Former president Ronald Reagan's outspoken son, Ron Reagan, Jr, is not afraid to tell the world about his atheism, and is also not afraid of burning in hell, according to a TV commercial airing on CNN and Comedy Central.
"Hi, I'm Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist," the commercial begins. "And I'm alarmed at the intrusions of religion into our secular government."
The commercial for the Freedom From Religion Foundation first aired last May, but Comedy Central's The Daily Show has again picked up the spot to air on afternoon reruns of the program starting in April. The ad has already been airing on morning reruns of The Daily Show as well as on CNN for months.
Originally, the FFRF had trouble getting the commercial to be broadcast on network television as ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox all declined to run the ad. The FFRF's co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor, told Newsmax that it's hard to get non-Christian commercials to air. "We believe in free speech, but in this climate even paid speech by unbelievers is often censored," she said.
"That's why I'm asking you to support the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation's largest and most effective association of atheists and agnostics, working to keep state and church separate, just like our Founding Fathers intended," Reagan claims in the commercial.
But it's the final lines of the ad that have caused many networks to steer clear of support: "Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell."
NBC agreed to run the spot if those last lines were removed, but the FFRF refused. "Well, that's the punchline. That's funny," Gaylor said.
And when CBS rejected the commercial last year, Gaylor was equally unimpressed. "It appears that if a public figure makes a simple declarative statement in support of state/church separation, FFRF and atheism, it's too hot to handle for CBS," she said.
But as for Ron Reagan, the 56-year-old son of the late iconic Republican president has never been shy about his stance on religion, even when it directly opposed that of his father's. The former president once said, "Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience."
The younger Reagan has spoken out many times against Christianity, telling the L.A. Times during an interview last year that he is often surprised at the reaction he gets. "I think when you hold an opinion that you find entirely reasonable, you are surprised when you discover that other people don't also consider it reasonable, and kind of get up in arms," he said.
But his father was actually very well-versed in expressing his belief in God and may be best known for one of his most famous lines that is still often quoted today, which states: "If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under."