Reagan political years paralleled right's rise

The Gipper's legacy
Ronald Reagan’s influence on Christian politics in this country will be felt for years to come. The 40th president, who died June 5 at 93 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease, used his acting experience in communicating optimism to the public and also introduced many conservative Christians to real political power.

Reagan was present—and uttered one of his most famous lines—at the meeting that many credit as the birth of the Religious Right, which molded evangelical Protestant conservatism into a cohesive political movement.

At the Religious Roundtable’s National Affairs Briefing in 1980, after being introduced by a Southern Baptist evangelist as “God’s man,” Reagan—then a presidential candidate—told the conservative Christian luminaries, “I know you can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.” Reagan’s quip sparked a long relationship with conservative Christians.


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