Private letter shows Ronald Reagan tried to convert dying father-in-law to Christianity
September 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – President Ronald Reagan reached out to his dying father-in-law in hopes the older man would give his life to Christ before passing from this world, a recently uncovered letter shows, offering a rare look at the late president’s faith in God.
Reagan evangelized Loyal Davis, stepfather of Reagan’s second wife Nancy (Davis) Reagan, and an atheist, speaking about the miracles associated with the life of Christ, including Christ being born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“Loyal, you and (wife) Edith have known a great love – more than many have been permitted to know,” Reagan wrote. “That love will not end with the end of this life. We’ve been promised this is only a part of life and that a greater life, a greater glory awaits us. It awaits you together one day and all that is required is that you believe and tell God you put yourself in his hands.”
Davis, a noted neurosurgeon, died on August 19, 1982.
The president, who had originally held a “pro-choice” position, but later converted to being pro-life, had worried for Davis’ soul, according to Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty. He penned the letter in the days leading up to Davis’ death.
The intimate 36-year-old letter on four pages of White House stationery is not part of the publicly available presidential records at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Tumulty said. She had come across the August 7, 1982 letter earlier this year in a cardboard box of possessions belonging to Nancy Reagan.
The Library had given her access to Nancy Reagan’s personal effects for her research on a biography of the late first lady, and allowed the Post to reproduce the letter in its entirety for her column.
“Dear Loyal,” the president wrote, “I hope you’ll forgive me for this, but I’ve been wanting to write you ever since we talked on the phone. I am aware of the strain you are under and believe with all my heart there is help for that.”
Did prayers of staff and strangers make Reagan’s painful ulcer mysteriously disappear?
Reagan proceeded to share how he’d suffered for months from an ulcer during his first year as California governor. His symptoms, ranging from constant pain to sharp attacks, inexplicably disappeared one day.
As he opened his mail that day in his office, the first two letters were from separate strangers who’d written to let him know they were each part of a group that met regularly to pray for him.
Reagan told his father-in-law that a young man from his legal staff had visited his office to discuss a routine matter shortly after he’d been through his mail, and on his way out the young man told Reagan, “Governor, I think maybe you’d like to know – some of us on the staff come in early every morning and get together to pray for you.”
“Coincidence?” Reagan asked. “I don’t think so.”
He explained to his father-in-law how a few weeks later, his doctor, albeit somewhat puzzled, advised him that not only did he no longer have an ulcer, but there was no indication he’d ever even had one.
“There is a line in the bible,” Reagan wrote, “Where ever two or more are gathered in my name there will I be also.”
“Loyal I know of your feeling – your doubt but could I just impose on you a little longer?” Reagan implored his father-in-law.
He then continued, describing how the coming of a Messiah was prophesied 700 years before Christ’s birth, including that He would be born in a lowly place, proclaim Himself the Son of God, and be put to death for doing so.
There were a total of 123 specific prophecies about Christ’s life, he said, all of which came true. Even though crucifixion was unknown at the time, he said, it was foretold that Jesus would be nailed to a cross of wood.
“And one of the predictions was that he would be born of a Virgin,” Reagan said. “Now I know that is probably the hardest for you as a doctor to accept. The only answer that can be given is – a miracle.”
“But Loyal I don’t find that as great a miracle as the actual history of his life,” the president continued. “Either he was who he said he was or he was the greatest faker and charlatan who ever lived.”
“But would a liar and faker suffer the death he did when all he had to do to save himself was admit he’d been lying?” he asked.
“The miracle is that a young man of 30 years without credentials as a scholar or priest began preaching on street corners,” Reagan said of Jesus in the letter. “He owned nothing but the clothes on his back and he didn’t travel beyond a circle less than one hundred miles across.”
“He did this for only three years and then was executed as a common criminal,” the president wrote. “But for two thousand years he has … had more impact on the world than all the teachers, scientists, emperors, generals and admirals who ever lived, all put together.”
Reagan then quoted John 3:16 in sharing God’s promise of eternal life for those who accept His Son: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”
“We have been promised that all we have to do is ask God in Jesus name to help when we have done all we can – when we’ve come to the end of our strength and abilities and we’ll have that help,” Reagan told Davis. “We only have to trust and have faith in his infinite goodness and mercy.”