Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Ceremony Marking 1966 as the "Year of the Bible."

January 19, 1966

Senator Pell, Mr. Nettinga, ladies and gentlemen:

I am deeply grateful to you for coming here to the White House this morning and presenting me with this beautiful Book. It represents the 750 millionth volume of the Scriptures distributed by the American Bible Society in the past 150 years. I accept it on behalf of the millions of Americans who support your great work and who believe in its goals.

The spirit and the purpose which your Society represents are older than America itself. For we can truly be said to have founded our country on the principles of this Book. The Holy Bible was the most important possession that our forebears placed aboard their ships as they embarked for the New World.

So many of our pioneer ancestors often ventured into the wilderness with only three possessions--their rifle, their axe, and their Bible. And of the three, the Bible was by far their greatest personal treasure. For it contained the hope, and the promise, and the inspiration which gave them the necessary courage to keep going.

One hundred years ago, a group of your predecessors presented a Book such as this to Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln said at that time, and I quote: "In regard to this great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift that God has given to men. All the good Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it."

No human accountant can calculate the immense good that your Society has done over the years.

You have been the main source of supply for the Holy Scriptures for the men and women throughout our Armed Forces.

Thanks to you, millions of the underprivileged people in countries throughout the world have had the Word of God placed in their hands. More often than not, it is the first written word that they ever learn to read.

So you have been a source of solace in time of war--and a force for enlightenment and progress in time of peace.

The time is not far off when some future President will be standing here to receive the one billionth copy of this Book. Let us pray that, by then, the world will be genuinely at peace, and will be peopled by men of good will.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:45 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, a vice president of the American Bible Society, who made the presentation, and to the Reverend James Z. Nettinga, secretary of the Society, who was in charge of the 150th anniversary celebration.

The American Bible Society aids in the translation, publication, and distribution of the Bible in some 500 languages in 150 countries.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Ceremony Marking 1966 as the "Year of the Bible." Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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