President Reagan the Christian Evangelist

Since I grew up during the Cold War era I find the following story facinating. Even though I don't think it merits a JoS category, I thought I'd post it here as it is potentialy represents how a US President's religious beliefs affected his interactions with other global leaders.
Reagan tried to convert Gorbachev to Christianity?
Press Trust of India
Sunday, April 05, 2009, (London)

Former US President Ronald Reagan tried to convert his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev to Christianity, a top aide of the American leader has claimed.

Recently declassified documents cited in a new biography of the former US president -- The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan authored by former Los Angeles Times reporter James Mann -- discloses a secret exchange between the two leaders that left at least one top American official present convinced that Reagan had tried to persuade his counterpart of God's existence.

According to the book, during his summit meetings with Gorbachev, Reagan had apparently been convinced that the Soviet leader was a "closet Christian" after hearing him use the expression "God bless".

One of the men recording their conversation at the landmark Moscow Summit in May 1988, Rudolf Perina, a member of the US National Security Council, was convinced that Reagan had tried to convert his host.

Aware of how sensitive and potentially politically embarrassing the conversation was, Reagan swore the two American note-takers at the meeting to secrecy, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

"Reagan thought he could convert Gorbachev or make him see the light," Mann quoted Perina as saying in his book.

Even as top aides, including the then national security adviser Colin Powell, told the US President not to read too much into the expression, Reagan opened what appeared to be a pre-mediated discussion about God during their final summit meeting in Moscow in 1988, the report in the British daily said.

Reagan took the opportunity he sought when Gorbachev disclosed that he had been baptised into the Russian Orthodox faith by his mother but now had no religious belief. Gorbachev's mother and his late wife Raisa were believers. Speculation that Reagan may have been right mounted in March last year when Gorbachev appeared to pray for half an hour at a shrine of St Francis of Assisi.

The biography provides new insight into the former US president's religious convictions and the role they played in foreign policy.