Adrian Rogers and Billy Graham discuss Ronald Reagan (who was my favorite President who I named my son after)

Baptist leaders remember Ronald Reagan’s optimism as being founded on faith in God

By Erin Curry, posted June 7, 2004 in 

After being elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979, Adrian Rogers met with President Ronald Reagan.

Former SBC President Adrian Rogers, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church, recounted that he first met Reagan in 1980 when he was a candidate for president. Rogers and four others visited with Reagan in a hotel room.

“Someone asked him this question at the end of the meeting, ‘Governor, I want to ask you a very personal question. Do you know Jesus Christ? Not do you know about Him, but do you know Him?’

“He said, ‘Oh, yes. He is very real to me. I have trusted Him as my personal Lord and Savior, and I pray every day. But I don’t wear my religion on my sleeves.’

“I felt impressed to pray for him, and I put my arm around him and prayed,” Rogers recounted. “I got a letter from him, and I really appreciated it. … He said, ‘Thank you for remembering me in prayer before our Lord.’”

Rogers was in about a half-dozen meetings with Reagan. Once, in the Oval Office early in his administration, “I told him, ‘Mr. President, Southern Baptists love you and will stand behind you if you will stand for the things that mean so much to them. Stand for the home, for the family, for purity. Those are the things that mean so much to them, and I would hope that you would stand for them.’ And he said he would.”

Rogers described Reagan as “a man of principle. He was not driven by polls or political correctness. In that sense, I think he was comparable to our current president. I think the same mosquito may have bit them both.

“The other major thing I would mention about him was his genteel kindness and his ability to make you feel important and feel at home,” Rogers said. “I do believe he was one of the most affable persons I have met.”


Just as I am. Michael W. Smith (at the Lying in Honor of the Reverend Bi…

Touching Moments From Billy Graham’s Funeral


Watch live: Billy Graham’s funeral

One of the thrills of my life was getting to hear President Reagan speak in the beginning of November of 1984 at the State House Convention Center in Little Rock.  Immediately after that program I was standing outside on Markham with my girlfriend Jill Sawyer (now wife of 34 years) and we were alone on a corner and the President was driven by and he waved at us and we waved back. Since the rally that President Reagan held was filled with thousands of people I assumed Jill and I were on the corner with many other people but when I turned around I realized that President Reagan had only waved to us two because we were all alone on the corner and I felt deeply honored.

One of the reasons I liked Reagan was because of his conservative economic philosophy which he got from my hero Milton Friedman and his social views on abortion which influenced his pick for surgeon general which was C. Everett Koop who was Francis Schaeffer’s good friend. Ronald Reagan because of his pro-life views also attended a meeting in Dallas in 1980 with my pastor Adrian Rogers who was President of the Southern Baptist Convention at the time

Dr. C. Everett Koop pictured above and Adrian Rogers pictured below with Reagan.

I have a son named Wilson Daniel Hatcher and he is named after two of the most respected men I have ever read about : Daniel from the Old Testament and Ronald Wilson Reagan. I have studied that book of Daniel for years and have come to respect that author who was a saint who worked in two pagan governments but he never compromised. My favorite record was the album “No Compromise” by Keith Green and on the cover was a picture from the Book of Daniel.


President Reagan’s Remarks at a Briefing for Right to Life Activists on …


Ronald Reagan is one of the most winsome men I have ever known. Our long friendship really started one day in 1953, when I was playing golf in Phoenix. Mrs. Loyal Davis, wife of a prominent Chicago surgeon, came up to me on the course. 

“I want you to get to know my new son-in-law,” she said. 

I asked who he was. 

“Ronald Reagan.”

“You mean the film star?”

She confirmed that he had married her daughter, Nancy, some months before. 

Ron (as most of his friends called him) and I actually met later that year in Dallas. 

In the next two decades, my travels took me to California with some frequency, and often our paths crossed. As our friendship grew, I not only admired his quick wit and warm personality, but I also came to respect his keen insight and tough-minded approach to broad political issues. I also found him very interested in our work, even giving me friendly advice from time to time. 

During the years before Ron was elected to public office, I had often detected a spiritual side to him. For example, I remember once when I gave a small dinner party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and invited him. He brought up the subject of the Second Coming of Christ. The same subject came up with him on other occasions as well. 

I have been told that where he grew up, in Dixon, Illinois, he did some preaching himself in his late teens. At the time, he was a member of the Christian Church, which was somewhat like the Baptist Church. I kept forgetting to ask him about it, however, something that I now regret. 

During the eight years of Reagan’s presidential administration, we saw each other a number of times. I especially appreciated his kindness in inviting Ruth and me to several states dinners for visiting foreign leaders. 

One night while I was staying at the White House, Nancy and the President got into a discussion about the question of salvation–who was going to be saved and who was going to be lost. He gave her his views on conversion and the new birth right out of the Bible. She turned to me. 

“Billy, is that right?”

I said it was and expanded a little further. 

While he was president, Ronald Reagan bestowed on me one of the highest honors I could ever imagine. On February 23, 1983, he presented me with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor our government gives to an American, for service to the nation. I felt unworthy of the honor, and still do. But whatever else it means, it will always remind me of the generosity and friendship of a remarkable man and a warm and enduring personal friend, Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Pastor to Presidents: Billy Graham and Ronald Reagan

November 19, 2020

Categories: Billy GrahamPlan Your Visit


Billy Graham described Ronald Reagan as “one of the most winsome men I have ever known.” Their friendship began long before Reagan’s political career, when he was still a film star in Hollywood. As their friendship grew over the next couple of decades, Billy “not only admired his quick wit and warm personality, but [he] also came to respect his keen insight and tough-minded approach to broad political issues.”

Billy Graham knew Ronald and Nancy Reagan well before their time in the White House

When Reagan was inaugurated as President on January 20, 1981, Billy joined him on the platform while he was sworn in. Throughout Reagan’s term of office, Billy and Ruth were invited to many state dinners, including one for Queen Elizabeth II, and another for Chinese president Li Xiannian.

Billy Graham at state dinner for Queen Elizabeth II hosted by President Ronald Reagan in 1983

In Just As I Am, Billy remembers multiple conversations with the Reagans regarding faith. “They were both interested in understanding more about the Scriptures, especially Ron. He often asked me questions about the biblical view on important topics. Abortion was one such issue he wrestled with. I always stressed the Bible’s teachings on the sacredness of human life, both of the unborn and of the born. We talked about other current issues, but always in terms of principles, not what specific policies or programs should be adopted or scrapped.”

On February 23, 1983, Ronald Reagan presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Billy Graham, the highest honor a civilian citizen of the United States can receive. Of the honor, Billy said, “I felt unworthy of the honor, and still do. But whatever else it means, it will always remind me of the generosity and friendship of a remarkable man and a warm and enduring friend, Ronald Wilson Reagan.”

Billy Graham receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom

The Billy Graham Library is featuring an exhibit Pastor to Presidents highlighting Billy Graham’s friendships with our nation’s Executive Office. The exhibit runs through December 23, 2020. For more information on the exhibit, visit

Transcript: Ronald Reagan’s Friendship With Billy Graham

By | Fox News

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, June 7, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: President Ronald Reagan(search) was a man of deep religious faith. For many years, Billy Graham (search) was one of his closest personal friends. Reverend Graham will not be able to attend any of the Reagan memorials because of a broken hip.

Joining me now is Reverend Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham. Franklin, today’s big question, what was the special bond between your father and President Reagan?

REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT, SAMARITAN’S PURSE: They first met in 1954. It was Nancy’s mother, Mrs. Davis, that met my father when he was playing golf… in Arizona and asked if daddy would take time to meet her new son-in-law who happened to be Ronald Reagan.

They met a few weeks after that and really became very close friends since 1954. My father loved him very much and enjoyed every opportunity had he to spend with him and to talk to him. He had a great interest in spiritual questions. He was a man of deep faith. He’s a man who not only believed in God, but he believed in God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He believed that Christ died on the cross for our sins, and that God raised him from the dead and that he was coming again. And he looked forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. And he often talked to my father about that subject. He was fascinated about that, so they had a lot of very deep theological discussions.

GIBSON: Reverend Graham, as you well know, the current President Bush is a Christian and makes no effort to conceal it, and in a lot of circles, especially in Europe, he is criticized for that. It seems to me that President Reagan wasn’t quite so public in his faith. Was there a reason for that, that you know of?

GRAHAM: Well, I think he probably was more public than we give him credit for. He spoke about God quite often, spoke about his faith. I think today where we have gotten into this realm of political correctness for some reason, somebody has said it’s not right to talk about your faith. If you are in public office. And, of course, when we come back to public office, we do bring our faith, we bring our character with us. And I think those all are important ingredients to a leader, especially to the president of the United States. Reagan believed in God, he believed in Jesus Christ.

Bush is the same way. He has a strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You know, the Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son whosoever believed in him should not perish, but should have everlasting life. And that whosoever, it’s me, it’s you, it’s everyone who is watching, if we’ll simply believe and trust in him, God will forgive us of our sins. It’s faith.

You don’t have to work for your salvation. It’s simply by faith. And the President Bush understands this, and, of course, President Reagan, he understood it. He had just a very simple faith, which was very dear to him and very real to him.

GIBSON: Reverend Graham, your father, Billy Graham, met Ronald Reagan, as you said, in 1954. This is some years before Ronald Reagan was governor and then later president. What did your father see in him in 1954?

GRAHAM: Well, it’s interesting. He, of course, was a well-known actor, and my father had just finished a campaign in California in 1949, got to know a lot of folks in the industry. And when Mrs. Davis suggested that they meet, daddy was just fascinated in meeting him. He liked his movies and liked him as a person, and when they met, the two had a lot in common. And they shared the same type of jokes, both had great senses of humor. And they just liked each other, you know, companionship. They were just friends, and even after he left office, after he left Washington and went back to California, my father still stayed in touch, would go by to see the president. And then, of course, the last few years his illness was very — very difficult, but he continued to keep in touch with Nancy, to call her and go by to see her.

GIBSON: You know, your father is — one of the many things he is known for is being a friend to presidents. Did he envision — we’re looking at pictures of your father now. Did he envision this actor he met in 1954 who probably at that point was maybe involved with the Screen Actors Guild but not much more politically was going to be a major political figure?

GRAHAM: Of course not. He never dreamed that, and he just — I think he is very grateful for that friendship over the years, especially when the president — when he became president. Reagan had him at the White House on many occasions to visit him. My father has never sought really to be the friend of presidents. It has just happened to come his direction. And my father feels that it’s very important as a minister of the gospel that when you’re with a president or a member of Congress, of the Senate, whatever, to be a minister and to share our faith and to hold up our faith and God’s standards. I think it’s important for people who are in government to remember God’s standards that he has given to us and not to forget them, not to turn our back on them, but to take his standards and that should apply to the way we live our life.

When the Bible says thou shall not murder, we need to hold that standard. When the Bible says thou shall not steal, we need to hold that standard. When God says not to covet, we need to hold those standards. Of course, not everybody believes the Bible. Not everybody wants God’s standards, but as a minister, my father felt it was important that he at least represent God’s standards to those that were in leadership, and did he that to the best of his ability. And I admire him for staying with it all these years.

GIBSON: Reverend Franklin Graham. Reverend, thank you very much. Appreciate you coming on today.

GRAHAM: Thank you, sir.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user’s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.’s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.’s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.


Remarks at a White House Briefing for Right to Life Activists

July 30, 1987

Senators, Congressmen, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to you all. Before I get on with things here, I think I’d better explain a little bit. This is just a small billboard that says — it’s a reminder that says, “Stay out of the Sun.” [Laughter] Well, there’s one Congressman I see in the front row to whom I have to say a special word: Henry Hyde. Watching your contributions to the hearings, Henry, I couldn’t help thinking — [laughter] — forgive me for this — other politicians can run, but there’s only one I know who knows how to Hyde. [Laughter] It’s a great pleasure to welcome all of you to Washington and an honor to be able to speak to this assembly of Americans who are doing so much to declare and defend the sacredness of all human life.

One of the aspects of this gathering that impresses me most is that just a few years ago many of you, perhaps most, never dreamed of getting involved in politics. What brought you into politics was a matter of conscience, a matter of fundamental conviction, and that gives you an integrity that Americans of all views cannot help but respect. It also happens to make me feel a particular kinship with you. You see, there was a time in my own life when nobody who knew me ever expected me to go into politics myself. [Laughter] In fact, back in 1966 when someone told my boss, Jack Warner, that I was running for Governor of California, he is supposed to have said, “No, Jimmy Stewart for Governor. Reagan for best friend.” [Laughter] 

But we come here today on an issue of the most fundamental importance. Many of you’ve been attacked for being single-issue activists or single-issue voters. But I ask: What single issue could be of greater significance? What single issue could say more about a society’s values than the degree of respect shown for human life at its most vulnerable: human life still unborn? 

Many of the most compelling arguments against abortion are as old as our civilization. Indeed, I would submit that a reverence for all human life is one of the distinguishing marks of true civilization. In our own time, medical science has added to our knowledge of the processes of life that take place before birth, deepening our understanding of what abortion means to the mother and the unborn child. We know, in particular, that when an abortion is performed the unborn child often feels pain. 

You might be interested to learn that when I first mentioned this in a 1983 speech there was an outcry, enraged criticism and angry denials. But criticism wasn’t the only response. It so happens that I also received a letter signed by 24 medical doctors, including eminent physicians like the former chief of pediatrics at the St. Louis City Hospital and the president of the New York State Medical Society. The letter stated that in recent years medical techniques have “demonstrated the remarkable responsiveness of the human fetus to pain, touch, and sound.”

And the letter concluded: “Mr. President, in drawing attention to the capability of the human fetus to feel pain, you stand on firmly established ground.” Well, in recent years medical science has taught us so much more about the individuality and responsiveness of the fetus, even at very early stages of development. My friends, isn’t it about time the law of the land recognized the medical evidence of 1987? [Applause] If there’s even a question about when human life begins, isn’t it our duty to err on the side of life? 

The law of the land — that’s a phrase with special resonance for Americans. After all, ours is not a nation founded upon centuries of shared history, like the nations of Europe or Asia. No, ours is a nation founded upon a shared and basic law, the Constitution. And because it is the Constitution that must reflect our most fundamental values — freedom, equality before the law, and yes, the dignity of human life — because of this, the duty of everyone here today is clear. We must not rest — and I pledge to you that I will not rest — until a human life amendment becomes a part of our Constitution. 

At the same time, we must continue to search for practical steps that we can take now, even before the battle for the human life amendment is won. I’ve submitted a bill to Congress that I know interests each of you keenly, and I’d like to talk about that with you in just a moment. But first, permit me to mention four other important steps our administration has taken, steps that I believe represent powerful examples of what can be done now to protect the lives of unborn children. 

First, our position on international population policies — as you may be aware, some international organizations have chosen to support abortion as a means of population control. Well, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, or UNFPA, for example, works with Chinese population programs, which include abortion. Our response to that? We cut off American funds from UNFPA and from overseas organizations that support or promote abortion. As I said in my statement to the 1984 Mexico City International Conference on Population — incidentally, one of the best parts about being President is that from time to time you get to quote yourself — [laughter] — but as I said then: “We believe population programs can and must be truly voluntary, cognizant of the rights and responsibilities of individuals and families, and respectful of religious and cultural values.” Well, that means no coercive measures such as involuntary sterilization and no use of abortion for population control. 

Second, permit me to mention our recent actions concerning the District of Columbia. You’ll recall that the Congress has the responsibility to oversee and appropriate all funds in the District of Columbia budget, but each year Congress has chosen to restrict only Federal funds in the DC budget from being used for abortions on demand. Yet in practice, the record is clear. There is no way to separate Federal from locally raised funds, and this has permitted the District to go right on financing abortions. And you know, I just felt that the great beauty of this capital city meant nothing if right here, in this city that belongs to all Americans, the dignity of human life was being neglected and even attacked. So, this year we took action. You’ll be pleased to know that, in transmitting to Congress the District of Columbiabudget for 1988, we made it clear that both Federal and local funds must comply with the Hyde amendment. 

I want, third, to restate our firm opposition to the so-called, Grove City legislation sponsored by Senator Kennedy. This bill, S. 557, would mean that all hospitals and colleges receiving Federal funds, even those with religious affiliations, would be open to lawsuits if they failed to provide abortions. In other words, the legislation would virtually force these institutions to provide abortion on demand. I don’t mind telling you this one really touches my temperature control. I don’t want to get started, but let me just say this: As far as I’m concerned, every Member of Congress should oppose this proabortion Federal intrusion. [Applause] Thank you. You just made the day for some Legislators here. [Laughter] We support an amendment offered by Senator Danforth, an amendment that would eliminate the proabortion aspects of that legislation. As I said before, this administration will oppose any legislation that would require individuals or institutions, public or private, to finance or perform abortions

Now, the fourth point is one that will come to you as especially good news, a set of initiatives that we will pursue immediately. The first of these is a revision of the title 10 Family Planning Program guidelines. Current guidelines require grant recipients to provide abortion counseling and referral. This policy has effectively barred family planning organizations that will not engage in abortion activity from participating in the title 10 program. I’m directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to publish regulations in the Federal Register removing this bias against groups that refuse to engage in abortion activities. In order to give effect to the statutory prohibition on the use of appropriated funds in programs where abortion is a method of family planning, I am also directing Secretary Bowen to make sure that the regulations specifically state that a program which does provide counseling and referral for abortion services as a method of family planning will not be eligible for title 10 funds.

Then there’s an initiative that represents an important change in the title 10 regulations so that any organization that provides abortion-related services will be required to clearly separate these services from title 10 programs that the Federal Government is paying for. At present, the coexistence of abortion with federally supported family planning services fosters the view that abortion is an acceptable and government-sanctioned method of family planning. In order to ensure that this will no longer occur, I’m directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to publish in the Federal Register regulations that require grant recipients to separate, financially and physically, their eligible and noneligible programs.

Now, a third initiative is the development of a thorough and solid body of public health information on the effects of abortion on women. Growing numbers of women who’ve had abortions now say that they have been misled by inaccurate information. Making accurate data on maternal morbidity available to women before an abortion is performed is an essential element of informed consent. I am, therefore, directing the Surgeon General to issue a comprehensive medical report on the health effects, physical and emotional, of abortion on women.

The final initiative is a restriction on the use of Federal funds for activities that advocate abortion. It is inconsistent with title 10 for Federal funds to be used to provide speakers to debate in opposition to pro-life speakers, to lobby for proabortionlegislation, to provide transportation to abortion clinics, or make reservations at abortion clinics, to bring lawsuits in support of abortion as a family planning method, or to provide or distribute materials that advocate abortion. And I am, therefore, directing Secretary Bowen to publish regulations in the Federal Register to ensure that no title 10 funds go to any program that encourages, promotes, or advocates abortion or which assists a woman in obtaining an abortion.

You’ll be pleased to know that Secretary Bowen is fully supportive of my position on abortion and of these initiatives. Secretary Bowen has agreed that all necessary work will be completed in time to publish draft regulations in the Federal Register within 30 days. And I’m also pleased to say that the Secretary’s newly appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs is NabersCabaniss. Nabers will be among those charged with implementing these new initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services.

And this brings me to the bill I mentioned earlier. To begin with, a word or two of background. In the past, we’ve been successful in restricting the use of Federal funds for abortions on a department-by-department basis, making use of the Hyde amendment. Yet each year there have been a few departments and agencies not covered by the Hyde amendment. The bill that we’re submitting to Congress will change that. And listen, if you will, to the key provision: “No funds appropriated by Congress shall be used to perform abortions, except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.” In other words, this one piece of legislation would permanently restrict the use of funds for abortions throughout the Federal Government, with absolutely no exceptions. 

And introduced in the Senate by Senator Gordon Humphrey, this bill has 12 Senate cosponsors. And in the House, the bill was introduced by Congressman Henry Hyde and has garnered cosponsors numbering 124. Yes, opposition is stiff. But the very fact that this bill has been introduced has drawn attention to the importance of the debate and demonstrated the growing strength of the prolife movement throughout the country.

Will the bill pass? The pundits certainly don’t think so, but I have to tell you, at this point in my career, I’m used to a little skepticism. [Laughter] “The Impossible Became Inevitable” — that’s what the Washington Post headline said when our tax reform was finally enacted. And I just have to believe that, given the fundamental goodness of the American people, given this great nation’s reverence for life itself, prolife measures like this legislation will become inevitable, too. So, I intend to push for these prolife measures just as hard as I know how. Can I count on your support? [Applause] Thank you. I knew that was a foolish question when I asked it.

Many who turn to abortion do so in harrowing circumstances, and we must remind those who disagree with us, and sometimes even ourselves, that we do not seek to condemn, we do not seek to sit in judgment. Yes, we must take our stand without apology. Yet at the same time, it is our duty to rise above bitterness and reproach, to call upon all Americans to come together in a spirit of helping and understanding. For we know that in this great and good nation, positive solutions to the tragedy of abortion can be found.

If I could, I’d like to leave with you a quotation that means a great deal to me. These are the words of my friend, the late Terence Cardinal Cooke, of New York. “The gift of life, God’s special gift, is no less beautiful when it is accompanied by illness or weakness, hunger or poverty, mental or physical handicaps, loneliness or old age. Indeed, at these times, human life gains extra splendor as it requires our special care, concern, and reverence. It is in and through the weakest of human vessels that the Lord continues to reveal the power of His love.” 

The weakest of human vessels — surely there is no human life more frail and vulnerable than that of an infant still in its mother’s womb. And surely it is our task to appeal to the goodness we know we can find in every American and to call upon the power of His love.

I thank you all, and God bless you all for what you’re doing. 

Note: The President spoke at 11:50 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his opening remarks, he referred to a basal cell carcinoma on his nose. He also referred to Representative Henry J. Hyde of Illinois, who participated in the congressional hearings on the Iran-contra controversy.

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