Michael Reagan on God and Family

Michael Reagan, a contributing editor for HUMAN EVENTS, hosts a daily talk radio show syndicated by Radio America that is broadcast on more than 200 stations nationwide. His loyal audience now exceeds five million listeners. Mike grew up in Southern California, the adopted son of famous Hollywood actors Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman. His mother won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the 1948 film Johnny Belinda, and his father won two landslide elections for President of the United States in 1980 and 1984. In his new book, Twice Adopted, Mike makes a powerful defense of traditional family life, while recalling his own sometimes turbulent childhood in Hollywood, his education, and his adoption of the Christian faith. HUMAN EVENTS Editor Terence P. Jeffrey recently chatted with Reagan about the book and its themes. You recently addressed Billy Graham’s Crusade at the Rose Bowl. Why did you do that? They asked me. I was absolutely astounded when they called and asked if I would give the closing testimony before Billy Graham spoke on the final day of the Crusade. At first, I thought maybe they had gotten the wrong number. If somebody had told me that this year would end up with my speaking from Billy Graham’s pulpit to 90,000 people at the Rose Bowl, I would have said, ‘What?’ It was awesome. What does the title to your book, Twice Adopted, mean? Twice Adopted refers to my first adoption into the Reagan family back in 1945, and my second adoption, more than 30 years later, when I finally accepted God and Christ into my life–and was adopted into His family. Who is Irene Flaugher and what is the gift that she gave you? Irene Flaugher is my birth mother. She is the woman who was pregnant by a married man, who came to California after he was sent off to war, and gave birth to me. She is the one who put me up for adoption. Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan, my parents, were looking for a son to adopt because they had a daughter, Maureen, who wanted to have a brother and they wanted to have a boy in the family. Irene contacted them and told them that she was going to have a child, although she did not know whether it was going to be a boy or a girl. When it turned out to be me, she called Jane Wyman. Jane Wyman then went down to the hospital to meet the woman who was the birth mother of the baby she was going to raise as her own. So, Irene Flaugher gave me the gift of life. My birth mother, my birth father, my father and my mother were all pro-life and pro-adoption. If they were not, you and I would not be doing this interview. One of the topics you discuss in your book is the traditional two-parent family. Why do you think this institution is so crucial to our society? It is crucial because having a mother and a father together with the children in the home is the cornerstone of our society. Every child needs to be truly affirmed by both a mother and a father. Too often in our society today we treat marriage like it is just a date. Too many people get angry and walk out of a marriage and go looking for another date. The people who suffer from this are the children. I believe that divorce is like a mother and father walking into their child’s room, smashing up everything that is important to the child, then walking out leaving it for the child to put things back together. There is basically one reason parents get divorced: Either one or both of them are selfish. You say your second adoption was your turning to God and embracing Jesus Christ. Do you feel that ultimately the answer to the problems in our society will be found depending on whether we turn back toward God or turn deeper into the hedonistic path? At the crusade, Billy Graham talked about Lot. But he talked more about Lot’s wife, and when God says in the Bible, ‘Remember Lot’s wife.’ Lot’s wife had left Sodom. She was headed out toward a better life. She was told one thing: Don’t turn around. But she just couldn’t take herself out of what Sodom was–which is like today’s America, if you really look at it, with the sexual things that go on, and the selfish way we live our lives. All she had to do was leave and not look back. But she couldn’t walk away. She looked back and look what happened her. America is at that crossroads. Are we going to turn around and look back at Sodom? Or are we going to move forward and remember Who put us here and what we are here for. Your book is not a political book. It deals more with your personal experiences, and how you believe we ought to handle ourselves personally in our families and communities. But what do you see as the role of politics and public policy in dealing with this crisis in America, this crisis of faith and culture? Lead by example. We have politicians who say one thing and then lead a different life. There are more things caught than taught. The fact is politicians are always getting caught. They are teaching us one thing and being caught doing other things. The same thing happens in our clergy. We have to understand that if we are in politics, or we are in other positions of authority, we have to live what we say. We have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Politicians have to lead by example. I don’t know that they can pass a law that will change America. But leading by example will certainly help–so that people will be able to look up to our leaders, and our Presidents, instead of down. I think that is one of the reasons behind the unbelievable outpouring my father got from all around the world at the time of his funeral in June. He walked the walk as well as talking the talk. He was somebody you could look up to who didn’t look down on you. I think we get much the same thing from the President we have today. He is under attack simply because he walks the walk. He is under attack because people would rather be like Lot’s wife. We need to move forward and not look back. Where can people get your book? It is available nationwide in bookstores. But there are autographed copies available at