The 40th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire Speech

Event start date

March 8, 2023

On Wednesday, March 8th, The Institute on Religion and Democracy will co-host a commemoration event on the 40th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire Speech at the Victims of Communism Museum.

Dr. Lee Edwards, Reagan biographer and co-founder of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation will provide opening remarks followed by two panels comprised of distinguished scholars from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, the Religious Freedom Institute, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

The first panel, Evangelicals and the Evil Empirewill focus on the spiritual impact of President Reagan’s speech on American Christians as well as those living behind the Iron Curtain and around the globe. The second panel, Ronald Reagan’s Impact on Ending the Cold War, will focus on the key events of the Reagan administration and the paradigm shift in foreign policy that ultimately led to the demise of the Soviet Union.

We hope you can join us. To register, please click here.

Our panelists include:

Elliott Abrams is an American politician and lawyer, who has served in foreign policy positions for presidents Ronald Raegan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. He is currently a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela from 2019 to 2021 and as the U.S. Special Representative for Iran from 2020 to 2021. He served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs during George W. Bush’s first term. At the start of Bush’s second term, Abrams was promoted to be his Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, in charge of promoting Bush’s strategy of advancing democracy abroad.

Dr. Anthony Eames is the Director of Scholarly Initiatives for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute and teaches at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He is also an affiliate scholar with the America in the World Consortium. Eames is the author of A Voice in Their Own Destiny: Reagan, Thatcher, and Public Diplomacy in the Nuclear 1980s (UMass, 2023) and co-author of Sharing Nuclear Secrets: Trust, Mistrust, and Ambiguity in Anglo-American Relations, 1939-Present (Oxford, 2023). His other work has appeared in Technology and CultureJournal of Military HistoryWar on the Rocks and several other journals. He earned his Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University and holds an MA from King’s College London. Eames is now working on a book on conservative environmentalism.

Dr. Lee Edwards is the Founding Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and recipient of the Foundation’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom in 2022. He is the Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation, and an adjunct professor of politics at the Catholic University of America. Edwards is a leading historian of American conservatism and author or editor of over 25 books, including biographies of President Ronald Reagan, Senator Barry Goldwater, Attorney General Edwin Meese III, and William F. Buckley. He was the founding director of the Institute of Political Journalism at Georgetown University and a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and has also served as President of the Philadelphia Society and been a media fellow at the Hoover Institution. His awards and honors include the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, the Millennium Star of Lithuania, the Cross of Terra Mariana of Estonia, the Friendship Medal of Diplomacy from the Republic of China (Taiwan), the John Ashbrook Award, the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award, Legend of YAF from Young America’s Foundation, and the Walter Judd Freedom Award. Edwards holds a Ph.D. in world politics from Catholic University and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Grove City College. He did graduate work at the Sorbonne and holds a B.A. in English from Duke University.

Dr. Elizabeth Edwards Spalding is Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) and Founding Director of the Victims of Communism Museum. She has served as a VOC Trustee since 2018. As Founding Director, Dr. Spalding was instrumental in the establishment of the Victims of Communism Museum, overseeing the extensive research, writing, and execution of the entire project. A third-generation anticommunist, she has devoted her career to scholarship and education about the history and horrors of communism. Dr. Spalding teaches subjects ranging from U.S. foreign policy, national security, and international relations to the presidency, religion, and politics as Senior Fellow at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and Visiting Fellow at the Van Andel Graduate School of Government at Hillsdale College, and previously taught at Claremont McKenna College, George Mason University, and the Catholic University of America. A frequent public lecturer on numerous topics, especially communism and the Cold War, she is also a core faculty member in VOC’s National Seminar for Middle and High School Educators. She is the author of The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, and the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism and the co-author of A Brief History of the Cold War. Her scholarly and popular articles and reviews have been published widely, including in Journal of Church and StateOrbisThe Wilson QuarterlyProvidenceThe American MindLaw & LibertyH-Diplo, and Claremont Review of Books. Dr. Spalding holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in international politics and political theory from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in politics from Hillsdale College. She lives with her family in Arlington, Virginia.

Eric Patterson is the President of the Religious Freedom Institute. He is past dean of the Robertson School of Government at Regent University and a Research Fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs. Patterson’s interest in the intersection of religion, ethics, and foreign policy is informed by two stints at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, with work in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, and Angola. He was an officer and commander in the Air National Guard for over twenty years and served as a White House Fellow working for the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. He has published Politics in a Religious World: Toward a Religiously Informed U.S. Foreign Policy, Military Chaplains in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Beyond as well as a number of books and articles. His most recent project is a co-edited volume on the theological underpinnings of religious freedom, tentatively titled, Protestant Theological Sources for Religious Freedom (forthcoming 2023). His academic work has been published in International Studies Perspectives, International Politics, International Relations, Review of Faith and International Affairs, Public Integrity, Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, International Journal of Religious Freedom, Survival, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and Security Studies, The Washington Post, Orange County Register, Washington Times, and WORLD Opinions and Providence: A Journal of Christianity and U.S. Foreign Policy. Patterson has provided briefings and seminars for France’s Ministry of Defense, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Naval War College, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, and the U.S. military academies. Patterson holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara, a Master’s in International Politics from the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, and degrees from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri.

Mark Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and editor of IRD’s foreign policy and national security journal, Providence: A Journal of Christianity & American Foreign Policy.  He worked eight years for the Central Intelligence Agency and is a graduate of Georgetown University.  In 1994 he joined IRD to found its United Methodist project (UMAction) and became IRD President in 2009. He is the author of Taking Back The United Methodist Church (2008), Methodism and Politics in the 20th Century: From William McKinley to 9/11 (2012), and The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and the Final Attempt to Avert the Civil War (2015). He has written for The Wall Street Journal, WorldLaw and LibertyNational Review and other publications.  He contributed chapters to several books: The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land (2016), Race and Covenant: Recovering the Religious Roots for American Reconciliation (2020), The Next Methodism: Theological, Social, and Missional Foundations for Global Methodism (2022), Just War and Christian Traditions (2022), and Social Conservatism for the Common Good: A Protestant Engagement with Robert P. George (2023).

Robert R. Williams is the Director of Academic Programs at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Previously he had a 32-year career in the U.S. Army with the first sixteen years serving in the Infantry in combat arms units and the last sixteen years as a Russia Foreign Area Officer (FAO) with various assignments in Germany and Estonia to include being assigned as an instructor at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu. Other FAO assignments included attache and security cooperation positions in the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn Estonia and as a Treaty Compliance Officer in Germany. He had multiple assignments in the intelligence field to include the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Service Intelligence Center for the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.