- (Photo: Reuters/Joe Marquette/FILE SV)
Ron Reagan, an outspoken atheist and the son of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, has recorded a radio advertisement for a major atheist organization, saying in the commercial that he is "not afraid of burning in hell."
The advertisement is for the Freedom From Religion Foundation [FFRF], a nonprofit atheist activist group that promotes the separation of church and state. "I'm Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist, and I'm alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government," Reagan said in the radio advertisement that has been airing on "The Randi Rhodes Show" radio program for the past month.
"That's why I'm asking you to join the Freedom From Religion Foundation -- the nation's largest and most effective organization of atheists and agnostics, working to keep state and church separate. Phone 1-800-335-4021 or visit the Freedom From Religion Foundation at FFRF.ORG. Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation's co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor has said in a press release that the group is pleased to have the famous Republican president's son as their spokesperson. "We're so grateful to Ron Reagan for recording this commercial for FFRF, and for being willing to speak out publicly as an atheist for so many years."
Reagan has previously been outspoken about his atheism, telling the New York Times in 2004, shortly after his father's death, that he would be "unelectable" as a potential president for the U.S. because he is an atheist. "I would be unelectable. I'm an atheist. As we all know, that is something people won't accept."
Reagan has also received awards for his outspoken opposition to religion, receiving the FFRF's 2009 the "Emperor Has No Clothes" award. Upon receiving the award, the younger Reagan claimed that he in fact did not grow up in a very religious household.
"I did grow up in a religious household, it's true, but we weren't very religious. We were Presbyterian, part of the great 19th century religious revival, here in the United States. I didn't know any of that at the time. I just knew my parents went to a Presbyterian church. This had to do with my father's mother, who was a member of what was called the Christian Church, which was an offshoot, as I understand it, of the Presbyterian Church. Very socially progressive, I have to say."
In contrast to his son, the elder Reagan was a devout Presbyterian who, during his presidency from 1981 to 1989 and after, remained outspoken regarding his faith. In a 1984 speech, Reagan said: "Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience […] without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure […] If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under."