Latter-day Saint Life

How President Johnson and President McKay's Close Friendship Fulfilled a 100-Year-Old Prophecy


President Lyndon B. Johnson and President David O. McKay had one of the closest relationships between a Church president and U.S. president. They spoke fondly of each other and President Johnson visited Salt Lake City numerous times, even before Johnson was elected.

“I don't know what it is about President McKay. I visit with Billy Graham and all the rest, but somehow President McKay feels like a father to me,” President Johnson said.

The two frequently visited each other and shared a close relationship, with President Johnson making unscheduled stops in Salt Lake City like the one he made in September 1964. President Johnson and President McKay visited for 30 minutes during which time President Johnson invited President McKay to his presidential inauguration the following January in 1965. President McKay did attend the inauguration, along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which performed.

Of these visits President Johnson said, “I could not fly over Utah without stopping to see President McKay. I always feel better after I have been in his presence”

President Johnson also wrote President McKay after he had returned to Washington, saying, "Strong friendships seldom depend upon the frequency of visits for their strength and meaning. While we have had too few occasions to be with you, both Lady Bird and I draw deep strength and inspiration from our bonds with you. I felt that strength especially last week as we flew back to Washington after meeting with you.”

In fact, in addition to visits, President Johnson often called President McKay to ask for advice on matters that troubled him.

Some saw this as a fulfillment of a 100-year-old prophecy Brigham Young's first counselor Heber C. Kimball made: "The President of the United States will come and consult with the authorities of this Church to know what is best to do for his people."

Listen to the conversation between President McKay and President Johnson from September 1964 below or on Soundcloud.

Lead image from
Stay in the loop!
Enter your email to receive updates on our LDS Living content