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I founded the Moral Majority in June 1979 on a pro-life, pro-family, pro-Israel and strong national-defense platform. Religious conservatives of all stripes rallied together almost immediately. More than 100,000 pastors, millions of evangelicals and other socially conservative people of faith joined hands to help America out of her moral tailspin, military deterioration, international embarrassment and economic woes. The national media dubbed us the “religious right.” Instantly, the Moral Majority leadership began looking for a presidential candidate who shared our values and could unseat President Jimmy Carter. After interviewing several men, we met former California Gov. Ronald Reagan. He became our immediate and unanimous choice.

I have listened all week to the friends and admirers of Ronald Reagan beautifully remind us of what a great leader and genuinely upright man he was. This extraordinary man arrived on the scene at a pivotal time in our nation’s history and uniquely united us when it appeared that such a national confederacy was impossible. He appealed to Moral Majority members and, at the same time, brought millions of Democrats into the fold. It was a political marvel that may never again be accomplished, especially in the seek-and-destroy political environment in which we today find ourselves.

That is why I believe the hand of God was on this man.

In the fall of 1980, I was riding alone with Mr. Reagan in the back of his limo as we traveled from the New Orleans airport to his speaking engagement. I had asked him to share his personal Christian testimony and his vision for America. I have often wished that I had taped the inspiring and visionary words he spoke. In the next 20 minutes, he eloquently and glowingly told me of his personal relationship with Jesus Christ and how he felt God had commissioned him to bring an end to Soviet Communism, to rid the world of nuclear threat and to make America once again a “city shining upon a hill.”

Gov. Reagan visited Liberty University in October of 1980, just before he was elected president. He told our students and the National Religious Broadcasters of that same vision. Sitting privately with President Reagan in the Oval Office during his first term, he restated his commitment to “bring America back.” He meant it and he did it. I shall never forget the prayer President Reagan told me he prayed every day he was in the White House: “Father, not my will, but thine be done.”

In April of 1984, I asked President Reagan to address about 20,000 Baptist preachers who filled the Washington Convention Center. I had organized this event so that we could energize evangelical leaders about the great need for their involvement in guaranteeing godly leadership for this nation. President Reagan’s speech was unforgettable, and we sent these clergymen back to their homes across America with hearts aflame to make a difference in their parishes.

I believe that Ronald Reagan felt a sense of heavenly preordainment regarding his leadership of the nation. That is why, when you look back at his speeches and writings, you see him consistently referring to prayer, the Scriptures and God.

In his book “God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life,” author Paul Kengor noted how Mr. Reagan, in a 1983 speech, personally penciled in these lines: “I know at times we feel that perhaps in our prayers we ask too much. Or possibly we feel something isn’t important enough to be bothering God with it. Maybe we should let Him decide these things.”

I think every Christian has had similar thoughts about God and our relationship with Him. It is an almost natural reflection of those who routinely seek Divine interaction in our lives. But it is humbling to think that the most powerful man in the world would have these same thoughts about God, especially when you consider that the metaphorical weight of the world was resting on his shoulders.

Mr. Kengor wrote, “[Reagan's] belief in God was a key source of his optimism and his boldness, his daring and self-security, and his confidence; these essential intangibles carried him throughout his presidency – and career as a whole – and enabled him to achieve what he did.”

Here again are Mr. Reagan’s words, detailing the importance of faith in politics: “Those who created our country – the Founding Fathers and Mothers – understood that there is a divine order which transcends the human order. They saw the state, in fact, as a form of moral order and felt that the bedrock of moral order is religion. … The truth is, politics and morality are inseparable. And as morality’s foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect, and our government needs the church because only those humble enough to admit they’re sinners can bring to democracy the tolerance it requires in order to survive.”

At a 1984 prayer breakfast, Mr. Reagan stated: “Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

Mr. Reagan was a loyal supporter of the unborn and spoke of the need for a constitutional amendment to permit voluntary school prayer. He was a true hero to people of faith. I will value my friendship with him for the rest of my life; and I will forever thank God for allowing Ronald Reagan to lead us for eight glorious years. My prayer now is that, even in death, Mr. Reagan will continue to inspire us to remain vigilant in keeping his vision for America alive and well.


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