Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Reagan centennial: Tampico's churches

Ronald Reagan and his older brother Neil were both born in Tampico, Illinois. Their parents, Jack and Nelle, were married by a Catholic priest. Neil was baptised in Tampico as a baby, but Ronald wasn't baptized until he was 12--at Dixon's First Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ house of worship. Nelle was already a member. Neil later joined the denomination.

St. Mary's Church, Tampico
When then-former President Reagan returned to Tampico for his final visit in 1990--accompanied by Nancy and his biographer, Edmund Morris, they attended services at the Tampico Church of Christ. Morris remarked to Reagan, "Just think, Mr. President, if your father had gotten you baptized in Saint Mary's, we'd be attending eleven o'clock mass." Which led Reagan to quip, "Bells and smells."

Tampico Church of Christ
The Church of Christ was where Ronald and Nelle worshipped in Tampico. When he went to mass there in 1990, it was quite likely the last time he attended a church service in his home state.

Reagan was a deeply religious man, although he was unfairly criticized for rarely going to church while serving as president. Don't forget, Reagan was shot in 1981 and didn't want to place his fellow worshippers at risk.

While at Reagan's birthplace on Sunday, Reagan took his presidential oath of office both times, his left hand was place on Nelle's Bible--it was opened at his favorite verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Related post:

Report from Tampico, Illinois on Reagan's 100th birthday

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