Ezra Taft Benson Chronology (Part V): January 23, 1970 to November 10, 1985 (Apostle, President of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Under the presidencies of Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson’s promotion of ultra-conservative politics went into decline, in part due to more assertive presidents who were opposed to Benson’s politics, and also due to the demise of the threat of communism. Some of his public pronouncements were considered inappropriate and met with a gentle rebuke, or with clarifying statements from the First Presidency. Other correctives were more direct. Kimball was more lenient towards Benson than Smith and Lee.
Some ultra-conservative members of the church were unhappy that Benson’s pronouncements had been restricted. For example, in the 1970 General Priesthood meeting, Harold B. Lee denounced a mass mailing to local LDS leadership calling for a “a dissenting vote against the liberal factions” of “the First Presidency with its social-democrat thinking.” In 1976, a 3rd proposal was made to have Elder Benson run as part of a presidential bid, but he declined the offer as impractical.
Benson felt gospel teachings trumped secular ideas, and he declared “false” the theories of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, and Karl Marx. He also forwarded materials to President Kimball that he felt were too liberal, or critical of the church. Later, he (and other apostles) directed reading assignments to monitor and flag potentially objectionable materials. Benson also forwarded to President Kimball materials expressing the concerns of ultra-conservatives about the subversion of democracy.
Benson was concerned about some materials being published by the professionally staffed church history department. Upon the publication of a book on the history of the church, Elders Benson, Peterson and Packer took issue with it, and it was pulled from the shelves of Deseret Book, as well as removed from the Institute of Religion’s reading list. He warned CES personal about subscribing to, or owning “apostate” materials, and instructed that they should publish faith-promoting articles only. In the early 1980s, a multi-volume history of the church was cancelled and the church history department was reorganized with the church historian being quietly released. Newsweek subsequently covered tensions between historians and conservative apostles.
Ezra Taft Benson organized efforts to have LDS women attend the International Women’s Year conference in Utah. He encouraged bishops to meet or exceed per-ward quotas of attendees. Conservative groups such as the John Birch Society and Eagle Forum held information meetings suggesting the conference had an extreme feminist agenda, and encouraged LDS women to follow their lead at the conference. Attendance far exceeded expectations, and a polarized atmosphere prevailed. Common sense resolutions such as better enforcement of child support, and equal pay for equal work were voted down along with liberal issues such as abortion rights and government funded sex education. LDS women were also mobilized in six other states to participate in this conference.
In 1977, another BYU spy-ring was organized by Elder Benson, and ran by William O. Nelson, a secretary to Benson. It was uncovered when a report intended for Benson ended up on Elder Peterson’s desk. BYU President Dallin Oaks referred to it as “that Birch Mafia that surrounds ETB.” President Kimball personally ended this spy-ring.
President Kimball expressed (before the revelation on blacks and the priesthood) that if he didn’t give priesthood to black members of the church, “my successor won’t.” When the revelation was received, Elder Benson recorded: “Following the prayer, we experienced the sweetest spirit of unity and conviction that I have ever experienced. . . . Our bosoms burned with the righteousness of the decision we had made.” He also said he “had never experienced anything of such spiritual magnitude and power.”
As president of the Quorum of Twelve during the presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, Benson worked to streamline church policies and procedures. He guided the Quorum effectively in dealing with various issues, helping the church move into the modern era and accommodating international needs. Reflecting his past humanitarian mission to post-WWII Europe, Brigham Young University honored him by establishing the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute.
Elder Benson gave a talk called the “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophets.” It may have been in response to a full page ad in the Salt Lake Tribune taken out by the professional anti-Mormons Gerald and Sandra Tanner. Their book, promoted by the ad, called into question consistent prophetic declaration. But Benson’s talk was interpreted by many as a precursor to own ascendency as prophet of the church, he being next in line. President Kimball apparently asked Benson to issue an apology to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and then to a meeting of all general authorities.
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
— January 1970
Ezra Taft Benson’s political activism went into decline in the years following McKay’s death in January 1970. His successors as church president were two apostles who had privately and publicly expressed their criticism of Benson. Presidents Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee restricted Apostle Benson’s political activism from 1970 through 1973. However, it did not cease altogether. The Mormon-Birch Utah Independent announced Benson’s addresses at Boston rallies in 1970 and 1972, where all the other speakers were either staff members of the Birch Society’s American Opinion or long-time authors of its articles. (1)
— 23 Jan 1970
The First Presidency is reorganized, with Joseph Fielding Smith President, Harold B. Lee First Counselor, and N. Eldon Tanner Second Counselor. Harold B. Lee becomes President of the Quorum, with Spencer W. Kimball Acting President of the Quorum. (2)
— 4 Mar 1970
Some ultra- conservative Mormons … were outraged by the First Presidency’s official condemnation of Mormons who had formed “Neighborhood Emergency Teams” in Utah. Apostle Benson announced that he had “no comment” about this March 1970 Presidency statement. (3)
— 13 Mar 1970
President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency and Elders Ezra Taft Benson and Gordon B. Hinckley conduct the dedication of the Mormon Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan. Some 6.65 million people attend the pavilion in the first six months of the fair.
— 4 Apr 1970
Shortly after the presidency’s statement against the ultra- conservative NET organizations, all local LDS leaders received an announcement which began: “There are dangerous sinister trends developing within the church due to the liberal factions gaining control.” The announcement urged all “those of the conservative mind” to “cast a dissenting vote against the liberal factions” of “the First Presidency with its social-democrat thinking” on 6 April 1970. This would remove from office the new presidency of Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and N. Eldon Tanner, all of whom were known as opponents of Benson’s ultra-conservative activism. In their place, this proposal claimed that “Brother Benson will sound the trumpet and thousands, yes tens of thousands, will heed his call and stand forth ready to sustain and support the fight for truth, right and liberty.” Thus a general conference vote of Mormon ultra-conservatives would propel Benson into the office of LDS church president in place of the current president and ahead of other senior apostles.
Rather than dismissing this document as the work of a lone crank and giving it no further attention, Counselor Harold B. Lee publicly denounced it two days before the sustaining vote of April 1970 conference. He told the general priesthood meeting that “there is one vicious story to the effect that one of our General Authorities is allegedly being urged to present himself to lead the Church contrary to the Lord’s revelation and to make people think there is some division among the authorities of the Church.” Lee indicated that this petition and its supporting documents “are finding their way into our Relief Society meetings, into priesthood quorums, firesides, institutes, and seminaries.” That was an extraordinary acknowledgement by Lee of the threat to the LDS church he perceived from ultra-conservative Mormons. (4)
— 6 Apr 1970
Rank-and-file Mormons noted that for the first time “in many years,” Benson gave “his first non-political sermon” … They regarded this non-partisan talk as a result of specific instructions the apostle had received from the First Presidency. (5)
“Despite continued threats of demonstrations,” Harold B. Lee’s biography observes, “not a single hand was raised in opposition” to the First Presidency on 6 April 1970. After the vote, Lee spoke against “the possibility of using political devices or revolutionary methods that could cause much confusion and frustration in the work of the Lord.” The official photograph showing the Twelve’s vote for the current First Presidency showed only three apostles, and the photograph centered on Ezra Taft Benson. (6)
— 9 Apr 1970
The newspaper published by Mormon members of the Birch Society was significant for what lay between the lines of its report of April 1970 conference. The Utah Independent began with the comment that church members will remember this general conference “for decades to come” and noted: “Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, no violence took place at the conference. No opposition was manifest by Church members when the names of general authorities were presented for sustaining.” Of Lee’s talk two days before this vote, the Utah Independent observed: “Special interest has centered around the talk given by President Harold B. Lee at the Saturday evening general priesthood session,” and quoted excerpts. However, this Mormon-Birch newspaper made no reference to the part of Lee’s talk which referred to the ultra-conservative proposal to vote against “the First Presidency with its social-democrat thinking,” and to substitute Benson as new church president.
Not long afterward, the author of this article lost his job in the LDS Publications Department. His supervisor had told him that it was “inappropriate” for him to be a member of the John Birch Society and an editor of the ultra-conservative Utah Independent. When informed of this incident by the state coordinator of the Birch Society, Apostle Benson said he could do nothing to remedy it. (7)
— 09 Apr 1970
Boyd K. Packer is ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, replacing David O. McKay.
— 9 Jul 1970
The Mormon-Birch Utah Independent announced Benson’s addresses at Boston … where all the other speakers were either staff members of the Birch Society’s American Opinion or long-time authors of its articles. (8)
— October 1970
Benson states members should avoid false theories from men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others. (9)
— 10 Dec. 1970
Benson referred to the John Birch Society founder Robert H. Welch affectionately as “Dear Bob.” (10)
Church membership reached 3 million. (11)
Skousen organized the Freemen Institute which initially attracted Mormon members of the Birch Society. Skousen named the organization after the Book of Mormon’s “freemen.” (12)
— 1971, January
New Church magazines, Ensign, New Era, and Friend commenced publication. (11)
— 13 Apr 1971
BYU’s president complained to Benson about not being able to establish “a chapter of the John Birch Society on our campus.” (13)
— 4 May 1971
Wilkinson lamented to Benson that McKay’s earlier instructions had blocked any attempts to establish a chapter of the John Birch Society at BYU: “I would personally like to have one at BYU, and I am seeing what I can do, but my lieutenants insist I would be violating the letter that President McKay sent us [during the Midgley/John Birch episode] sometime ago if I did.” (14)
— 26 Aug 1971
During church’s first area conference in Manchester, England, there is formal meeting of joint council of First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles. This is first such council meeting outside United States in Mormon history. (15)
— 1 Nov 1971
Richard L. Evans dies. (2)
— 2 Dec 1971
Marvin J. Ashton is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (16)
— April 1972
Elder Benson preached ‘This most correct book on earth states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people.” “And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking,” says Moroni, “and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.” (Eth. 8:21.) Now undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but notice how he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church today could point out many threats to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work, but it has singled out the greatest threat as the great conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon “it is a conspiracy fact. And along this line I would highly recommend to you the book None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen.”
Note: The book recommendation was added during talk upon discovering a Russian delegation in attendance. Allen was a member of the Birch Society. (17)
— 14 Apr 1972
Benson’s conference advice to purchase ‘None Dare Call It Conspiracy’ appeared in the report of his conference address by the Mormon-Birch Utah Independent, but the First Presidency deleted that recommendation from the official report of Benson’s sermon. (18)
— May 13,1972
May Presidency letter that “fluoridation of public water supplies to prevent tooth decay” is one of the “non-moral issues” that Mormons should vote on “according to their honest convictions.” John Birch Society, which Apostle Ezra Taft Benson and many other Mormons support, is condemning fluoridation as a Communist “plot.” (19)
— 30 Jun 1972
The Mormon-Birch Utah Independent announced Benson’s addresses at Boston where all the other speakers were either staff members of the Birch Society’s American Opinion or long-time authors of its articles. (20)
— 2 Jul 1972
Joseph Fielding Smith dies. (2)
— 7 Jul 1972
The First Presidency is reorganized, with Harold B. Lee President, N. Eldon Tanner First Counselor, and Marion G. Romney Second Counselor. Spencer W. Kimball becomes President of the Quorum. (2)
— August 1, 1972
Benson promotes Skousen’s “The Naked Capitalist,” “The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil” by Verlan Anderson and “None Dare Call it Conspiracy.” (21)
— 12 Oct 1972
Bruce R. McConkie ordained an apostle. (2)
— November 14, 1972
Benson notes “There have always been shades-of-gray members, down to the blackest Judas.” He also promotes the book “None Dare Call it Conspiracy,” and says the book “Prophets Principles and National Survial” shows “where the Prophets stand regarding freedom.” (22)
— 01 May 1973
Elder Ezra Taft Benson, Brigham Young University President Dallin H. Oaks, and newly appointed dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Rex E. Lee, participate in the groundbreaking ceremonies for the law school.
— Between July 1972 and Dec 1973
While Harold B. Lee was in the presidency, he evidently even gave an embarrassing rebuke to Apostle Benson during a meeting of general authorities in the Salt Lake Temple. As reported by Henry D. Taylor, an Assistant to the Twelve, individual apostles were delivering formal presentations on various subjects to the assistants. Benson’s assigned topic was the church’s youth program, but he began presenting charts and quotes to show Communist influence in America and the need to teach anti- Communism to Mormon youth. Lee walked out while Benson was speaking, soon followed by the other apostles. Taylor and the other Assistants to the Twelve were the only ones who remained seated during Benson’s presentation. (23)
— 1973, December 26
President Harold B. Lee died, Salt Lake City, age 74. (11)
— 26 Dec 1973
Brown had already been released as counselor. With the deaths of Smith and Lee, the First Presidency’s most strident voices against Benson’s ultra- conservatism were stilled. (12)
— December 30, 1973
The fourteen members of the Quorum of the Twelve met at 3 PM to determine whether to reorganize the First Presidency immediately, and, if so, who should succeed as president. They decided to act immediately and Ezra Taft Benson moved that the First Presidency be reorganized with Spencer W. Kimball, the apostle senior in service, as president of the Church, prophet, seer, revelator, and trustee-in- trust. (24)
— Dec 30, 1973 – 23 July 1981
Reorganization of First Presidency after death of Harold B. Lee; Spencer W. Kimball N. Eldon Tanner Marion G. Romney (25)
— During 1973
In 1973 Benson was set apart as president of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. He worked to streamline church policies and procedures. (26)
Published Volume – God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties. Deseret Book (9)
— January 11, 1974
The Mormon Church said Saturday a letter from Ezra Taft Benson, president of the Council of the Twelve, opposing low-cost housing in Heber City was accidently sent on official church stationary. … [Benson] said subsidized housing for low income families was socialistic and attracted “undesirable” persons. (27)
— February 22, 1974
Shortly after Spencer W. Kimball became President, Elder Benson was asked in an interview whether a good Mormon could be a liberal Democrat. He replied, “I think it would be very hard if he was living the gospel and understood it.” When the comment appeared in print, along with a statement by Elder Benson that the Church might at some point endorse political candidates, it stirred a buzz of concern and a flood of protests to the Presidency. Kimball waited several days before discussing the matter with Elder Benson, who expressed regret that he had allowed the interview and apologized for the embarrassment his statements had caused the Church. Kimball understood his worthy motives and patriotic spirit, but reminded him that as president of the Council of Twelve he should avoid involvement in politically sensitive and potentially divisive matters. The interview closed on a cordial note, although Kimball observed a bit too sanguinely in his journal, “I doubt if he will get into politics any more.” President Benson’s biography by Sheri Dew does not mention the incident. (28)
— Spring 1974
General Authorities, particularly Elder Benson, sent President Kimball marked copies of publications containing statements by Church members they considered critical or impolitic. For example, Elder Benson forwarded a Dialogue interview with Juanita Brooks about her book on the Mountain Meadows massacre and a BYU Daily Universe article mentioning Dialogue favorably. Kimball chose not to respond to such matters. Many other items forwarded to Spencer W. Kimball were ultraconservative expressions of concern for subversion of democracy in the United States. (29)
— 11 Apr 1974
L. Tom Perry is ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, replacing Spencer W. Kimball, who had been called to the First Presidency.
— 7 May 1974
First Presidency reiterated that black male members could attend elders quorum meetings in the same way that prospective elders could, and while it would be permissible for black members to hold leadership positions in the auxiliary organizations, preference should be given to calling them to teaching or clerical positions so as to avoid any misunderstanding. (30)
— 6 Sep 1974
The First Presidency announced that the Church was divesting itself of its 15 hospitals in three western states and turning them over to a non-Church, non-profit organization, Intermountain Health Care. The Church completed the legal steps for divesting the hospitals on March 21, 1975. (31)
— November 4, 1974
At a November 1974 rally just before the election, his passion prevailed and in an extemporaneous expression, Elder Benson publicly endorsed the American Party. He noted that the Church was non-partisan, but he said he believed the American Party was established on divine, eternal principles. And he said: ‘Never in decades have I read a set of principles of any party that come so close to the philosophy which I have and which I think my own Church people have. . . . He went on to assert that “the real hope” of a nation in crisis lay with people such as those gathered at the rally. Newspaper accounts of these statements caused a great stir, particularly when a radio report erroneously said the statements had President Kimball’s approval. Calls flooded the Church phone lines. Kimball hurried to his office to draft a statement reiterating, without direct reference to the specific incident, that “we take no partisan stand as to candidates or parties, and any person who makes representations to the contrary does so without authorization.” The next day, election day, the First Presidency asked Elder Benson to meet with them. They “discussed at great length his unfortunate remarks” and counseled him that “all General Authorities must speak with one voice and . . . [not] take any partisan position in politics, either as to candidates or parties.” (32)
— Nov 4, 1974
Benson noted that a liberal Democrat could not be a good Mormon “if he was living the gospel and understood it.” He resumed partisan warfare by announcing that the church might officially support political candidates. Then on the eve of the November election he publicly endorsed the ultra-conservative American Party and spoke at its rally on the Saturday before the election. This required the First Presidency to issue an immediate statement that “we take no partisan stand as to candidates or parties, and any person who makes representations to the contrary does so without authorization.” (33)
— November 5, 1974
Idaho State Journal: “The Mormon church reaffirmed a statement on election eve that it takes no political stand following remarks supporting the American party by church leader Elder Ezra Taft Benson … he believes the part was established on divine and eternal principles.” (34)
— November 24, 1974
Ezra Taft Benson: “… The John Birch Society has been smeared and misrepresented by the communist and liberal press in this country. I consider the Birch Society the most effective secular organization in America in the fight against socialism and godless communism. … ” (35)
— 25 Nov 1974
In 1974 there was a reversal of the policy against allowing BYU’s Daily Universe to give any mention of the Birch Society. On 25 November the Universe published a favorable article about the Birch Society. The Smith-Lee administrations had continued the policy established by McKay in 1964 against “allowing” articles in the BYU newspaper about the Birch Society. In 1974 the student newspaper’s content was still monitored by BYU’s administration, but ultra-conservative partisanship no longer met the kind of First Presidency opposition that existed from Hugh B. Brown’s appointment as counselor in 1961 to [Harold B.] Lee’s death in 1973. (36)
— December 6, 1974
Elder Benson sent to President Kimball a letter with two (BYU) Daily Universe articles that spoke favorably about “Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.” Elder Benson labeled them “inappropriate.” He also sent a copy of Dialogue with several passages marked in red. The marked passages had to do with the scapegoating of John D. Lee for the Mountain Meadows massacre, Juanita Brooks’s feeling she had not received Church callings after publishing her book Mountain Meadows Massacre because she was considered “an apostate,” the possibility of a revelation to change the Church’s stand on priesthood for blacks, applauding a New Era discussion of homosexuality, artwork labeled “grotesque,” and an article by Lowell Bennion with Elder Benson’s notation attached: “You asked about Lowell Bennion. He is teaching in the High Priests Quorum in his ward. I would hate to have him teaching anything to anyone in my ward.” (37)
Brigham Young University honored him by establishing the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute in 1975 to help relieve world food problems and raise the quality of global life through improved nutrition and enlightened agriculture practices. (38)
Benson’s resurgent activism was unsuccessful during 1975 in obtaining approval for the Birch Society’s president to be a speaker at BYU. (39)
— 21 May 1975
Benson reflected, “I had this bad habit””I guess you call it bad,” he explained, “of laying things on the line economically just as hard and cold as I could based on the facts, so they’d register with people, and not giving them a lot of soft soap, try and build up good will immediately.” (40)
— 7 Jun 1975
President Spencer W. Kimball announces his resignation from management positions of church corporations to more fully serve spiritual needs of church. His associates in Presidency and Twelve continue extensive corporate management roles until 1996. (15)
— June 24, 1975
Organizers of the Utah International Women’s Year conference wanted it to be a grassroots.
Church Relief Society Barbara Smith proposed to Church leaders that the Relief Society send a letter to the stake Relief Society presidents in Utah urging Mormon women to participate and suggesting that ten from each stake attend. But Elder Benson, president of the Twelve, opted instead to have the bishops in Utah urge the women in their wards to become informed on the issues and “to encourage at least ten women and hopefully many more from each ward to attend the convention.” This letter was distributed through regional representatives and stake presidents to each bishop but was sent in the name of the Relief Society presidency. In hindsight, both the specification of a quota from each ward and the priesthood direction created the impression that this was a call to arms.
The Relief Society general presidency did not instruct women to take any particular position on the issues to be raised. They arranged for a series of articles in the Deseret News to educate readers on the issues, expecting women to study the issues and follow their own judgment, informed by their understanding of Church principles (Barbara Smith urged women to join others “fighting pornography, homosexuality, abortion and other social evils”). But in the absence of other instruction, conservative groups like the John Birch Society, Eagle Forum, and Conservative Caucus filled the vacuum and undertook through “information meetings” to recruit and organize Mormon women to follow their lead in the conference, sometimes implying that they had Relief Society or Church approval.
These groups adopted the basic position that all proposals at the conference had hidden implications that were part of the agenda of extreme feminists and urged that they should all be defeated, even if they looked benign.
On June 24 more than twelve thousand women converged on the Salt Palace, twice as many as in the state of California. Organizers were flabbergasted to find the conference overwhelmed by Mormon women who were there on assignment. Some organizers felt that, although the Church had been asked to encourage attendance, the huge numbers effectively sabotaged the conference. Rudeness, shouting down of speakers, and extreme polarization reigned.
Because the national recommendations included issues such as the ERA, abortion rights, and government-funded sex education, most participants decided the entire slate of recommendations was tainted and simply rejected everything.
Votes typically ran seven to nine thousand against the proposals versus one to two thousand in support. Such rejection occurred apparently without regard to the merits of individual items. For example, recommendations for better enforcement of child support, for review of union practices that were unjust to women, and for equal pay for equivalent work were defeated by margins nearly as large as the recommendation for adopting the ERA and abortion rights. Barbara Smith attended but took no active part, although she felt dismayed at the vehement and automatic reaction of so many women, influenced unduly by political extremists.
Utah’s IWY conference was not the only one for which Mormon women were recruited. In Hawaii, Washington, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, and Montana, large numbers of Mormon women attended and sought to influence the state conferences to vote against endorsement of the ERA and other proposals.
The Utah IWY meeting was a public relations disaster, much greater than might have been expected given the relative insignificance of the state meeting and its delegates’ votes in affecting what happened in the national meeting. (41)
— 23 Jul 1975
First Presidency circular letter authorizes stake presidents to ordain bishops. Previously this was restricted to general authorities. (15)
— 1975, July 24
The 28-story Church Office Building dedicated, Salt Lake City. (11)
Published Volume – Ezra Taft Benson: Cross Fire: The Eight Years With Eisenhower. Doubleday (9)
In 1976 a one-volume history by James B. Allen and Glen Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, was published intended for an LDS audience. Elders Benson, Petersen, and Packer were the primary spokesmen for the view that it was not right for church-paid historians to write in a way that they felt inordinately humanized the prophets and underplayed revelation and God’s intervention in human affairs. Elders Benson and Petersen addressed their complaints to the First Presidency. President Kimball acquiesced to Ezra Taft Benson’s and Mark E. Petersen’s strongly negative views about the publication, a book that President Kimball himself liked. (42)
In the 1970s Elders Petersen, Benson, and Packer had highlighted the dangers of secularizing Church history. In 1976 to BYU and to teachers in the Church Educational System, Elder Benson gave talks critical of Church history writing that underplays revelation and emphasizes the frailties of great men. (43)
— 08 Jan 1976
David B. Haight is ordained an Apostle, replacing Hugh B. Brown, who had passed away.
— January 9, 1976
Provo Daily Herald: [Benson] warned a small mountain community that its efforts to provide housing for low-income persons is socialistic and will attract “undesirable” persons… [he] urged the Town Council of Heber City to “reject such socialistic programs as subsidized (low-income) housing. Is Heber City prepared to attract into its community undesirable tenants that gravitate toward communities where low-income housing is available?” … Councilmen said privately that Benson’s letter – and the copies he sent to the presidents of two Mormon stakes (dioceses) in Heber City – left them “confused and disturbed. …” (44)
Benson declined as “impractical and impossible” efforts by “a resurrected 1976 Committee” for him as vice-presidential candidate with former Texas governor John B. Connally as candidate for U.S. president. (45)
— 6 Mar 1976
Undoubtedly, Kimball’s opposition was behind Benson’s non-acceptance of the U.S. presidential nomination from the Concerned Citizens Party in 1976. Involving former members of the American Party (which Benson had publicly endorsed) and LDS members of the Birch Society, the “Concerned Citizens party will be dedicated to individual rights under the Constitution,” and proposed to bring God “back into government.” (46)
— Spring-fall 1976.
In separate addresses Elder Ezra Taft Benson defines “historical realism” as “slander and defamation,” denounces those who “inordinately humanize the prophets of God,” and instructs CES personnel: “If you feel you must write for the scholarly journals, you always defend the faith. Avoid expressions and terminology which offend the Brethren and Church members.” He also warns them not to buy the books or subscribe to the periodicals of “known apostates, or other liberal sources” or have such works on office or personal bookshelves. (47)
— 03 Apr 1976
In general conference, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles propose to the Church to include Joseph Smith’s vision of the celestial kingdom and Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the redemption of the dead in the Pearl of Great Price. The vote is unanimous in the affirmative. They later become D&C 137 and D&C 138 in 1981.
— May 1976
Benson carefully questioned BYU’s president Dallin H. Oaks whether BYU was “friendly to solid conservative constitutionalists.” A few days later Oaks told fellow administrators about “BYU’s tenuous position in the silent contest with extremists of the right wing.” (48)
— August 26, 1976
Some General Authorities, including Elders Benson and Petersen, assigned others to read publications about the Church and mark for them passages that they considered questionable. (49)
Elders Benson, Petersen, and Packer were the primary spokesmen for the view that it was not right for church-paid historians to write in a way that they felt inordinately humanized the prophets and underplayed revelation and God’s intervention in human affairs. For example, Benson noted: “Members of our staff have carefully read . . . and in accordance with your request, these are our impressions.” They were very disappointed with lack of spirituality, reliance on sources like Dialogue, portrayal of Joseph Smith as affected by the political, economic, and religious environments in which he lived, not taking the conservative side on issues like evolution, and calling the “black issue” a matter of “policy” (paraphrase of several pages).
According to Elder Benson’s grandson, Elder Benson had strong personal anti-evolution views but “acknowledged that “˜the Lord may not have revealed enough to create unanimity among the Brethren.’ . . . Any such statement would . . . be “˜unwise’. . . and serve only to “˜widen differences.’”
Leaders who spoke most pointedly in opposition to evolution were Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie, Mark E. Petersen, Ezra Taft Benson, and Boyd K. Packer. The reluctance of General Authorities to disagree in public caused many Church members to assume that statements left uncontradicted were reliable.
President Benson also said to his grandson, “Stand by the Brethren. Even if someday they are proven in error or inaccurate, it will be attributed to you for righteousness and the Lord will bless you. This is a basic principle.” (50)
— 18 Sept 1976
Former BYU president Wilkinson gave the invocation before Benson spoke at this dedicatory service of the Freemen Institute. … Skousen, Wilkinson, and Benson had been allied as advocates of the Birch Society for more than a decade. Now, for the first time, all three participated at an ultra-conservative political meeting also attended by the secretary to the LDS church president. The evident news black-out of this meeting in all the regular newspapers of Provo, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, Utah, apparently resulted from the fact that newspaper reporters were excluded from this dedicatory service of the Freemen Institute. The Mormon-Birch Utah Independent reported only Benson’s attendance at the dedicatory service.
D. Arthur Haycock confided to Wilkenson that “nearly all of them believed in the concepts of the John Birch Society.” This showed that the Birch Society and Benson in particular had a partisan friend in the First Presidency’s office. Haycock had been private secretary to Benson as Secretary of Agriculture and was a confidant and significant influence on President Kimball. (51)
— 1 Oct 1976
Members of the First Council of the Seventy and the Assistants to the Twelve were released in general conference and called to the new First Quorum of the Seventy. Franklin D. Richards was named the first senior president. (31)
First Presidency statement against the ERA:
The First Presidency issues its first of several statements on the ERA. While they “deplore” the “injustices” women have experienced and acknowledge that “there are additional rights to which women are entitled,” they conclude that the ERA “could indeed bring [women] far more restraints and repressions. We fear it will even stifle many God-given feminine instincts. It would strike at the family, humankind’s basic institution. ERA would bring ambiguity and possibly invite extensive litigation. Passage of ERA, some legal authorities contend, could nullify many accumulated benefits to women in present statutes. We recognize men and women as equally important before the Lord, but with differences biologically, emotionally, and in other ways.”
[Another reason for its opposition was the fear that the ERA would result in “an increase in the practice of homosexual and lesbian activities”.] (52)
— November 18, 1976
… Benson says working women “weaken the stability of the home” and contribute to juvenile delinquency, drug abuse and crime. “There is no satisfactory substitute for mother, and no one can take care of her children as she can. … The father’s place at the head of the home is being challenged…” (53)
Published Volume – This Nation Shall Endure. Deseret Book (9)
— April 13, 1977
Ezra Taft Benson told Brigham Young University Students it was better for them to drop out of school than accept government food stamps. “You did not come to this university to become a welfare recpient or freeloader.” (54)
— 26 Oct 1977
Some students in Brigham Young University’s Washington, D.C., seminar were recruited to “spy” on professors there. One of the student reports of faculty surveillance intended for Ezra Taft Benson’s office instead ended up on the desk of Mark E. Petersen. After being informed of this “spy ring” by Apostle Petersen, BYU’s president Dallin H. Oaks angrily referred to “that Birch Mafia that surrounds ETB.” Apostle Benson had put William O. Nelson in charge of this most recent effort at BYU espionage. Nelson was Benson’s secretary in the Church Administration Building. (55)
— Fall, 1977
Jack Carlson, former Undersecretary of the Interior (with his wife Renee) was asked by President Kimball, “What do you think would happen if we changed the policy [regarding blacks and the priesthood]? Give me a scenario.” President Kimball expressed his own concerns about internal dissent, particularly from members in the American South or even from the Quorum of the twelve. He said “I don’t know that I should be the one doing this, but if I don’t my successor won’t.” Benson was in line to become the next president of the church. (56)
— 7 Dec 1977
President Kimball resolved “spy scandal” with a decisiveness lacking in the more famous episode of 1966. He made the following statement to the school’s Board of Trustees in December 1977: “We understand that a member or members of the Board directly, or through others, have sought evidence about alleged statements made by faculty members in courses taught on the BYU campus and have stated or implied that such evidence is to be used by a Church official in a so-called `hearing.'” The church president’s blunt statement concluded with a clear disapproval of such “surveillance of BYU employees.” (57)
Church membership reached 4 million. (11)
— 22 Feb 1978
First Presidency letter to all stake and mission leaders: “The fact that there may be some question as to man’s ancestry cannot be rightfully considered as evidence that he has Negro blood. . . . If there is no evidence to indicate that a man has Negro blood, you would not be justified in withholding the priesthood and temple blessings from him, if he is otherwise worthy.” This stops denial of priesthood merely on the basis of black African appearance and is significant prelude to the end of the ban altogether less than four months later.
— June 1, 1978
Spencer W. Kimball receives a revelation granting the priesthood to black men, and temple blessings to black men and women. Elder Benson recorded in his journal: “Following the prayer, we experienced the sweetest spirit of unity and conviction that I have ever experienced. . . . Our bosoms burned with the righteousness of the decision we had made.” He also said he “had never experienced anything of such spiritual magnitude and power.” (58)
— 1 Jun 1978
Spencer W. Kimball’s proposal to resolve “the Negro issue,” is sustained by apostles after prayer circle in Salt Lake temple. This answer ends policy since 1852 of denying priesthood to those of black African ancestry. Urgency of Kimball’s inquiry involves upcoming dedication of temple in Brazil, where centuries of racial intermarriage have always posed problems in administering LDS ban on priesthood to those of black African ancestry. Kimball later describes the meeting: “I offered the final prayer and I told the Lord if it wasn’t right, if He didn’t want this change to come in the Church that I would be true to it all the rest of my life, and I’d fight the world against it if that’s what he wanted . . .” First Presidency announces this change on Jun 9, and general conference accepts it on Sep 30. This announcement becomes “Document 2” in 1981 edition of D&C. First Presidency secretary Francis M. Gibbons writes that this change “seemed to relieve them of a subtle sense of guilt they had felt over the years.” (15)
— 1978, June 8
First Presidency issued letter announcing revelation granting the priesthood to worthy men of all races. (11)
— Jun 17,1978
Church News headline “Interracial Marriage Discouraged” in same issue which announces authorization of priesthood for those of black African descent. Sources at church headquarters indicate that Apostle Mark E. Petersen requires this emphasis. (19)
For the first time the First Presidency defines the ERA as a “moral issue” (52)
— 1978, September 16
First annual women’s meeting held. (11)
— 01 Oct 1978
James E. Faust is ordained an Apostle, replacing Delbert L. Stapley, who had passed away.
— 30 Oct 1978
First Presidency announces emeritus status for general authorities due to age, physical infirmity, or other reasons. Members of First Quorum of Seventy are first general authorities to receive this retirement. (15)
— Dec 29,1978
First Presidency allows women to pray in sacrament meetings again, rescind earlier ban from Jul 1967. (19)
— 15 Feb 1979
Kimball and his counselors found it necessary to counter the now-familiar pattern of Mormon ultra- conservatives to imply church endorsement. In February 1979 the First Presidency published a statement against “announcements have been made in Church meetings of lectures to be given by those connected with the Freemen Institute.” (59)
— 18 Feb 1979
The Church’s 1,000th stake was created at Nauvoo, Ill., by Quorum of Twelve President Ezra Taft Benson. (31)
— Aug 19, 1979.
Ann Kenney, a student at the University of Utah, is set apart as president of the University of Utah Second Stake Sunday School. Gilbert Sharffs, counselor in the stake presidency, assures her that he has been “strongly impressed” to issue the calling and also had a general authority approve the calling. On 24 September she is released. Sharffs explains that “in the past there has been no policy set. The quorum [of the Twelve] was divided on the issue, and the decision was left to the president [Ezra Taft Benson].” (47)
— During Aug 1979
Church’s Ensign magazine publishes first counselor N. Eldon Tanner’s statement: “When the prophet speaks the debate is over,” which echoes Improvement Era’s message of Jun 1945. (19)
— October 1979
“It is well to ask, what system established secret works of darkness to overthrow nations by violent revolution? Who blasphemously proclaimed the atheistic doctrine that God made us not? Satan works through human agents. We need only look to some of the ignoble characters in human history who were contemporary to the restoration of the gospel to discover fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. I refer to the infamous founders of Communism and others who follow in their tradition” (60)
Benson’s last anti-communist talk (61)
— 6 Oct 1979
First Presidency vacates office of Patriarch to the Church by giving emeritus status to Eldred G. Smith, ending a hierarchy office in existence since 1834.
— October 14, 1979
President Ezra Taft Benson states that the rebuilding of Kirtland is to begin and prophecies are to be fulfilled. He prays to lift the “scourge” placed on Kirtland. Ground is broken for the Kirtland LDS meeting house. (9)
— Feb 1980
After a series of political talks, Benson authorized the Birch Society to publish one of his talks in the Birch SOciety’s “American Opinion” magazine magazine. (62)
— 23 Feb 1980
Benson speaks at a meeting of the Freemen Institute (63)
— 24 Feb 1980
A full- page ad appears in the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE describing Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s THE CHANGING WORLD OF MORMONISM. The ad draws attention to changes in the Church’s position on such matters as polygamy and the granting of the priesthood to blacks and thereby questioned the consistency of the prophetic leadership of the Church.
— Feb 26, 1980.
Ezra Taft Benson as president of the Quorum of the Twelve gives a controversial speech at Brigham Young University titled, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophets,” including: “. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything. 2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works. 3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet. 4. The prophet will never lead the church astray. 5. The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time. 6. The prophet does not have to say `Thus Saith the Lord’ to give us scripture. . . . 11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.”
J. D. Williams, a professor in the University of Utah political science department, calls “Benson’s speech `a plea in anticipation’ of his becoming church president.” Don LeFevre, public communications spokesman, responding to press inquiries, agrees that “Benson’s speech accurately portrayed the church’s position that a prophet can receive revelations from God on any matter–temporal or spiritual” and that “the prophet’s word is scripture, as far as the church is concerned, and the living prophet’s words take precedence in interpreting the written scripture as it applies to the present.” However, he denies as “simply not true” a newspaper report which says the president of the church “is God’s prophet and his word is law on all issues– including politics.” (47)
— February 27, 1980
Benson was directly quoted as saying “Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God ouf of government.” LeFevre termed the new interpretation of Benson’s speech “misleading.” … In regard to the press account that Benson told the University audience that a Church president must be obeyed even when he contradicts scripture of statements of past prophets, LeFevre said that the prophet’s word is scripture, as far as the Church is concerned, and the living prophet’s words take precdence in intrepreting the written scripture.” (64)
— 5 Mar 1980
The presidency issued a statement that “we reaffirm that we take no partisan stand as to candidates or political parties, and exercise no constraint on the freedom of individuals to make their own choices in these matters.” However, the church’s official spokesperson claimed that “there is no connection between this [First Presidency] letter and a speech by Apostle Ezra Taft Benson to Brigham Young University” a few days before.
Kimball’s son affirms that President Kimball bore no ill feeling toward his longtime associate but “was concerned about Elder Benson’s February 1980 talk at BYU.” The church president wanted “to protect the Church against being misunderstood as espousing ultraconservative politics, or–in this case–espousing an unthinking `follow the leader’ mentality.”
In 1980 President Kimball’s wife Camilla also described “his displeasure with the speech” to her brother-in-law George T. Boyd. (65)
— About 6 Mar 1980
A general authority revealed that Kimball asked Benson to apologize to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who “were dissatisfied with his response.” Therefore, Kimball required him to explain himself to a combined meeting of all general authorities the following week.
The entire Benson family felt anxious about the outcome of this 1980 meeting. They apparently feared the possibility of a formal rebuke before all the general authorities. Benson’s son Mark (a Bircher and the Freemen Institute’s “Vice President in Charge of Development”) wrote him a note that morning: “All will be well–we’re praying for you and know all will be well. The Lord knows your heart.” The meeting went well for Benson who “explained that he had meant only to reaffirm the divine nature of the prophetic call.” Ezra’s biographer indicates that the most effusively supportive general authority in attendance was Apostle Boyd K. Packer: “How I admire, respect and love you. How could anyone hesitate to follow a leader, an example such as you? What a privilege!” (66)
— March 19, 1980
Salt Lake Tribune: “Ezra Taft Benson said the Mormons are bound to obey every word of the prophet including politics. … Church doctrine teaches free agency and individual responsibility. How can one practice this principle of one is bound to let someone else make his decisions for him, even in religion.” (67)
— 3 May 1980
Flanked by his two Counselors in the First Presidency and apostles Hinckley and Packer, together with forger Mark Hofmann, Mormon prophet Spencer W. Kimball is photographed examining the bogus “Anthon Transcript” with a magnifying glass (Church News, May 3, , p. 3). Over the next five years, Hofmann dupes Kimball and his successor, Ezra Taft Benson, & several Apostles, bilking the Mormon Church for large sums of money. (68)
— Jul 1, 1980.
It is announced that the History Division, renamed the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History, will move to Brigham Young University. By February 1981 a sixteen-volume history of the church is canceled and the authors are paid for the proportion of work they have done. (47)
— 12 Oct 1980
While organizing a stake in Brasilia, Brazil, Apostle Ezra Taft Benson gives blessing to new stake president’s daughter who “had a large growth on her neck,” that “growth would disappear” without surgery recommended by physicians. Five days later the growth is gone.
— 27 Feb 1981
First Presidency authorizes stake presidents to ordain partiarchs. Previously, the Twelve maintained that as exclusive right, even denying it to church’s patriarch.
— 5 May 1981
The First Presidency publicly voiced its opposition to the proposed basing of the MX missile system in the Utah-Nevada desert. (31)
— 23 Jul 1981
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley is called as third counselor in the First Presidency due to the physical weakness of Presidents Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney. Hinckley is referred to in the press as the “acting president of the church” because Kimball, Tanner, and Romney are largely out of the public eye.
Neal A. Maxwell is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to fill the vacancy left by Hinckley’s call to the First Presidency. (16)
— Oct 1,1981
New York Times reports official announcement that new edition of Book of Mormon changes prophecy that Lamanites will “become white and delightsome.” Instead of continuing original reference to skin color, new edition emphasizes inward spirituality: “become pure and delightsome.” (19)
— October 24, 1981
Ezra Taft Benson had hip replacement surgery in October 1981 to repair a horse-handling injury suffered in 1978 (69)
— December 1981
During the laying of the Jordan River temple cornerstone in 1981, a helicopter from Salt Lake television Channel 2 passed repeatedly over the proceedings, drowning out the proceedings with its roar. Afterward Wolsey [a church liaison with the media] called the television producer, objected to what had happened, and said, “This is not a religious issue; it’s a matter of common courtesy.” The producer answered belligerently, “What do you want me to do? Apologize?” “If you don’t know,” snapped Wolsey, “don’t expect me to tell you.” The producer wrote to Elder Benson, president of the Twelve, apologizing for the insensitive act. President Benson answered: “Dear sir, repentance and forgiveness are great principles. I believe in both. With best wishes. . . .” (70)
Skousen renamed the Freemen Institute to the National Center for Constitutional Studies and moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C., as an ecumenical effort to attract conservative non-Mormons who had been put off by the Mormon orientation of the Freemen. Within a few years the membership in this spin-off of Utah’s Birch Society shifted from 90 percent Mormon to more than half non-Mormon. (12)
— 25 Jan 1982
First Presidency formally releases Leonard J. Arrington as Church Historian. Position has been in administrative limbo since 1980, when he and his staff are released form LDS Historical Department and transferred administratively to BYU. Day after this letter Presidency sets apart G. Homer Durham as church historian. There is no mention in either General Conference or in the CHURCH NEWS about Arrington’s release.
— 7 Feb 1982
NEWSWEEK article on the rift between LDS historians and Church leaders: “A major conflict is brewing between professional Mormon historians and a group of church elders who insist that LDS scholars write only `faith promoting’ accounts of the church. . . . [Apostles Boyd K. Packer and Ezra Taft Benson] “have been harshly critical of the methods and motives of LDS scholars who attempt `objective’ histories of the church. What particularly exercises Benson is the effort made by scholars to place what are supposed to be divinely inspired church doctrines in a relevant social and historical context. . . . According to the dicta of Benson and Packer, Mormon history should be presented as a sacred saga so that students can-in Packer’s words-‘see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now.'” The article further quoted a lecture distributed to all Mormon educators in which Elder Packer denounced professional scholars who ” write history as they were taught in graduate school, rather than as Mormons” and enjoined LDS historians to write selectively about “the faults and contradictions of church.”
— 2 Apr 1982
First Presidency announces two changes to lessen financial burdens on church members. First, church headquarters henceforth pays for all costs of meetinghouse construction. This relieves local members of requirement to finance construction in addition to paying tithing. Second, service of male missionaries is reduced from 24 months to 18 months. “It is anticipated that this shortened term will make it possible for many to go who cannot go under present [financial circumstances],” counselor Gordon B Hinckley explains. “This will extend the opportunity for missionary service to an enlarged body of our young men.” Instead annual number of new missionaries level off. Annual convert baptisms decline more than 7 percent each year rather than increase by same proportion as before. (15)
— 3 Oct 1982
First Presidency announced addition of subtitle to the Book of Mormon: “•Another Testament of Jesus Christ. (71)
— 09 Oct 1982
The First Presidency announces plans to build the first temple in a communist nation in Freiberg, Germany Democratic Republic (East Germany).
— October 17, 1982
President Ezra Taft Benson dedicates the Kirtland LDS Ward building in Kirtland, Ohio. (9)
— Dec 2, 1982 – 5 November 1985
Marion G. Romney called as First Counselor; Gordon B. Hinckley called as Second Counselor (death of N. Eldon Tanner). (25)
Published Volume by Ezra Taft Benson – Come Unto Christ. Deseret Book (9)
— Jan 1984
After Reagan signed the law for Martin Luther King Day, Cleon Skousen’s Freemen Institute observed that this national holiday honored “a man who courted violence and nightriding and broke the law to achieve his purposes; who found it expedient openly to collaborate with totalitarian Communism; and, whose personal life was so revolting that it cannot be discussed.” Skousen (and R. Stephen Pratt) would also emphasized King’s association with Marxists and Communists in their two articles, “The Early Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” and “Reverend King’s Ministry: Thirteen Years of Crisis,” Aside from guilt-by-association, the concluding sentence of their first article was guilt-by-similar-interest: ‘As the King program got under way, Gus Hall, head of the Communist party USA, declared: “For us, by far the most significant development is the escalation of mass protest movements by the American people.”‘. (72)
— 12 Apr 1984
Russell M. Nelson is ordained an Apostle, replacing LeGrand Richards, who had passed away.
— 03 May 1984
Dallin H. Oaks is ordained an Apostle, replacing Mark E. Petersen, who had passed away.
— 26 Nov 1984
The First Presidency announced that, beginning Jan. 1, the term of full-time missionary service for single elders would again be 24 months. It had been shortened from two years to 18 months in April 1982. (31)
— 18 May 1985
[East German secret police report] “In the May 18, 1985, political-operational report of Department XX “¦ regarding the political-ideological orientation of the US-American Mormons, it was determined that they are to be classified as representatives of the right wing of American conservatism. There are close connections between their leadership and ruling circles within the government [at that time the Reagan administration]. Relationships also exist between persons and institutions of the church and the American secret service.” (73)
— 10 Oct 1985
M. Russell Ballard is ordained an Apostle, replacing Bruce R. McConkie, who had passed away.
— Oct 15, 1985.
Steven Christensen and Kathy Sheets are killed by homemade bombs. Mark Hofmann, the killer, is injured the next day by a third bomb but lives to avoid trial through a successful plea-bargain after an agonizing investigation exposes misrepresentations on the part of general authorities and their representatives and leaves Mormon historians charged with gullibility. (47)
— 10 Nov 1985
After Spencer W. Kimball passed away on 5 November 1985, Ezra Taft Benson became the thirteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He called lapsed Mormons to return to the fold. In general conference addresses, he counseled church members to read and study the Book of Mormon. In a humanitarian gesture, he personally delivered a contribution of ten million dollars to President Ronald Reagan to be used to procure food for the world’s hungry. (26)
1 – See “Benson, Skousen Speak at New England Rally,” Utah Independent, 9 July 1970,1, and “Benson Is Guest of Honor,” Utah Independent, 30 June 1972, 8, and compare to table of contents pages of previous issues of American Opinion, also the list of the Birch Society’s national council in “The John Birch Society: A Report,” Advertising Supplement to Los Angeles Times, 27 Sept. 1964, 7 — as 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
2 – Wikipedia, Chronology of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (LDS Church), http:c/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_Quorum_of_the_Twelve_Apostles_(LDS_Church)
3 – “Shun Vigilante Groups, LDS Urges Members,” Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Mar. 1970, B-l — as 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
4 – “TO ALL STAKE PRESIDENTS INTERESTED IN TRUTH AND LIBERTY THIS CALL IS MADE,” photocopy of typed document, undated, in folder 22, box 5, Buerger Papers, with signed copies by J. Wilson Bartlett in MS 2461, LDS archives, and in folder 3, box 124, Hinckley Papers; Lee, “To the Defenders of the Faith,” 4 Apr. 1970, Improvement Era 73 (June 1970): 64. These are referenced in 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
5 – Buchanan diary, 21 July 1970; Ezra Taft Benson, “A World Message,” Improvement Era 73 (June 1970): 95-97, whose only political reference was prophetic: “The time must surely come when the Iron Curtain will be melted down and the Bamboo Curtain shattered.” From D. Michael Quinn, “Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts”, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:2 (Summer 1992) also in Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power Salt Lake City (Signature Books, 1994), Chapter 3
6 – Goates, Harold B. Lee, 414; Lee, “The Day in Which We Live,” and photograph of “Council of the Twelve” vote in “The Solemn Assembly,” Improvement Era 73 (June 1970): 28,20. These are referenced in 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
7 – Byron Cannon Anderson, “LDS General Conference Sustains Pres. Smith,” Utah Independent, 9 Apr. 1970, 1, 4. Mormon Birchers had edited this newspaper since its founding in 1970; Byron Cannon Anderson interview, 18 Jan. 1993. These are referenced in 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
8 – “Benson, Skousen Speak at New England Rally,” Utah Independent, 9 July 1970,1 — as 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
9 – Wikipedia: “Ezra Taft Benson”
10 – “Dear Bob” letter, 10 Dec. 1970, Welch papers, archives, Birch Society — as 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
11 – Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992, Appendix 2: A Chronology of Church History
12 – 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
13 – Wilkinson to Benson, 13 Apr. 1971, also follow-up letter of 4 May 1971, Wilkinson Papers — as 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
14 – Ernest L. Wilkinson to Ezra Taft Benson 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)
15 – On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com
16 – Wikipedia, 20th Century (Mormonism), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20th_century_(Mormonism)
17 – Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1972
18 – Benson, “Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints,” Utah Independent, 14 Apr. 1972, 4; compare with censored version in Deseret News “Church News,” 8 Apr. 1972, 12, and Ensign 2 (July 1972): 59-61. These are referenced in 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
19 – Quinn, D. Michael, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Appendix 5, Selected Chronology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1848-1996, http://amzn.to/extensions-power
20 – “Benson Is Guest of Honor,” Utah Independent, 30 June 1972, 8 — as 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
21 – “Ezra Taft Benson to Elder Bremer,” August 1, 1972, Council of Twelve letterhead (provided by Joe Geisner)
22 – “Ezra Taft Benson to Brother Anderberg,” November 14, 1972, Council of Twelve letterhead (provided by Joe Geisner)
23 – Statement of Henry D. Taylor to his friend Mark K. Allen as reported in Allen interview, 3 May 1984, by Alison Bethke Gayek — as 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
24 – Bruce R. McConkie, “Succession in the Presidency,” Speeches of the Year: BYU Devotional and Ten-Stake Fireside Addresses, 1974 (Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 1975), 20:23; N. Eldon Tanner, “The Sustaining of Church Officers,” Ensign 9 (November 1979): 18 — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
25 – Wikipedia, First Presidency (LDS Church), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Presidency_(LDS_Church)#Chronology_of_the_First_Presidency
26 – Utah History Encyclopedia: Ezra Taft Benson, http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/
27 – “Says Spokesman: Benson Wrote Letter As Wasatch Citizen, Not as LDS Official” Provo Daily Herald, Jan 11, 1974 (provided by Joe Geisner)
28 – Spencer W. Kimball, Journal, February 22, 1974 — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
29 – Kimball Papers — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
30 – First Presidency (Kimball, Tanner, Romney) to Ezra Taft Benson, May 7, 1974 — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
31 – 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
32 – “Benson Tells Party Support,” Salt Lake Tribune, November 4, 1974, 29; “American Party Told, “˜Stand Firm,’” Deseret News, November 4, 1974, B14; Spencer W. Kimball, Journal, November 4-5 1974; “LDS Presidency Reaffirms “˜Nonpartisan Politics,’” Salt Lake Tribune, November 5, 1974, 17 — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
33 – “Support for Candidate Possible Some Day, LDS Apostle Says,” Salt Lake Tribune, 22 Feb. 1974, B-l; “Benson Tells Party Support,” Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Nov. 1974, 29; “Church Says Elder’s Speech on Third Party ‘Unauthorized,'” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 4 Nov. 1974, A-10; “American Party told, ‘Stand Firm,'” Deseret News, 4 Nov. 1974, B-14. These are referenced in 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
34 – “LDS Church Affirms Policy on Elections,” Idaho State Journal, Nov 5, 1974 (provided by Joe Geisner)
35 – Ezra Taft Benson to Mr. Paul Olsen, November 24, 1974 (provided by Joe Geisner)
36 – David O. McKay to Earl C. Crockett, 4 June 1964, and Crockett memorandum, 11 Dec. 1965, Wilkinson Papers; LaVarr G. Webb, “In John Birch Society[,] Fanatics Are Hard to Find,” Brigham Young University Daily Universe “Monday Magazine,”25 Nov. 1974,4-6,10; Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 196,262-63. These are referenced in 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
37 – Ezra Taft Benson, memo to Spencer W. Kimball, December 6, 1974, Kimball Papers — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
38 – Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Ezra Taft Benson,” Reed Benson and Sheri Dew, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992
39 – President’s meeting — as 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
40 – Ezra Taft Benson, Oral History, Interviewed by Maclyn Burg, May 21, 1975, 23:24, Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas. For context and full cite, see Gary James Bergera, ‘”Rising above Principle”: Ezra Taft Benson as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1953-61, Part 1’, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Fall 2008, v 41)
41 – The Relief Society general presidency sent a copy of President Benson’s letter to stake Relief Society presidents in Utah. Derr, Cannon and Beecher, Women of Covenant, 371; Martha Sonntag Bradley, “The Mormon Relief Society and the International Women’s Year,” Journal of Mormon History 21, no. 1 (spring 1995): 126; Jill Mulvay Derr, Janath Russell Cannon, and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 366:74; Linda Sillitoe, “Women Scorned: Inside the IWY Conference,” Utah Holiday 6 (August 1977): 26:28, 53:69; Linda Sillitoe, “A Foot in Both Camps: An Interview with Jan Tyler (chair of the conference),” Sunstone 3, no. 2 (January/February 1978): 11; Dixie Snow Huefner, “Church and Politics at the Utah IWY Conference,” Dialogue 11, no. 1 (spring 1978): 58:75; D Michael Quinn, The Mormon Heirarchy: Extensions of Power (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1997), 378:84 — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
42 – Arrington, Adventures of a Church Historian, 150 — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
43 – Sheri Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987), 454:55 — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
44 – “Ezra Taft Benson Condemns Subsidized Low-Income Housing,” Provo Daily Herald (In Letter to Heber Council) Jan 9, 1976 (provided by Joe Geisner)
45 – Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 446 — as 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
46 – “Party Qualifies For Utah Ballot,” Salt Lake Tribune, 6 Mar. 1976, B-5; “LDS Official Says ‘No’ to Politics,” Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Mar. 1976, B-4, and “Party Clarifies Stand on Benson Selection,” Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Mar 1976, 38. These are referenced in 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
47 – Anderson, Lavina Fielding, “The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology,” Dialogue, Vol.26, No.1
48 – Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 221-22 — as 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
49 – Leonard J. Arrington, Adventures of a Church Historian (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 101, 143, 145, 147; Ezra Taft Benson to First Presidency, memo, “New History, The Story of the Latter-day Saints,” August 26, 1976: “Members of our staff have carefully read . . .” — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
50 – Stephen Benson, “Ezra Taft Benson: A Grandson’s Remembrance,” Sunstone 17, no. 3 (December 1994): 31:32; Ezra Taft Benson to First Presidency, August 26, 1976, Kimball Papers — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
51 – Wilkinson diary, 18 Sept. 1976 — as 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
52 – Mormon Women’s History Timeline, http://www1.chapman.edu/~remy/MoFem/mormonwomen.html
53 – “Apostle Ezra T. Benson Criticizes Working Women,” Provo Daily Herald, Nov 18, 1976 (provided by Joe Geisner)
54 – The Browsville, Browsville Texas, “Students Told Better TO Drop out Than Accept Food Stamps,” April 13, 1977 (provided by Joe Geisner)
55 – Duane E. Jeffery memorandum, 26 Oct. 1977, folder 28, box 6, Buerger Papers.; 299. “LDS Official Acknowledges Church Monitors Critics,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Aug. 1992, D-l; “LDS Leaders Say Scripture Supports Secret Files on Members,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Aug. 1992, B-1. These are referenced in 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
56 – Renee Pyott Carlson interview, Gregory A. Prince, Potomac, Md., June 2 1994, (Kimball Papers), as referenced in Edward Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (working draft) chapter 21, page 9
57 – Minutes of Combined Boards of Trustees, 7 Dec. 1977, archives, Lee Library; Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 223. These are referenced in 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
58 – Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987), 457;. McConkie, “New Revelation,” 128, quotes Ezra Taft Benson — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
59 – Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney to All Stake Presidents, Bishops, and Branch Presidents in the United States, 15 Feb. 1979, photocopy in folder 25, box 17, Buerger Papers — as 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
60 – Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, Conference, October 1979
61 – Ezra Taft Benson, in Official Report of the 149th Semi-Annual Conference of the Church (October 1979), 43-47. The 1979 talk was not published in the non-English Church magazines — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
62 – Ezra Taft Benson, “A Moral Challenge,” in John Birch Society’s American Opinion 23 (Feb. 1980): 41-54 — as 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
63 – “Benson Urges Monetary Step: Re-Establish Metal Standard,” Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Feb. 1980, B-2; “Gathering of Freemen Institute Draws Crowd to Arizona Resort,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 25 Feb. 1980, A-12. These are referenced in 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
64 – Ogden Standard-Examiner, 27 February 1980, “Benson Misinterpreted” (provided by Joe Geisner)
65 – First Presidency statement, 5 Mar. 1980, Deseret News “Church News, “8 Mar. 1980, 3; “Church Policies and Announcements,” Ensign 10 (Aug. 1980): 79; Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Mar. 1980, C-31.; Edward L. Kimball to D. Michael Quinn, 14 Aug., 20 Aug. 1992, concerning discussions with his father in 1980 ; Boyd to D. Michael Quinn, 24 Sept. 1992. These are referenced in 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
66 – In 1980 a general authority reported to George T. Boyd the apologies which Kimball required of Benson. Boyd’s letter to Michael Quinn, 24 Sept. 1992, requested that Quinn not identify the general authority for publication. Boyd (an in-law of Spencer and Camilla Kimball) also reported this conversation to BYU professor Duane Jeffery early in 1980. Telephone interview of Jeffery in David John Buerger diary, 14 Aug. 1980, folder 4, box 1, Buerger Papers. These reproofs were also reported in “What Mormons Believe,” Newsweek 96 (1 Sept. 1980): 71, in “Thus Saith Ezra Benson,” Newsweek 98 (19 Oct. 1981): 109; in Allen interview (with Henry D. Taylor as a general authority source different from the above), 3 May 1984, by Alison Bethke Gayek; and in Quinn interview on 5 Sept. 1992 with Rodney P. Foster, assistant secretary in the First Presidency’s Office from 1974 to 1981; Dew, Ezra Taft Benson, 469. For Mark Benson’s position in 1980, see “Mark Benson Becomes Our New Vice President in Charge of Development,” Behind the Scenes (Jan. 1980): (4). These are referenced in 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
67 – Salt Lake Tribune, “Church is Drifting,” Leon Johnson, 3/19/80 (provided by Joe Geisner)
68 – Hofmann’s Confession, 3 Volumes, 540 pages, referenced in Watchman Fellowship Inc, Historical Events, Notable Doctrines: Mormonism Overview, http://www.watchman.org/lds/ldshst96.htm
69 – 1983 Church Almanac (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1982), 12 — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
70 – Wolsey, “PR Man for a Prophet.” — as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
71 – Sherry Baker: Mormon Media History Timeline: 1827-2007, http://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=7984
72 – Willard Woods, “Martin Luther King Day,” Freemen Digest, Jan. 1984, 23; Freemen Digest, Jan. 1984,11,13,16, 17,18,20. These are referenced in 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
73 – Karlheinz Leonhardt, Die Ersten Hundert Jahre, 358 (1985 internal report by Stasi, the East German secret police) 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)