The day after Mother’s Day, iconic actor, producer, martial artist, and Christian Chuck Norris shared a letter written by the mother of former president Ronald “Dutch” Reagan. In it, Nelle Reagan described her son’s faith in God, which Norris believes contrasts sharply with that exemplified by President Joe Biden.
“Friends, he does love God and he never forgets to thank Him for all his many blessings,” wrote Nelle Reagan in a letter to the family of her former pastor. Her son, Ronald, had just signed a seven-year movie contract with Warner Brothers, and when people expressed concern about his decision to go to such a “wicked place as Hollywood,” Nelle said, “I feel I can trust him anywhere, he has never lost his high ideals of life.”
Chuck Norris on Ronald Reagan
Chuck Norris called Ronald Reagan “my favorite president who also became my friend” and attributes Reagan’s success throughout his career to “the bedrock faith exemplified by his mother.”
In her letter, Nelle Reagan mentioned something she had heard from Pete MacArthur, the man who gave Reagan his first break by auditioning him at Iowa radio station WOC. After Reagan had received the news about his movie contract, MacArthur said, “We missed him from the office and sent one of the fellows to look for him. He soon came back saying he had discovered Dutch in one of the smaller studio rooms on his knees, praying. He didn’t let Dutch know that he saw him; and when he told all of us there in the office, we cried like babies.”
Chuck Norris explained that it was watching a news report about President Joe Biden’s recent proclamation for the National Day of Prayer (NDOP) that got him thinking about Reagan. Biden became the first president not to mention God in his NDOP proclamation. Norris’s mother, who was watching the news with her son, said that a president failing to mention God would never have happened “in the old days of America when I was growing up.”
Norris contrasted Biden’s proclamation with Reagan’s comments at the Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas, in 1984. “We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever,” Reagan said in his speech. “We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings.” He continued:
You know, if we look back through history to all those great civilizations, those great nations that rose up to even world dominance and then deteriorated, declined, and fell, we find they all had one thing in common. One of the significant forerunners of their fall was their turning away from their God or gods.
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.
The ‘Christian Nation’ Narrative
While Reagan’s emphasis on turning to God is commendable, his comments speak to a current conversation in the American church about what it means for the U.S. to follow God. Some would also question the implication that our country has been faithful to God throughout its history when many of our founding fathers and people who claimed to be Christians supported and practiced slavery.
For further reading on this topic, see the following articles: