Ezra Taft Benson, 7 May 1974

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-- 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. (1)

-- 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. (2)

-- 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.64 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.”65 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.” (3)

-- November 5, 1974
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. (4)

-- November 24, 1974
... 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. ... (5)

-- 25 Nov 1974
[I]n 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. (6)

-- December 6, 1974
Elder Benson sent to President Kimball a letter with two (BYU) Daily Universe articles that spoke favorably about Dialogue. 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.” (7)

-- 1975
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. (8)

Benson's resurgent activism was unsuccessful during 1975 in obtaining approval for the Birch Society's president to be a speaker at BYU. (9)

-- 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.” (10)

-- 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. (11)

1 - 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)
2 - 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
3 - “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)
4 - "LDS Church Affirms Policy on Elections," Idaho State Journal, Nov 5, 1974 (provided by Joe Geisner)
5 - Ezra Taft Benson to Mr. Paul Olsen, November 24, 1974 (provided by Joe Geisner)
6 - 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
7 - 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)
8 - Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "Ezra Taft Benson," Reed Benson and Sheri Dew, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992
9 - 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
10 - 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)
11 - On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com

LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson

Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson

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