On the day after Washington demonstrations against American policies in Southeast Asia, President Johnson heard a different view expressed by evangelist Billy Graham in Houston’s Astrodome.
“Even a little handful can make a great noise and get national attention if they are protesting and demonstrating,” said Graham, who was winding up a crusade in Texas’s largest city.
Continuing his pre-address welcome to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, the evangelist pointed out that in Houston nearly 400,000 people of every color and creed had attended the ten-day meetings “to protest sin and moral evil and to affirm their belief in moral integrity and old-fashioned religious convictions.” The fact that most of them had been under 25 indicated that “the youth of today, in spite of a noisy minority, are probably the most religious-minded of any generation in this century.”
The President and his wife had flown in specially from their ranch, where Graham and his associate Grady Wilson hail been guests the previous weekend. Johnson’s fulfillment of a promise made to Graham, a longtime friend, made history. It was probably the first time a President in office had attended an evangelistic meeting. And the experience was doubtless a novel one also for many members of the White House press corps, which was out in force. In view of the Texas tragedy of two years ago, pressmen and photographers were asked to watch their language: the President was to be “filmed,” not “shot.”
Two days before the beginning of a crusade twice postponed because of his illness, Graham had addressed a capacity crowd at the University of Houston auditorium. In this, his first public address in twelve weeks, the fit-looking evangelist pointed to the fallacy of waiting for problems ...1
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