Ron Reagan was not on stage Tuesday night for the Democratic presidential primary debate, but his provocative plug for a prominent atheist group earned him the top spot on Google after he declared himself a “lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.”
Reagan, the 61-year-old son of the late President Ronald Reagan, made the pitch for the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a group that targets religion in public schools and government across the nation.
“Hi, I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist,” he said in the 30-second spot, “and I’m alarmed by the intrusion of religion into our secular government.”
Asking people to support FFRF, which he describes as “the nation’s largest and most effective association of atheists and agnostics, working to keep state and church separate, just like our Founding Fathers intended it.”
Signing off, the Gipper’s son said, “lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell,” which caused quite a stir online.
Some on Twitter said Reagan had the best showing during the Democratic debate, and Google Trends agreed if search metrics are the standard. The tech giant tweeted out in the middle of the debate that his name was the top trending search on Google.
The 2014 ad isn’t new, but the Wisconsin-based group’s co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor, claims the ad was rejected by NBC, CBS, ABC, and Discovery Science networks.
“CNN has the right idea: to let there be open debate,” Gaylor said in a statement. “Studies show that secular voters could comprise about a quarter of the electorate and care deeply about hot-button issues, including the direction of the judiciary and protecting abortion and LGBTQ rights.”