Ezra Taft Benson, June 24, 1968

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-- June 24, 1968
[Ezra Taft Benson letter] ... "You will be interested to know that President McKay encouraged my son, Reed, to stay with the John Birch Society indicating it would be vindicated and become a powerful organization in the preservation of our freedom. ... (1)


-- 18 Oct 1968
After Benson described U.S. government "welfare-state programs" as a "Communist-planned program of deception" in his October 1968 conference talk, the Mormon director of a government welfare program complained to the First Presidency. Brown replied: "Others of us feel much the same as you do but the President has not seen fit to check or refute the statements by the person involved and our hands are therefore tied. Be assured, however, of this, that what this man said does not represent the position of the Church with respect to the subject of government aid, etc."

Counselor Brown concluded that Apostle Benson's "statements do not represent the position of the Church, but I am handicapped in that I cannot refute them because the President feels that each one should be free to express his own opinions. This seems to be unfortunate because, speaking from that pulpit and as one of the general authorities, each of us is supposed to represent the Church. There will be a change in this whole situation, we hope, before too long." (2)


-- October 24, 1968
[Minutes, First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve] Reference was made to questions that have been raised by presidents of stakes and mission presidents in Germany, the British Isles, etc., and also by the [Improvement] Era, regarding talks that have been given in conference by the brethren of the Authorities such as the one given by Brother Benson at the recent General Conference regarding the responsibilities we have to oppose socialism, etc. ... He explains that over half of the members of his stake in England vote socialist and that members of the stake presidency, high council and bishoprics support that cause, that there is therefore some confusion in regard to how they should accept these statements.

... President Tanner mentioned that during the past three years we have had questions and complaints about talks given in General Conference that seem to be offensive to the German people or the British people, or whoever it may be, by just building up the United States of America and referring to things that are going on here…. Elder [Harold B.] Lee mentioned that the overall problem we have constantly had in mind is to make our hearers conscious of the fact that we are a universal church, and that those things that go into our lessons must be applicable to the world; that when we set forth gospel principles this is very simple, but when we begin to relate it to governmental programs of this country and other countries we become involved in controversy…. Elder [Spencer W.] Kimball felt that in the General Authorities meeting, which is held in the temple two weeks before conference, the brethren might be reminded that their talks should be geared to the world. President Tanner said that he did not know that we could do any more this morning, but we should have in mind that it is a world church, and that when speaking in General Conference he thought we should be careful to tell people what we are trying to tell them regarding the gospel in a way that will not be offensive to other parts of the world. (3)


-- 24 Oct 1968
Apostle Ezra Taft Benson replies to a letter asking child rearing advice: "I wish my good wife, who has had major responsibility for the training of our children, could talk to you personally. You see, I have been away from home approximately half of our married life, occasioned by my Church service and employment." (4)


-- circa December 1968
[Hugh B. Brown] “There are some [General Authorities]—I won’t put it in the plural even—who sustain the John Birch Society. Others of us do not. I don’t think that that should be an issue, should not be a question involving one’s standing in the Church whether they approve of that or not. I do think that in this case all members of the General Authorities should keep out of that discussion. I think the John Birch Society will run its course and finally be rejected. That’s my own opinion.” (5)


-- December 7, 1968
[Phone call, Benson to Clare Middlemiss] "Clare, President McKay has told me on various occasions that there are two things he regretted in his presidency: (1) the untimely decision, which was later changed, to move the college at Rexburg to Idaho Falls; and (2) the issuing of the statement in the public press against the John Birch Society. Now, in order to alleviate that feeling about the John Birch Society, I wonder, since they are celebrating their 10th Anniversary tonight at a meeting and banquet in Indianapolis, Indiana, if President McKay would send a telegram similar to the following: “John Birch Society, c/o Mr. Robert Welch, Stauffer Inn, Indianapolis, Indiana—Congratulations upon reaching ten years of courageous and effective service in defense of our freedom and acquainting the American people with the insidious dangers of the atheistic communistic conspiracy. Best wishes for future success in the fight to preserve our God-given liberties.” McKay was in a meeting, and counselor Alvin R. Dyer vetoed the request. (6)


-- During 1968
Conservative third parties have enjoyed some success in Utah in the post-World War II period. In 1968 the American party was organized nationally to support the presidential candidacy of George Wallace. The former Alabama governor, whose request to have Apostle Ezra Taft Benson as his running mate was refused by LDS Church leaders, polled 26,980 votes in Utah. The American party remained a minor but vocal presence in the state's politics for another decade, frequently fielding candidates for congressional, state, and local offices. The party was sufficiently strong enough in Utah to attract the location of the national office for a time, but eventually was thwarted by the growing conservatism of Utah's Republican party. (7)


-- During 1969
Published Volume - An Enemy Hath Done This. BookcraftISBN 0-88494-184-1. (8)


Published Volume - Civil Rights, Tool of Communist Deception. Deseret Book (8)

Endnotes:
1 - Ezra Taft Benson to Mr. & Mrs. Gene Curtis, June 24, 1968 (provided by Joe Geisner)
2 - Brown to Philip D. Thorpe, director of the Community Action Program in Provo, Utah, 18 Oct. 1968, carbon copy in Campbell papers, with attached copy of Benson's October 1968 conference address, "The Proper Role of Government," Improvement Era 71 (Dec. 1968): 51-53, with underlined passage on page 53 -- as referenced in 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
3 - Summarized in David O. McKay Papers; verbatim report in Clare Middlemiss, Minutes of a Meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, “Notes” as referenced in Gregory A. Prince and Wm. Robert Write, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press (2005)
4 - On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com
5 - Hugh B. Brown interview 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)
6 - “Note by C.M. (Clare Middlemiss)”, David O. McKay 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)
7 - Utah History Encyclopedia: Third Parties in Utah, http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/
8 - Wikipedia: "Ezra Taft Benson"

LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson

Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson
http://lds-church-history.blogspot.com/

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