Tags: Reagan | Convinced | Gorbachev | 'Closet | Christian'

Reagan Convinced Gorbachev a 'Closet Christian'

Thursday, 21 June 2007 12:00 AM

Despite his publicly professed atheism, Mikhail Gorbachev displayed signs of religious belief, and President Ronald Reagan often wondered whether the Soviet Union's last leader was a "closet Christian," a political scientist said Wednesday.

"I think he believes," the 40th president had said to at least one close aide, Paul Kengor of Grove City College told Cybercast News Service in an interview.

While Gorbachev clearly resisted the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union, he did nevertheless acquiesce to those developments taking place peacefully, Kengor observed.

He said it was difficult to determine with any degree of certainty whether Gorbachev had done so as a result of hidden Christian convictions, or because he simply saw and accepted the inevitable.

Kengor Wednesday delivered a speech in Washington, D.C., on the significance of Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech, delivered in divided Berlin 20 years ago this month.

For Reagan's part, Kengor said, the late president's "total revulsion of communism" could best be understood in the context of his own strong Christian convictions.

He said Reagan's religious convictions often drove him to denounce the Soviet Union in stark moral terms - such as the use of the term "evil empire" during his 1983 speech to evangelicals in Orlando, Florida.

Reagan's suspicion about his Soviet counterpart's beliefs is shared by his son, Michael Reagan, now a radio talk show host.

He told Cybercast News Service that Gorbachev had a grandmother who was Christian, and that Gorbachev's parents had religious (Orthodox) icons in their homes, hidden behind pictures of Stalin and Lenin.

Michael Reagan said that in his own conversations with Gorbachev, he learned that the Russian's wife, Raisa - who died in 1999 - also had religious parents who had been killed by the Gestapo during World War II for having religious icons in their home.

John O'Sullivan, a former advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the author of a new book on the Cold War alliance between Thatcher, Reagan and Pope John Paul II is less convinced on the issue of Gorbachev's faith.

He writes that Gorbachev's reference to God during in opening remarks during the 1985 U.S.-Soviet summit in Geneva "deeply impressed Reagan," and that over time the American president came to view the Soviet leader as believer.

"Reagan was almost certainly mistaken here," O'Sullivan wrote. "Gorbachev's remark was either a throwaway colloquial expression, or more likely, a calculated attempt to appeal to what the Soviets knew was a strong religious strand in Reagan's psychology."

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Despite his publicly professed atheism, Mikhail Gorbachev displayed signs of religious belief, and President Ronald Reagan often wondered whether the Soviet Union's last leader was a "closet Christian," a political scientist said Wednesday. "I think he believes," the 40th...
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2007-00-21
Thursday, 21 June 2007 12:00 AM
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