British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, unlike another world leader of his time, understood God’s place in the world.
“Churchill believed he had a destiny but knew his destiny was reliant on God,” his great-grandson, Jonathan Sandys (pronounced "Sands"), said. “(German dictator Adolf) Hitler believed he had a destiny, but he wanted his destiny to be reliant on himself. … Churchill didn’t want to be prime minister. People say he was arrogant and always wanted to be prime minister, but that’s not true. He became prime minister reluctantly. Unlike Hitler, he did not seek the office he served.”
Sandys, who with Wallace Henley co-wrote “God & Churchill: How the Great Leader’s Sense of Divine Destiny Changed His Troubled World and Offers Hope for Others,” spoke on that topic and more Nov. 8 at a lecture at the Lovett School in Buckhead.
Sandys, an international public speaker on Churchill’s life, legacy and leadership skills, was interviewed by 1981 Lovett graduate Glen Jackson about the role Churchill’s spiritual beliefs played in his leadership on the world stage, especially during World War II, and what he believed about God. When he and Henley started working on the book, published in 2015, Sandys wanted to call it “Churchill & God” because he felt his great-grandfather was more important.
“At the time I started writing, I was as far away from God as possible,” Sandys said, adding someone suggested he “rehash” a book someone else wrote about Churchill. “So I looked up to Heaven and I shouted, ‘Go on, God.’ There are parts of my great-grandfather that have never been publicized, never been discussed. I didn’t get an answer but I honestly have to say, five minutes later, I found myself thumbing through a book Great-Grandpapa had written in the 1930s. … He actually had some form of a relationship with God and at least believed in God enough to actually follow him.
“What I didn’t realize is while doing the research into Churchill and God, everything changed. My co-author said it should be called ‘God & Churchill.’ But I said, ‘God’s irrelevant.’ But he said, ‘God’s a little more relevant than you realize.’ As my research continued, I found the relevance of God with Winston Churchill faded in comparison to the relevance of God, who came out completely in everything I was seeing. Though I wanted to be as far away from God as I could possibly be, God drew me back to him through Churchill. For those of you who think I’m a crazy religious nut, I really am not. Genuinely I really felt a passion for God come through.”
Jackson asked Sandys about Churchill’s “thoughts about Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount and his perspective.”
Sandys said, “Churchill did not envy God or God’s job. But with Jesus, he said that Jesus is unsurpassed in his ability to save sinners. He said it’s the last word in the Bible. The more closely we follow the Sermon on the Mount, the more we can accomplish our endeavors.”
During a Q&A following his talk, Sandys was asked about Churchill’s wife, Clementine.
“(She) was a remarkable woman and had a positive influence on him, especially after she told him he needed to do something. … She was as much involved,” he said. “I’m sorry that there are very few books written about her.”