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A Rhetorical Analysis of Evil Empire Speech by Donald Reagan

A famous “Evil Empire Speech” given on March 3, 1983, by the fortieth President of the United States Donald Reagan addresses The National Association of Evangelicals that is known for its contribution to humanitarian and spiritual work in America. The president focuses on the discussion of the most urgent social problems that need consideration from both legal and spiritual perspectives and emphasizes the importance of values pursued by religion for the formation of a solid and conscious American society. In “Address to the National Association of Evangelicals” or the so-called “Evil Empire Speech,” Ronald Reagan states that religion and belief in God should not only serve as a basis for the formation of morality in American society but become the central principle of government of the state covering such issues as the value of a human life, freedom of speech, and democracy.

First, Reagan claims that religion encloses the prior rules and moral values that should govern the law but not vice versa. He states that “when our founding fathers passed the First Amendment, they sought to protect churches from government interference (Reagan 20).” It is important that government never tried to establish any limitations for religious beliefs held by people of America or to impose its own rules, considerations, or visions of write or wrong. On the contrary, all American governments and presidents always attempted to organize their policies in accordance to the key religious principles and “never intended to construct a wall of hostility between government and the concept of religious belief itself (Reagan 20).” An example of the issues the consideration of which on the governmental level should require their analysis from the perspective of religion and morality is the problem of abortions. The president states that establishment and subsidizing of a network of clinics that provide birth control drugs and devices to underage girls without informing their parents is against the rules of morality for a number of reasons. First, all parents should have the right to be aware of the important events in lives of their children and prevent them from making crucial mistakes that may negatively influence their entire future lives. Second, since it has not been proved that a fetus is not a human being, the latter should be viewed as the one possessing the same “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Reagan 25)” as all people do.

Second, in his speech, Raegan states that American government has always viewed all people as equal, regardless of their religious views, and never intended “to discriminate against religious speech (Reagan 23).” Though there are such cases as the one that happened in the Lubbock school when discrimination of religious school groups was legally justified, the government does its best to provide freedom of religious speech for all people on all levels of social interaction. For instance, the president emphasizes the idea that prayer should be restored in public schools and students should be allowed to express and discuss their religious views freely without fear of being discriminated of humiliated by other people and to know that they may receive protection from the government.

Ronald Raegan also draws the audience’s attention to the fact that religion in general and belief in God of every American in particular, construct the basis for the concept of democracy and are the primary factors that keep the state strong and prosperous. He claims that America “is in the midst of a spiritual awakening and a moral renewal (Reagan 31)” and the task of the government is to provide support to this process. As anything in the world has a dual nature, Americans as a nation also have both good and evil in them, and the primary task of the state’s government is to promote morality and righteousness and prevent future decline and spiritual crisis of the nation learning from the mistakes of the past. To support this point of view, Reagan represents statistic data according to which “95 percent of those surveyed expressed a belief in God and a huge majority believed the Ten Commandments had real meaning in their lives (Reagan 30).” Moreover, most Americans express disapproval of adultery, teenage sex, pornography, abortion, drugs and alcohol consumption, and demonstrate “a deep reverence for the importance of family ties and religious belief (Reagan 30).” Meanwhile, those nations that do not follow the rules of religious morality and support only the ideas subordinate to the class division are considered to live in “totalitarian darkness (Reagan 45).” Until these states discover the essence of God, they will embody the world’s evil.

All the things considered, Ronald Reagan’s speech “Address to the National Association of Evangelicals” represents the president’s vision of the role of religion in the formation of a conscious and righteous society in America. He states that religion and government of the state and interrelated and the latter should address religion when it goes about such issues as the value of human lives, freedom of speech, and democracy. From the point of view of morality, parents should have the right to help their underage daughters decide what to do in a case of an unwanted pregnancy, and a fetus should have the right to live. In addition, people should have an opportunity to express their religious views freely, without fear and embarrassment. Generally, morality is one of the governing factors that lay the foundation of democracy-promoting such values as freedom, liberty, and mutual respect.

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