Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Early battle against communism

Ezra Taft Benson Chronology (Part III): May 22, 1961 to October 7, 1963 (Apostle; post-Secretary of Agriculture; pre-2nd European Mission; early John Birch association)

Overview

After his service in the Eisenhower administration, Ezra Taft Benson became an avid anti-communist crusader, adopting the philosophies and approach of the far-right John Birch Society. He expounded Birch society thought mixed with church teaching about free agency, calling for a patriotic defense of freedom.

Benson used his position as an apostle to promote the society and its ideas. President McKay shared Benson’s concern about communism, but wanted to avoid any appearance of church endorsement of outside organizations.

Ezra Taft  Benson

Ezra Taft Benson

Benson saw communist influence spreading throughout American society, including through civil rights leader Martin Luther King, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and others. Benson spoke out against these threats despite opposition by the First Presidency counselors and some members of the Quorum of the Twelve. Tensions increased among Mormon Birch society advocates, and those who felt they were overreaching. This tension spilled into Mormon congregations, the floor of the congress, and finally with President Dwight D. Eisenhower — much in the spotlight of the national media.

For other parts of the chronology:

 

Chronology (Early battle against communism)

— 22 May 1961
Ezra Taft Benson made what LDS authorities called “end runs” around the Quorum of Twelve and First Presidency counselors in order to obtain McKay’s encouragement for his political activism. However, such “end runs” were common practice for general authorities and church bureaucrats during the McKay presidency. (1)

— May 24, 1961
Ernest Wilkinson: “Presided at devotional, at which I introduced Elder Ezra Taft Benson. He gave a fine talk. It is apparent, however, it is very difficult for him to divorce himself from the active politics in which he has been engaged, and get into his work again as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. While I agreed with every word that he said, I suspect there were some Democrats who did not, and he took one-third of his time talking on current political problems.”  (2)

— Jun 22, 1961
Hugh B. Brown set apart as Third Counselor to President David O. McKay. (3)

— June 29, 1961
David O. McKay: “Brother Benson has received an invitation from the senators and congressmen to go back to Washington as an adviser. I feel that if this matter comes up again that Brother Benson should remain here; that we need him at home.”  (4)

— 29 Jul 1961
Mark E. Petersen (widely known as the unsigned editorial writer for the Deseret News “Church News”) criticized the Birch Society without actually naming it.
“From time to time organizations arise ostensibly to fight communism, the No. 1 opponent of the free world,” Petersen had written in 1961, but concluded that “it is not good for citizens to align themselves with flag-waving groups which may bring them into difficulty.”  (5)

— 9 Aug. 1961
Ernest Wilkinson observed that “President McKay for the moment is displeased with some things that Brother Benson has done.”  (6)

— 17 Aug 1961
As soon as the Birch Society became an LDS controversy in 1961 McKay felt torn between his strong anti- Communist convictions and his desire to avoid entanglement of the church with anti-Communist organizations.  (7)

— August 17, 1961
David O. McKay: “we must be careful about condemning any efforts that are anti-Communistic because Communism is a real danger in our country.”  (4)

— Sep 30, 1961
Elder Harold B. Lee announces the Church’s new correlation effort, which includes the creation of an all-Church Coordination Council. The council is made up of four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Presiding Bishop, the auxiliary heads, and representatives from the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee and the Church Educational System.

— 6 Oct, 1961
Hugh B. Brown writes Los Angeles LDS Institute director that the First Presidency “hope some action can be taken to reduce or control the unwise actions of some of our people there and in other parts of the church” [regarding Mormons promoting the Birch society].  (8)

— October 1961
[Ezra Taft Benson] “We should accept the command of the Lord and treat socialistic communism as the tool of Satan. We should follow the counsel of the President of the Church and resist the influence and policies of the socialist-communist conspiracy wherever they are found–in the schools, in the churches, in governments, in unions, in businesses, in agriculture. …  Concerning the United States, the Lord revealed to his prophets that its greatest threat would be a vast, worldwide ‘secret combination’ which would not only threaten the United States but also seek to ‘overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations…’(Ether 8:25)”  (9)

— Oct 6, 1961
J. Reuben Clark dies. (3)

— 8 Oct 1961
Benson Preaches in conference: “No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist or support programs leading in that direction.”  (10)

— Oct 12, 1961
Henry D. Moyle set apart as First Counselor, Hugh B. Brown Second Counselor to President David O. McKay. (3)

— 18 Oct 1961
An associate director of an LDS institute of religion, George T. Boyd, wrote: “May a dumb spirit possess Bro. E.T.B. [Ezra Taft Benson]”  (11)

— 27 Oct 1961
Upon inquiry by a politically liberal Mormon, First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown replied that a Mormon “can be a Democrat or a Socialist and still be a good church member.” Brown added that “he had just had a talk with Bro Benson” who was “on the carpet in regard to his political sallies of late.”  (12)

— 28 Oct 1961
Mark E. Petersen (unsigned editorial writer for the Deseret News) alludes to the Birch Society.
Some groups and persons have attacked certain Americans . . . by casting doubt on their loyalty . . . they have set themselves up as judges of who is loyal and who is “un- American.” They [i.e., Robert Welch] have accused certain men [i.e., Dwight D. Eisenhower] of being `unconscious agents of communism’ . . . they have attributed national blunders not to errors in judgment but to evil motives. . . . by blaming our problems on certain scapegoats, they can keep us from manfully recognizing the real problems– internal as well as external . . .”  (13)

— November 16, 1961
Mormon Congressman, David S. King (D-Utah), warned McKay that the church seemed to be abandoning its position of neutrality in politics, to the extent that “Sunday School teachers are making broad hints and innuendoes in classes that those who follow the Democratic program are handmaidens of Communists, and cannot expect to consider themselves in full fellowship in the Church.”  (14)

— Dec 1961
By this time, Ezra Taft Benson had established an association with the Birch Society. (15)

— Dec 2, 1961
Gordon B. Hinckley is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (16)

— 12 Dec 1961
Benson told reporters that current U.S. president John F. Kennedy was “very soft in dealing with the Communist threat.”  (17)

— 14 Dec 1961
Bishops and other local LDS officers who were members of the Birch Society circulated petitions in LDS meeting houses in support of the Birch Society’s proposal to impeach Chief Justice Earl Warren and remove him from the U.S. Supreme Court.   (18)

— 19 Dec. 1961
Immediately after press reports a [December 1961] talk by Benson, Counselor Brown asked the editor of the Deseret News to write him a detailed briefing on the John Birch Society.   (19)

— 23 December 1961
The LDS Church News printed Benson’s talk in which he affirmed that “the internal threat to the American way of life is in the secret alliance which exists between the more advanced Social Democrats and the hard-core Communist conspiracy.” He claimed that there was an “insidious infiltration of communist agents and sympathizers into almost every segment of American life.” Benson added that “Social Democrats” in America were “in government, education, communications and-policy making bodies. There they remain today, occupying some of the highest offices in the land.”  (20)

— 23 Dec 1961
Counselor Brown had collaborated with Apostle Petersen in the 1961 editorials of the Deseret News against the anti-Communist movement.  (21)

— 28 Dec 1961
Hugh B. Brown responded to an inquiry about the Birch Society by writing that “we [the First Presidency] are definitely against their methods.” … “we do not think dividing our own people, casting reflections on our government officials, or calling everybody a Communist who do[es] not agree with the political views of certain individuals is the proper way to fight Communism.” He added that LDS “leaders, or even members, should not become hysterical or take hasty action, engage in discussions, and certainly should not join these [anti-Communist] groups, some of whom, at least, are in for the money they can make out of it.”  (22)

— 29 December 1961
Politically conservative president of BYU, Ernest Wilkinson, noted that the two general authorities were already in “a vigorous dispute” about anti-Communism.  (23)

— December 29, 1961
Ernest Wilkinson: “I then had a conference with Brother Benson, who is very much concerned over the socialistic tendencies of Brother Brown. I then had a conference with President Brown, who is very much concerned over the superpatriotic tendencies of Brother Benson. It is apparent that I am caught in the center. I think Brother Benson, as a matter of principle, is right, but he has made some strategic mistakes.”  (2)

— 20 Jan 1962
Professor Richard Poll had published a detailed critique of W. Cleon Skousen’s anti- Communist book, The Naked Communist. Aside from skewering Skousen, Poll had also repudiated the American anti-Communist movement.
Listed his objections to the book as “the inadequacy of its scholarship. The incorrectness of its analysis of Communism. The inaccuracy of its historical narrative. The unsoundness of its program for governmental action. The extreme partisanship of its program for individual action.  The objectionable character of the national movement of which it is a part.” On the ultra-conservative, anti-Communist movement, Poll wrote on pages 12-13: “Much of the market for The Naked Communist is in connection with “Anti-Communist Seminars,” “Freedom Forums,” and “Project Alerts,” in which inaccurate history and negative programs are expounded in an evangelical blend of fear, hatred and pulse-pounding enthusiasm. Participants are admonished to study Communism, and they end up buying tracts by Gerald L. K. Smith and his racist cohorts, confessionals of ex-Communists, spy stories and other volumes which excite more than inform. They are aroused to fight Communism, and they end up demanding U.S. withdrawal from the UN and the firing of teachers who advocate federal aid to education. They are solicited to contribute to the Anti-Communist crusade, and they end up subsidizing pamphlets calling for the repeal of the income tax and the impeachment of Chief Justice Warren.”
Unknown to the public, Hugh B. Brown had encouraged Poll to prepare this published condemnation of Skousen’s book “in the hope that we may stem this unfortunate tide of radicalism.” This despite the fact that President McKay had already recommended The Naked Communist to a general conference: “I admonish everybody to read that excellent book of [Salt Lake City Police] Chief Skousen’s.”  (24)

— Feb 15, 1962
Ezra Taft Benson’s anti-Communist activities became the focus of an hour-long discussion within the First Presidency. McKay’s two counselors, both of whom were Democrats, felt that Benson was too extreme in his tactics. Henry D. Moyle felt that it was not proper to discuss such controversial matters in church meetings, particularly when “the people were not well enough informed to discuss it” and when there had not yet been an official First Presidency statement on the subject to guide church members. Referring to Benson’s talk in the October general conference, he noted that it had taken on the stature of an official church position without having been formally endorsed. McKay, who was consistently more concerned with the overall fight against Communism than with tactics, deflected this concern: he “knew nothing wrong with Elder Benson’s talk, and thought it to be very good.” Brown pointed out one consequence for church members of Benson’s broad-brush attack: “All the people in Scandinavia and other European countries are under Socialistic governments and certainly are not Communists. Brother Benson’s talk ties them together and makes them equally abominable. If this is true, our people in Europe who are living under a Socialist government are living out of harmony with the Church.”  (25)

— Feb 19, 1962
[David O. McKay] “The First Presidency agreed that now was not the time for the Church to make a statement as to its stand against Communism, but that such a statement could be made at a later date.”  (4)

— 22 February 1962
Ezra Taft Benson cancelled at the last minute his appearance on a television program titled, “Thunder on the Right.” Some Mormons credited this to [Hugh B.] Brown’s influence.   (26)

— 20 March 1962
A ward bishop (and future general authority [Richard P. Lindsay]) had complained that Reed [Benson] violated the First Presidency’s policy against political use of chapels by speaking to a stake meeting about the “currently popular, militantly anti-communist movement of which the speaker is the leading spokesman.” Lindsay noted to J. D. Williams “I’m sure this sounds soap boxish but the latter talk referred to cost me one whole night’s sleep. Everyone seems to profit in the hard sell book business—One of these days write a sequel called ‘Conscience of a Liberal.'”  (27)

— 7 April 1962
In rebuttal to the publicity of Benson’s remarks the previous December, Brown instructed the LDS general priesthood meeting in April 1962: “The degree of a man’s aversion to communism may not always be measured by the noise he makes in going about and calling everyone a communist who disagrees with his personal political bias.” Then in a more direct allusion to his dispute with Benson, Brown said, “There is no excuse for members of this Church, especially men who hold the priesthood, to be opposing one another over communism . . .” In an obvious allusion to the Birch Society, Brown concluded: “Let us not undermine our government or accuse those who hold office of being soft on communism. . . . [or] by destroying faith in our elected officials under the guise of fighting communism.”  (28)

One Mormon wrote that “Bro. [Hugh B.] Brown certainly was talking to Benson when he warned the Priesthood Saturday about the dangers of extremism & of charging our leaders as dupes of the Communist conspiracy.”   (28)

— April 7, 1962
[Salt Lake Tribune] “The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Saturday reaffirmed the Church’s long standing opposition to the evils of communism in the world today, but denounced extreme anti-Communist movements as more of a hindrance than a help. Speaking for the presiding body of the church, Hugh B. Brown, second counselor in the First Presidency, told a packed Tabernacle crowd of priesthood bearers [that] “the leaders of the church now, as has always been the case, stand squarely against the ideals of communism. We’d like the world to know that. However,” he added, “we urge you not to become extremists on either side. There is no place in the church or the priesthood of God for men to be fighting each other over a menace such as communism.”  (29)

— Apr 23, 1962
George Q. Morris dies. (3)

— April 24, 1962
A UCLA graduate student wrote that the speeches and writings of Benson “have been the object of derision by competent scholars—not for being anti-Communistic, but rather because of apparent lack of scholarship in their analysis of current politics… [Brown’s talk] which I interpreted to be a general censure of the ‘Right Wing’ trend in the Church.”  (30)

— 25 Apr 1962
Of his April 1962 conference remarks, [Hugh B.] Brown confided: “While we do not think it wise to name names in our statements of Church policy, the cries which come from certain sources would indicate that somebody was hit by some of our statements and that was what we hoped would be the result.”  (31)

— May 3, 1962
Nixon, the defeated presidential candidate in 1960, was competing against Democrat Edmund G. (“Pat”) Brown for the gubernatorial chair. John M. Russon, president of the Los Angeles Stake, had given permission for Nixon to speak in the stake center and, as a result, other church members asked that Pat Brown be given equal time in the same venue. It turned out that Russon had not acted independently; rather, when the question of Nixon’s speaking in the building came up, Russon had consulted the General Authority visiting at quarterly stake conference—Ezra Taft Benson. The apostle had approved it. Caught in a bind, McKay gave a qualified “yes” to the Democratic request: “I said that it is the rule of the Church that we do not open our houses for political purposes; that under the circumstances in this case, however, we should give Governor Brown the same privilege that was given to Nixon, and then tell them that this has to stop.  (4)

— May 7, 1962
Robert Welch “To All Members Of The COUNCIL” – announces that the following individuals were being invited to attend the next Council meeting at Union League Club in Chicago on Saturday, May 26, 1962:  Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker, Ezra Taft Benson,  Strom Thurmond, and H.L. Hunt.  (32)

— May 18, 1962
McKay calls Stake President that will be hosting Benson, telling him, “All I wish to say to you is that Brother Benson is not under any cloud whatever regarding his attitude towards communism.”  (4)

— May 22, 1962
[Ezra Taft Benson] … “I did not know Senator Joseph McCarthy well … In the few contacts I had with him he usually made some comment regarding farm policy which was usually rather extreme. I do feel, however, that he rendered a service in emphasizing the insidious threat of the Communist influence in government.”
“The first Communist cell was organized in the Department of Agriculture in the 1930’s. …  ” (33)

— 6 June 1962
Because of [the] Brown-Benson dispute, BYU’s president Wilkinson told President McKay in June 1962 that “President Brown is giving aid and comfort to the enemies of what should be sound basic Mormon philosophy.”  (34)

— August 14, 1962
Tom Anderson sends letter to Robert Welch advising him that as a favor to Ezra Taft Benson he is going to speak under the auspices of All-American Society (founded by former FBI Special Agent and John Birch Society endorser W. Cleon Skousen) in Salt Lake City on September 6th.  According to Anderson:  “One of the main purposes of this meeting is to help Reed Benson’s candidacy for the Congress.”  (32)

— October, 1962
When the John Birch Society offered Reed a job as its Utah coordinator, FBI logs show that his father made a phone call wanting to know what the bureau felt about the group. It was the beginning of Benson’s defense of the society.
An agent wrote, “I informed him off the record … that to my knowledge the FBI has not investigated the John Birch Society.”
The agent added in summary of the conversation, “Benson has reached the conclusion the society is doing a lot of good in combating communism and feels that it is patriotic in its motives.”
Benson also told the agent that he hoped to soon meet with Hoover in Washington “to confer with him about the menace of communism and the role of the Birch Society.”
Because of that, officials at FBI headquarters wrote a briefing paper to prepare Hoover in case Benson called.
Calling the society “probably the most publicized right-wing extremist group in the country,” they recommended keeping Benson away from Hoover — including lying, if necessary, to say that Hoover was unavailable to talk to Benson.   (35)

Cuban Missle Crisis unfolds.

— Oct 11, 1962
N. Eldon Tanner is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (16)

— 22 & 26 Oct 1962
In response to Benson’s conference statement that “No true Latter-day Saint can be a socialist or a communist,” a University of Utah student from Norway countered that “more than half” of Norwegian Mormons vote for the socialist Labor Party. This student concluded: “I am glad the president of the Church has taken a stand against Communism. But I do not think it is the responsibility of any other speaker in the tabernacle to give his own political opinions regarding welfare states.” In equally public responses, other LDS students attacked this Mormon undergraduate for criticizing Benson.  (36)

— Oct 26, 1962
Benson asks McKay to sanction his son Reeds appointment as the John Birch state coordinator for Utah, to which McKay responds: “I have heard about the John Birch Society, and everything so far has been negative, so it is up to you and Reed as to whether or not this position is accepted. … “I said, ‘I have nothing whatever to do with it.’ Brother Benson said that Reed would not go into this if I told him not to, and I said that this is a matter that I shall leave entirely with him and Reed.”  (4)

— 27 Oct 1962
Ezra Taft Benson described the Birch Society as “the most effective non-church organization in our fight against creeping socialism and godless Communism.”

In the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, Apostle Benson’s son Reed became coordinator for the Birch Society in Utah. His announcement was coupled with his father’s first public endorsement of the Birch Society.  (37)

— 29 Oct 1962
In October, first counselor Henry D. Moyle said that second counselor Brown spoke to a Democratic convention in Utah only “because Brother Benson had given a political tirade that needed answering.”  (38)

— 4 Nov 1962
After giving a “political” talk to a multi-stake meeting of BYU students in November 1962, religion professor Glenn L. Pearson told one of his students that Benson’s support of the Birch Society was a mission from God. Then, described by BYU’s president as “the most untactful person I have heard,” Pearson said that [Hugh B.] Brown was “a Judas in the First Presidency.” The student concluded that a church court should excommunicate Counselor Brown.   (39)

— 7 November 1962
Henry D. Taylor, an assistant to the Twelve Apostles, said that “in his judgment [Reed] Benson was the laughing stock of Salt Lake” for his Birch activism.  (40)

— 11 Nov 1962
A few days after Benson publicly endorsed the Birch Society, [Hugh B.] Brown himself wrote in November 1962 that he was “disgusted” by Benson’s activities “in connection with the John Birch Society,” and if they did not cease, “some disciplinary action should be taken.”  (41)

— 26 Nov 1962
“It is certainly regrettable,” [Hugh B.] Brown wrote in November 1962, that Reed Benson “is permitted to continue to peddle his bunk in our Church houses. The matter was brought sharply to the attention of the President by Brother Moyle during my absence . . .”  (42)

— 13 Dec 1962
By the fall of 1962 members of the Birch Society’s national council and editorial advisory committee had been speakers at BYU’s “Forum” assemblies which were attended by a majority of students. This reflected the pro-Birch sentiments of BYU’s president. On the other hand, anti- Birchers on the BYU faculty formally complained to Hugh B. Brown that the administration had arranged for national leaders of the Birch Society to address the student body.  (43)

— During 1962
Ezra Taft Benson notes: “It was Flora’s ideas and courage—her positive influence and determination— more than anything else, which added steel to my spine to fight it out for principle against the nearly overwhelming pressures of political expediency.”  (44)

Ezra Taft Benson wrote privately to former President Dwight Eisenhower that Rachael Carson, author of the environmental science book Silent Spring (noting adverse affects of pesticides) – was “probably a communist” and  wondered why a “spinster was so worried about genetics”.  (45)

Published Volume – The Red Carpet, by Ezra Taft Benson. Bookcraft (46)

— 4 Jan 1963
In January 1963 the First Presidency announced: “We deplore the presumption of some politicians, especially officers, co-ordinators and members of the John Birch Society, who undertake to align the Church or its leadership with their political views.” This was a not-too- subtle reference to Benson’s son Reed, the Utah Birch coordinator.  (47)

— January 6, 1963
“[Regarding] the recent declaration made by the First Presidency and published in the newspapers regarding the John Birch Society and its officers, stating that the Church does not endorse them. You [David O. McKay] asked that I [Hugh B. Brown] read a number of opinions from various sources, including the editor of the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Attorney General of the State of California, the Ministerial Association of California, and others. After reading and discussing these, we agreed that we had done the right thing in letting the members of the Church and the world know that the Church does not in any way endorse or subscribe to the John Birch Society. You mentioned that we might have erred in that we did not call the Bensons in before making the announcement. I called your attention to the fact that we had called Brother Benson in and discussed Reed’s activities during the campaign in disregarding our former statement regarding the use of our chapels and meeting places for political purposes. At that same meeting we discussed the John Birch Society, and Brother Benson denied having any association with them.”  (4)

— 7 Jan 1963
Three days after the First Presidency announcement, Elder Benson spoke at a rally endorsed by the Birch Society in Boston. Newspapers reported this as a defiant embarrassment to the LDS church.  (48)

— Jan 10, 1963
[Reed Benson to President David O McKay, with John Birch literature included] Reed defends himself stating he does not talk about politics “almost without exception” in the “over one hundred [unsolicited] Sacrament Meeting talks this past year” but does briefly discuss communism, secret combinations, a John Birch Society member conversion story, and quotes from David O McKay. He has “never made Communism the central theme” even though asked by bishoprics.
Reed says he has given MIA Firesides on Communism, but declined invitations to debate why he is a republican in church settings, and does not speak about the John Birch Society in church “though I sometimes feel traps have been laid for me, yet I believe I have avoided most of them.”
“President Moyle talked on the phone to a member of the Stake Presidency and passed on some false information about my father and me… You also know of President Brown’s charge that I have said in various meetings that I speak for my father and my father speaks for the Church. I did not make this statement.”
“I do not feel your counselors should repeat the false charges to others, which they have heard about me … I am not afraid to face by accusers…”
“I appreciated the opportunity to talk with Presidents Moyle and Brown last Friday … to point up several false assumptions … I did not have the time to correct several of the false charges.”
He wonders why the recent statement of the First Presidency “generally interpreted as being directed mainly at chastising one individual, namely myself” was released. “As the TV newscaster on Channel 2 … said — this is a direct slap at Reed Benson.”
Attacks on the John Birch Society by certain papers are “according to plans designated by the Communists and issued as a manifesto from Russia in December, 1960.”
“Before I joined the Society I established, I believe, the most extensive library on the John Birch Society … in the state of Utah.”
“Robert Welch continually advises the members never to do anything contrary to their judgment or conscience. … ”
“I shall see that from now on you will receive each monthly [Birch Society] bulletin.”
Reed Benson said “Welch never called Eisenhower a Communist, though” the idea that Eisenhower “was conscious of all that he had done to assist Communism”  — “fit him best.”
Ezra Taft Benson “discussed the Society with President Eisenhower” and had “made a study of the Society.”
Reed noted he was “shocked” when hearing about the First Presidency statements as it “was the first time I had heard about the statement. … this seems a strange way for a faithful member to get the first reproval. … I could see where I could be chastised if I belonged to some Communist fronts like some of our Mormons have …” or “the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, both of which number Mormons today among their membership” or chastised “if like a certain prominent national political figure and active Church member [George Romney]” or “certain political candidates in Utah and many other so called ‘active Mormons’ … saying that in due time the Church will catch up like they finally did on Social Security.”
“I could see where I could be chastised if I held John Birch meetings in churches, even though P.T.A.’s have held meetings there and have gone on record promoting Fluoridation and Federal Aid to Education.”
“On December 13 I held a meeting in the Marriott Motel, on The John Birch Society … arranged by Hartman Rector, President of the Washington Stake Y.M.M.I.A and my former counselor in the Stake Mission Presidency.” Reed includes the name and a newspaper clipping of an inactive Mormon quoted in a newspaper report of the meeting, as well for several letters to the editor by Mormons who were in opposition to Reed’s conservative positions. He also provided the ward for one of these individuals.
“Why should the statement, as it’s being interpreted by the Saints–and it’s hard to see how it could be interpreted any other way — cast reflections on one man, myself, and on my father, an apostle. … through a statement … cast its shadowy implication.”
“Many have interpreted this statement as being written with a personal prejudice and vindictiveness in mind … [which] looked with favor on the false charges without risking the chance of having the evidence verified.”
“What are the false statements and unwarranted assumptions … most people believe this refers to some statements made by my father or me. … A letter … by your secretary on your behalf … goes a lot father towards a Church endorsement of the Society…”  “President Joseph F. Smith, in the Relief Society magazine, encouraged the Saints to support Taft.  President Grant praised Hoover in Conference in 1931, etc.”
“This line of attack on us originated in Moscow, and in our meeting with President Prown (sic) [Brown] it was amazing to hear him say that the Birch Society not only renders disservice to the anti-communist cause, but that it was one of the greatest helps that the Communists had.”
“The Deseret News captioned its front page column carrying the statements: ‘Church Sets Policy on Birch Society.’ It is not hard to see why people feel this is a Church repudistion (sic) [repudiation] of both the John Birch Society and an official reprimand to Reed Benson and his father, Elder Benson.”
“When I met with your counselors they were laboring under some false assumptions. Several false charges were made. … President Brown read excerpts from a letter about a Sacrament service I spoke at in Washington recently, which charged I had used the meeting to recruit membership in the Society. This is false…   (49)

— 10 Jan 1963
Some Mormon members of the Birch Society criticized the First Presidency for its January 1963 statement. For example, one pro-Birch Mormon informed President McKay that she loved him as a prophet, but that the church president had inadvertently “given much aid and comfort to the enemy.” She concluded that “this statement by the First Presidency regarding the John Birch Society and Reed Benson . . . might have an ill effect on the Missionary work.” Such letters stunned even the normally hard- crusted first counselor Henry D. Moyle, who wrote: “When we pursue any course which results in numerous letters written to the Presidency critical of our work, it should be some evidence we should change our course.” Only five days after the statement’s publication, the first counselor apparently now had second thoughts about the First Presidency’s anti-Birch  statement.  (50)

— January 23, 1963
[David O. McKay] “Elder Benson said the statement seemed to be leveled against him and his son, Reed, and also Brother [W. Cleon] Skousen. I told Brother Benson that it was intended to apply to them. I said that the statement made by him (Elder Benson) in favor of the John Birch Society was made by him, one of the Twelve, who is an international character and received international publicity, and that that is one reason the Presidency had to make the announcement in the newspapers.”  (4)

— 31 Jan 1963
President McKay [always sensitive to criticism] expressed concern by 31 January that “the First Presidency probably went a little too far” in its Birch statement. McKay’s personal secretary confided that he was disturbed by “at least 25 letters vigorously protesting the statement of the First Presidency on the John Birch Society–many of them very intelligent letters.”  (51)

— February 1963
The Birch Society’s Bulletin for February 1963 gave [Hugh B.] Brown a reason to attack Benson’s support of the group. The last “agenda” item was titled, “Write to President McKay.” The Bulletin urged Mormon Birchers to write letters (in envelopes marked “Personal and Confidential”) explaining why they had joined the society. The Birch Bulletin further suggested that the letters thank McKay for his own anti-Communist statements and praise “the great service Ezra Taft Benson and his son Reed (our Utah Coordinator) are rendering to this battle, with the hope that they will be encouraged to continue.” The Birch Society saw this as a defensive response to the First Presidency’s recent statement. However, to anti-Birch Mormons the February Bulletin appeared as an effort to subvert the statement and to encourage continued criticism of the presidency by Mormon Birchers.
Benson added an ironic personal touch to the February Birch announcement. That same month he sent newly-called apostle N. Eldon Tanner a copy of Benson’s The Red Carpet: A Forthright Evaluation of the Rising Tide of Socialism–the Royal Road to Communism. As a Canadian cabinet officer, Tanner had been a member of the Social Credit Party. He therefore fell under the book’s blistering condemnation for “Social Democrats” and even moderate socialists like Tanner.   (52)

— 15 Feb, 1963
The church president instructed his secretary, Clare Middlemiss, to send a reply to Mormon Birchers who criticized the First Presidency statement. The letter affirmed: “The Church is not opposing the John Birch Society or any other organization of like nature; however, it is definitely opposed to anyone using the Church for the purpose of increasing membership for private organizations sponsoring these various ideologies.”  (53)

— circa Mar 1963
One of [Hugh B.] Brown’s biographers [Eugene Campbell] wrote, “[I]n the minds of quite a number of the Church members the goals of the Church and the John Birch Society were identical and they joined the John Birch Society feeling that they were in a religious crusade against communism and had the blessing of the President of the Church and other Church leaders in so acting.”  (54)

— March 3, 1963
[Ernest Wilkenson] “I found out [from Cleon Skousen] that despite the manner in which he [Benson] is being criticized by President Hugh B. Brown, President David O. McKay is squarely behind him and has told him to keep up his good work.”  (2)

— 5 Mar 1963
Hugh B. Brown told reporters that Benson was not “entitled to say the church favors the John Birch Society.” Brown added that “we [the First Presidency] are opposed to them and their methods.”  (55)

— March 6, 1963
[In a First Presidency meeting, McKay gives his version of a recent meeting with Benson]:
Following the publication of the [First Presidency] statement, I was asked to apologize for what was said against Brother Benson and his son Reed because if we had called them “we [Ezra and Reed] would have done anything that you suggested.” I [McKay] said, “Yes, and nobody in the Church or in the world would have known that you were doing that, but everybody knew that you are a national character and everybody knew that you favor the Birch Society and that you approve your son representing it in Utah, and when the First Presidency gave that statement it received the same publicity which your statement received, and we offer no apology.”  (4)

— March 12, 1963
Lela Benson, wife of Ezra Taft Benson’s son, Mark, sent a handwritten request to McKay Secretary Clare Middlemiss. The letter gives the appearance of having been engineered by other Bensons: “Yesterday I talked to a Bishop who said he would like to see one of ‘those’ letters that President McKay has sent out regarding the John Birch Society. However he claims that it won’t hold much weight unless it is signed by the President and not you. (I disagreed of course—but he stands firm!) Therefore, could you possibly send me one and have it signed by President McKay himself? I understand from Father Benson and his family that you are a dear, sweet, loyal, true blue soul.”  (56)

— 14 Mar 1963
Ezra Taft Benson published an acknowledgement that his support of the Birch Society was “my personal opinion only.” Benson’s statement went on to quote the church president as being “opposed to anyone’s using the Church for purposes of increasing membership” of the Birch Society or other anti-Communist organizations.  (57)

— 21 Mar 1963
Newspapers reported that more than a thousand LDS members of the Birch Society had written church headquarters with complaints or requests for clarification. The media may have obtained that information from McKay’s secretary, Clare Middlemiss, who supported the Birch Society. In fact her pro-Birch orientation became the source of complaints by rank-and-file Mormons to the First Presidency.  (58)

— 10 Apr 1963
An LDS bishop visiting from Scotland was “shocked at Ezra Taft Benson’s attack on socialists” in his conference talk. “If socialists are the same as communists, then all we’re left is the Tories.” The bishop vowed “to tell the people in Scotland about Ezra’s comments.”  (59)

— 1 May 1963
Ezra Taft Benson publically endorses Robert Welch, head of the John Birch Society in Washington State.  (60)

— May 13, 1963
[Wilkinson received a phone call from Benson] “who read me the riot act for having invited a Communist to speak to our students … Brother Lee commented that anyone who didn’t agree with Brother Benson’s mind was, indeed, a Communist. Brother Moyle said that he was happy that I was finding Brother Benson out, that when it came to this subject, he just didn’t have any reason.”  (2)

— 19 May 1963
Elder Benson aludes that Martin Luther King is a Communist.  (61)

Someone burned a Nazi swastika in the lawn of Reed Benson’s house shortly after his appointment as state coordinator for the John Birch Society.  (62)

— 20 May 1963
The Birch Society’s Utah membership tripled in the next six months after Reed Benson’s appointment as state coordinator.   (63)

— 21 May 1963
Although Mormon Birchers later became famous for “espionage” at Brigham Young University, anti-Birch Mormons were also involved in similar subterfuge. LDS bishop and political scientist J. D. Williams referred in May 1963 to “one of my `spies’ in the local Birch Society in Salt Lake City.” He felt justified in this approach toward “the Birchers, who hate me . . .” Reed Benson had already targeted Williams for classroom surveillance at the University of Utah. (64)

— 3 July 1963
Reed Benson convinced the national Birch Council to open its meetings with prayer.  (65)

— July 31, 1963
[Ezra Taft Benson to Joseph Fielding Smith] …It is with some reluctance and deep regret that I extend t you a copy of “The Politician”, by Robert Welch, which I first read about two years ago.
This appears to be a factual account of the piecemeal surrender of America to the Communists by the hands of some of our fellow Americans. …
All of us have been deceived, to a degree at least, by the adversary. …
Benson sent copies to other General Authorities (66)

— August 1, 1963
Robert Welch “To Members of the COUNCIL”:  Welch sends each Council member a suggested letter which he asks them to send to Ezra Taft Benson, Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, Sen. Strom Thurmond and Charles Edison – in order to encourage each of the 4 men to accept Welch’s invitation to become members of the John Birch Society National Council.  (32)

— Sep 18, 1963
Henry D. Moyle dies. (3)

— 23 September 1963
Benson gave a talk in Los Angeles praising Birch Society founder Robert H. Welch. Unlike his earlier praise for Welch, Benson delivered these remarks to a meeting officially sponsored by the Birch Society and attended by 2,000 Birchers. He began his talk by announcing: “I am here tonight with the knowledge and consent of a great spiritual leader and patriot, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President David O. McKay.”
Welch’s most controversial book, The Politician, accused former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower of being “sympathetic to ultimate Communist aims, realistically and even mercilessly willing to help them achieve their goals, knowingly receiving and abiding by Communist orders, and consciously serving the Communist conspiracy, for all of his adult life.”
In The Politician, Welsh wrote:
“Dwight Eisenhower … became, automatically and immediately, captain and quarterback of the free-world team, in the fight against Communism. In our firm opinion he had been planted in that position, by Communists, for the purpose of throwing the game.”
Benson was asked his opinion of Welch’s statement, and replied simply that Eisenhower:
“supported me in matters of agriculture. In other areas we had differences.”  (67)

— September 24, 1963
[Senator Ralph Harding] ‘I was on the House floor when that report [of Benson’s L.A. Speech] came in over the wires, the Associated Press and UPI. I was upset, and I stayed up there all night, taking that report and the information I had, and I wrote a speech criticizing Brother Benson for using his Church position to promote the John Birch Society.’
‘Then I called Milan Smith, who was a staunch Republican and my stake president then. [Smith had been Benson’s chief of staff during his eight years in the Department of Agriculture.] I told him I would appreciate it if he would come up to my office, that there was something that I needed to discuss with him. He did.’
‘I let him take the speech, and he went through it. He was crossing out things here and writing more there, and he toughened it up! He made it even tougher than I had.’
‘He, [former stake] President J. Willard Marriott and most of the leaders of the Church back here were very, very upset about Brother Benson’s actions. Then I called President [Hugh B.] Brown. We didn’t have faxes, so we sat right there in my office, with Milan Smith on an extension, and I read the speech to President Brown. After I finished he said, “Well, Brother Harding, can you stand the brickbats?” I said, “I think so, President Brown.” But he said, “No, I mean can you really stand the brickbats?” I said, “I think so.” He said, “You know this speech will probably defeat you.” I said, “I realize there is a chance of that.” He said, “Well, if you are willing to take that chance, and you are wide [sic] aware of the brickbats that are going to come your way, you can do the Church a real service by going ahead and delivering that speech.” I said, “That’s all I wanted to know, President Brown.”’
‘So I gave it the next day. It broke loose, especially in Utah and Idaho!’ (68)

— 30 Sept 1963
BYU’s former student body president [Rex E. Lee] wrote in September 1963 about the difficulty of separating Benson’s partisan statements from his church position. Lee observed, “It is regrettable, however, that Brother Benson has detracted from his effectiveness as a Church leader through his active support of the John Birch Society.” This future president of Brigham Young University continued, “I have found myself periodically called upon to remind my friends, usually without success, that when Elder Benson acts to promote the ends of extremist organizations and leaders he is not declaring Church doctrine.”  (69)

Senator Harding privately lobbied liberal Mormons to “let President McKay and the other leaders of the Church know of your opposition to Ezra Taft Benson’s activities on behalf of the Birch Society.”  (70)

— Oct 4, 1963
Thomas S. Monson is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (16)

Nathan Eldon Tanner becomes second counselor to David O. McKay (71)

Hugh B. Brown becomes First Counselor in 1963. His record of earlier service, his effective writings and sermons, and his long friendship and ideological affinity with LDS Church President David O. McKay probably accounted for his rapid advancement in the church hierarchy. McKay’s failing health and his own policy differences within the church leadership later weakened Brown’s influence, though his popularity remained great. (72)

— 4 Oct 1963
Immediately after Brown was sustained as first counselor, Benson’s conference sermon relayed a covert subtext to both supporters and detractors. On the surface, the talk referred to the excommunication of early church leaders and warned of the need to detect error today: “For even the Master followed the will of the Father by selecting Judas.” In warning current Mormons not to be deceived, Benson quoted Brigham Young against deception by persons “speaking in the most winning tone, attended with the most graceful attitudes.” Benson warned against those who “support in any way any organization, cause or measure which, in its remotest effect, would jeopardize free agency, whether it be in politics, government, religion, employment, education, or any other field.” He then concluded with a long plea against the threats of socialism and Communism.
BYU’s Ernest Wilkinson felt that the “Judas” reference specifically referred to Benson’s “running controversy with President Brown.” Brown was known as one of the most eloquent speakers in the church and as a defender of liberalism and socialism. Brown also recognized Benson’s subtext. “I don’t think I’m going to be excommunicated,” the new first counselor told Wilkinson right after the conference session ended. Wilkinson saw Benson’s October 1963 talk as further evidence of the animosity between Brown and Benson. “The feeling is very intense between them,” BYU’s president recorded; Brown wrote of being “surrounded by enemies or opponents.”  (73)

— 7 Oct 1963
Hugh B. Brown endorses “full civil rights for any person, regardless of race, color or creed.”  (74)

— October 7, 1963
[President Eisenhower to Congressman Harding] Dear Congressman Harding:
I am grateful for your letter and for the speech that you made in Congress concerning support and encouragement that the former Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Benson, has allegedly been giving to a Mr. Welch, said to be the founder and leader of the John Birch Society. Your honest and unselfish effort to set the record straight is something that warms my heart.
Frankly, because I rarely read such trash as I understand “The Politician” to be, I hever before read the specific accusations made against me by Robert Welch. But it is good to know that when they were brought to your attention you disregarded all partisan influences to express your honest convictions about the matter. It is indeed difficult to understand how a man, who professes himself to be an anti-Communist, can so brazenly accuse another — whose entire life’s record has been one of refutation of Communist theory, practice and purposes — of Communist tendencies or leanings.
With my best wishes and personal regard,
Sincerely
<Signed: Dwight Eisenhower>  (75)

— 8 Oct 1963
BYU professor of English [Ralph Britch] wrote: “Even my conservative friends on the faculty are disturbed by Elder Benson’s Birch activities . . .”  (76)

— During 1963-64
[Ezra Taft Benson] Member, General Church Board of Education

— During 1963
Church membership reached 2 million. (77)

W. Cleon Skousen published a defense of the Birch Society  (78)

 

Endnotes:
1 – Specific use of “end run” terminology for this feature of McKay’s presidency appears in J. Reuben Clark office diary, 22 May 1961; Wilkinson diary, 25 May 1967; Neal A. Maxwell oral history, 1976-77, 24-25, LDS archives -. 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 (hereafter “Quinn”)
2 – Ernest L. Wilkinson diary 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 “Prince and Write”).
3 – 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)
4 – David O. McKay diary as referenced in Prince and Write
5 – “Let Us Not Be Carried Away,” Deseret News “Church News,” 29 July 1961, 16 – as referenced in Quinn
6 – Wilkinson diary 9 Aug 1961 – as referenced in Quinn
7 – McKay diary, 17 Aug., 24 Aug., 19 Sept. 1961, LDS archives; .. -. These are referenced in Quinn
8 – Mormon Americana M208, Ala #44, Special Collections, Lee Library, also MS 2260, LDS archives – as referenced in Quinn
9 – Ezra Taft Benson, Conference, October 1961
10 – Conference Report, October 1961, p.74 – as referenced in Quinn
11 – George T. Boyd to “Dick” (Richard D. Poll), undated but written ca. 18 Oct. 1961 and answered 24 Oct – as referenced in Quinn
12 – Brown statements, as quoted and paraphrased in Frederick S. Buchanan diary, 27 Oct. 1961. Buchanan walked in Brown’s office just as Benson was leaving – as referenced in Quinn
13 – “What Americanism Must Mean,” Deseret News, 28 Oct. 1961, A-10 – as referenced in Quinn
14 – Notes on a meeting between McKay, Brown, and King in McKay’s office, David O. McKay diary as referenced in Prince and Write
15 – Quinn
16 – Wikipedia, 20th Century (Mormonism), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20th_century_(Mormonism)
17 – “Benson Says JFK Soft on Reds,” Los Angeles Herald and Express, 12 Dec. 1961, A-3 – as referenced in Quinn
18 – “The Movement to Impeach Earl Warren,” The John Birch Society Bulletin (Aug. 1961): 5; George T. Boyd (associate director of the LDS Institute of Religion in Los Angeles) to the First Presidency (with copy to Benson), 14 Dec. 1961, regarding ‘”Hang Earl Warren’ Then—an Apology,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Dec. 1961, A-4 -. These are referenced in Quinn
19 – O. Preston Robinson, editor and general manager of the Deseret News, to Hugh B. Brown, 14 Dec. 1961, “as per your request,” in “Hugh B. Brown’s File on the John Birch – as referenced in Quinn
20 – Benson, “Is There A Threat To The American Way of Life?” Deseret News “Church News,” 23 Dec. 1961,15 – as referenced in Quinn
21 – Richard D. Poll to Hugh B. Brown, 23 Dec. 1961, referred to their previous discussions of the “substantial involvement on your Brown’s; part in the Deseret News editorials and other aspects of this question.” Referenced in Quinn.
22 – Brown to Mrs. Alicia Bingham, 28 Dec. 1961, carbon copy in “Hugh B. Brown’s File on the John Birch Society.” Referenced in Quinn.
23 – Wilkinson diary, 21, 29 Dec 1961 – as referenced in Quinn
24 – Richard D. Poll, 77ns Trumpet Gives An Uncertain Sound: A Review of W. Cleon Skousen’s THE NAKED COMMUNIST – as referenced in Quinn
25 – McKay diary; Prince and Write
26 – Buchanan diary, 22 Feb. 1962 – as referenced in Quinn
27 – Richard P. Lindsay, on letterhead of Taylorsville Second Ward Bishopric, to David O. McKay, Henry D. Moyle, and Hugh B. Brown, 20 Mar. 1962, carbon copy in Williams Papers; Lindsay’s handwritten note to J. D. Williams at the end of the carbon copy – referenced in Quinn
28 – Buchanan diary, 7 Apr 1962 as quoted in Quinn
29 – “LDS Hits Extremes in Anti-Red Battle,” Salt Lake Tribune as referenced in Prince and Write
30 – Harley R. Hammond to Hugh B. Brown as referenced in Prince and Write
31 – Brown to Morley Ross Hammond, 25 Apr. 1962, photocopy in Williams Papers as quoted in Quinn
32 – Ernie Lazar, Documentary History of the John Birch Society, https://sites.google.com/site/ernie1241b/home
33 – Ezra Taft Benson to Hawaiian Temple President H. Roland Tietjen (provided by Joe Geisner)
34 – Wilkinson diary, 3 June 1962, described a memorandum of what he was going to say privately to McKay on 6 June as quoted in Quinn
35 – “Ike and the Birch Society,” Lee Davidson, Salt Lake Tribune, November 16, 2010 (provided by Joe Geisner)
36 – Kjell Nilsen, letters to the editor, Daily Utah Chronicle, 22 Oct. 1962, 2, and 26 Oct. 1962,2, to which Allen Mickelsen and Jim Wanek responded in Daily Utah Chronicle, 24 Oct. 1962, 2, and 25 Oct. 1962, 2 as referenced in Quinn
37 – “Reed A. Benson Takes Post In Birch Society,” Deseret News, 27 Oct. 1962, B-5 as referenced in Quinn
38 – Wilkinson diary, 29 Oct. 1962, referred to a Democratic state convention “two years ago.” However, in Buchanan diary, 27 Oct. 1961, Brown said that in response to Benson’s conference address that month, “he’d be speaking to the States Democratic leaders in order to set them straight on the position of politics in the church.” Referenced in Quinn.
39 – Wilkinson diary, 4 Nov. 1962; conversation reported to Michael Quinn by the student in November 1962, during which time Quinn was also enrolled in Pearson’s missionary preparation course. These are referenced in Quinn
40 – Henry D. Taylor statement, as reported in Richard M. Taylor to Richard D. Poll, 7 Nov. 1962, referenced in Quinn
41 – Brown to Gustive O. Larson, 11 Nov. 1962, in answer to Larson’s letter of 1 Nov., folder 12, box 10, Larson Papers, archives, Lee Library, as referenced in Quinn
42 – Hugh B. Brown to Richard D. Poll, 26 Nov. 1962, in response to Poll to Brown, 20 Nov. 1962, as referenced in Quinn
43 – Richard D. Poll to Hugh B. Brown, 13 Dec. 1962; “The Council,” The John Birch Society Bulletin (Feb. 1960): 2; John Birch Society’s American Opinion. These are referenced in Quinn
44 – Gary James Bergera, “Weak-Kneed Republicans and Socialist Democrats”: Ezra Taft Benson as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1953-61, Part 2, Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought, (Winter 2008, vol 41)
45 – “The personal attacks on Rachel Carson as a woman scientist”, http://www.environmentandsociety.org/exhibitions/silent-spring/personal-attacks-rachel-carson
46 – Wikipedia: “Ezra Taft Benson”
47 – “Reprint of Statement From the First Presidency,” The Messenger: Distributed By the Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 1963,1, as referenced in Quinn
48 – “Ezra Taft Benson Addresses Rally,” Deseret News, 7 Jan. 1963, A-3; Drew Pearson, “Benson Embarrasses His Church,” Washington Post, 22 Jan. 1963, B-23; “Church Embarrassed Over Ezra Taft Benson Stand,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, 22 Jan. 1963, 4. These are referenced in Quinn
49 – Reed Benson to President David O McKay, 1/10/63 with John Birch literature included (provided by Joe Geisner)
50 – Nancy Smith Lowe to David O. McKay, 10 Jan. 1963, MS 5971 #1, LDS archives, as referenced in Quinn
51 – Wilkinson diary, 31 Jan. 1963, as referenced in Quinn
52 – The John Birch Society Bulletin (Feb. 1963): 28-29; also summarized in George Rucker memorandum, 17 June 1963, folder 5, box 636, Moss Papers. These are referenced in Quinn
53 – “Bircher” and “Birchers” are terms members of the Birch Society apply to themselves, as in Vie John Birch Society Bulletin (Oct. 1992): 6,14, 20, as referenced in Quinn
54 – Eugene Campbell’s typed draft of Hugh B. Brown biography, chapter titled, “Responsibility Without Authority—The 1st Counselor Years,” 11, Campbell Papers, as referenced in Quinn
55 – ‘”LDS Oppose’ Birch Group,” Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Mar. 1963,5; “Brown Says Church Opposed To Birch Society, Methods,” Provo Daily Herald, 5 Mar. 1963,12. These are referenced in Quinn
56 – Lela (Mrs. Mark A.) Benson to Clare Middlemiss; Prince and Write
57 – “Benson Declares His Birch Society Support Has No Bearing on Church, Sacramento Bee, 14 Mar. 1963, A-2; “Elder Benson Makes Statement,” Deseret News “Church News,” 16. These are referenced in Quinn
58 – “CROSS REFERENCE SHEET,” Mrs. Joyce M. Sowerwine letter, 25 Nov. 1966, “re: Claire Middlemiss & John Birch Society,” in “Hugh B. Brown’s File on the John Birch Society.” Referenced in Quinn.
59 – Quoted in Buchanan diary, 10 Apr. 1963, as referenced in Quinn
60 – Remarks to students at the University of Washington in “Ezra Taft Benson Sees Reds ‘Everywhere,’ Lauds Birchers,” Seattle Times, 1 May 1963,15, as referenced in Quinn
61 – “Benson Ties Rights Issue to Reds in Mormon Rift,” Washington Post, 19 May 1963, E-l, E-7. Benson told BYU students that the American civil rights movement was “Communist inspired” and that its unnamed leader was a Communist sympathizer, if not an actual Communist. The publication of this talk identified King in the index as this Communist civil rights leader. See Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, ed. Jerreld L. Newquist (Salt Lake City: Parliament Publishers, 1969), 310,361, as referenced in Quinn
62 – “Vandals, Reds, Loaded Queries Plague Utah’s Bircher Benson,” Portland Oregonian, 19 May 1963, 16, with photo of Reed beside the swastika vandalism, as referenced in Quinn
63 – “Benson’s Son Claims He Has Tripled Utah Birch Membership,” Washington Post, 20 May 1963, A-l, as referenced in Quinn
64 – J. D. Williams to James M. Whitmire, 21 May 1963 as referenced in Quinn
65 – Reed A. Benson to Tom Anderson, “PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL,” 3 July 1963, Anderson Papers, Knight Library, University of Oregon at Eugene, as referenced in Quinn
66 – Ezra Taft Benson to President Joseph Fielding Smith, July 31, 1963 (provided by Joe Geisner); Quinn
67 – Benson, “Let Us Live to Keep Men Free”: An Address . . . at a Patriotic Testimonial Banquet for Robert Welch , sponsored by Friends and Members of TJte John Birch Society at the Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, California, September 23, 1963 (Los Angeles: N.p, 1963); Quinn ; Prince and Write
68 – Ralph R. Harding interview, October 24, 2000 as referenced in Prince and Write
69 – Lee to Ralph R. Harding, 30 Sept. 1963, as referenced in Quinn
70 – For example, Ralph Harding to Richard Poll, 30 Sept. 1963, as referenced in Quinn
71 – Cook, Lyndon W., The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants, Seventy’s Mission Bookstore, Provo UT, 1985
72 – Utah History Encyclopedia: Hugh B. Brown, http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/
73 – Benson, “Be Not Deceived,” Improvement Era 66 (Dec. 1963): 1063-65; Wilkinson diary, 4 Oct. 1963; Brown to Gustive O. Larson, 2 Oct. 1963, copy in folder 15, box 11, Larson Papers, also copy in Campbell Papers. Aside from Benson, Brown resented the influence on President McKay by Clare Middlemiss and Thorpe B. Isaacson who shared much of Benson’s philosophy -. These are referenced in Quinn
74 – “Give Full Civil Equality to All, LDS Counselor Brown Asks,” Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Oct. 1963, 1; Hugh B. Brown, “The Fight Between Good and Evil,” Improvement Era 66 (Dec. 1963): 1058; Sterling M. McMurrin, “A Note on the 1963 Civil Rights Statement,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12 (Summer 1979): 60-63. These are referenced in Quinn
75 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Congressman Harding, October 7, 1963 (provided by Joe Geisner)
76 – Ralph A. Britsch to Ralph R. Harding, 8 Oct. 1963, photocopies in folder 2, box 4, King Papers, as referenced in Quinn
77 – Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992, Appendix 2: A Chronology of Church History
78 – W. Cleon Skousen, The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society (Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing Co., 1963), as referenced in Quinn

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Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Early battle against communism — 1 Comment