-- Spring 1993
To liberal intellectuals beginning to feel besieged by church leaders, President Benson’s mental incapacity meant one thing: greater freedom for the acting president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Boyd K. Packer, widely rumored to be behind the recent actions against liberals and feminists. As Quinn himself had noted in another controversial session at the 1992 Sunstone Symposium, LDS president David O. McKay’s mental incapacity in the late 1960s had afforded then-apostle Ezra Taft Benson greater freedom to wage personal wars in the church hierarchy over his conservative politics. This situation, many believed, was paralleled in the early 1990s, when Benson’s own incapacity allowed Packer latitude to punish those he would later brand “so-called scholars and intellectuals.” (1)
-- 27 Jun 1993
President Gordon B. Hinckley of the first Presidency rededicates the refurbished and remodeled Hotel Utah, renaming it the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Used primarily for Church offices and meeting facilities, it also contains a five-hundred-seat theater for the presentation of full-length Church films, the first of which was the 1993 drama Legacy (directed by Academy Award-winning film director Kieth Merrill, with the musical score by Merrill Jenson).
-- July 10, 1993
Vern Anderson, “Benson’s Not Competent, Grandson Says,” (2)
Steve Benson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist for the Arizona Republic, asserted that his grandfather’s “physical and mental infirmities were preventing him from participating in meaningful Church leadership and decision-making . . . [and] ultimately he grew so weak and infirm that he spent his waking hours silently wrapped in a blanket in his reclining chair.”
He criticized use of news photographs showing the president looking at birthday cards, with his foot on a shovel at a ground breaking, and with his hand raised as if greeting people, saying those images misled the viewer. He said there should be emeritus status or an executive committee to substitute for an incapacitated president. At the least, he said, there should be candid acknowledgment of the president’s incapacity. A spokesman for the Church called the proposals “impossible. The Lord’s in charge.”
President Hinckley, speaking in 1994 of President Benson’s similar incapacity, described the practice for managing such situations:
"When the President is ill or not able to function fully in all of the duties of his office, his two Counselors together comprise a Quorum of the First Presidency. They carry on with the day-to-day work of the Presidency. In exceptional circumstances, when only one may be able to function, he may act in the authority of the office of the Presidency. . . . But any major questions of policy, procedures, programs, or doctrine are considered deliberately and prayerfully by the First Presidency and the Twelve together. These two quorums . . . consider every major question . . . [and] . . . no decision emanates . . . without total unanimity. . . ." (3)
-- 13 Jul 1993
ARIZONA REPUBLIC reports that First Presidency Spokesman Don LeFevre claims "the typical faithful Mormon" already knows that Ezra Taft Benson's mental condition prevents his participation in decision-making. This is in response to continued publicity of Steve Benson's statements during past week that his grandfather is mentally incompetent, and that LDS leaders are exploiting him by giving impression in photographs and official statements that church president is mentally active. Steve Benson withdraws from membership in LDS church in Oct, after excommunication of several scholars and feminists. (4)
-- During 1993-09
The September Six face church discipline for their feminist and intellectual work
Six prominent LDS intellectuals, several of whom were feminists, faced church discipline for their writings. The six include Paul Toscano, Maxine Hanks, Lavina Fielding Anderson, Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, Avraham Gileadi, and D. Michael Quinn; Whitesides was disfellowshipped while the other five were excommunicated. Although the churchdoes not disclose its reasons for pursuing disciplinary action, it is commonly understood that these six individuals faced that action due to their writings about Mormon history, scripture, and doctrine. This action followed Boyd K. Packer identifying homosexuals, feminists, and intellectuals as key enemies of the church in the spring of 1993. (5)
-- 17 Oct 1993
The First Presidency issues a statement reaffirming the Church's right to discipline members of the Church.
-- 23 Nov 1993
The First Presidency issues a statement that emphasizes keeping the Sabbath day holy.
The Church joined with others in 1994 to defeat a legalized lottery proposal in Oklahoma. (6)
-- 1 Jan 1994
End of congregational hymn-singing and general meeting prior to individual Sunday School classes, as per First Presidency announcement on 25 Sept. 1993.
-- 1 Feb 1994
First Presidency endorses appointment of 1994 as -International Year of the Family,- by United Nations, organization which currently disabled Ezra Taft Benson has repeatedly denounced as illegal infringement on U.S. sovereignty. This reinforces his grandson's claim that counselors are making decisions without church president's coherent consultation or approval.
-- 14 Feb 1994
The First Presidency issued a statement declaring opposition to same-sex marriage in response to Hawaii's attempt to legalize same-sex marriage. The Church urged members to support efforts to outlaw marriage equality. (7)
1 - Bryan Waterman & Brian Kagel, "The Lord's University: Freedom and Authority at Byu" Signature Books (1998)
2 - Salt Lake Tribune, 10 July 1993
3 - Stephen Benson, “Ezra Taft Benson,” Sunstone 17, no. 3 (December 1994): 35; “Reaction to Benson’s Statement ‘Very Emotional,’” Provo Daily Herald, July 13, 1993, B3; Vern Anderson, “Church Leader Retired in All but Name, Grandson Says,” Provo Daily Herald, July 10, 1993, A6; Gordon B. Hinckley, “God Is at the Helm,” Ensign 24 (May 1994): 54, 59; Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Church Is on Course,” Ensign 22 (November 1992): 53 -- as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
4 - On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com
5 - Mormon Women's History Timeline, http://www1.chapman.edu/~remy/MoFem/mormonwomen.html
6 - Quinn, Extensions of Power, 401 -- as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
7 - Timeline of Mormon Thinking About Homosexuality, http://rationalfaiths.com/timeline-of-mormon-thinking-about-homosexuality/
LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson
Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson