Crusades and coalitions: The politics of religion and education during the Johnson administration, 1961-1965



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Texas Tech University


It is the thesis of this paper that the Johnson Administration was the first in American history to breach the historic wall of separation between church and state in a national education poUcy decision. The presumption since the founding of the United States under the Federal Constitution and its First Amendment is that church-state separation is one of the comerstones of American law. Lyndon Johnson managed to include church within the state while retaining the legality of constitutional separation.

This paper is concemed with explaining how this occurred. The broad experience of society's members involves little sense of a distinct separation between major institutions. Individual values are not obliged to observe any such notion as a "wall" of separation between beliefs. A minister or priest, parent or teacher, the president or a member of Congress each potentially embodies at any moment a totality of his person regardless of the specific role performed in any particular social context. This observation constitutes a tmism in daily life but this understanding has been challenged historically in the interpretation of the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution. Orthodoxy with regard to the First Amendment would seem to demand a complete separation in the affairs of govemment and federal legislation toward any religious body.



Johnson, Lyndon B., Federal aid to education, Church and state, Politics and education