Is Reagan’s moral clarity still relevant today?

Twenty-seven years ago this week, speaking before a meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida, on March 8, 1983, President Ronald Reagan spoke about the moral crisis that faced America. His topic ranged from a loss of morality in schools to the high rates of teen pregnancies and abortions.

In his speech, Reagan argued that the United States had been devoted to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the belief that our rights and liberties come from God the Creator. He went on to say that, while these truths had been adhered to throughout most of our nation’s history, in recent decades (largely through activist court decisions) a denial of these truths and a ban on invoking the Creator in the public square had become common.

Reagan knew full well that the devotion to God and His laws was essential in order for civil society to function well, saying: “There is sin and evil in the world, and we’re enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might. Our nation, too, has a legacy of evil with which it must deal. The glory of this land has been its capacity for transcending the moral evils of our past.” In essence, confronting evil with Biblical truth was and is the only way in which sin can be confronted.

Reagan next pointed to the longstanding conflict with the Soviet Union, and the pressure many were exerting onto his administration for the U.S. to lessen its opposition to the expansionist Soviet policies and to seek a reduction in nuclear arsenals as an overture for peace. Reagan responded that this proposal would weaken America’s moral authority. “So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride – the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”

The Soviet Union was a society based on the destruction of Biblical truths and replacing them with man as the central figure in society.

“Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness –pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.”

Reagan’s condemnation of the “Evil Empire” brought handringing from many in the media and the left. Yet Reagan’s clarity of the situation: that both sides were not “equally wrong,” and that the fight was worth fighting, were both based on his clear understanding of the situation. The Soviet Empire was indeed evil, and thus needed to be confronted and ultimately defeated.

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