Ronald Reagan arrived on the national political scene at a critical time. Faith in the Oval Office had deteriorated under President Carter. The immorality of our present age was taking a strong social foothold. Our economy was in turmoil.
America needed a hero. And Ronald Reagan was such a man.
Liberals continue to portray him as not much more than a grandfatherly simpleton who yielded control of the White House to his aides and his wife, but the Ronald Reagan I knew was a man of great intelligence, grace, humor and, most importantly, Christian values.
He'll be remembered by many for championing a booming economy and conquering the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union (even though the mainstream press regularly attempts to credit Mikhail Gorbachev's alleged defense of democracy as the reason for the Soviet downfall). Anyone who believes that Ronald Reagan was the kindly dunce that the press often made him out to be needs to read the book, "Reagan In His Own Hand" to comprehend the aptitude and vision of this man.
I will remember Mr. Reagan primarily for his relationship with the evangelical Christian community in our nation. We had long been shut out of the White House when Mr. Reagan took office. But he realized that this community was largely responsible for his election and held the key to stalling our nation's moral collapse. Many churches had organized (quite legally) voter registration drives through the help of my Moral Majority because we believed Mr. Reagan could make a difference in our nation.
We brought millions of new voters to the polls in 1980. We reactivated millions of discouraged religious conservatives who, though registered to vote, had given up on America. We believed we were electing the man who could return America to moral sanity. And he did not let us down.
He was pro-life. He affirmed the Judeo-Christian values of our Founders. And he respected the presidency (unlike our 42nd president).
In the day after his election in November 1980, he conducted his first press conference as the president-elect. From 3,000 miles away, I listened carefully as a reporter asked him if he would be paying attention to all of these evangelicals and religious conservatives, i.e., "moral majoritarians." He said to this reporter - to us, and to the world - that he would be giving special attention to the people who had helped elect him. And he did.
Early in his first term, I met privately with President Reagan in the Oval Office to communicate to our new leader a list of the major concerns of the so-called "religious right." I was so impressed with his crisp and confident responses, making it very clear to me that he was as pro-life, pro-family, pro-national defense and pro-Israel as we were.
I left that meeting with a fire burning in my heart. In answer to prayer and hard work, God had given us a great leader. The only other person in the room that day was Faith Whittlesey, his very loyal and conservative aide. Whenever I have seen Faith since then, we almost always speak of that special day when our beloved president commissioned me to tell the evangelical world that a new day had dawned in America. And I spent eight years doing so.
I appeal to all believers across this nation to rededicate ourselves to the Reagan agenda. Let us fearlessly stand up for the unborn, the biblical family, a strong national defense and unswerving support for Israel.