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Religion and President Johnson

Compiled by the LBJ Library Staff

President Johnson was a member of the "Christian Church," also called the "Disciples of Christ."

President Johnson was baptized in 1923, in the Pedernales River at a site approximately seven miles downstream from the LBJ Ranch, while attending a summertime revival meeting service of the First Christian Church of Johnson City. Johnson had been exposed to the preaching and teaching of his mother's Baptist congregation; however, he independently decided that the beliefs of the Disciples were in accord with his own views, and, on that basis, he became, and remained, a member of the Disciples of Christ.

President Johnson departing church with Reverend George Davis, Image 79AR8957A
President Johnson departs an interdenominational service at the Church of the Epiphany with the Reverend Dr. George Davis of National City Christian Church

 

The President considered the First Christian Church in Johnson City as his "home church." In Washington, D.C., he regarded the National City Christian Church as his "home church," and he frequently worshipped there.

President Johnson would frequently attend services at churches of different denominations. He would accompany Mrs. Johnson who is Episcopalian, often worshiping at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Washington, D. C. He would also attend the Mass at Catholic churches with his daughter Luci. While often going to his own church in Texas, the First Christian Church, he also attended Trinity Lutheran Church and Saint Francis Xavier Church, both in Stonewall, Texas.

Rev. George Davis visits President Johnson in the hospital, Image A1500-5
The Reverend Dr. George Davis of National City Christian Church visits President Johnson in the hospital.

 

Rebekah Baines Johnson, the President's mother, was a Baptist, as were most of her ancestors for several generations. She once expressed the view that she was "grateful for...my Baptist upbringing, sermons, prayer-meeting and Sunday School." She described her father -- a leading member of the Baptist Church in Blanco -- as a Baptist "strict in doctrine, broad in charity, large in enterprise," who was frequently heard to say proudly, "I am a Baptist and a Democrat."

President Johnson's great-grandfather, George Washington Baines, Sr., was one of the best-known Baptist leaders in the early history of Texas. Reverend Baines accepted a Baptist pastorate in Texas at Huntsville where, incidentally, he was the pastor for the Texas hero, General Sam Houston. He was chosen in 1861, to be President of Baylor University, then and now the leading Baptist institution of higher education in Texas and the Southwest.

The President's grandfather, Sam Ealy Johnson, Sr., was raised as a Baptist. Subsequently, in his early manhood, he became a member of the Christian Church. In his later years, he affiliated with the Christadelphians. According to Lady Bird Johnson, President Johnson's father, Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., also joined the Christadelphian Church toward the end of his life.

President Johnson frequently quoted the Bible to illustrate points that he wanted to make. His favorite quotation was from Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together."

LINKS TO ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEWS WITH MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY ABOUT PRESIDENT JOHNSON:

BILLY GRAHAM. Evangelist; Ordained to Ministry, Southern Baptist Convention; personal friend of President Johnson.

DAVIS, GEORGE R. Minister, Christian Church; Pastor, National City Christian Church, Washington, D. C.; personal friend of President Johnson.

SCHNEIDER, WUNIBALD W. Roman Catholic Priest; Pastor, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Stonewall, Texas; personal friend of President Johnson.