We mandate no belief

Behold – what Ronald Reagan was able to say in 1984.

We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson [of the Holocaust], for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.

He also says we’re all of God and the like, slightly undercutting himself, but all the same – good luck finding a Republican talking like that now.

H/t Roger.



  1. F says

    And pluralism, too, as opposed to “creeping multiculturalism”.

    Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick, am I going to become nostalgic for Reagan?

  2. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    It’s sad when Reagan appears to be a moderate compared to the state of the prominent candidates of today.

  3. piero says

    Very good, except for the “act on their belief” bit. Leave it out, and it could almost have come from Hitchens.

  4. piero says

    Hey, why not a billboard campaign with the quote “We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate.” It could be done in two stages: first, the words alone. A month later, Reagan’s portrait is added.

  5. scenario says

    If the Republicans ever find out what Reagan actually said and did as opposed to the fictitious saint they have created, they will call him a dangerous liberal.

  6. Deepak Shetty says

    Wonder if Santorum would have the courage to say that this speech makes him puke as well. Someone should ask.

  7. says

    I despised Reagan when he was first elected, and at frequent intervals for the next eight years. But this isn’t the first time I’ve found myself comparing him favorably with the current crop of Republican pols (including the previous POTUS).

  8. Your Name's not Bruce? says

    My favourite example of this sort of thing is this Eisenhower quote:

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

  9. Dave says

    It’s a shame the rest of Reagan’s speech is such a mix of partisan point-scoring and Israel-is-never-wrong boilerplate. Though it does make the quoted passage more interesting, as it clearly represents something that was entirely uncontroversial as a proposition in 1984.

  10. says

    Not at all surprising about the rest of the speech though.

    The political discourse here gets worse and worse and worse. No doubt in 30 years people will be pointing to the comparative liberality of Rick Perry. [makes shooting-self-in-head gesture]

  11. Gregory says

    The hard right shift in American politics is why this country is so royally screwed.

    I am just old enough to remember when the very embodiment of conservatism was Barry Goldwater; he was thrown out of the Republican Party in the early 90s by Gingrich because, for Goldwater, being conservative meant honoring treaties with the First Nations and recruiting everyone able to shoot straight, even when they were not straight. The Democratic Party of today is to the right of where Barry Goldwater stood in the 70s.

    It does not surprise me that the Republican Party of today is to the right of where Saint Ronnie was in the mid 80s. I predict that by 2020, the Republicans will be denouncing him as a heretic while the Democrats embrace him as their new patron.

  12. carpenterman says

    Oh dog, oh dog… I’m nodding with approval while reading a speech by RONALD REAGAN??!!
    I have to go lie down. I don’t feel well.

  13. Interrobang says

    Well, keep in mind that he also said that Nazi soldiers at Bitburg were “just as much victims” as the people who died in the Holocaust, which does undercut the noble sentiment just slightly.

    Never, ever forget that the guy had mush for brains and everything that came out of his mouth was preprogrammed by his handlers.

  14. cpt banjo says

    Barry Goldwater was even more to the point:

    “The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’ ”

    “The religious factions will go on imposing their will on others…unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives. . . We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we mustn’t stop now… “To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic.”

  15. says

    @16: 205 years would mean he was speaking in 1981, I think? IOW: When the Evangelical Right was just beginning to flex its muscles, fresh from enjoying it’s first success (though it didn’t turn out as well for them as hoped) in electing Reagan.

    No Republican could say that now — Fox News would crucify them. *Democrats* could barely even say that now.

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