Ronald Reagan's Mission Trip to Moscow
If you did a poll asking when the Cold War ended, you would get a variety of answers. It is difficult to agree on a decisive moment, but a good candidate for Christians might be the events of summer 1988, and specifically the Moscow Summit—maybe the most unappreciated of the summits between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. The Moscow Summit revealed that the Cold War was in its final days. It was also an unheralded milestone for believers of all stripes.
This was the summit during which Ronald Reagan put his arm around Mikhail Gorbachev in Red Square—quite a change from five years earlier when he declared the U.S.S.R. an "Evil Empire." But the forgotten story of the Moscow Summit and the history of the Cold War is Reagan's actions on behalf of human rights, and particularly religious freedom. There were two components to this story: One was Reagan's striking religious statements at the summit, which got virtually no attention from the American secular media; the other was Gorbachev's remarkable changes concerning religious liberty.
God bless the U.S.S.R.
It began on May 29, 1988. After disembarking the plane, Ronald and Nancy Reagan shuffled to the Kremlin's majestic St. George's Hall. As they strode in from one end, Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev entered from the other. They exchanged pleasantries and then offered official statements.
Appropriately, it was Sunday. Reagan's self-ascribed role of religious emissary started in that initial ceremony. As he finished his conventional opening remarks, he stunned those gathered by pausing to deliver this direct salutation to the general secretary and his comrades: "Thank you and God bless you."
While such a closing is hardly unusual to ...