Culture At Large

Mikhail Gorbachev, undercover believer

Andy Rau

Mikhail Gorbachev, the architect of perestroika and glasnost, has outed himsef—as a Christian. During a recent visit to the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi, he publicly confirmed his faith:

Mr Gorbachev's surprise visit confirmed decades of rumours that, although he was forced to publicly pronounce himself an atheist, he was in fact a Christian, and casts a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1989 in a new light. [...]

Ronald Reagan, the former United States president, allegedly told his close aides on a number of occasions that he felt his opponent during the Cold War was a "closet believer".

Assuming this is accurate, I'm reminded of the Biblical acccount of Naaman, who received special dispensation from God to keep his belief hidden from a godless superior:

Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant."

The prophet answered, "As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing." And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

"If you will not," said Naaman, "please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD. But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this."

"Go in peace," Elisha said.

(Spotted at In the Agora.)

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