It was on this date, May 20, 1958, that talk radio host, political analyst and son of 40th President Ronald Reagan, Ron Reagan Jr. was born. Born in Los Angeles to his father’s second wife, Nancy Reagan née Davis, and reared in Sacramento during his father’s terms as Governor (1967-1975), at age 12 he declared to his parents that he wouldn’t be going to church anymore because he is an atheist. The younger Reagan dropped out of Yale University in 1976 after one semester to become a ballet dancer and joined the Joffrey Ballet, with whom he danced from 1979-1983. After his father completed his second term as President, in 1989 Ron Reagan became politically active – explaining that he had held his tongue during Ronald Reagan’s presidency to avoid creating the impression that he and his father were on bad terms because of political differences. From 2008-2010, “The Ron Reagan Show” aired on the now-defunct Air America Media. Reagan is currently a political commentator on MSNBC.
At his father’s funeral, in Simi Valley, California, on 11 June 2004, Ron Reagan said, “Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage. True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency, he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference.” As for his own beliefs, in an interview on “Larry King Live” (26 June 2004), King asked Reagan if he might run for political office. Reagan replied, “No, I’m not really cut out to be a politician…. I’m an atheist. So there you go right there. I can’t be elected to anything because polls all say that people won’t elect an atheist.” While interviewing convicted murderer Charles Manson, Reagan allowed Manson to explain his “message,” then Manson asked Reagan if he believed in God. “No, I do not,” Reagan replied.
In accepting the “Emperor Has No Clothes Award” from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, on 6 November 2009, Reagan recalled as a youth reading the Bible and finding God “positively psychotic,” claiming that people despise atheists “because they’re terrified about the weakness of their own faith.” In February 2010, Ron Reagan was named to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Honorary Board of distinguished achievers.