For years, Ron Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Wilson Reagan, has made no secret of his atheism.
At his father's funeral in June, Ron Reagan said:
"Dad . . . never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians--wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage."
Then came the Larry King Live interview on CNN on June 23. When Larry King pressed Reagan about whether he had thought of running for public office, Ron replied:
"I'm an atheist. So there you go right there. I can't be elected to anything because polls all say that people won't elect an atheist."
Reagan also said: "When you hear somebody justifying a war by citing the Almighty, I get a little worried, frankly."
That was followed by similar remarks about his atheism to The New York Times Magazine.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation contacted Reagan, who keeps a low profile on the West Coast, to offer him its Emperor Has No Clothes Award, a golden statuette reserved for public figures who are plainspoken on their dissent from religion.
Although Reagan unfortunately was not free to attend a Foundation convention this year to accept his award in person, he phoned to accept the award. A personalized statuette was mailed to him in July.
Reagan also addressed the religious opponents of embryonic stem cell research in a noteworthy address before the National Democratic Convention on July 27:
"Their belief is just that, an article of faith, and they are entitled to it. But it does not follow that the theology of a few should be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many."
The Emperor Has No Clothes Award was inaugurated in 1999, at the behest of a benefactor, who conceived the award and whose donation paid for the manufacture of the statuette, which is produced for the Foundation by the same company that makes the Oscar awards.
The inaugural recipient was Prof. Steven Weinberg, the Nobel Laureate physicist and outspoken atheist. Other awardees include: Prof. Richard Dawkins, Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, New York Times science writer Natalie Angier, attorney Alan Dershowitz, editorial cartoonist Steve Benson, former Gov. Jesse Ventura, comedians Janeane Garofalo and George Carlin, entertainers Penn & Teller, and professional curmudgeon Andy Rooney.
Although the benefactor originally insisted on anonymity at the time of her ingenious idea, she has recently agreed to be recognized by name.
"We are so pleased to be able to publicly thank Mildred Perpigna, who is now 90, for her 'inspired' idea and gift," said Anne Gaylor, Foundation president.
At the upcoming national convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Harvard professor and well-known author Steven Pinker will be on hand to accept an "Emperor" award.