Ezra Taft Benson Chronology (Part IV): Oct 18, 1963 to January 18, 1970 (Apostle; 2nd European Mission; promotion of Birch Society; exploration of U.S. presidential bids)
Ezra Taft Benson’s Mission call to Europe was viewed by some apostles, and his son Reed Benson, as a rebuke for using his religious influence to advance a political agenda. Both father & son said his political promotions had President McKay’s endorsement. LDS Congressman Harding responded by threatening to release his own private correspondences with General Authorities and McKay family members – in order to demonstrate otherwise. Soon these letters became public.
After Benson left for his mission, McKay held a meeting with the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve where he defended Benson, but avoided discussing Benson’s endorsement of the John Birch Society and public condemnation of President Eisenhower. McKay denied to apostles (and later to the public) that Benson’s European mission call was a rebuke.
At his farewell talk, Benson predicted that within ten years, the U.S. would have “concentration camps, tortures, terror … [with] about 3% of the population to rule the other 97% as slaves,” and he encouraged citizens to become “conspirators against established government.”
At various times, he preached that communists were using the civil rights movement to take over the country. He wrote the forward for a book that featuring the decapitated head of a black man on its cover. The book warned of “the establishment of a Negro Soviet dictatorship in the South.” Upon the designation of a day of mourning for Martin Luther King, Benson released a statement listing his objections to King. He also questioned missionary efforts in predominantly black countries.
The NAACP called for a prayer march in Salt Lake to encourage church leaders to promote civil rights. In response, Utah Birch chapters (headed by Reed Benson) were instructed to begin a “Whispering campaign … that the Civil Rights groups are going to organize demonstrations in Salt Lake City in connection with the forthcoming LDS conference.” They hoped “few well-placed comments will soon mushroom out of control” and deliver a “telling blow” to the civil rights movement. Police took serious the rumors of blacks armed with “machine guns and bombs” intent on destroying all temple square property. Two weeks later, Reed was promoted to public relations director of the Birch society. Upon repeated inquiries, Reed did not take the opportunity to deny he was the author of these instructions.
Efforts by Benson to have Birch Society president Robert Welch speak at BYU or general conference were thwarted by other general authorities. Without telling McKay that the American Opinion Magazine was a Birch Society publication, Benson convinced him to allow his photo on the magazine cover. Permission was later rescinded by the efforts of other church leaders and McKay’s son. However they were surprised when a photo of former McKay counselor J. Reuben Clark was used instead.
Tensions increased among church members, and a stream of letters came into church headquarters. A “crisis” was declared when church leaders learned that some Latter-day Saints were trying to organize efforts to have Benson removed from the Quorum of the Twelve.
Several different spy-rings were organized at BYU. Benson authorized rings, or received reports about selected professors from them. His political endeavors in church venues drew sharp debate at both BYU and the University of Utah.
McKay approved Benson exploring the possibility of running for President of the United States with Strom Thurmond as his running mate. Later, efforts were taken to have Benson run as George C. Wallace’s running mate, but McKay notified Wallace that Benson would be unavailable.
For other parts of the chronology:
- Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Early life, call to Apostleship & WWII Relief Mission (and introduction to the chronologies)
- Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Secretary of Agriculture
- Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Early battle against communism (early McKay administration)
- Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Fight against communism through McKay administration
- Ezra Taft Benson Chronology during the Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball administrations
— 18 Oct 1963
When his father David O McKay privately told Benson of the mission assignment to Europe, Robert McKay wrote to Congressman Harding: “We shall all be relieved when Elder Benson ceases to resist counsel and returns to a concentration on those affairs befitting his office. It is my feeling that there will be an immediate and noticeable curtailment of his Birch Society activities.” Robert McKay was his father’s secretary during trips to stakes and missions outside Utah, and would later read the ailing president’s talks to general conferences. (1)
— 23 Oct 1963
Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith, president of Twelve, writes: “I am glad to report to you that it will be some time before we hear anything from Brother [Ezra Taft] Benson, who is now on his way to Great Britain.”
— 24 Oct 1963
The First Presidency announced they were assigning Benson to preside over the church’s European mission in December. The media immediately described this as a “reprisal” or “exile” for Benson’s virtual endorsement of the Birch Society at general conference. (2)
— 25 Oct 1963
In introducing under-secretary of state Harriman to BYU students, Hugh B. Brown said “A lot of this nonsense gets disseminated by the professional, self-styled anti-Communists who make a comfortable living scaring people all over the country and who have a financial stake in making the Communists look stronger than we.” (3)
Hugh B. Brown warned a BYU audience against “extremists and self-styled patriots who label all those who disagree with them as Communists.” Then in a more obvious allusion to Benson, he said that the First Presidency “deplore any attempt made by individuals to ascribe to the Church personal beliefs which they entertain.” Newspapers observed that Brown’s “remarks were taken as a rebuff to Mormon apostle Ezra Taft Benson who has repeatedly expressed his admiration for the John Birch Society and its founder, Robert Welch.” (4)
U.S. under-secretary of state W. Averill Harriman asked Hugh B. Brown how long Benson would be on this European mission. Brown reportedly replied: “If I had my way, he’d never come back!” (5)
— 27 Oct 1963
In an address to southern whites of the New Orleans Stake on 27 October, Benson condemned U.S. presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy for sending federal troops to aid school integration of African-Americans in the South. Then the apostle praised the Birch Society to the Louisiana conference. (6)
— 29 Oct 1963
Benson told reporters that the European Mission assignment was not a “rebuke.” (7)
— 30 Oct 1963
Student conflict erupted at the University of Utah over Benson’s speech to the New Orleans Stake against federal integration of schools. One of Benson’s defenders accused the university’s newspaper of an “anti-rightist crusade.” For almost a month the Utah Chronicle’s editorial page was dominated by the Benson controversy, until President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November finally superseded it. (8)
Joseph Fielding Smith wrote to Congressman Harding on 30 October: “I think it is time that Brother Benson forgot all about politics and settled down to his duties as a member of the Council of the Twelve.” Smith concluded this letter, “He is going to take a mission to Europe in the near future and by the time he returns I hope he will get all of the political notions out of his system.” (9)
— 31 Oct 1963
The Missionary Training Institute president (a son-in-law of Apostle Harold B. Lee) expressed concern about covert efforts to convert LDS missionaries to the Birch Society. He indicated that “he will resist efforts on the part of some of the young zealots among the missionaries to indoctrinate their colleagues in political extremism.” (10)
— During October 1963
[Ezra Taft Benson conference sermon] Those of us who think “. . . all is well in Zion . . .” in spite of Book of Mormon warning might ponder the words of Heber C. Kimball when he said, “Yes, we think we are secure here in the chambers of these everlasting hills . . . but I want to say to you, my brethren, the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy against the people of God. Then is the time to look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall. For I say unto you there is a test, a Test, a TEST coming.” (11)
— 1 Nov 1963
The Idaho representative who had repudiated Benson in Congress now gloated to the press: “The leadership of the Church was inspired in this calling. I think he’ll make a wonderful mission president if he can get away from the Birch Society.” (12)
— 6 Nov 1963
Congressman Harding wrote that “prospects in the Church do look brighter with the assignment of Ezra Taft Benson to Europe.” (13)
— November 20, 1963
[Ogden Standard Examiner] “The John Birch Society is Rotten to the core,” asserted Idaho rep. Ralph Harding in a statement issued Tuesday night as a reply to remarks made earlier in the day in Boise by Reed Benson, son of Ezra Taft Benson.
The elder Benson has been criticized by Harding for a speech made to Los Angeles Birchers. “I had hoped I had heard the last of Reed Benson trying to use his father and the church to promulgate the John Birch Society. … I have received from general authorities of the LDS Church and from the family of President McKay that both sources are concerned and upset at Benson’s unprincipled attempt to imply that President McKay has given any type of approval to his John Birch Society activities. … If he does make a repeat performance of this disgraceful demonstration, I will be forced to make public the letters I have received from many church leaders showing their dissatisfaction with Benson and their contempt. … Regarding my previous speech in the House of Representatives, I made it after much prayer and deliberation. I new it would be unpopular politically, but I know that it was factually accurate and necessary.” (14)
[Salt Lake Tribune] The son of Ezra Taft Benson asserted Tuesday that his father had the approval of [the] Church president in voicing support of the John Birch Society. McKay “had an idea” of the contents of the planned speech and said his father would not have spoken if the church leader had asked him not to. The office of President McKay in Salt Lake City said that the church leader had approved Elder Benson’s speaking but that the subject matter of his talk was not cleared. A church spokesman also took issue with the younger Benson’s statement that members of the LDS Church as not justified in “publically attacking their apostles.” Reed Benson referred to criticism by Rep. Ralph Harding (D-Idaho) of Ezra Taft Benson’s appearance at the Birch Society gathering. The church spokesman said that apostles and other officials are “not above criticism for statements and actions outside the church.” (15)
— 22 November 1963
Counselor Brown wrote that Reed Benson “is entirely out of order, does not represent the Church’s position, although he claims to do so because his father has the position he has . . .” (16)
— 3 Dec 1963
Some rank-and-file Mormons threatened to picket Benson’s upcoming farewell talk at the LDS tabernacle in Logan, Utah, because his remarks “will most likely be an attempt to again build up the John Birch Society.” When stake leaders “became skittish” about letting him use the tabernacle for this talk, Benson said he would “hold the meeting in a tent, if need be.” (17)
— 13 Dec 1963
Benson’s talk in Logan was an endorsement of the Birch Society. Early in his remarks, he referred to the “Communist attack on the John Birch Society.” A textual analysis also revealed that, without citing his source, 24 percent of Benson’s talk quoted verbatim from the Blue Book of the John Birch Society, and another 10 percent paraphrased this publication. Benson’s talk also repeated such Birch Society themes as the American civil rights movement was “phony” and actually “part of the pattern for the Communist take over of America.” Benson’s statements against the civil rights movement worsened the LDS church’s negative public image during the 1960s.
The apostle predicted that within ten years the United States of America will be ruled by a Communist dictatorship which “will include military occupation, concentration camps, tortures, terror and all that is required to enable about 3% of the population to rule the other 97% as slaves.” Benson promised such dire consequences “unless we join with those small but determined and knowledgeable patriots.” He added: “Words will not stop the communists … [we] can no longer resist the Communist conspiracy as free citizens, but can resist Communist tyranny only by themselves becoming conspirators against established government”. He rallied Americans to battle Communism “even with our lives, if the time comes when we must . . . before the Godless Communist Conspiracy destroys our civilization.” (18)
— Dec. 14, 1963
“LOGAN, UTAH–Former Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson charged Friday night that the civil-rights movement in the South had been ‘formatted almost entirely by the Communists.’ Elder Benson, a member of the Council of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a public meeting here that the whole civil-rights movement was ‘phony’.***” (19)
— 14 December 1963
At a church farewell on 14 December Reed Benson complained that his father had been “`stabbed’ in the back.” The Twelve’s president, Joseph Fielding Smith, was present to hear the younger Benson’s remark that his father’s mission call was a back-stab. (20)
— December 20, 1963
L.D.S. U.S. Senator Frank Moss (D-Utah) to Hugh B. Brown: I read the account of Apostle Benson’s speech in the Logan LDS Tabernacle in the December 15th issue of the Herald Journal. I won’t comment on the contents of the speech except to say that it appears that he has not changed his position at all from that that he expressed in Los Angeles at the testimonial dinner for Robert Welch. On page 10 there is a picture of Reed Benson passing out copies of the speech of Ezra T. Benson, and on that same page the following paragraph in the article says: “Copies of Elder Benson’s complete speech were available at the meeting or can be obtained by writing directly to him at the LDS Church Offices in Salt Lake City, the Apostle said.” I don’t know how we could be tied in more closely as a Church with the doctrines espoused by Ezra Taft Benson than by an announcement of this sort. I continue to be bombarded daily by questions and criticisms back here. (21)
— 23 Dec 1963
Joseph Fielding Smith wrote to Congressman Harding: “I am glad to report to you that it will be some time before we hear anything from Brother Benson, who is now on his way to Great Britain where I suppose he will be, at least for the next two years. When he returns I hope his blood will be purified.” (22)
— January 1964 to September 1965
Serves again as president of the European Mission. (23)
— January 4, 1964
[Drew Pearson (syndicated columnist)] Ezra Taft Benson has departed for a long stay in Europe after a farewell speech hinting that the time has come for Americans to overthrow their government.
Free citizens, Benson said, in an amazing statement, should become “conspirators against established government.”
The speech climaxed three years of unusual behavior for Benson, a period during which he embarrassed the man so steadfastly supported him, Dwight D. Eisenhower; also embarrassed the head of the Mormon Church president David O. McKay and his fellow apostles in the church. (24)
— Late January, 1964
Senator Ralph Harding: ‘President McKay, I want you to know that just because I’ve had my problems with Elder Benson over the John Birch Society, that I still have a strong testimony of the gospel.’ He said, ‘I know that, Brother Harding. Several of us have had problems with Brother Benson over the Birch Society.’” (25)
— 19 Feb 1964
Utah Senator Frank Moss (D) described Benson’s Dec 1963 Logan address as “a disgraceful talk.” Senator Frank E. Moss also complained to Counselor Brown that Benson had arranged for copies of the talk to be distributed from the apostle’s office at church headquarters. At the same time, other Mormons wrote the First Presidency with similar complaints that this “literature [is being] mailed from 47 East South Temple.” (26)
— 20 Feb 1964
“The [18 Oct 1963] letter [To Congressman Harding] in no way reflects my view that Elder Benson is not a good apostle of the church,” Robert McKay explained after newspapers published his letter. His clarification added that “in my own opinion Elder Benson would be better able to serve the church when he is free of Birch Society ties.” (27)
— 21 Feb 1964
U.S. representative Harding, who had condemned Benson in Congress, publicly praised his exile to Europe, circulated the anti-Benson letters of church leaders. (28)
Dwight D. Eisenhower’s praise of Senator Harding’s criticism of Ezra Taft Benson (his former cabinate member) is published in the Idaho State Journal. (29)
President McKay released an official denial that Benson’s mission was “because of Elder Benson’s alleged activities with the John Birch Society.” (30)
— March 5, 1964
Meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve (minus Benson, who was in Europe):
[McKay:] “Before partaking of the Sacrament this morning, I should like to refer to an unfortunate incident which has occurred since the Council last met in this capacity.” McKay was particularly upset at letters he had received stating that “a lack of harmony among the leaders of the church” was “creating confusion among members and friends of the Church.”
He then put Joseph Fielding Smith on the spot: “I said that I should like to know today that there is no dissension among the members of this Council, and that we partake of the Sacrament in full fellowship and full support of one another. I mentioned that since President Smith’s name is associated with Brother Benson, particularly in the matter of the John Birch Society, that I think it would be well for President Smith on this occasion to explain his association with the controversy.”
Smith replied that “he was glad to do so.” He acknowledged that “he did say that when Brother Benson comes home, he hoped he would not get into politics and would keep his blood pure.” However, he did not intend his comments to be a personal attack on Benson, but rather as an acknowledgement “that in politics a lot of things are done that are somewhat shady. He said he was speaking of conditions that exist in the political world, and intended no reflection upon Brother Benson.” Smith said that he had discussed the matter of his letters with Benson and asserted that the two were “on the best of terms and fellowship with each other.” Refusing to capitulate on his main point, he repeated that he would not do anything to hurt Benson but “hoped Brother Benson would keep himself out of politics.”
McKay accepted Smith’s explanation, but defended Benson: I then said that Elder Benson had permission from the President of the Church to give the lecture that he gave in the auditorium in Hollywood. I mentioned that some people had said that that was one activity wherein Brother Benson went contrary to the counsel of the Presidency and General Authorities. I said that Elder Benson had full permission to give that lecture and he gave a good talk…. I further said that Brother Benson had said publicly that he was in favor of the John Birch Society, and that I had told Brother Benson that he could not, as one of the Twelve, join that Society. This was before Brother Benson was called to be President of the European Mission, and his call as President of that mission had nothing whatever to do with the John Birch Society. I said that I had told him back in November last that he could not join the Society as one of the Twelve…. Brother Benson’s call to preside over the European Mission had no relationship whatever to his desire to join that Society. I stated that so far as this Council is concerned, we have no connection whatever with the John Birch Society, no matter how good it may be and how noble its purposes; that Brother Benson received his call to go to Europe without any thought of associating his call to the European Mission Presidency with his views regarding the John Birch Society, and that so far as we are concerned this morning as the Council of the First Presidency and the Twelve, we have nothing whatever to do with it, and Brother Benson’s call over there had nothing to do with it.
I then said: “We shall partake of the sacrament this morning in the spirit of the opening prayer; that we be one in all things pertaining to this Church.”
Although McKay’s defense of Benson was impassioned and unequivocal, it sidestepped the issue that had catapulted Benson’s talk into the national spotlight, namely, Benson’s implicit endorsement of Birch Society founder Robert Welch’s charges that Dwight Eisenhower, a close friend of McKay, was a tool of the Communists. (31)
— Spring 1964
Reed Benson became the John Birch coordinator for the Mormon counties of southern Idaho. (32)
— 22 May 1964
BYU Professor Louis Midgley: “It is difficult to believe that anyone at a university—anyone who reads books and thinks—would take such a movement [The John Birch Society] seriously…. The man who wrote The Politician did so to inform his followers that former President Eisenhower was a communist. Of course he provides no evidence but the usual collection of garbage. For absurdity, the charge against Ike would have to be placed next to the belief, as far as I know, held by no one, that President McKay is secretly a Catholic. What Welch-Birch really wants is to return to a world without taxes, the U.N., labor unions, racial minorities demanding some kind of legal equality; Birchers want a world without fluoridation, the Soviet Union, large cities and emerging nations and all the rest that goes with our world.”
“It is little wonder that the First Presidency has taken steps to warn Church members not to try to align the Church or its leadership with the partisan views of the Welch-Birch or any similar monstrosity.” (33)
— 26 May 1964
Mark E. Peterson to Hugh B. Brown: “he wished there was some way to keep Brother Benson out of politics.” (34)
McKay telephoned Earl C. Crockett, BYU’s acting president, and directed him to meet with Midgley “and ask him why he should have written the editorial ‘Birch Society Reviewed’ for ten thousand students to read…. This matter of the John Birch Society should be dropped.” (34)
— June 4, 1964
McKay: “It would be well for faculty members to hold no discussions whatsoever on the John Birch Society, and to drop the matter entirely.” (35)
— July, 1964
The John Birch Society began a recruitment project entitled “JBS Personal Letter Campaign”. The idea was for members to contact potential supporters by using different types of letters with enclosures which would be coded so that it could be determined which packet was the most effective and productive. One proposed letter enclosed a copy of the John Birch Society reprint “The Time Has Come”. Another letter enclosed a copy of John Stormer’s conspiracy classic 1964 book, None Dare Call It Treason. A third letter enclosed a copy of a speech by Ezra Taft Benson. (36)
Mark A. Benson compiled a collection of his father’s talks for a Deseret Book Company publication. Nearly every sermon referred to the threat of Communism, and the book also mentioned the Birch Society’s president five times. By contrast, before their mutual involvement in the Birch Society, Reed Benson had compiled a book of his father’s sermons which discussed Communism only three times. (37)
— 23 July 1964
Richard D. Poll joined with twenty-one other BYU professors in publicly condemning John A. Stormer’s None Dare Call It Treason as “this piece of fanatacism.” Poll was the one who publicly responded to complaints by BYU’s ultra-conservative students about this statement. At the time Stormer’s book was “in sales and in loans, the most popular book” within the Birch Society. (38)
— September 17, 1964
Arch Madsen, president of the church-owned KSL, relayed to the First Presidency an inquiry from a committee of broadcasters charged with selecting a new president of the National Association of Broadcasters. The committee wished to know if Benson, who was on their short list, would be available on a full-time basis to serve in that position. “After hearing all the facts pertaining to the matter,” McKay dictated in his diary: “I indicated that so far as the Church is concerned, Brother Benson would be available for such an appointment.” Hugh B. Brown concurred with McKay’s decision, but added a strong qualifier, saying “if Brother Benson severed his relationship with [the John Birch Society] and accepted this position as a non-partisan assignment for the benefit of the Church primarily, he could do a lot of good; otherwise, he could do us a lot of harm.” Benson was not offered the position. (34)
— 1964, October
Observance of Family Home Evening reemphasized. (39)
— October 1964
While on his European mission Benson authorized the Birch Society to publish a talk he had prepared as an endorsement of the society. In addition, he authorized the society to publish his photograph on the cover of its magazine in October 1964. This issue of the Birch organ also favorably reviewed Benson’s just-published Title of Liberty and observed that he “is a scholar and a patriot, [but] he is primarily a man of God.” (40)
— 5 Nov 1964
U.S. representative Harding, who had condemned Benson in Congress, publicly praised his exile to Europe, and circulated the anti-Benson letters of church leaders, was defeated that fall for re-election. Harding and others saw his defeat as a result of Mormon voters’ distaste for public criticism of LDS leaders and as evidence of Birch Society influence.
To the contrary, an analysis of election returns from 1960 to 1964 shows that Harding overwhelmingly retained the support of Mormon voters. In fact, in Madison County with its 91.7 percent Mormon population, the number of votes for Harding actually increased from 1960 to 1964, despite his public criticism of Benson. In other words, public criticism of Benson in the 1960s seems not to have alienated a large majority of faithful Mormon voters. They may have shared Harding’s dismay at the apostle’s endorsement of the Birch Society. (41)
— December 1964
Benson authorized the Birch magazine to publish his “The Christ and the Constitution.” (42)
— April 1965
12 Dec 1964 The FBI’s director publicly denied communist dommination of the NAAP. (43)
— 16 Dec 1964
Reed Benson becomes John Birch Society coordinater of Washington D.C. (44)
FBI director Hoover left the impression with Benson that they were friends and fellow fighters of communism. Files show they exchanged copies of books and speeches. Hoover sent messages of encouragement when Benson was sick and when his stepmother died. He wrote a note of thanks for Benson’s service when he left the Cabinet. He also once invited Benson to have his son, Reed, apply to become an FBI agent. In turn, Benson invited Hoover to speak at an LDS Church general conference (which Hoover declined), to attend a concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Benson’s wife, to allow the LDS Church’s Deseret Book Co. to print a compilation of Hoover’s speeches (which did not happen), and even to attend a song recital by one of Benson’s daughters.
“I realize that only in the next life will we fully appreciate all you have done to preserve freedom in this country,” Benson wrote Hoover in 1965. “I am most grateful for your exposure of the communist conspiracy and for the wonderful organization you have established in the FBI.” (45)
— January 1965
Nationally prominent Mormon journalist Jack Anderson reported that the First Presidency was exasperated with Reed Benson’s role as his father’s surrogate for the Birch Society.
In response to an inquiry by a Mormon Bircher about this allegation, Clare Middlemiss replied that “neither Elder Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve nor his son, Reed Benson, have been rebuked by the church.” Barely concealing her own pro-Birch sentiments, the church president’s longtime personal secretary added: “Reed Benson, a member of the church in good standing, used his own intelligence and free agency in accepting his position with the John Birch Society.” The Mormon Bircher almost immediately released this endorsement to the press. (46)
— 15 Jan 1965
Reed Benson published full page ads in Idaho of Apostle Benson’s endorsement of the Birch Society. (47)
— 23 Feb 1965
“All of us are one hundred percent against Communism in all its phases,” Hugh B. Brown: “but the leaders of the Church are not convinced that any conspiracy exists within our own country.” (48)
— 7 Mar 1965
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for a prayer march in Salt Lake City “to ask the LDS Church to use their influence for moral justice in regards to civil rights.” (49)
— April 4, 1965
In Church general conference in April 1965, Benson warned, “To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the war in heaven meant eternal damnation. How then can Latter-day Saints expect to be on the wrong side in this life and escape the eternal consequences?” (50)
General Conference address: “What are we doing to fight it? <Before I left for Europe I warned how the communists were using the civil rights movement to promote revolution and eventual takeover of this country. When are we going to wake up? What do you know about the dangerous civil rights agitation in Mississippi! do you fear the destruction of all vestiges of state government?”
“Now brethren, the Lord never promised there would not be traitors in the Church. We have the ignorant, the sleepy and the deceived who provide temptations and avenues of apostasy for the unwary and the unfaithful, but we have a prophet at our head and he has spoken. Now what are we going to do about it?>”
” Do Homework”
“Brethren, if we had done our homework and were faithful we could step forward at this time and help save this country.”
Note: the words in angled brackets (<>) were omitted in the Improvement Era. (51)
News story: ”Benson linked the civil rights movement to Communists and made vague insinuations about “traitors in the church.” Last month the NAACP protested the Mormons’ failure to endorse civil rights legislation by picketing the church headquarters wile the Utah Legislature was in session. [Hugh B. Browns pro-civil rights statement] was contradicted at this month’s conference [by] Ezra Taft Benson, an apostle of the church. “Before I left for Europe, I warned how the Communists were using the civil rights movement to promote revolution and eventual takeover of this country. When are we going to wake up? … Do you fear the destruction of all vestiges of State government? Now, brethern, the Lord has never promised there would not be traitors in the church. We have the ignorant, the sleepy, and the deceived who provide temptations and avenues of apostasy for the unwray and the unfaithful.” (52)
— April 7, 1965
Departing from his prepared text, Elder Benson referred to the fight against communism as “the war in heaven now raging on the earth.” He detailed the various arguments which he said Satan is using in a effort to blunt the fight against communism. “The Lord may not set up a specific program to fight for freedom for fear it might split the Church.” (53)
— 7 Apr 1965
While in Utah for general conference, Ezra Taft Benson complained to BYU’s president that “many of our political science and economics teachers are teaching false doctrine.” This was a month after the Provo “section leader” of the John Birch Society began receiving reports from a Birch student majoring in economics about his “covert surveillance” of BYU’s “liberal professors,” including professor Richard D. Poll. BYU’s Wilkinson concluded that Apostle Benson had received this information through his son Reed. Wilkinson was receiving separate reports from this same BYU-Birch student about Poll. (54)
— 12 Apr 1965
Regarding Benson’s April 1965 conference talk, one LDS student wrote a letter to the Utah Chronicle that Benson “told a damned lie” when he instructed LDS general conference that Communists controlled the NAACP. (55)
— 13 Apr 1965
Asked about Benson’s April 1965 talk, Hugh B. Brown replied “tartly” to reporters that the apostle “speaks strictly for himself. My statement is the official Church position. It was personally approved by President McKay . . .” (56)
— 20 Apr 1965
A Birch student-spy had been involved in the 1965 monitoring of Professor Richard Poll and had publicly accused Poll of having a Communist subversive speak to his classes. (57)
— 22 Apr 1965
Reed Benson publicly endorsed Birch Society founder Robert Welch’s accusation that U.S. president Eisenhower had been a Communist agent. Then the loyal son probably consulted Apostle Benson in advance about his apparent plan to use the Birch Society to disrupt the next general conference with rumors of a violent demonstration by African- Americans. Ezra Taft Benson’s official biography by Sheri Dew is silent about Benson’s and his son’s devotion to the Birch Society but observes that in 1965-66 Reed Benson “continued to be involved in the fight for freedom which his father supported . . .” (58)
— 26 Apr 1965
Covert surveillance continues by BYU-Birch student in the form of either correspondence, classroom questioning, or private meetings to extract “pro-Communist” views from their professors. (59)
— 27 April 1965
Ernest Wilkinson wrote to Apostle Benson’s son Mark for “any specific information that will be helpful to me respecting Richard Poll and his associates . . .” This demonstrates Wilkinson’s belief that Mark A. Benson (also a Bircher) was involved with his brother Reed in the BYU campus espionage which their father had proposed five years earlier. (60)
— 5 May 1965
A Birch student-spy complained to President McKay that Poll was “the most vocal leader of this opposition” to “Bro. Skousen and Elder Benson.” (61)
— 17 May 1965
Ezra Taft Benson wrote to Hoover with a plea. “Word has come to me, not yet fully confirmed, that some of our liberal ‘soft-on-communist’ groups are planning to put pressure on you to come out with a statement against the John Birch Society.” He urged Hoover not to do so. “It is my conviction that this organization is the most effective non-church group in America against creeping socialism and godless communism,” Benson wrote.
Hoover, however, in response to a question at a news conference soon thereafter, said he had little respect for the society or its founder, Robert Welch.
After Hoover’s disavowal of Welch, Benson decided to meet with Hoover to explain his support of the society and how Welch’s writings had convinced him that Eisenhower aided communism.
Files show that Hoover’s aides twice told Benson that he was unavailable for such a meeting — as memos had advised them to do. So Benson wrote Hoover the sensitive “personal-confidential” letter of May 28, 1965, outlining his conclusions about Eisenhower.
Benson also soon sent a book by Welch titled The Politician, noting it was what led him to his conclusions about Eisenhower.
In the book, Welch argues that Eisenhower was either ignorant, a politician blinded by opportunism or was “consciously aiding the communist conspiracy” — and said it really didn’t matter because “they all come to the same end … namely tragedy.”
Benson wrote Hoover that he inscribed the following words on the flyleaf of the book after he first read it:
“Have just finished this shocking volume. … While I do not agree with all or the extent of some of the author’s conclusions, one must agree that the documented record makes the thesis of the book most convincing.
“How can a man [Eisenhower] who seems to be so strong for Christian principles and base American concepts be so effectively used as a tool to serve the communist conspiracy?
“I believe the answer is found in the fact that these godless communist conspirators and their fellow travelers are masters of deceit — who deceived the very elect. How our people need to be alerted and informed.”
Benson added that he hoped the $1 book would be made available widely.
“This story must be told even at the risk of destroying the influence of men who are widely respected and loved by the American people. The stakes are high. Freedom and survival are the issues,” he had written in his copy of the book.
Benson also wrote of Eisenhower: “I presume I will never know in this life why he did some of the things he did which gave help to the [communist] conspiracy. It is not my divine prerogative to know the motives of men. It is easier, however, to judge the consequences of man’s actions.” (45)
— June 1965
The official publication of April 1965 conference talks deleted Benson’s reference to LDS “traitors,” as well as his assessment of the civil rights movement as Communist and revolutionary. (62)
— 24 Jun 1965
A Birch student-spy complained to Ernest Wilkinson about Poll’s negative reviews of the Skousen’s Naked Communist and of None Dare Call It Treason. (63)
— 2 July 1965
The NAACP passed a unanimous resolution asking all Third World nations “to refuse to grant visa to missionaries and representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . . . until such time as the doctrine of non-white inferiority is changed and rescinded by that church and a positive policy of support for civil rights is taken.” (64)
— July 21, 1965
The Modesto Bee: Reed Benson, the John Birch Society’s representative in the nation’s capital, has accused Martin Luther King of hurting the cause of the American Negro. Benson, son of former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, said King has “set back the cause of the Negro in this country for years, many years”. “I’m not opposed to civil rights. I am opposed to men like Martin Luther King.” (65)
— mid-Aug 1965
The Watts riot of African-Americans erupted in Los Angeles (43)
— 19-22 Aug 1965
BYU president Ernest Wilkinson attended three days of private indoctrination by the president of the Birch Society, and resolved “to press forward for more training along this line at the BYU.” (66)
— 1 Sept 1965
On 17 August the society’s “Major Coordinators” sent instructions to all the Birch officers in California to take “immediate action” to “expose the so-called Civil Rights Movement.” (67)
A follow-up letter instructed Birch Society leaders in Los Angeles County to “take advantage of the current situation” as a means of repudiating civil rights activism. (68)
— 2 Sep 1965
Reed Benson escalated both the Birch conflict and racial tensions in Mormonism with a memorandum to all Birch Society chapters in Utah on 2 September 1965:
It is common knowledge that the Civil Rights Movement is Communist controlled, influenced and dominated. . . . Our founder and guide, Mr. Robert Welch, has instructed us that when necessary we must adopt the communist technique in our ever present battle against Godless Communism. It is urged that in the coming weeks the Utah Chapters begin a whispering campaign and foster rumors that the Civil Rights groups are going to organize demonstrations in Salt Lake City in connection with the forthcoming LDS conference. . . . A few well placed comments will soon mushroom out of control and before the conference begins there will be such a feeling of unrest and distrust that the populace will hardly know who to believe. The news media will play it to the very hilt. No matter what the Civil Rights leaders may try to say to deny it the seed will have been sown and again the Civil Rights movement will suffer a telling blow. President McKay’s nephew, Quinn McKay, recognized the letter’s signature and regarded it as genuine. (69)
— 19 Sept 1965
Reed Benson becomes national director of public relations for the John Birch Society (70)
— Sept 1965
The biography of Harold B. Lee, then an apostle, notes that “there were rumors of blacks invading Salt Lake City to take vengeance upon the Saints and the Church.” (71)
A study observes that “hysterical rumors swept the Utah community, concerning the imminence of demonstrations and riots” at the upcoming LDS general conference. (72)
The Salt Lake police got caught up in the rumors and telephoned Hugh B. Brown that “four carloads of negroes armed with machine guns and bombs were reported coming to Salt Lake City for the purpose of inciting a riot and particularly to destroy properties on the Salt Lake Temple Block.” (43)
— 27 Sept 1965
Reflecting Reed Benson’s instructions to Utah members of the Birch Society, one rumor claimed that “2,000 professional demonstrators and Black Muslims will be imported to this area under NAACP sponsorship.” Other widely circulated stories were that “all plane flights from Los Angeles to Salt Lake are chartered by `Watts Negroes,'” and that “3500 `transient Negroes’ have already arrived in Salt Lake.” As a result, the Utah National Guard began “riot control” maneuvers. (73)
— 28 Sept 1965
The NAACP issued an official statement which tried to instill calm in Utah but also accurately identified Birchers as responsible for the September 1965 race-war hysteria in Utah. “The NAACP deplores the malicious and totally irresponsible rumors circulating in many sections of the state to the effect that Negroes are planning a riot at the LDS conference,” the statement began. Then the statement continued that the NAACP had “reason to believe the rumors started with certain right-wing societies that make a practice of scaring people.” (74)
— 30 Sept 1965
Cover story of The John Birch Society Bulletin for September 1965: “Fully expose the `civil rights’ fraud and you will break the back of the Communist Conspiracy!” Robert Welch concluded the article: “And we repeat once more: It is on the `civil rights’ sector of their total Communist front that we now have the best chance there has been since 1952 of setting them back with some really effective blows. Let’s put our best into the job.” (75)
— Oct 1965
The John Birch Society Bulletin referred to civil rights activists and Martin Luther King as “the animals.” After giving its perspective on the Watts riot by Reed Benson, the Birch Society’s October magazine referred to all black immigrants to the United States today as “Savages” in a separate article on current immigration. (76)
— 27 Oct 1965
Utah’s Republican U.S. senator, Wallace F. Bennett, publicly repudiated the Birch Society. This was a significant change from Bennett’s more sympathetic position two years earlier, when the conservative senator inserted into the Congressional Record the previously cited letter from President McKay’s secretary: “The church is not opposing the John Birch Society . . .” (77)
— 28 Oct 1965
[Quorum of the Twelve] Thorpe B. Isaacson called as Counselor to President David O. McKay (78)
— 29 Oct 1965
[Quorum of the Twelve] Joseph Fielding Smith called as Counselor to President David O. McKay. (78)
— November 4, 1965
Council meeting: “Elder Benson said … that he was confident in his own mind from a study he had made of the Negro question that we are only seeing something being carried out today that was planned by the highest councils of the communist party twenty years ago, and that Martin Luther King is an agent, if not a power in the Communist party. He said that this whole thing is being directed and supported and promoted by agents of the Communist party, that the Negroes are being used in this whole question of Civil Rights, integration, etc., and that the NAACP are largely made up of men who are affiliated with from one to a dozen communist-front organizations, and he thought they would do anything in their power to embarrass the Church. Elder Benson thought we ought to be very careful what we do in the Negro field, whether it be in Nigeria, here, or any other place in the world, and he felt that so far as Brother Williams is concerned, his work in Nigeria [to establish the church] should be terminated and he be brought home to report.” (79)
— November 16, 1965
Logan Ut newspaper article: “… If and when the United States, as the last bastion of freedom, is taken over by the Communists, the terror they will use to enforce, consolidate, and maintain their rule will be both more crule and more extensive, than anything the human race has ever before known or imagined. And our children who survived will one day certainly ask: ‘What did my parents do to prevent this slavery for American…'”
“Ezra Taft Benson said ‘I feel that a man must not only stand for the right principles, but he must fight for them. And let me at this time salute those valiant patriots of the John Birch Society. … They can be proud of the friends they’ve gained and the enemies they’ve earned.’ … have been smeared by every conceivable method … truth is our weapon.” (80)
— November 19, 1965
McKay met privately with Benson, who “gave a report on the serious inroads the Communists have made in this country…. I am convinced that our country is already on the road to Socialism, and that the Communists are making gains here.” Benson then suggested that McKay’s new counselor, Thorpe Isaacson, be sent to a two-day John Birch Society seminar in December to learn about “Communism and conditions in our country.” McKay agreed. Isaacson later elected not to go to the seminar. (34)
— November 24, 1965
[[Clare Middlemiss note]]
“President Brown said, ‘Why cannot we have harmony?’
Clare answered, ‘Yes, why?’
[Brown:] ‘You got off the wrong track with me over the John Birch Society and Brother Benson.’
[Middlemiss:] ‘I have only wanted to fight Communism, and have answered letters on the John Birch Society the way President McKay has told me to.’
President Brown said, ‘I have wanted to fight Communism also, but not the way Benson or the John Birch Society are doing it —everybody is against them.’” (81)
— 8 Dec 1965
McKay’s secretary, Clare Middlemiss wrote a church member: “President McKay has further instructed me to tell you that Elder Ezra Taft Benson has not been rebuked by the Church . . . and, since Communism is a definite threat to the eternal principle of free agency, it cannot be considered that he is `out of line’ when discussing it in talks.” (82)
— 16 Dec 1965
General authorities vetoed an effort by one of Benson’s intermediaries to have the Birch Society’s president speak at Brigham Young University. Those voting against the proposal were Apostles Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Delbert L. Stapley, Marion G. Romney, and LeGrand Richards. That unanimous vote reflected First Presidency counselor N. Eldon Tanner’s statement to a political science professor: “We certainly don’t want the Birch Society to get a hold on the BYU campus.” Tanner had served as a counselor for the past two years since Henry D. Moyle’s death. (83)
— January 11, 1966
David O. McKay: “I said that I think the time has come for the First Presidency to make a statement as to the Church’s attitude regarding Communism; that this, however, should have nothing whatever to do with the Birch Society, and should be a message from the First Presidency of the Church. The Brethren agreed that there is a great need for such a message, and I was persuaded that I am the one who should prepare such a statement.” (34)
— 16 Jan 1966
Benson endorsed the Birch Society and its program at stake conferences and at the LDS institute in Logan, Utah. (84)
— 21 Jan 1966
Benson’s endorsement of the Birch Society disturbed Utah’s Republican senator, a devoted Mormon. Senator Wallace Bennett urged David O. McKay’s son to persuade the church president to disassociate himself from Benson’s “very clever statement about your father which would seem to give your father’s endorsement” to the Birch Society. (85)
— During End of Janurary, 1966
At the end of the month the Birch Society released its Bulletin which announced that Benson would speak at a testimonial for Robert Welch in Seattle on 19 February “with the full approval of President McKay of the Mormon Church.” (86)
— February 9, 1966
McKay Diary: “David O. McKay Met by appointment Elder Ezra Taft Benson who said that the editors of the American Opinion magazine would like to have my portrait on the cover of their April issue. He said this magazine is published in Belmont, Massachusetts, and is a high-class publication. He showed me several past issues with pictures of Senator Barry Goldwater, the Honorable J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, and other prominent Americans. Brother Benson said that they needed a colored photograph and some biographical material, and I asked him to get these from my secretary, Clare. After discussing the matter, I could see no reason why I should not grant permission for the editors to use my picture.”
[Benson did not inform McKay that American Opinion was the montly magazine of the John Birch Society]. (34)
— 11 Feb 1966
Benson spoke about the Birch Society to a standing-room-only crowd at the Assembly Hall on Salt Lake Temple Square. He charged that “a minority bloc of American liberals [had] formed a propaganda coalition with the Communists . . . [and] drew the line of fire away from the Communist Conspiracy and to focus the heat of attack on the patriots.” Benson added that this conspiracy of liberals and Communists “decided to level practically their entire arsenal on The John Birch Society.”
These remarks had already been published by the Birch Society’s national headquarters two years before Benson delivered them on Temple Square. They were a verbatim restatement of a speech Benson had prepared for an Idaho “Freedom Forum” as he was about to depart for his European Mission presidency in December 1963.
Benson said that he had read the Birch Society’s Blue Book, Robert Welch’s The Politician, and recommended that the audience subscribe to the Birch Society’s official magazine American Opinion. His talk even included the mailing address. Of his support for the Birch Society, the Deseret News added Benson’s comment to the Mormons on Temple Square: “It has been very unpopular to defend this group,” he said, “But I can remember when it was unpopular to defend my own church.” (87)
— 18 February 1966
The First Presidency decided that a picture “of Pres. McKay not to appear on cover of American Opinion Magazine.” (88)
— February 18, 1966
[per David O’ McKay diary] Apostle Mark E. Petersen stated that the Church Information Service had received a bill for $25 for a color photograph of McKay for the cover o f American Opinion, “which is the John Birch Society organ…. Elder Petersen said that if my picture is so published it will certainly look as though the Church is endorsing the John Birch Society. I said that my picture should not appear on this magazine; that the Church has nothing to do with the John Birch Society. I authorized Brother Petersen to tell Brother Benson that he had brought this matter to my attention, and had been told by me to stop the printing of my picture on this magazine; that I do not want it used in that way. I said to Brother Petersen, “You are ordered in the presence of these men to stop it.” I further said that I do not want to have anything to do with the John Birch Society; that the Church has had nothing to do with it in the past, and that so far as Brother Benson is concerned, I do not think we would hear anything more about it. (34)
— February 19, 1966
[per McKay Diary] Benson avoided the issue of American Opinion being a John Birch Society publication, nor did McKay bring it up. Instead, he repeated that “the magazine is considered a high-type magazine” on whose cover the pictures of Senator Barry Goldwater, J. Edgar Hoover, and other prominent men had appeared. Furthermore, he reminded McKay that he had given his word on the matter. Although McKay had been adamant only two days before, he now decided “that they had better go ahead with it since I had given my permission for this to be done.” McKay did not tell any of his other associates that he had reversed field on the issue. (34)
— 22 Feb 1966
During a visit at church headquarters the last week of February, Senator Moss found “a number of the Brethren boiling pretty good” about Benson’s recent talk. These general authorities “decided that Brother Benson’s Assembly Hall speech should not be printed in the Church News. This was the decision until it was found that President McKay had already approved its printing and his office had directed the Deseret News to print it.” (89)
— 26 Feb 1966
Benson’s opponents in the hierarchy did manage to delete “without permission” the Birch Society references from the version of Benson’s talk published in the Church News. (90)
— Mar 1966
The Birch magazine sent a letter to all Utah subscribers that its upcoming cover photograph of McKay was intended “to favorably impress your Mormon friends.” (91)
— 2 March 1966
The First Presidency learned that the Birch Society’s March Bulletin encouraged Birch members to write “Personal and Confidential” letters to President McKay and to his two new counselors, Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson. (92)
— 3 March 1966
The entire First Presidency decided that “Elder Benson to be told not to mention Birch Society.” (88)
Apostle Benson notified the Twelve’s president that President McKay had approved the apostle’s acceptance of all invitations to speak at testimonials for the Birch Society’s president, Robert Welch. “I feel no compunction to make the Church popular with liberals, socialists, or communists. I do feel responsible to tell the truth,” Benson wrote. Of the fact that Mormons were joining the Birch Society and Birchers were becoming Mormons, he added: “and those who love the truth will embrace it without compromise and that is exactly what is happening.” (93)
— 8 Mar 1966
J. Reese Hunter, chair of the Birch Society – Robert Welch dinner meeting, mailed a “Dear Brethren” letter to stake presidents and bishops inviting them to attend “with your counselors and wives.” (94)
— March 8, 1966
Elders Peterson and Lee read to McKay the minutes of the First Presidency meeting of February 18, in which he had unambiguously ordered Petersen to stop the printing of his picture on the magazine. Without mentioning Benson by name, McKay replied, “They have resorted to everything they could to get me associated with that.” Tanner said, “One reason we thought we should come this morning is if you thought it should be stopped we ought to get word to them immediately.” McKay replied, “You get them by telephone. Tell them I do not want anything to do with it, that I do not want my name associated with John Birch.” Tanner then showed McKay the issue of American Opinion with Benson’s picture on the front cover and said, “That is the way they would want to put your picture, and even if they have it printed they could put a new cover on without any trouble.” McKay replied, “I do not want my picture on it. Stop it!”
At McKay’s direction, his son Lawrence then phoned the editorial office of American Opinion and required that they stop the publication of McKay’s picture “no matter what the cost.” (31)
— circa 14 Mar 1966
Some circulated a proposal which urged anti-Birch Mormons to petition the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve’s president for the “removal of Benson from the Quorum of the Twelve.” According to this “OPERATION CHECKMATE” handout, Benson’s transgressions were “flagrant insubordination,” “pulpit misuse,” and “demeaning the President of the Church by callously taking advantage of his advanced years.” The First Presidency defined the situation as “a crisis.” (95)
— on or before 15 March 1966
Ezra Taft Benson tried unsuccessfully to get President McKay’s approval for the non-Mormon president of the Birch Society to speak at a session of LDS general conference. (96)
— 15 Mar 1966
Second counselor N. Eldon Tanner, the Twelve’s president Joseph Fielding Smith, and Apostle Mark E. Petersen held an emergency meeting with David O. McKay at his home in Huntsville, Utah. Tanner read the 8 Mar Hunter letter and observed that “KSL, at the request of the John Birch Society, was rebroadcasting the address given recently by Brother Benson in the Assembly Hall, in which address he gave strong endorsement to the John Birch Society.” Concern was also raised that he was preaching “John Birchism at stake conferences” and wanted to align the church with John Birch Society during the upcoming conference.
The church president said that it was necessary to issue a statement disassociating the church from these activities. Then “President McKay suggested that Elder Benson might not be assigned to stake conferences if he referred to the John Birch Society. The President then said that Elder Benson should be instructed not to discuss the Birch Society in any meeting, and that he should not advocate this group.” The CHURCH NEWS published Petersen’s unsigned editorial on Mar. 26 that LDS church has “nothing to do with Birchers. . . .avoid extremes and extremists.” Apostle Harold B. Lee’s conference talk also attacks Birch Society and indicates that unnamed Benson is not in “harmony” with his quorum. First counselor Hugh B. Brown was not present at this meeting to express his views or direct its outcome. (97)
— March 17, 1966
Letter from former neighbor of McKay Robert Hinckly to McKay: The head of the Birch Society, Robert Welch, is due in Salt Lake City on April 6th or 7th, the time of General Conference. Efforts will be made to have him recognized in some way during Conference (Elder Benson may even propose to have him come to the stand to make some brief remarks). But this is the Robert Welch who slandered President Eisenhower by writing that “there is only one possible word to describe his purposes and actions. That word is ‘treason.’” Welch bore the same kind of false witness against Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, calling him “a Communist agent.” He also accused the late President John F. Kennedy, during his brief term in office, of being sympathetic to the Communist goals of world conquest…. President McKay, I beseech you to give heed on these matters to all of your dedicated Counselors in the First Presidency…. I fervently hope that Mr. Welch, the Birch head, will receive no recognition of any sort from you or the Church while he is in Salt Lake City. And I beseech you to require a decision from Elder Benson forthwith as to whether his life will be dedicated to Church or Birch. He is doing the Church a great, great disservice by mixing the two. (98)
— 17 Mar 1966
The First Presidency published a denial of any sponsorship of the Welch dinner and emphatically stated that “the Church has no connection with the John Birch Society whatever.” McKay stopped publication of his photograph in the Birch magazine and withdrew his permission for Benson to introduce the president of the Birch Society at its meeting during April conference. (99)
— March 23, 1966
David O. McKay: “I told Brother Benson that I think it would be best for him not to speak at strictly John Birch Society meetings, but approved of his filling speaking appointments already accepted which were not associated with this group.” (34)
— 26 Mar 1966
Mark E. Petersen’s Deseret News editorial proclaimed that the LDS church has “nothing to do with racists, nothing to do with Birchers, nothing to do with any slanted group.” This 1966 editorial further warned Mormons to “avoid extremes and extremists.” (100)
— March 29, 1966
David O. McKay “Brother Benson inquired about the dinner, that in the letter that had been sent out it was announced that he would be in attendance and introduce the speaker. President Tanner said that he told Brother Benson that he could not give him any further answer than was given in the meeting on Thursday. Elder Benson asked President Tanner if he would clear this matter for him with President McKay, and President Tanner had said no, that he felt that it was just as clear as anything could be.” (34)
— April, 1966
Benson had the Birch magazine print a photograph of deceased first counselor J. Reuben Clark. The Birch organ stated that Clark was “one of the earliest and most outspoken `alarmists’ in America concerning the menace and the progress of the Communist Conspiracy.” (101)
— April 1966
In the Priesthood session, McKay delivered a statement on communism. The portion below was ommitted in the official conference report:
“We, therefore, commend and encourage every person and every group who are sincerely seeking to study Constitutional principles and awaken a sleeping and apathetic people to the alarming conditions that are rapidly advancing about us. We wish all of our citizens throughout the land were participating in some type of organized self-education in order that they could better appreciate what is happening and know what they can do about it. Supporting the FBI, the Police, the Congressional Committees investigating Communism, and various organizations that are attempting to awaken the people through educational means, is a policy we warmly endorse for all our people.” (102)
— Early Apr 1966
During a four- month period, Quinn McKay attempted several times to get a statement from Reed Benson denying that he was the author of the September 1965 letter: “Two-and-a-half weeks ago I wrote a third letter, stating that if I heard nothing from him I could only arrive at one conclusion. I have heard nothing.” McKay did not name Reed Benson specifically in his talk but described the rumors of September 1965 and paraphrased the letter that “all who belong to this group do all they can to foster a whispering campaign that there would be a racial demonstration at General Conference.” McKay named Reed Benson specifically in his letter to J. D. Williams, 20 May 1966, Williams Papers. (103)
— Early April 1966
Apostle Harold B. Lee’s April 1966 conference talk was a thinly veiled assault against the Birch Society. Lee said, “We hear vicious attacks on public officials without the opportunity being given to them to make a defense or a rebuttal to the evil diatribes and character assassinations.” He added “that the sowing of the seeds of hatred, suspicion, and contention in any organization is destructive of the purpose of life and unbecoming to the children of God.”
Even more stunning to the Mormon audience aware of the controversy, Apostle Lee’s general conference talk also publicly criticized Apostle Benson. Without naming his apostolic subordinate, Lee next told the April 1966 conference, “I would that all who are called to high places in the Church would determine, as did the Apostle to the Gentiles, to know and to preach nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Then Lee darkly added: “The absolute test of the divinity of the calling of any officer in the Church is this: Is he in harmony with the brethren of that body to which he belongs? When we are out of harmony, we should look to ourselves first to find the way to unity.” Apostles Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Mark E. Petersen had already indicated that Apostle Ezra Taft Benson was not in harmony with his quorum.
Apostle Lee concluded the April 1966 conference address with a devastating assessment of the unnamed Ezra Taft Benson. “A President of the Church has told us where we may expect to find false leaders: First, The hopelessly ignorant, whose lack of intelligence is due to their indolence and sloth,” Lee noted. Then he continued, “Second–The proud and self-vaunting ones, who read by the lamp of their own conceit; who interpret by rules of their own contriving; who have become a law unto themselves, and so pose as the sole judges of their own doings.” This “insinuation” (so described by Lee’s biographer) was a far more direct condemnation of Benson than Benson’s “Judas” allusion to Hugh B. Brown at general conference less than three years before. Brown had immediately recognized the personal reference in Benson’s remarks, and no doubt Benson was equally astute as he listened to Lee’s April 1966 talk. (104)
— 5 Apr 1966
A former LDS mission president and current “section leader” of the Birch Society hand-carried a letter to McKay that “many people are confused and shocked by the recent editorial in the Church News, entitled: `Politics and Religion’ [regarding ‘Birchers’].” (105)
— 7 Apr 1966
Robert Welch praised Benson as “one of the really great men of our times.” Also in describing the Birch Society’s “recruiting efforts,” Welch said that “we have no better members, or more permanently dedicated members of the Society, than those who owe their first loyalty to the Mormon Church.” Of this, newspapers reported that the Birch Society regarded Mormons as “a very good recruiting ground.” (106)
— 8 Apr 1966
Benson attended the Birch Society dinner in April 1966 without speaking, although his name was on the program as a speaker. Others at the dinner gave him a standing ovation. The Salt Lake Tribune’s report included a photograph of Benson sitting next to the Birch president. BYU’s president had declined the invitation to substitute for Apostle Benson in introducing Robert Welch. Even Benson’s muted attendance at the Welch dinner infuriated anti-Birch Mormons, including the wife of Utah’s incumbent Democratic governor. (107)
— 11 Apr 1966
The son of a previous First Presidency counselor publicly called Benson “the most divisive influence in the church today.” (108)
— April 12, 15-18 1966
McKay learned that his statement on communism was not to be published. Confronting the editor of the Church News, McKay said “Well it should go in. I made that statement to 85,000 Priesthood members; the press has it, and many recordings have been made of it. I think it had better go in.” Hugh B. Brown and N. Elden Tanner had McKay’s son Lawrence ask McKay to omit that portion.
“I told Clare that I did not wish these paragraphs deleted; that I gave them and the statement should stand as given; that many people have recordings of the full statement…. These things are very upsetting to me, and the deletion of what I said at Priesthood Meeting is causing a lot of people to question and to wonder what is going on.” The deleted paragraphs were restored in the official Conference Report and Improvement Era. His Secretary Clare Middlemiss tried to get the full version published in the next issue of the Church News, but was thwarted by Lawrence McKay. (34)
— 13 Apr 1966
Ernest Wilkinson and Skousen conversed about the Birch Society: “We would probably agree with 90% of their principles but we both believe that Ezra Taft Benson has made some tactical or procedural errors in trying to vouch President McKay in on everything he has done . . .” (66)
— 16 Apr 1966
A Birch member in Arizona wrote a letter to “all of the General Authorities,” which said “Brother Petersen’s article was a tragic and regrettable mistake,” and added a few lines later that the “Communists and their dupes have directed their attacks and smear campaign against the John Birch Society . . .” Petersen’s editorial was “a shocking smear I’m sure the Church doesn’t condone,” according to a “Letter to the Editor” which the Deseret News refused to print. This Mormon Bircher concluded: “Elder Petersen owes an apology to the readers of the Church News for the unwarrantable and unauthorized innuendos.” (109)
— April 16, 1966
Benson met with McKay and described “The 1976 Committee,” to be composed of 100 prominent men from throughout the country, which proposed to nominate Benson for president and Thurmond for vice president. McKay repeated his resistance to forming a third party, to which Benson replied that he also was “opposed to this, but this Committee and movement might result in a realignment between the two political parties.” McKay responded “that this nation is rapidly moving down the road of soul-destroying socialism, and that I hoped and prayed that the efforts of the 1976 Committee would be successful in stemming the tide.” He told Benson “to let them go ahead and wait and see what develops.” Benson presented him with proposed statements that he and McKay might make if the committee moved as planned to propose his nomination, to which McKay agreed. McKay’s statement ended with the words “his doing so has my full approval.” (31)
— 16 Apr 1966
President McKay’s address at conference left church members “free to participate in non-Church meetings which are held to warn people of the threat of Communism.” The Birch Society’s Bulletin later published this statement. (110)
— 19 April 1966
BYU’s Ernest Wilkinson asked his administrative assistant to organize a group of “conservative” students to “monitor” professors who were regarded as Communist sympathizers. Nearly all of these BYU professors had publicly condemned the John Birch Society. For a year Stephen Hays Russell, student-leader of this “spy ring,” had already been reporting to the local Birch Society chapter and to Wilkinson about some of these professors. (111)
— 20 April 1966
The student-organizer of surveillance emphasized his association with Ezra Taft Benson. “On one occasion, the head of the John Birch Society in Utah County took me to the Church Office Building at Salt Lake City to meet Apostle Ezra Taft Benson,” Stephen Hays Russell later wrote. “I was introduced to Brother Benson as a `key conservative student at Brigham Young University.'” (112)
Russell organized a dozen other Birch students in a room of BYU’s Wilkinson Center. A non-student chapter leader of the Birch Society acted as guard for this organizing meeting of the BYU spy ring, the only time all would be together at once.
These student-spies included the president of BYU’s Young Americans For Freedom, three other members of YAF, and also Cleon Skousen’s nephew. Academically, their majors included economics, political science, history, Asian studies, math, and zoology. Stephen Hays Russell acknowledged choosing ten students to assist in the “monitoring,” yet his reservation for the room was for twenty persons and chairs. Fellow-spy Ronald Ira Hankin consistently claimed that Russell selected fifteen to twenty students to monitor the BYU professors. However, less than fifteen student-spies have been identified. What linked all these student-spies was their participation in the Provo chapter of the John Birch Society. (113)
— 25 Apr 1966
A “standing-room-only audience” listened as David O. McKay’s nephew referred to the recent Robert Welch banquet as a “gathering of the clan,” and referred to the “Dear Brethren” letter promoting it as “a deceitful device.” Alluding to the controversies of the previous month, Quinn McKay observed: “What do we do when General Authorities do not see eye to eye on political issues? Which do we follow? If each of the General Authorities were to speak on `The Contributions of the John Birch Society’ you would no doubt hear some rather contrasting views. Then which apostle would one quote?” McKay’s nephew then referred to the Reed Benson letter which had ignited the race hysteria preceding the October 1965 conference. (114)
— 29 April 1966
The diary of BYU’s president acknowledged his receiving the first “voluntary report from certain students” about “certain liberals on the campus.” This verifies the statement of Ronald Ira Hankin and David M. Sisson on 17 Sept. 1966, “During the last week of April we visited Stephen Hays Russell in his dorm in Deseret Towers During our visit Stephen told us he would be visiting President Wilkinson soon. . . . Later the same evening Stephen told me, Ron Hankin, that he was going to turn the report over to the President within the next three or four days.” (66)
— After Apr 1966
Some Mormon Birchers felt that the negative publicity of April 1966 conference required a rapid response. Members of the society in Seattle released a statement which addressed such questions as “Is the Church opposed to the John Birch Society”, “Has Brother Benson been rebuked by the Church?”, “Is Brother Benson out-of-line in discussing communism in Church talks?”, and “Has Reed Benson been rebuked by the Church?” To each of these questions, Seattle Birchers responded in the negative. (115)
— May 1966
Cleon Skousen was an official speaker for the Birch Society in 1966, even though he was not formally a member of the organization. (116)
— 3 May 1966
Newspaper articles announce Benson’s candidacy. “… a founding member of the John Birch Society, has called for the conservatives to unite behind Ezra Taft Benson as their candidate for president in 1968… the matter had been discussed with Benson and Sen. J. Strom Thurmond, D – S.C., whom the new committee wants to run for Vice President. … ” (117)
With Benson’s permission, three weeks after the April 1966 general conference a national committee announced that it was preparing a campaign to elect him U.S. president in 1968. As part of its ten-year plan, this “1976 Committee” nominated Strom Thurmond, conservative U.S. senator from South Carolina, as Benson’s vice-presidential running mate.
A former state coordinator wrote that Birch president Robert Welch “was the guiding light behind” this 1976 Committee to elect Benson president.
National leaders of the Birch Society comprised 59 percent of this committee, including its chair and two vice-chairs. Most other committee members were probably lower-ranking Birchers.
Benson’s 1976 Committee was a classic demonstration of Welch’s philosophy of creating “fronts”–organizations that merely had the appearance of independence from the Birch Society which formed and directed them.
In effect, the Birch Society was nominating Benson for the White House. (118)
Deseret News: Benson told a reporter that he was in “shock” over the committee’s proposal. “It’s the first I’ve heard of it,” he said. The same newspaper report indicated that “about half of the committee’s 30 organizers are members of the Birch Society.” (119)
— 15 May 1966
The nationally distributed Parade Sunday supplement observed: “Ezra Taft Benson has consistently supported the John Birch Society’s recruiting drives among Mormons.” Without exaggeration, Parade also informed its millions of readers that Benson’s political activism “has introduced as a result a divisive element in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (120)
— 25 May 1966
Robert H. Hinckley, former assistant secretary of the U.S. commerce department, chair of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and vice-president of the American Broadcasting Company, criticized the Birch Society in an address to students of the University of Utah. He lambasted the society’s “collective slander, which now seems to have become standard operating procedure for some Birchites,” and also “the semi-secret chapters that parallel Communist cells, the use of front groups, the tactics of infiltration, and the use of the big lie.” Hinckley also identified Ezra Taft Benson as part of the “leadership of the Right Wing” in America. The full text of this assessment appeared in the Congressional Record in June 1966. (121)
— 27 May 1966
Benson to Robert H. Hinckley, 27 May 1966: “I cannot believe that a man with your background and experience would make the errors attributed to you in the attached item from the Deseret News of May 25th” (122)
— 28 May 1966
Benson describing a “stag” (all male) party held by President Eisenhower: “Although he often invited members of the Cabinet to attend some of these dinners, I did not attend the one at which President McKay was present. The Friday morning following the Thursday night dinner, President Eisenhower referred to the dinner. As I recall, it was the only time he ever singled out one individual. He said to the Cabinet, Friday morning, “Among the group was President David O. McKay, head of the Mormon Church.” Then he added, “He was the life of the party.” On another occasion President Eisenhower said to me he considered David O. McKay the greatest spiritual leader in the world.” (123)
— 9 Aug 1966
In August 1966, Hugh B. Brown told two BYU professors that Benson had “a letter from President McKay endorsing his candidacy.” Brown said “it would rip the Church apart” if Benson released the letter to the public as part of the presidential campaign.
Of this, Benson’s biographer tells the following: As early as October 1965 Benson had asked the church president for permission to campaign as U.S. presidential candidate. McKay told him not to campaign actively but did not require him to decline the efforts of others to draft him as a presidential candidate. Benson decided to withhold knowledge of any of these discussions from his own quorum which learned of his possible presidential candidacy from the newspaper announcement in May 1966. (124)
— Mar-Sept 1966
Benson endorsed the Birch Society during his talks at stake conferences and preached Birch themes in general conference sermons. In fact, Benson’s official biographer calculated that during the decade of the 1960s “fifteen of his twenty general conference addresses [or 75 percent] focused on one or more of these [political] topics.” (125)
— 12 Sept 1966
Covert surveillance by BYU-Birch student continues in the form of either correspondence, classroom questioning, or private meetings to extract “pro-Communist” views from their professors. (126)
— circa 17 Sep 1966
Stephen Hays Russell reported the BYU spy-ring’s findings to Ezra Taft Benson. (127)
— 30 Sep 1966
By the end of September 1966 the BYU “spy ring” had unraveled as its principal members confessed their participation to BYU faculty, administrators, bishops, and general authorities. (43)
— 2 Oct 1966
Ezra Taft Benson used October 1966 general conference to begin a response to his hierarchy critics at the previous conference. “There are some who apparently feel that the fight for freedom is separate from the Gospel. They express it in several ways, but it generally boils down to this: Just live the gospel; there’s no need to get involved in trying to save freedom and the Constitution or stop communism.” Then in an obvious reference to himself and other general authorities, Benson said: “Should we counsel people, `Just live your religion–there’s no need to get involved in the fight for freedom?’ No we should not, because our stand for freedom is a most basic part of our religion . . . ” He added: “We will be given a chance to choose between conflicting counsel given by some,” and he observed: “All men are entitled to inspiration, but only one man is the Lord’s mouthpiece. Some lesser men have in the past, and will in the future, use their offices unrighteously. Some will, ignorantly or otherwise, use it to promote false counsel; some will use it to lead the unwary astray; some will use it to persuade us that all is well in Zion; some will use it to cover and excuse their ignorance.” (128)
— 3 Oct 1966
A Mormon in the audience regarded Benson’s conference talk as “referring to Hugh B. Brown.” (129)
— 7 Oct 1966
“When Pres. McKay dies Ezra Taft won’t last a year,” a bishop from Logan, Utah said. “Pres. Smith or Elder Lee will not hesitate to put him in his place if he continues his political preaching.” “If this happens,” the bishop predicted, “it may turn out that Benson will refuse to give up his Americanism campaign and will be dropped or resign from the Quorum.” (130)
— October 16, 1966
Drew Pearson, Washington Post: “David O. McKay, president of the Church and now 93 years old, once championed the principle of free discussion, of letting Mormons have and listen to sharply divergent views. He still stands by that principle in theory. But the Deseret News, the Church-owned newspaper which circulates throughout Utah, shies away from publishing views not approved by the Church elders. Chief reason for the new Mormon trend toward political and philosophical isolation is probably the influx of outsiders into Utah, plus the steady drumbeat of John Birch Propaganda from Ezra Taft Benson.” (131)
[Pearson, syndicated columnist] Complains that Benson “wrote a letter to state-run Weber State College, protesting the appearance of Art Buckwald, the humorist, on the college lecture course” who called Buckwald’s views “dangerous.” Benson is “inclined to link Communism with anything controversial.” (132)
— 25 Oct 1966
Because BYU devotional talks were separately broadcast and published, Benson decided to repeat his conference talk and expand upon its criticisms of the unnamed members of the LDS hierarchy.
Benson made it plain that the context for his remarks was the anti-Birch statements of anyone besides David O. McKay. “Do we preach what governments should or should not do as a part of the Gospel plan, as President McKay has urged? Or do we refuse to follow the Prophet by preaching a limited gospel plan of salvation?” Benson affirmed: “We cannot compromise good and evil in an attempt to have peace and unity in the Church any more than the Lord could have compromised with Satan in order to avoid the War in Heaven.” He then quoted the church president’s April conference statement in favor of anti-Communist organizations, and observed: “Yet witness the sorry spectacle of those presently of our number who have repudiated the inspired counsel of our Prophet . . . It is too much to suppose that all the Priesthood at this juncture will unite behind the Prophet in the fight for freedom.”Benson described his opponents as inspired by Satan:
“Now, Satan is anxious to neutralize the inspired counsel of the Prophet, and hence, keep the Priesthood off-balance, ineffective, and inert in the fight for freedom. He does this through diverse means, including the use of perverse reasoning. For example, he [Satan] will argue: There is no need to get involved in the fight for freedom. All you need to do is live the Gospel. . . . It is obvious what Satan is trying to do, but it is sad to see many of us fall for his destructive line.”
“As the Church gets larger, some men have increasing responsibility, and more and more duties must be delegated. . . . Unfortunately some men who do not honor their stewardships may have an adverse effect on many people. Often the greater the man’s responsibility, the more good or evil he can accomplish. The Lord usually gives the man a long enough rope . . . There are some regrettable things being said and done by some people in the Church today.”
After quoting to his BYU audience the warning by J. Reuben Clark about “ravening wolves” who “wear the habiliments of the priesthood,” Apostle Benson stated:
“Sometimes from behind the pulpit, in our classrooms, in our Council meetings, and in our Church publications we hear, read or witness things that do not square with the truth. This is especially true where freedom is involved.” He concluded: “Some lesser men in the past, and will in the future, use their offices unrighteously. Some will lead the unwary astray . . .”
At the conclusion of his talk Benson said: “Learn to keep your eye on the Prophet,” Benson said, “Let his inspired words be a basis for evaluating the counsel of all lesser authorities.” He concluded hierarchy with the only understatement of his BYU talk: “I know I will be abused by some for what I have said.” Even the censored publication of this BYU talk retained many of Benson’s critical allusions to presidency counselors and apostles.
However, this BYU address in October 1966 was not simply Apostle Benson’s public response to Harold B. Lee’s sermon “from behind the pulpit” of April 1966 conference. This was also Benson’s answer to Mark E. Petersen’s anti-Birch editorials “in our Church publications.” It was a warning about first counselor Hugh B. Brown (“the greater the man’s responsibility, the more good or evil he can accomplish”). In sum, this BYU address was Ezra Taft Benson’s dismissal of the anti-Birch statements of any general authority “in our Council meetings” and against “the counsel of all lesser authorities” beneath President McKay. Benson’s BYU devotional talk in October 1966 was the clearest evidence that he saw himself and President McKay as fighting alone in a battle for freedom and anti-Communism against others fallen for Satan’s “perverse reasoning” and “destructive line.”
Benson apparently never actually asked McKay for permission to advocate the Birch Society but merely for permission to speak about “freedom.” In Benson’s thinking there was no distinction among the principles of freedom, the mission of the church, and the teachings of the Birch Society. He sincerely felt he had “a mandate from the prophet” for all of his political speeches. (133)
— 31 Oct 1966
The First Presidency counselors and Twelve’s president regarded Benson’s October 1966 conference talk as a criticism of every general authority except David O. McKay. “From this talk,” Counselor N. Eldon Tanner noted, “one would conclude that Brother Benson and President McKay stand alone among the General Authorities on the question of freedom.” (134)
— 9 Nov 1966
Regarding Benson’s October conference talk the Twelve’s president Joseph Fielding Smith “agreed heartily with Tanner’s objections to the talk in general.” Counselor Brown added that Benson’s October 1966 conference “talk is wholly objectionable because it does impugn the rest of us and our motives when we have advised the people to live their religion and stay away from extremist ideas and philosophies.” (135)
McKay agreed that Benson’s conference talk went too far and “decided that the talk should not be mimeographed and distributed in pamphlet form.” Two weeks later, however, Benson met privately with McKay and asked him to reconsider his decision. After rereading Benson’s talk, McKay made the opposite decision: “There is nothing wrong with the talk, so I told my secretary to tell Elder Benson he could have it mimeographed if he wished.” (136)
— November 10, 1966
Rededicates Italy for the preaching of the gospel. (23)
— 11 Nov 1966
After discovering the details of the “Spy Ring” from its participants and from meetings with Counselor N. Eldon Tanner and Apostle Harold B. Lee, one of BYU’s vice-presidents confided that “the real home of the group was ETB.”
Due to their belief that Apostle Benson was involved in the BYU “spy ring,” general authorities like N. Eldon Tanner and Harold B. Lee declined to pursue the matter rigorously. They rejected demands for Ernest Wilkinson’s resignation and merely asked BYU’s president to apologize privately to the professors targeted for this espionage.
One professor called Benson’s BYU address “a really violent anti-Lee talk,” and even pro-Birch Ernest Wilkinson regarded the talk as “a little extreme.” (137)
— 28 Jan 1967
Benson told the Boston Globe’s religion editor regarding efforts to draft him as a presidential running mate: “It is strictly a draft movement about which I am personally doing absolutely nothing.” The Church News immediately reprinted the story. (138)
— February 24, 1967
McKay received a twelve-page letter from Robert Welch, “a cursory glance of which indicates or pleads for permission for Ezra Taft Benson to serve on the National Council of the [John Birch] Society.” In his conclusion, Welch indicated that Benson had already agreed to serve on the council, subject only to McKay’s consent.
“It was agreed that Elder Benson would answer Mr. Welch and tell him that it would be impossible for him to serve on the Council at this time.” (139)
— 1 Mar 1967
Brigham Young University Daily Universe, BYU Spy Ring discussed: “Free Forum Filled With ‘Charges,'” (43)
Salt Lake Tribune: “BYU Denies Campus ‘Spy’ Story,” (43)
— 3 Mar 1967
Miami Herald, “Birchers Spied on Professors, Hialeah Student Says.”: Covert surveillance by BYU-Birch student in the form of either correspondence, classroom questioning, or private meetings to extract “pro-Communist” views from their professors is discussed. (140)
— 12 Mar 1967
Benson told newspapers in March 1967 that he regarded the draft movement to elect him president as “almost frightening, yet humbling.” He also told reporters in March 1967, “I have no desire to run for political office.” (141)
— 13 Mar. 1967
Stephen Hays Russell, the student-leader of the BYU spy-ring, signed a 1967 statement which made no reference whatever to the John Birch Society or to Ezra Taft Benson, even though the Birch connection appears in other sources.
Russell’s 1967 statement acknowledged on page 3 that “if I ‘got caught’ at this, official university reactions would be that I was acting on my own,” and on page 9 that Ernest Wilkinson expected Russell to be the “scapegoat”. Although he implicated Wilkinson and two of Wilkinson’s assistants already named by fellow-spy Hankin, all of Russell’s other statements about BYU espionage were obviously intended to shield others beyond the BYU administrators who were involved. (142)
— 14 Mar 1967
“Wilkinson Admits ‘Spy Ring’ Existence at ‘Y,'” Provo Daily Herald (43)
— March 24, 1967
Letter to Hugh B. Brown: “I personally feel that Brother Benson is misusing his Priesthood Authority…. I am finding it increasingly difficult to raise my right hand in Quarterly Conference and sustain Brother Benson as an Apostle. Isn’t there something that can be done to curb this type of political involvement of the Church in general?” (143)
— 27 Mar 1967
BYU Spy-ring story: “Spies, J[unior]. G[rade].,” Newsweek Magazine (43)
— Apr 1967
Benson approved the use of a recent talk as the “forward” to an overtly racist book which featured the decapitated head of an African-American on its cover. The authors of The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives, Foreward by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson wrote that the apostle “has generously offered this address as the basis for the introductory remarks to `The Black Hammer’.”
Benson had given this talk to the anti-Communist leadership school of segregationist Hargis who had published it in his magazine.
Although they did not identify themselves as Mormons, The Black Hammer’s authors (who lived in the San Francisco Bay area) referred on the dedication page to “all the Elders of the California North Mission for their interest and prayers.” Their bibliography listed seven anti-Communist books including ones by Benson and W. Cleon Skousen. Two of Black Hammer’s pro-Communist sources were cited as reprints by the John Birch Society’s American Opinion, and page 78 encouraged readers to “pass on your current copy” of that Birch magazine. Page 91 also encouraged “every Negro” to study the “conservative philosophy” of Robert Welch.
Consistent with Benson’s own statements, The Black Hammer (which he now tacitly endorsed) dismissed as Communist-directed all organized efforts for civil rights. On pages 32 and 35, the book warned about “the violent revolt which is part of the 100 year-old Communist program for the enslavement of America,” and about the “well-defined plans for the establishment of a Negro Soviet dictatorship in the South.” On page 51, The Black Hammer said: “The media would have the American public believe that the Black Power movement, with all its `militant overtones’ (as the media so affectionately describes it) is frowned upon by the `moderate civil rights leadership’–more specifically, Martin Luther King. This is pure hogwash.” Page 83 referred to “the Negro’s need for complete subservience to the Great White Fathers in Washington.” However, the authors insisted on page 90 that they were “ready and willing to take any Negro by the hand and help him into an era of self-proprietorship that every deserving American can achieve.”
It does not seem coincidental that Benson endorsed this book in the midst of the Birch Society’s effort to put him on the 1968 presidential ticket. He may have endorsed The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives to provide leverage with another presidential aspirant, George C. Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama. (144)
The Anti- Defamation League of B’nai B’rith specifically condemned the Birch Society’s “despicable actions” in seeking to inflame anti- black fears “while southeast Los Angeles was aflame in mid- August, 1965.” (145)
— 15 Apr 1967
Apostle Mark E. Petersen wrote an editorial in the Church News: “Political extremists sow seeds of hate and discord. Extremism among them can hardly be less dangerous on one hand than on the other. Both can lead to dictatorship.” (146)
— April 18, 1967
After Robert Welch (founder of the John Birch Society) wrote McKay again encouraging him to allow Benson to serve on the National Council of the John Birch Society, McKay “explained to him, as I have on two other occasions by letter, that it would not be wise for Elder Benson to serve in this capacity.” (34)
— April 21, 1967
McKay showed Birch Society founder Robert Welch’s letter to Mark E. Petersen, who upon reading it said: “President McKay, Elder Harold B. Lee has some hair-raising stories to tell about the Birch Society which I am sure he will tell you, which I think would scare you to death. We have the Church, and if we live up to its teachings, we do not need to worry about what will happen to this country!” (34)
— 11 May 1967
Counselor Brown informed a church member in May 1967 that “numerous others” had complained about Benson’s continued association with Billy James Hargis and the apostle’s implied endorsement of his segregationist views. The First Presidency “are taking it to the Twelve as soon as Brother Benson returns from Europe as we prefer to have him present when the matter is discussed.” Brown gave the reassurance that Benson’s “activities in this connection will be curtained [curtailed].” (147)
— Sept 22, 1967
David O. McKay: after being asked by Benson for McKay’s permission to address the subject of civil rights and communism, McKay recorded: “He briefly talked about the plight of the Negroes in this Civil Rights Issue, and how the Communists are using the Negroes to further their own schemes to foment trouble in the United States. He said that he would talk on this subject from the viewpoint of bringing peace in our country instead of uprisings of the Negroes in riots, etc. I told Brother Benson that under these circumstances, he may go ahead with his subject.” (34)
— 29 Sep 1967
The new administrative position of regional representative of the Twelve was announced, and the first 69 regional representatives were called and given their initial training. (148)
At a meeting in the Salt Lake Tabernacle in September 1967 Benson said that “the so-called civil rights movement as it exists today is a Communist program for revolution in America.” He repeated that assessment in his general conference talk the next month. (149)
— 05 Oct 1967
Alvin R. Dyer is ordained an Apostle but is not placed in the Quorum of the Twelve. He acts as an additional Counselor in the First Presidency.
— 1 Nov 1967
Benson’s supporters began circulating petitions to place his name on the ballot for the upcoming national election. (150)
A survey of more than 700 Mormons showed that 58 percent regarded the Birch Society as “not supporting Declaration of Independence principles. (151)
— 8 Feb 1968
Lacking sufficient support from the Republican leadership, Benson had negotiated to become the vice-presidential candidate in George C. Wallace’s third-party challenge. Wallace formally announced his third party candidacy on 8 February, but as early as November a vice- president of the John Birch Society’s “publishing and distribution arm” had resigned that position “to actively campaign for George Wallace.” The Christian Science Monitor reported that Apostle Benson also supported Wallace. (152)
— February 15, 1968
President McKay instructed Benson to report to the Twelve about the behind-the-scenes efforts on behalf of his presidential candidacy (more than two years after he began exploring this possibility with McKay and with the national leaders of the Birch Society who headed “The 1976 Committee”). Benson made it clear he did so only upon McKay’s insistence. This was the day after McKay privately told George Wallace that the apostle was unavailable as his vice-presidential candidate. (153)
— April 1968
Ezra Taft Benson conference talk: “Our priceless heritage is threatened today as never before in our lifetime: from without by the forces of Godless Communism, and at home by our complacency and by the insidious forces of the Socialist-Communist conspiracy, with the help of those who would abandon the ancient landmarks set by our fathers and take us down the road to destruction. It was Alexander Hamilton who warned that ‘nothing is more common than for a free people, in times of heat and violence, to gratify momentary passions, by letting into the government, principles and precedents which afterwards prove fatal to themselves.’” (154)
— 7 Apr 1968
In response to U.S. president Lyndon Johnson’s designation of 7 April as a national day of mourning for Reverend King, Apostle Benson prepared a statement for distribution stating that “the Communists will use Mr. King’s death for as much yardage as possible.” and that “Martin Luther King had been affiliated with at least the following officially recognized Communist fronts.” He lists three organizations (repeating the Birch view of King).
Asked about this hand- out, Counselor Brown replied that Benson’s “views do not coincide with the opinion of the majority of the General Authorities and we regret that they are sent out. However in President McKay’s state of health we cannot get a retraction and must, I suppose, await a change in leadership before definite instructions can be given regulating such items of interest.” General (155)
— 1 May 1968
In his talk to BYU’s devotional in May 1968 Benson accused the U.S. Supreme Court of treason. He added that “a prerequisite for appointment to high government office today is one’s past affiliations with communist fronts or one’s ability to follow the communist line.” His talk also quoted three times from the Birch Society’s official magazine, including references to “black Marxists” and “the Communists and their Black Power fanatics.”
In response, the father of one BYU student complained to the First Presidency that Benson had turned BYU’s devotionals “into a sounding board for vicious, political interests.”
First counselor Brown wrote regarding Benson’s BYU Devotional talk, “We have had many such letters protesting the speech made at the B.Y.U. recently and we are trying to offset and curtail such expressions.” (156)
— 11 May 1968
Hugh B. Brown delivered a BYU commencement address which was a direct attack on Benson’s sermon there ten days earlier. “Beware of those who feel obliged to prove their own patriotism by calling into question the loyalty of others,” Brown began. Brown clearly indicated that he did not think Benson had “maturity of mind and emotion and a depth of spirit . . . to differ with others on matters of politics without calling into question the integrity of those with whom you differ”. As clear response to Benson’s quotes to BYU students about African- Americans from the Birch Society magazine, Brown concluded: “At a time when radicals of right or left would inflame race against race, avoid those who preach evil doctrines of racism.” (157)
— 29 May 1968
Brown hoped “a change in leadership” would end Benson’s ultra-conservative crusade. (158)
— 15 Jun 1968
Benson gains national respect as an “elder statesman.” One of his 1968 talks on government was published by the influential periodical Vital Speeches of the Day. It was republished in an academic journal. (159)
— June 24, 1968
[Ezra Taft Benson letter] “… You will be interested to know that President McKay encouraged my son, Reed, to stay with the John Birch Society indicating it would be vindicated and become a powerful organization in the preservation of our freedom. … ” (160)
— 18 Oct 1968
After Benson described U.S. government “welfare-state programs” as a “Communist-planned program of deception” in his October 1968 conference talk, the Mormon director of a government welfare program complained to the First Presidency. Brown replied: “Others of us feel much the same as you do but the President has not seen fit to check or refute the statements by the person involved and our hands are therefore tied. Be assured, however, of this, that what this man said does not represent the position of the Church with respect to the subject of government aid, etc.”
Counselor Brown concluded that Apostle Benson’s “statements do not represent the position of the Church, but I am handicapped in that I cannot refute them because the President feels that each one should be free to express his own opinions. This seems to be unfortunate because, speaking from that pulpit and as one of the general authorities, each of us is supposed to represent the Church. There will be a change in this whole situation, we hope, before too long.” (161)
— October 24, 1968
Minutes, First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve: “Reference was made to questions that have been raised by presidents of stakes and mission presidents in Germany, the British Isles, etc., and also by the [Improvement] Era, regarding talks that have been given in conference by the brethren of the Authorities such as the one given by Brother Benson at the recent General Conference regarding the responsibilities we have to oppose socialism, etc. … He explains that over half of the members of his stake in England vote socialist and that members of the stake presidency, high council and bishoprics support that cause, that there is therefore some confusion in regard to how they should accept these statements.”
“… President Tanner mentioned that during the past three years we have had questions and complaints about talks given in General Conference that seem to be offensive to the German people or the British people, or whoever it may be, by just building up the United States of America and referring to things that are going on here… Elder [Harold B.] Lee mentioned that the overall problem we have constantly had in mind is to make our hearers conscious of the fact that we are a universal church, and that those things that go into our lessons must be applicable to the world; that when we set forth gospel principles this is very simple, but when we begin to relate it to governmental programs of this country and other countries we become involved in controversy… Elder [Spencer W.] Kimball felt that in the General Authorities meeting, which is held in the temple two weeks before conference, the brethren might be reminded that their talks should be geared to the world. President Tanner said that he did not know that we could do any more this morning, but we should have in mind that it is a world church, and that when speaking in General Conference he thought we should be careful to tell people what we are trying to tell them regarding the gospel in a way that will not be offensive to other parts of the world.” (162)
— 24 Oct 1968
Apostle Ezra Taft Benson replies to a letter asking child rearing advice: “I wish my good wife, who has had major responsibility for the training of our children, could talk to you personally. You see, I have been away from home approximately half of our married life, occasioned by my Church service and employment.” (163)
— circa December 1968
Hugh B. Brown:“There are some [General Authorities]—I won’t put it in the plural even—who sustain the John Birch Society. Others of us do not. I don’t think that that should be an issue, should not be a question involving one’s standing in the Church whether they approve of that or not. I do think that in this case all members of the General Authorities should keep out of that discussion. I think the John Birch Society will run its course and finally be rejected. That’s my own opinion.” (164)
— December 7, 1968
Phone call, Benson to Clare Middlemiss: “Clare, President McKay has told me on various occasions that there are two things he regretted in his presidency: (1) the untimely decision, which was later changed, to move the college at Rexburg to Idaho Falls; and (2) the issuing of the statement in the public press against the John Birch Society. Now, in order to alleviate that feeling about the John Birch Society, I wonder, since they are celebrating their 10th Anniversary tonight at a meeting and banquet in Indianapolis, Indiana, if President McKay would send a telegram similar to the following: “John Birch Society, c/o Mr. Robert Welch, Stauffer Inn, Indianapolis, Indiana—Congratulations upon reaching ten years of courageous and effective service in defense of our freedom and acquainting the American people with the insidious dangers of the atheistic communistic conspiracy. Best wishes for future success in the fight to preserve our God-given liberties.” McKay was in a meeting, and counselor Alvin R. Dyer vetoed the request. (165)
— During 1968
Conservative third parties have enjoyed some success in Utah in the post-World War II period. In 1968 the American party was organized nationally to support the presidential candidacy of George Wallace. The former Alabama governor, whose request to have Apostle Ezra Taft Benson as his running mate was refused by LDS Church leaders, polled 26,980 votes in Utah. The American party remained a minor but vocal presence in the state’s politics for another decade, frequently fielding candidates for congressional, state, and local offices. The party was sufficiently strong enough in Utah to attract the location of the national office for a time, but eventually was thwarted by the growing conservatism of Utah’s Republican party. (166)
— During 1969
Published Volume – An Enemy Hath Done This. BookcraftISBN 0-88494-184-1.
Published Volume – Civil Rights, Tool of Communist Deception. Deseret Book (167)
— February 1969
In February 1969, W. Cleon Skousen instructed his niece to recruit BYU students as spies. Cynthia Skousen was a first cousin of the 1966 student-spy, Mark A. Skousen. As a student herself, she claimed that her uncle “had discovered there was an active communist cell on campus whose goal it was to destroy this university by 1970.” She asked one student to infiltrate BYU’s Young Democrats on Skousen’s behalf. Anti-Birch professor Louis Midgley was also among the BYU faculty who “were `high on the list’ of suspects as being communist sympathizers on this campus and her words were that I was to `talk with them and to try to get them to commit themselves.'” Cleon Skousen gave the information “to his `superior’ in Salt Lake City.” (168)
— February 12, 1969
David O. McKay: “I asked what conclusion the brethren had reached regarding the matter. President Tanner said the same conclusion that was arrived at about two years ago, that Elder Benson should discontinue this kind of thing [political extremism], and particularly in stake conferences, and should limit himself to talking about the gospel and its applications. President Tanner said that he thought I made as clear a statement on the subject as he had heard made in the meeting of the Council of the First Presidency and the Twelve at that time. I said that there is no reason why we should not continue that understanding.” (34)
— 11 Mar 1969
David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s former prime minister, tells Apostle Ezra Taft Benson: “There are no people in the world who understand Jews like Mormons.” Benson replies: “Mr. Ben-Gurion, there are no people in this world who understand the WORLD like the Mormons.”
— April 14, 1969
Elder Benson Dedicates Singapore for the preaching of the gospel. (23)
— 1 May 1969
Apostle Ezra Taft Benson writes to LDS Hotel-magnate J. Willard Marriott, “The kindest thing that could be said about Martin Luther King is that he was an effective Communist tool. Personally, I think he was more than that.”
— 12 May 1969
Regarding an inflammatory speech at BYU by Benson in which he criticized U.S. Government officials and the United Nations, McKay authorized Hugh B. Brown to go to BYU and give a strong rebuttal, stating, “I did not think that any government officials should be accused of these things.” (34)
— 13 May 1969
Ernest Wilkinson: “If President McKay was vigorous enough to do it, I am sure he would call both of them in [Benson & Brown] and talk to them about this, and especially President Brown for his critical personal [a]llusions.” (169)
— 27 May 1969
Skousen’s efforts at campus espionage in 1969 collapsed after a faculty member wrote a memo urging him “to give the lie to this rumor . . . that you have organized a `spy’ ring to check on the alleged pro-Communist sympathies of professors.”
Only one of these agent provocateurs, a political science major, confessed the espionage. This student stopped spying because he found no Communist sympathizers at BYU, and “I decided that I was involved in a questionable activity and that I should withdraw and cease to function as an agent in any way.” (170)
— 29 May 1969
David O. McKay: N. Eldon Tanner inquired “if a man were an avowed communist, would our position be to excommunicate him or disqualify him for any position in the Church,” McKay responded that he should not hold any church position, but allowed that he might remain a member of the church. (34)
— October 26, 1969
Ezra Taft Benson dedicates Indonesia for the preaching of the gospel. (23)
— Dec 1969
Benson’s October 1969 sermon warned the LDS general conference against “Communist conspiracy, fellow travelers, and dupes.” Those remarks appeared in the official report of the conference. (171)
— During 1969
President Hugh B. Brown proposes that the Church’s policy be reversed and that Blacks be given the Priesthood. This policy was approved by the Quorum of Twelve and the First Presidency with President McKay and Harold B. Lee absent. (President McKay was disabled due to age and President Lee was traveling on Church business.) When President Lee returned, he called for another vote and the measure was defeated this time. President Brown wrote about the issue: – “A serious problem that has confronted us, especially during the past few decades has been our denying the priesthood to the Negro. Personally, I doubt if we can maintain or sustain ourselves in the position we have adopted but which has no justification in the scriptures, as far as I know. The president says it can only come by revelation. If that is true, then change will come in due course. It seems to me that if we had admitted the Negro to the church as a full member, at the time of Joseph Smith, we would have had more trouble with the government than we then had. Holding ourselves aloof from that until after the Civil war gave us the opportunity to establish the church without that question coming to the front. It was, in other words, a policy, not necessarily a doctrine” (172)
— circa 1962-1970
Hugh B. Brown’s grandson and biographer notes:
“As President McKay became increasingly impaired by age, some church functionaries, with allegiances to the radical political right, tried to influence the president in ways that Grandfather [Hugh B. Brown], President [N. Eldon] Tanner, and Elder Harold B. Lee thought unwise and improper. These three men–Grandfather in particular–were often but not always successful in blocking those efforts to influence church policy.” (173)
— 18 Jan 1970
David O. McKay dies. (78)
1 – Robert R. McKay to Ralph R. Harding, 18 Oct. 1963, photocopy in folder 2, box 4, King Papers, and in folder 22, box 5, Buerger Papers; quotes from letter first published in “Ike, LDS Leaders Thank Harding For Anti-Birch, Benson Speech,” Idaho State Journal, 20. These are referenced in D. Michael Quinn, “Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts”, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:2 (Summer 1992) and Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power Salt Lake City (Signature Books, 1994), Chapter 3 (hereafter Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power)
2 – “Elder Benson To Direct Europe Mission,” Deseret News, 24 Oct. 1963, A-l; Improvement Era 66 (Dec. 1963): 1065; “Mormons To Send Benson Overseas,” New York Times, 25 Oct. 1963,18; “Apostle Benson Denies Being Sent Into ‘Exile’ for Political Views,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 29 Oct. 1963, A-7; “Mormon Church Sends Benson to Europe,” U.S. News and World Report 55 (Nov. 1963): 12; “Mormon Church Is Gaining in Strength Despite Tensions,” New York Times, 27 Dec. 1965,18. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
3 – “President Brown Supports U.N., Hits Extremists,” Deseret News, 26 Oct. 1963, B-l, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
4 – “Church Leader Rebuffs Self-Styled Patriots,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 26 Oct. 1963,9; also “President Brown Supports U.N., Hits Extremists,” Deseret News, 26 Oct. 1963, B-l. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
5 – Brown statement to Harriman and Richard D. Poll in Salt Lake City, 25 Oct. 1963, quoted in Poll’s letter to D. Michael Quinn, 13 Aug. 1992. For the visit of Harriman, Brown, and Poll in Provo, see photograph in Provo Daily Herald, 27 Oct. 1963, 3, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
6 – “Stake Conference Assignments,” Deseret News “Church News,” 19 Oct. 1963, 4; “Benson, Graham Rip Wheat Sale,” Deseret News, 28 Oct. 1963, A-6; “Benson Says Black is Red,” Daily Utah Chronicle, 29 Oct. 1963,1. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
7 – “Benson Says: New Duties Not ‘Rebuke,'” Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Oct. 1963, A-4; “Church Denies Mission Rumors,” Deseret News, 21 Feb. 1964, A-8; “Letter Denies Rebuke in Benson Call,” Salt Lake Tribune, 22 Feb. 1964, C-ll. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
8 – Clark King and Richard Littlefield in Daily Utah Chronicle, 30 Oct. 1963, 4, answered by Frank G. Adams and Gary Henrichsen (who used the phrase) in 4 Nov. 1963, 2, rebutted by King and Littlefield in 6 Nov. 1963,4, who were in turn rebutted by Corydon Hammond in 8 Nov. 1963, 4, who was answered by King and Littlefield in 14 Nov. 1963,: 2. Editorially, the Daily Utah Chronicle published a cartoon (31 Oct. 1963,4) which depicted Benson’s mission assignment as a banishment by Uncle Sam, not the LDS church presidency, which Gary Henrichsen then criticized in his letter to the editor of 4 November. In response the editors published an even more insulting cartoon of Benson (21 Nov. 1963, 2), as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
9 – Smith to Harding, 30 Oct. 1963, photocopy in folder 2, box 4, King Papers, and in folder 22, box 5, Buerger Papers, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
10 – Reported in Richard D. Poll to Ralph Harding, 31 Oct. 1963, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
11 – Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1963, p.16
12 – “Harding Says Benson Move ‘Wise,'” Idaho Daily Statesman, 1 Nov. 1963, 20, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
13 – Ralph Harding to Richard D. Poll, 6 Nov. 1963, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
14 – “John Birch Society ‘Rotten to Core,’ Says Rep. Harding in Benson Reply,” Ogden Standard Examiner, Nov 20, 1963 (provided by Joe Geisner)
15 – “Benson Talk: ‘LDS Okeh,’ Son Declares,” Salt Lake Tribune, Nov 20, 1963 (provided by Joe Geisner)
16 – Hugh B. Brown to Ernest Cook, 22 Nov. 1963, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
17 – “Group Decides Against Picketing Benson Talk,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 3 Dec. 1963, A-7; Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 372-73. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
18 – Benson, “We Must Become Alerted and Informed: An Address by Ezra Taft Benson At A Public Patriotic Meeting,” Logan, Utah, 13 Dec. 1963, 2, transcript, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City; B. Delworth Gardner, N. Keith Roberts, E. Boyd Wennergren preface to an annotated typescript of Benson’s “We Must Become Alerted and Informed,” Utah State Historical Society. In the margins of this annotated typescript are the page numbers of the Blue Book from which Benson’s talk quoted or paraphrased; “Elder Benson Links Reds to (Civil) Rights Furor,” Deseret News, 14 Dec. 1963, B-5; “Communism Moving In on U.S., Benson Warns,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Dec. 1963, 28. Compare with Ross R. Barnett, governor of Mississippi, “The Rape Of Our Constitution and Civil Rights,” in the Birch Society’s American Opinion 6 (Sept. 1963): 20-23; John Rousselot, “Civil Rights: Communist Betrayal Of A Good Cause,” American Opinion 7 (Feb. 1964): 1-11. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
19 – Deseret News, Dec. 14, 1963
20 – Wilkinson diary, 14 Dec. 1963, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
21 – Frank E. Moss to Hugh B. Brown, Moss Papers as referenced in Gregory A. Prince and Wm. Robert Write, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press (2005), hereafter Rise of Modern Mormonism.
22 – Joseph Fielding Smith to Congressman Ralph Harding, 23 Dec. 1963, photocopy in folder 2, box 4, King Papers, and in folder 22, box 5, Buerger Papers. Apostle Smith’s letter was first quoted in “Ike, LDS Leaders Thank Harding For Anti-Birch, Benson Speech,” Idaho State Journal, 20 Feb. 1964,1; “Ike Praises Idaho Solon For Benson Criticism,” Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Feb. 1964, A-4; also Anderson, “Church and Birch In Utah,” 12. (21 Feb 1964) Newspapers printed (Joseph Fielding) Smith’s caustic assessment (of 23 Dec 1963) and the Quorum of Twelve’s president made a public disclaimer which actually verified the political motivations for Benson’s assignment to Europe: “I meant that when he returned he would be free of all political ties.” From Extensions of Power.
23 – Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (2014)
24 – “Ezra Taft Benson Hints at Hour To Revolt”, Drew Pearson, Jan 4, 1964 (provided by Joe Geisner)
25 – Ralph R. Harding interview as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
26 – Frank E. Moss to Ray R. Murdock, 19 Feb. 1964, and Moss to Hugh B. Brown, 19, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
27 – “Ike, LDS Leaders Thank Harding For Anti-Birch, Benson Speech,” Idaho State Journal, 20 Feb. 1964,1, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
28 – “Solon Embarrassed By Letter Publication,” Deseret News, 21 Feb. 1964, A-8; “‘Release Unauthorized/ Solon Says of Letters,” Salt Lake Tribune, 22 Feb. 1964, C-ll; “Idaho Writers Say Letters Were Widely Circulated,” and “Bill Hall’s Political Scratchpad,” Idaho State Journal, 23 Feb. 1964,1, 4. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
29 – “Ike, LDS Leaders Thank Harding For Anti-Birch, Benson Speech,” Idaho State Journal, 20 Feb. 1964, 1; “Ike Praises Idaho Solon For Benson Criticism,” Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Feb. 1964, A-4. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
30 – “Benson Says: New Duties Not ‘Rebuke,'” Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Oct. 1963, A-4; “Church Denies Mission Rumors,” Deseret News, 21 Feb. 1964, A-8; “Letter Denies Rebuke in Benson Call,” Salt Lake Tribune, 22 Feb. 1964, C-ll. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
31 – David O. McKay diary ; Rise of Modern Mormonism
32 – Reed A. Benson to Dean M. Hansen, 22 May 1967, in Dean Maurice Hansen, “An Analysis of the 1964 Idaho Second Congressional District Election Campaign,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1967, 50, 221, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
33 – Louis Midgley, “Birch Society Reviewed by Prof. Louis Midgley,” (BYU) Daily Universe as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism and Extensions of Power.
34 – David O. McKay diary as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
35 – David O. McKay to Earl C. Crockett as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
36 – Ernie Lazar, Documentary History of the John Birch Society, https://sites.google.com/site/ernie1241b/home
37 – Benson, Title of Liberty, comp. Mark A. Benson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964), with references to Robert Welch on 1,12,36,39, and 40. Compare to Benson, So Shall Ye Reap, comp. Reed A. Benson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1960), with references to Communism on 163, 208, and 328, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
38 – “Faculty Members Deplore ‘Fanaticism’ of Booklet,” Provo Daily Herald, 23 July 1964, 14; “None Dare Call It Treason Causes Sincere Concern,” Brigham Young University Daily Universe, 23 July 1964, 2; “Students Take Issue With ‘None Dare Call It Treason’ Critics,” Brigham Young University Daily Universe, 28 July 1964, 2; “Poll Answers Student Letters,” Brigham Young University Daily Universe, 30 July 1964, 2. 138. “. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
39 – Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992, Appendix 2: A Chronology of Church History
40 – Benson, An Internal Threat Today (Belmont, MA: American Opinion (1964); the Birch Society’s American Opinion 7 (Oct. 1964): cover page and 43-44, 97. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
41 – “How Could He Lose?” Idaho Daily Statesman, 5 Nov. 1964, 1-2; Harding to Frank H. Jonas, 8 Dec. 1964, Jonas Papers; Jack Anderson, “Birch Society Influence Defeated Ralph Harding,” Blackfoot News, 15 Jan. 1965, 4, also printed as “Reed Benson Spreads Birch Gospel” in Washington Post, 15 Jan. 1965, B-13; Lynn Broadhead to Dean M. Hansen, 15 June 1967; Swanson, “McCarthyism in Utah,” 143; Hansen, “Analysis of the 1964 Idaho Second Congressional District Election. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
42 – Ezra Taft Benson, “The Christ and the Constitution,” American Opinion 7 (Dec. 1964): 41-45, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
43 – Extensions
44 – “Utahn Heads Birch Office in Capital,” Deseret News, 16 Dec. 1964, A-13, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
45 – “Ike and the Birch Society,” Lee Davidson, Salt Lake Tribune, November 16, 2010 (provided by Joe Geisner)
46 – Anderson, “Reed Benson Spreads Birch Gospel”; Clare Middlemiss to Kent Brennan (ca. 20 Jan. 1965), quoted in Anderson, “Church and Birch In Utah,” 14; also published in “No Church Rebuke Given to Bensons,” Spokane Daily Chronicle, and reprinted by the Salt Lake City Citizens Information Committee, Comments and Corrections, No. 3 (15 Jan. 1968): 8, which inaccurately dates the Chronicle article as 15 January 1965, three days before Brennan’s original letter to McKay. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
47 – Jack Anderson, “Reed Benson Spreads Birch Gospel,” Washington Post, 15 Jan. 1965, B-13 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
48 – Brown to Mrs. W. E. Daddow, 23 Feb. 1965, LDS archives, photocopy in my possession — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
49 – “NAACP Calls March for LDS Appeal,” Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Mar. 1965, A-18; “Marchers Pray At LDS Doorstep,” Daily Utah Chronicle, 8 Mar. 1965,1. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
50 – Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Ezra Taft Benson,” Reed Benson and Sheri Dew, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992
51 – Improvement Era, June 1965, p.539; 135th Annual Conference
52 – “Mormons Bickering Over Rights Issue,” Pittsburg Courier, Apr 4, 1965 (provided by Joe Geisner)
53 – Deseret News, April 7, 1965, “Fight Red Influence” (provided by Joe Geisner)
54 – “Benson Ties Rights Issue to Reds in Mormon Rift,” Washington Post, 13 Apr. 1965, A-5 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
55 – Leon Johnson, “Benson Told A ‘Damned Lie,'” Daily Utah Chronicle, 12 Apr. 1965, 2 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
56 – “Benson Ties Rights Issue to Reds in Mormon Rift,” Washington Post, 13 Apr. 1965, A-5 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
57 – E. Eugene Bryce, “Campus Speaker Affiliated With Subversive Groupings,” Provo Daily Herald, 20 Apr. 1965, 10 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
58 – “Reed Benson Says Welch Was Correct in Calling Eisenhower Communist,” Provo Daily Herald, 22 Apr. 1965, 2; Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 391. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
59 – Whittaker and McClellan, “The Collection: Description,” 2, register of Hillam Papers; Stephen Hays Russell to Ernest L. Wilkinson, 26 Apr. 1965. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
60 – Ernest L. Wilkinson to Mark Benson, 27 Apr. 1965, Wilkinson Papers — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
61 – Lisle Updike to Ernest L. Wilkinson, 5 May 1965, Curt Conklin to David O. McKay, 29 Jan. 1965 , also referred to in Clare Middlemiss to Ernest L. Wilkinson, 3 Feb. 1966, Conklin to Wilkinson, 16 Feb. 1966, all in Wilkinson Papers. — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
62 – “President McKay Emphasizes Individual,” with subheading for Elder Benson’s talk: “Restored Gospel,” Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Apr. 1965, A-5; compare with Improvement Era 68 (June 1965): 539. However, in 1968 Deseret Book Company published (and reprinted in 1969) Benson’s Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception, 3, which stated: “The so-called civil rights movement as it exists today is used as a Communist program for revolution.” The addition of “used as” softened his original words. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
63 – Poll to Wilkinson, 24 June 1965, defending himself against the complaints by Bryce — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
64 – “Critical of Church: NAACP Studies Action,” Deseret News, 2 July 1965, A-6; “Benson Ties Rights Issue to Reds in Mormon Rift,” Washington Post, 13 Apr. 1965, A-5; Seattle Times, 5 May 1965,13; “NAACP Asks Foreign Bar of Missionaries,” Daily Utah Chronicle, 6 May 1965, 1, 3, 4; Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 May 1965, 6, Microforms, Marriott Library. I could not find any reference to this in Deseret News or Salt Lake Tribune for May; The Salt Lake City chapter of the NAACP had called for the national resolution in apparent response to Apostle Benson’s statement a month earlier that the civil rights movement was Communist and revolutionary. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
65 – “Bircher Asserts King Injures Negro’s Cause,” Modesto Bee, Jul 21, 1965 (provided by Joe Geisner)
66 – Wilkinson diary, 19-22 Aug. 1965, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
67 – D. Richard Pine and Charles R. Armour to “All Coordinators, Section Leaders and Chapter Leaders in California,” 17 Aug. 1965, and D. Richard Pine to “Coordinators, Section Leaders and Chapter Leaders—L.A. County,” 1 Sept. 1965, in Harvey B. Schechter, How To Listen to a John Birch Society Speaker, 3d. ed. rev. (New York: Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, 1967), 25-26 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
68 – Extensions of Power.
69 – Reed A. Benson, “Memo to the Utah Chapters,” 2 Sept. 1965, on letterhead of the John Birch Society, photocopy in Williams Papers; Quinn G. McKay to J. D. Williams, 20 May 1966, Williams Papers. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
70 – “John Birch Society Representative Reed Benson,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 19 Sept. 1965, A-6, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
71 – L. Brent Goates, Harold B. Lee: Prophet & Seer (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985), 378, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
72 – David Leslie Brewer, “Utah Elites and Utah Racial Norms,” Ph.D. diss., University, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
73 – “NAACP Says ‘Too Fantastic’ Rumors of Demonstrations,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 27 Sept. 1965, 20, as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
74 – The first part of quote is from the version of the statement in “NAACP Chapter Claims Riot Report ‘Malicious,'” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 28 Sept. 1965, A-6; the second part is from the version in “Rumors of Riot Hit By Area NAACP,” Deseret News, 28 Sept. 1965, B-l; “NAACP Assails Rumors of Protest at LDS Meet,” Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Sept. 1965, 18. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
75 – The John Birch Society Bulletin (Sept. 1965): cover and 23. The October Bulletin (dated 30 Sept. 1965): 2, concluded its reminder about the Birch battle with the African-American civil rights movement: “And in setting out seriously on this gigantic endeavor, we have really stirred up the animals.” From Extensions of Power.
76 – Reed Benson and Robert W. Lee, “The Federalist” (concerning Watts), and Robert H. Montgomery, “From the North,” (concerning immigration), in the John Birch Society’s American Opinion 8 (Oct. 1965): 65-66, 69-70; also Gary Allen and Bill Richardson, “Los Angeles: Hell In The City of The Angels,” American Opinion 8 (Sept. 1965): 1-14. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
77 – “Birchers As Group, Unwelcome,” Deseret News, 27 Oct. 1965, F-l; “Bennett Joins; Congressional Record—Senate 109 (6 Aug. 1963): 14172; Anderson, “Church and Birch In Utah,” 10-11. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
78 – Wikipedia, Chronology of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (LDS Church), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_Quorum_of_the_Twelve_Apostles_(LDS_Church)
79 – Minutes of Council Meeting as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
80 – “Birch Society Advises Public Of Film,” Leland Edwards, Logan Herald Journal, Nov 16, 1965 (provided by Joe Geisner)
81 – Clare Middlemiss, “Notes” as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
82 – Middlemiss to Russell F. Dickey, 8 Dec. 1965 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
83 – Board of Trustees, Executive Committee minutes, 16 Dec. 1965, archives, Brigham Young University; Wilkinson diary, 21 Dec. 1965; Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 197; N. Eldon Tanner statement in the mid-1960s to J. Kenneth Davies as reported in Davies interview by Gary James Bergera, 24 Dec. 1984.However, Apostle Delbert L. Stapley’s vote against the Birch Society president as a BYU speaker should not be construed as evidence of his disagreement with Benson’s political views. For example, Stapley wrote a woman that “we are drifting towards the socialized state,” and sent her copies of Benson’s conference talks on Communism (Stapley to Mrs. W. E. Daddow, 19 Feb. 1965, LDS archives). These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
84 – “LDS Apostle Backs Up Birch Group,” Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Jan. 1966, B-14; “Speak Up! Says Ezra to Save Your Soul and Maybe Your Country,” Fact Finder 24 (28 Feb. 1966). These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
85 – Wallace F. Bennett to David Lawrence McKay, 21 Jan. 1966, folder 3, box 24, Bennett Papers, Western Americana, Marriott Library — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
86 – The John Birch Society Bulletin (Feb. 1966): 30 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
87 – Ezra Taft Benson, “Stand Up For Freedom,” address to the Utah Forum for the American Idea, Assembly Hall, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, 11 Feb. 1966, typescript, 9, 11, Vertical File, Special Collections, Marriott Library; “Benson Hits Liberals’ ‘Conspiracy’: Assails Plots, Propaganda,” Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Feb. 1966,17. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
88 – “Copy of First Presidency minutes digest 2-18-66,” in “Hugh B. Brown’s File on the John Birch Society.” From Extensions of Power.
89 – Reported by U.S. senator Frank E. Moss to U.S. representative Ken W. Dyal, 2 Mar. 1966, folder 5, box 184, Moss Papers. Moss wrote that this assessment was based on conversations a week earlier with “the Brethren.” However, his Daily Activity Log refers to meeting with only one current general authority—Hugh B. Brown on 22 February (box 713, Moss Papers) — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
90 – “Stand Up For Freedom: Partial Text Of Talk Given to S.L. Group By Elder Benson,” Deseret News “Church News,” 26 Feb. 1966,10-12; Duane Price to D. Michael Quinn, 9 Aug. 1992, summarizing his meeting with Benson in April 1966. Price was a supporter of Benson’s position on the Birch Society. Anderson, “Church and Birch In Utah,” 35n29, alluded to the censorship of the talk in the Church News. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
91 – Philip K. Langan to “All Friends of American Opinion in Utah,” Mar. 1966, quoted in Anderson, “Church and Birch In Utah,” 27-28 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
92 – The John Birch Society Bulletin (Mar. 1966): 22-24; “CROSS REFERENCE SHEET,” 2 Mar. 1966, in “Hugh B. Brown’s File on the John Birch Society.” From Extensions of Power.
93 – Ezra Taft Benson to Joseph Fielding Smith, 3 Mar. 1966, MS 4940, LDS archives — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
94 – J. Reese Hunter to “Dear Brethren,” 8 Mar. 1966, LDS archives, photocopy in Williams Papers; Utah Forum For the American Idea, “Program,” 11 Feb. 1966, Williams Papers. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
95 – “OPERATION CHECKMATE,” original typed document, Williams Papers, also photocopy inscribed, “J D Williams, March 14,1966,” folder 2, box 124, Robert H. Hinckley Papers, Western Americana, Marriott Library. Although undated, this document was drafted after the J. Reese Hunter letter of 8 Mar. 1966 (which “OPERATION CHECKMATE” referred to) and before the First Presidency statement of 17 March, which was the kind of official statement recommended by “OPERATION CHECKMATE,” 4 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
96 – Referred to in minutes, LDS archives, of meeting on 15 March 1966 of David O. McKay, N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Mark E. Petersen in Huntsville, Utah — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
97 – Campbell and Poll, Hugh B. Brown, 259; minutes of meeting on 15 Mar. 1966 with David O. McKay, N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Mark E. Petersen in Huntsville, Utah. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
98 – Robert Hinckley to McKay as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
99 – “Church Tells Position On Dinner for Bircher,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 17 Mar. 1966, A-10; “Notice To Church Members,” Deseret News “Church News,” 19 Mar. 1966,2; “So Much For Mr. Welch,” Rocky Mountain Review, 17 Mar. 1966, 4. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
100 – “Politics and Religion,” Deseret News “Church News,” 26 Mar. 1966,16 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
101 – John Birch Society’s American Opinion 9 (Apr. 1966): cover page, and 112 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
102 – McKay, Conference Report, 109 as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
103 – Quinn G. McKay statement, 25 Apr. 1966, in J. Kenneth Davies, Political Extremism Under the Spotlight (Provo, UT: Young Democrats and Young Republicans of Brigham Young University, 1966), 21 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
104 – Quinn’s telephone conversation on 7 Nov. 1992 with L. Brent Goates. He described his father-in-law’s April 1966 conference address as “an insinuation” concerning Benson but declined to comment further on the differences between the two apostles. Goates, Harold B. Lee, makes no reference to the dispute — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
105 – Mark E. Anderson to David O. McKay, 5 Apr. 1966, MS 3744, LDS archives — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
106 – Robert Welch, “Dinner Meeting at Hotel Utah Introductory Remarks—April 7th, 1966 by Robert Welch,” mimeograph, 1, Special Collections, Lee Library; Anderson, “Church and Birch In Utah,” 25-26, 35n32, cites this as a publication of the American Opinion Bookstore in Salt Lake City.; “Birch Dinner in Salt Lake City Vexes Mormons,” New York Times, 8 Apr. 1966, 28, published as “Welch Says Mormons Make Good Birchers,” Minneapolis Tribune, 9 Apr. 1966. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
107 – “Welch Raps ‘Senseless’ U.S. Policy,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Apr. 1966, B-l, with photo on B-2; “Birch Dinner in Salt Lake City Vexes Mormons,” New York Times, 8 Apr. 1966, 28; Hugh W. Gillilan, “500 Misled Americans,” and Mrs. Calvin L. Rampton, “JBS’ Tasteless Violation,” Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Apr. 1966, A-16, with reply by J. Reese Hunter, “Answers Mrs. Rampton,” Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Apr. 1966,18; also Anderson, “Church and Birch In Utah,” 1,16. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
108 – H. Grant Ivins, “Most Divisive Influence,” Salt Lake Tribune, 11 Apr. 1966,18. His father was Anthony W. Ivins, First Presidency counselor from 1921 to 1934 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
109 – Joe H. Ferguson to “All General Authorities,” 16 Apr. 1966, 4, with postscript to “Mark” (Mark E. Anderson) — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
110 – Deseret News “Church News,” 16 Apr. 1966, 7 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
111 – Whittaker and McClellan, “The Collection: Description,” 1-2, register of the Hillam Papers; Stephen Hays Russell to Ernest L. Wilkinson, 26 Apr. 1965; Richard D. Poll to Wilkinson, 24 June 1965, defending himself against the complaints by Russell and E. Eugene Bryce, Wilkinson Papers, photocopy in my possession; Morrell, Bernhard, Hillam, Wimmer, Midgley, and Wirthlin, “Events Related To the Covert Surveillance of Faculty Members,” 1-2; “Birch Society Reviewed By Prof. Louis Midgley,” Brigham Young University Daily Universe, 22 May 1964, 2; “Faculty Members Deplore ‘Fanaticism’ of Booklet,” Provo Daily Herald, 23 July 1964,14; “None Dare Call It Treason Causes Sincere Concern,” Brigham Young University Daily Universe, 23 July 1964, 2; also Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 207-208. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
112 – Stephen Hays Russell, Personal History of Stephen Hays Russell (N.P., 1983), 99 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
113 – Interview of Ronald Ira Hankin by Ray C. Hillam and Louis C. Midgley, 17 Sept. 1966, Provo, Utah, transcript, 4-5, signed at the bottom of each page by Ronald I. Hankin, folder 5, Hillam Papers, and box 34, Buerger Papers; “Birchers Spied On Professors, Hialeah Student Said,” Miami Herald, 3 Mar. 1967, A-32; Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 208. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
114 – Quinn G. McKay, statements in Davies, Political Extremism Under the Spotlight, 12, 19,20-21. The “standing-room-only” reference is from the description of the meeting on the inside front cover — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
115 – “Authoritative Answers To Questions Concerning Anti-Communism,” mimeographed statement, Americanism Discussion Group, 3624 56th Avenue, S.W. Seattle, Washington, 98116, copy in Special Collections, Lee Library — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
116 – List of speakers of the “American Opinion Speakers Bureau” in the Birch Society’s American Opinion 9 (May 1966): 109 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
117 – “Benson Eyed as Candidate for President,” Daily Telegraph, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, May 3, 1966 (provided by Joe Geisner)
118 – “Presidential Draft for Elder Benson?” in Deseret News, 3 May 1966, A-l; “Group Seeks Benson for Race in ’68,” Salt Lake Tribune, 3 May 1966, 6; “Benson Hints Door Open In ’68 Race,” Salt Lake Tribune, 4 May 1966, A-14; Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 383. Also Epstein and Forster, The Radical Right, 53-55,142; Bethke, “BF (Before Falwell), EB (Ezra Benson),” see additional footnotes in Michael Quinn article. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
119 – “Presidential Draft for Elder Benson,” Deseret News as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
120 – Walter Scott, “Personality Parade,” Parade, 15 May 1966 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
121 – Robert H. Hinckley, “The Politics of Extremism,” in Congressional Record—Senate 112 (13 July 1966): 15584, 15583; “Says Birchers Copy Reds,” Deseret News, 25 May 1966, A-12; “Hinckley Blasts Extremists,” Provo Daily Herald, 25 May 1966, 14. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
122 – folder 2, box 124, Hinckley Papers — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
123 – Ezra Taft Benson to Clare Middlemiss, David O. McKay Scrapbooks #169 as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
124 – Brown interview by Richard Wirthlin and Ray Hillam, 9 Aug. 1966,3, transcribed 11 Oct. 1966 “from Rough Draft Notes,” folder 6, Hillam Papers, and box 34, Buerger Papers; Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 383-84, 386, 392-93. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
125 – Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 366-67 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
126 – Morrell, Bernhard, Hillam, Wimmer, Midgley, and Wirthlin, “Events Related To the Covert Surveillance of Faculty Members,” 5; Richard D. Poll to Ray C. Hillam, 12 Sept. 1966, folder 10, Hillam Papers, also box 34, Buerger Papers. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
127 – Quinn interview on 16 December 1992 with a person (name withheld by request) who was a highly placed official at LDS church headquarters in 1966. While I was asking about other matters involving Ezra Taft Benson, this source brought up the BYU espionage and volunteered Stephen Russell’s name as the person who forwarded the “spy ring’s findings” to Benson. This forwarding of the spy ring information to Benson was also implied in Hankin interview, 17 Sept. 1966, pp. 6-7, and Sisson statement, 17 Sept. 1966, folder 10, Hillam Papers, and box 34, Buerger Papers — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
128 – Ezra Taft Benson reading copy of his general conference talk, 2 Oct. 1966, photocopy in “Hugh B. Brown’s File on the John Birch Society.” From Extensions of Power.
129 – Buchanan diary, 3 Oct. 1966 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
130 – Quoted in Buchanan diary, 7 Oct. 1966 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
131 – Drew Pearson, “Mormons Reverse Clock,” Washington Post as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
132 – Berkley West Virgina Post, “Drew Pearson – Says Once Progressive Mormon Church Is Moving Backwards” Oct 16, 1966 (provided by Joe Geisner)
133 – Audio tape of Ezra Taft Benson, “Our Immediate Responsibility,” devotional address to students of Brigham Young University, 25 Oct. 1966, available from BYU Media Services in 1992.; Ezra Taft Benson, “Our Immediate Responsibility,” Speeches of the Year (Provo, UT: Extension Publications, Division of Continuing Education, Brigham Young University, 1966), esp. 8,13-14.; Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 372, 385; Dew, “Ezra Taft Benson,” in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism: The History Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5 vols. (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992), 1:102-103. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
134 – N. Eldon Tanner to Joseph Fielding Smith, 31 Oct. 1966 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
135 – Hugh B. Brown to David O. McKay, 9 Nov. 1966, with notation in Brown’s handwriting of First Presidency decision on 16 Nov. 1966, all attached to Benson’s reading copy of his October 1966 conference talk, and all in “Hugh B. Brown’s File on the John Birch Society.” From Extensions of Power.
136 – Hugh B. Brown to David O. McKay in Hugh B. Brown file on the John Birch Society, Edwin B. Firmage Papers, Box 48, fd. 21; Notes from First Presidency meeting, November 16, 1966, David O. McKay diary; David O. McKay diary, December 2, 1966 as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
137 – Louis C. Midgley to Ray C. Hillam, 11 Nov. 1966, regarding a conversation of Edwin B. Morrell, Richard B. Wirthlin, and Louis C. Midgley with Earl C. Crockett on 9 November; Brown & Benson; Midgley to Ray C. Hillam, 11 Nov. 1966, and comment on this letter in the inventory of Whittaker and McClellan, “The Collection: Description,” register of Hillam Papers; Louis C. Midgley to Ray C. Hillam, 11 Nov. 1966, folder 12, Hillam Papers, and box 34, Buerger Papers; Wilkinson diary, 25 Oct. 1966. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
138 – “‘Strictly a draft’—Elder Benson,” (subheading) Deseret News “Church News,” 28 Jan. 1967,6 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
139 – David O. McKay diary, ; Robert Welch to David O. McKay, February 21, 1967; David O. McKay diary, March 22, 1967 as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
140 – “Birchers Spied On Professors, Hialeah Student Said,” Miami Herald, 3 Mar. 1967, A-32; Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 209. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
141 – “Benson Finds Draft Crusade ‘Humbling,'” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 11 Mar. 1967, 9; “Benson Says No Interest in ’68 Draft,” Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Mar. 1967, C-6. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
142 – Stephen Hays Russell statement, 13 Mar. 1967, typescript, signed at the bottom of each page by Stephen Hays Russell, folder 9, Hillam Papers, and box 34, Buerger Papers — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
143 – Dorothy L. Skinner to Hugh B. Brown as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
144 – Wes Andrews and Clyde Dalton, The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives (Oakland, CA: Desco Press, 1967), 13, a copy of which is in the Church Library, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Ezra Taft Benson, “Trade and Treason,” Christian Crusade 19 (Apr. 1967): 22-24. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
145 – Schechter, How To Listen to a John Birch Society Speaker, 24; also Barbara Hogan, The Shake-Up America Campaign: Who’s Wlio and What’s Wliat in the Massive John Birch Society Propaganda Effort to Fan the Flames of Racial Tension (Washington, D.C.: Institute for American Democracy (1967). These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
146 – “Tendency Toward Extremes,” Deseret News “Church News,” 15 Apr. 1967,20 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
147 – Brown to Burns S. Hanson, 11 May 1967, carbon copy cross-referenced to “Hargis, Billy James,” in “Hugh B. Brown File on the John Birch Society.” From Extensions of Power.
148 – Church News: Historical Chronology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/58765/Historical-chronology-of-The-Church-of-Jesus-Christ-of-Latter-day-Saints.html
149 – Benson address, 29 Sept. 1967, in his Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception 3; “Mormon Leaders Heard By 25,000,” New York Times, 2 Oct. 1967, 52; Improvement Era 70 (Dec. 1967): 35, softened Benson’s restatement of his position about the civil rights movement. However that censored 1967 statement was almost identical to the Deseret News, 14 Dec. 1963, B-5, report of Benson’s assessment of civil rights. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
150 – “Group Acts to Draft Benson in ’68 Race,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1 Nov. 1967 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
151 – in 1968; Afton Olson Miles, “Mormon Voting Behavior and Political Attitudes,” Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1978, 164-65. Broken down by political affiliation, this anti-Birch view was shared by 86 percent of Mormon Democrats, 64 percent of Mormon independents, and 43 percent of Mormon Republicans. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
152 – Willard S. Voit announcement, 17 Nov. 1967, in The John Birch Society Bulletin (Dec. 1967): 26-28; “Wallace In Race; Will ‘Run To Win,'” New York Times, 9 Feb. 1968,1; “Benson Backs Wallace Stand,” Christian Science Monitor, 13 Feb. 1968, 3, based on an undated interview with Benson by a reporter with Reuters news service. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
153 – Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 397-98; The 1976 Committee, Vie Team You Can Trust To Guide America; Epstein and Forster, The Radical Right, 53-55, 142. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
154 – Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1968
155 – Ezra Taft Benson, “Re: Martin Luther King,” 6 Apr. 1968; Hugh B. Brown to John W. Bennion, LDS bishop of the Elgin Ward, Chicago Stake, 29 May 1968. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
156 – Benson, “The Book of Mormon Warns America,” address at Brigham Young University devotional, 21 May 1968, transcript, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, Vertical File, Special Collections, Marriott Library, and transcript in Moss Papers also “Road to Anarchy: Benson Blisters Supreme Court,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 22 May 1968, A-ll; “Benson Warns on Commies in Talk at BYU Assembly,” Provo Daily Herald, 22 May 1968, 24.; Robert O. Trottier to David O. McKay, 22 May 1968, with copies to Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, and Ezra Taft Benson, photocopy in Vertical File for Ezra Taft Benson, Special Collections, Marriott Library. ; Brown to Trottier, 24 May 1968, photocopy in Vertical File for Ezra Taft Benson, Special Collections, Marriott Library. These are referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
157 – Campbell and Poll, Hugh B. Brown, 259-60 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
158 – Brown to Bennion, 29 May 1968 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
159 – Benson, “The Proper Role of Government,” Vital Speeches 24 (15 June 1968): 514-20, also reprinted in Agricultural Engineering 49 (Aug. 1968): 469-71 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
160 – Ezra Taft Benson to Mr. & Mrs. Gene Curtis, June 24, 1968 (provided by Joe Geisner)
161 – Brown to Philip D. Thorpe, director of the Community Action Program in Provo, Utah, 18 Oct. 1968, carbon copy in Campbell papers, with attached copy of Benson’s October 1968 conference address, “The Proper Role of Government,” Improvement Era 71 (Dec. 1968): 51-53, with underlined passage on page 53 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
162 – Summarized in David O. McKay Papers; verbatim report in Clare Middlemiss, Minutes of a Meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, “Notes” as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
163 – On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com
164 – Hugh B. Brown interview as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
165 – “Note by C.M. (Clare Middlemiss)”, David O. McKay diary as referenced in Rise of Modern Mormonism
166 – Utah History Encyclopedia: Third Parties in Utah, http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/
167 – Wikipedia: “Ezra Taft Benson”
168 – Phares Woods statement, 27 May 1969,1-2, folder 16, Hillam Papers, and box 34, Buerger Papers. Daughter of Cleon Skousen’s brother Ervin M., See Skousens In America, 86 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
169 – Wilkinson diary, 13 May 1969 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
170 – Undated, handwritten memo from “M. G. F.” (poss. Merwin G. Fairbanks, director of student publications) to “Cleon Skousen,” with copies to ELW (Ernest L. Wilkinson), RKT (Robert K. Thomas), BEL (Ben E. Lewis), RJS (Robert J. Smith), and “Dan Ludlow,” folder 16, Hillam Papers; emphasis in original; Woods statement, 27 May 1969, 4; BYU Directory, 1968-69, s.v. “Phares Quincy Woods.” From Extensions of Power.
171 – Improvement Era 72 (Dec. 1969): 69 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.
172 – Crapo, Richley, Chronology Pertaining to Blacks and the LDS Priesthood; 1988. Edwin B. Firmate, editor. The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. P. 129
173 – Firmage, An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, 142 — as referenced in Political Conflicts/Extensions of Power.