you personally do)

      Not having an affirmative belief in god makes one an atheist. Theism is about belief, not knowledge.

    • Reg says:

      Atheism is a profound display of sheer egotism. Who are you to declare there is no God.????

      Atheism is a lack of belief in (any) god, not just your God. I am an atheist towards the Christian God just as you, Ruth, are an atheist towards the Indian God, Brahma. I am not declaring or denying that there is no God. I just do not believe it.

      You are the one claiming to be able to communicate with the Creator of the Universe when you pray for “poor Ronnie”. How very humble of you.

  10. Conway Morphis says:

    My prayer for you Ron, Jr. is to just ask yourself “What If?”

  11. Joe M says:

    He looks just like his parents. It must be a challenging legacy with which to live.

  12. Rebecca says:

    He has another problem besides being an atheist which is the main reason he is an atheist… So many people today think reason is all there is to intelligence. But, Judgment is a huge part, along with imagination, and memory. All 4 are used in Christian thought, not just the one.

  13. Bob G. says:

    “Hopefully the father’s prayer some day will be answered.” Why? Ron seems happy and well adjusted. He doesn’t waste time doing non productive things like sitting thru 2 hours church. He’s living what appears to be a good life. Just like I am. No church, no need to be told who to treat badly and who to be nice to, no telling me how to spend my money and who to vote for (yes, churches do that on the DL).

    Life is good.

    • Gigi says:

      That’s weird. I’ve been a believer all my life and I’ve never once in church heard someone — a pastor, teacher, etc. — tell us “who to treat badly.” As for voting, well, sure, I’ve heard suggestions. But, you can look on any website, conservative or liberal and they tell you how to vote. The media tells you how to vote. Teachers unions tell you how to vote (it happened here in Texas). Opinion writers tell you how to vote. That’s everywhere. I find it a little odd that the one place where we go for moral instruction should be singled out as a place where we wouldn’t want some guidance. But I’ve observed churches on both sides of the political spectrum for years making suggestions. And people are free to hear, think about the advice, and then make up their own minds. No need to get fussy about it.

  14. MamaVia says:

    Don’t I remember something from the Bible that says (More or less) “Remove the log from your own eye before removing the sliver in someone else’s eye?” Only God knows “a True Christian”; I’d bet it’s not necessarily the loudmouth guy in the 2K$ Suit & Alligator Shoes, who drives a Caddy, but the little girl, lost in the Sonoran Desert grasping to a picture of Jesús & one of the saints;she’s praying,for her Mama to find her & bring her water…as each second ticks, as each minute passes…and silently runs into the next, the evening becomes darker and cooler…she has no sweater to keep her warm or to put under her head, she hears the songs of the coyoytes begin far away…she presses the picture she holds in her hand to her chest…and puts all of her faith into her prayer to Him…

  15. John McDermott says:

    If he believes in reason, he ought to identify whose reason he believes in. It is a bit paradoxical at the least to say that one believes in reason. Isn’t reason clear enough on its own? Or is it? Certainly the post-modern thinkers, heirs of the Enlightenment, don’t believe in reason. Once they deny an absolute — only God can be the real absolute — everything is revealed as relative, and all statements are relativized. Truth is denied to us. It is only the carrot held out in front of the dumb donkey running after it. The search for truth becomes a wild-goose chase with frustration at the end (death). And look at the conundrums of science: How can the speed of light be an absolute, as Einstein thought? If it is absolute, how can it be measured? If it can’t be measured, it is useless for science. It can’t function as a norm for anything. Actually Einstein presupposed Newtonian coordinates of infinite space and infinite time in order to measure light’s speed before he rejected Newton’s understanding of space and time by proposing a 4-dimentional space-time continuum. If the universe is finite, what is beyond it? If it is infinite, how can it be known insofar as each thing in it affects every other thing? On the microphysical level, are electrons waves (continuous) or particles (discontinuous)? For Heisenberg space is discontinuous and diverse from time. How does that accord with Einstein’s continuum? The philosophical problem of uniting the infinite (absolute) with the finite (relative ) has remained unresolved from the beginning (Heraclitus and Parmenides). The same problem of oneness (continuity) and multiplicity (discontinuity) appears also in moral questions. When does human life begin? Is a baby in the womb one with the mother as a part or different? Does every man have to treat every woman as he treats his wife? Vice-versa for women? Are we all the same (equal) or different (unequal)? It depends on your viewpoint. Women want to be treated the same as men, but they don’t want to play on the same basketball court as men. They want a league of their own. Christianity at least acknowledges the mystery and claims that it has been manifest in Jesus Christ, God and man. The ultimate meaning of reality is found not in man’s mind but in love which demands simultaneously concrete commitment to a finite person and limitless, i.e., unconditional adherence, a mystery which only can be upheld in God. For love joins most closely while insisting on the diversity of lover and beloved.

  16. Gene H says:

    It all boils down to faith. Reason does not supply a definite answer, although it does carry us a long way towards searching for hopeful answers. I guess it comes down to … “if we are wrong, then what have we lost? But if we’r’e right, then we’ve gained what we have been placed on earth for.” I”m keepen’ the FAITH.

  17. janice oconners says:

    i believe we are all forgetting something God gave us the freedom of free choice. to believe in him or not. i agree with some of what mr. Reagan said in his political opinion infact im a firm believer of the separation of chruch and state. both need to stay out of each others business . i wonder if his lack of belief in God is maybe because like so many including my own children they expect something grand from God to prove that he is real or not. reason is good and so is intelligences . but walking around with your eyes close to the wonders in this world, is sad. im very stronge believer in God but i also have no argument against the theory of evolution . go figure. i accept that my children have the right according to God to believe in him or not. just as mr. Reagan has. i would love to ask him to talk or interact with me because belief and faith doesn’t have to be complicating or difficult . wonders of this world were created by somebody or the help of somebody so why can’t it be God. but his comment that he is willing to go to hell to me means a part of him still has faith. i thought true atheist dont believe in heaven or hell. as for his brothers comment shame on his brother . family is family no matter what .

  18. Ronald says:

    I’ve struggled with believing in or not believing in God, or even agnosticism for various reasons over the last 10+ years. My disbelief crept in slowly when my innocent and good 16 year old son was taken from this world by gun violence in 2007

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