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  EZRA TAFT BENSON
Total Articles: 30
Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He strongly disagreed with the Femanist Movement and Civil Rights. He was heavily involved in the John Birch Society. Suffering from alzhimers disease , his true condition was hidden from members.
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Ezra Taft Benson: "Our Divine Constitution" VS Our Godless Constitution
Thursday, Feb 17, 2005, at 10:38 AM
Original Author(s): Argar Largar
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
A friend of mine at work is becoming an agent to expose my former Mormon brain to the myriad of other views out there in the world. He gave me a recent magazine article called "Our Godless Constitution" which I thought sounded like the complete antithesis of most Ezra Taft Benson talks. Sure enough, I quickly found a talk by Benson called Our Divine Constitution from the October 1987 General Conference. I thought I would share some of the quotes from each.

Benson - Our Divine Constitution: The Declaration of Independence affirmed the Founding Fathers' belief and trust in God in these words: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Magazine - Our Godless Constitution: Our Constitution makes no mention whatever of God. The omission was too obvious to have been anything but deliberate. Our nation was founded on Enlightenment principles. God only entered the picture as a very minor player, and Jesus Christ was conspicuously absent. The word "Creator" is used in the Declaration of Independence but it is more of a Deist term.

Benson: Alexander Hamilton, "For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system, which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interest."

Magazine: Alexander Hamilton, when asked why God was not mentioned in the Constitution, reportedly said the new nation was not in need of "foreign aid." Another account says he replied, "We forgot."

Benson: James Madison, often referred to as the father of the Constitution, wrote: "It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution." (The Federalist, no. 37)

Magazine: James Madison believed that "religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize."

Benson: John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Magazine: As an old man [Adams] observed, "Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been upon the point of breaking out, 'This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.'" Also, when pressed by Thomas Jefferson for his personal creed Adams replied, "Be just and good."

Benson: Thomas Jefferson, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free. . .it expects what never was and never will be."

Magazine: Jefferson spoke of "the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faither of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infalliable, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time." Jefferson responded to Adams' creed saying, "The result of our fifty or sixty years of religious reading, in the four short words, 'Be just and good,' is that in which all our inquiries must end; as the riddles of all priesthoods end in four more, 'ubi panis, ibi deus.' What all agree in, is probably right. What no two agree in, most probably wrong." Jefferson also banned the teaching of theology at his school, the Univeristy of Virginia.

Magazine: Ben Franklin is described as, "He praised religion for whatever moral effects it had, but for little else."

Benson goes on and on about the Book of Mormon saying "this land" being saved for the Gentiles, how it was hid from nations, how only those led by God would find it and how it would never have a king. Someone here has already mentioned it before but what does "this land" refer to if the Limited Geography Theory is correct? How can that possibly apply to what became the United States of America if they are focuses on small areas of land south of the United States?

This feels like playing "Any Founding Father You Can Quote I Can Quote Better."
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Review Of The Book "Teachings Of Ezra Taft Benson"
Friday, Mar 18, 2005, at 07:55 AM
Original Author(s): Dave The Pensteman
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
From Amazon.COM:

If you think the John Birch Society is mainstream, you will love this book. Ezra Taft Benson was a passionate believer in Mormonism, American imperialism, the teachings of the John Birch Society and in the belief that the founding fathers created the U.S. Constitution out of divine inspiration.

This particular book does a good job of summarizing the many teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. The basic teachings of Ezra taft Benson are:

1- Mormonism is God's Plan and America was created for the furtherance of that plan
2- Communism is Satan's Plan
3- Creeping socialism will ultimately lead to communism
4- The Book of Mormon is a real record of native americans that shows us the way to live
5- As part of God's plan, the U.S. Constitution and strict interpretation of it is the main means by which Satan's plan will be thwarted.

Given that the Book of Mormon is a profoundly racist document where God curses the wicked with dark skin but turns their skin white again after they become faithful, using that book as a capstone to your religion is a dangerous matter.

As for the U.S. Constitution, like many others right wing nut-jobs, it is usually a veiled belief in states rights and in making America a land not for diversity, but conformity to a particular world view.

For a better understanding of Ezra Taft Benson and what he stood for and what his impact was on the Mormon religion, please read "Mormon Hierarchy, Extensions of Power" by D. Michael Quinn. He devotes an entire chapter to Ezra Taft Benson that is enlightening as well as frightening.

Those who follow Ezra Taft Benson to the letter just might find themselves quitting Mormonism to become "real" mormons ironically living in a communal lifestyle in Colorado City.
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Ezra Taft Benson And The Mouse That Roared
Monday, Jul 11, 2005, at 08:43 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Maybe it’s just the animal in me, but I love animals.

Ever since I was a kid, I have enjoyed surrounding myself and caring for a wide assortment of our fascinating non-human fellow inhabitants of the planet.

As a small boy, my first pet was a black lab.

As a pre-teenager I loved to collect, feed and share bedroom space with hamsters, turtles, horny toads and tarantulas.

Fellow creatures whose company I have also enjoyed have included collies, cocker spaniels, shih-tzus and an assortment of cats.

Reptiles and lizards have also been my friends, including turtles, iguanas, bearded dragons and uramastyx (an Egyptian lizard).

Furry little critters who have shared creature comforts in my bedroom, basement, office, laundry room and/or backyard have included rabbits, gerbils, ferrets, guinea pigs, chinchillas, degus, mice and rats.

The list of feathered roommates with whom I have inhabited the same living quarters has, at one time or another, featured cockatiels, African grey parrots, finches, love birds, parakeets, conjures and abandoned baby sparrows.

Some non-human pals with whom I am currently providing rent-free space include four African spur tortoises (which can grow up to 150 pounds and expand to three feet or so in diameter), a leopard tortoise whose spiky shell has earned her the name “Teton,” a one-winged pigeon found by my daughter, four ball pythons and a blue-and-grey macaw to whom I have bequeathed my temple name, “Ezekiel.”

Given my interest in homemade zoos, I guess I have earned the nickname “Doctor Do-A-Lot.”

So fascinated have I been with these wonderful animals that, at one time or another, I thought about becoming a biologist, a zookeeper or a fossil hunter.

My grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, was an animal kind of guy himself.

As a southern Idaho farm boy, he milked cows, slopped hogs, raised chickens, fed lambs, rode horses and herded cattle.

Eventually, he became Secretary of Agriculture under President Dwight Eisenhower.

At family reunions, my grandfather would saddle up his mount and show us how to ride. I remember seeing him beaming, sitting astride a beautiful palomino, leading colorful columns down Main Street as Grand Marshal of the Preston Rodeo Parade.

But there was one time I witnessed him handle an animal in a manner that I will never forget.

It happened one day when he and I were alone, doing chores, at our family cabin.

Back in the early 1960s, Ezra Taft and Flora Benson owned a cabin up Mill Creek Canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah.

It was a beautiful, spacious place, surrounded by fluttering aspen and nestled close to a bright, splashy creek. (Sadly, my grandparents ended up having to sell the cabin, reportedly because they lost thousands of dollars as victims of a bizarre financial scam).

Our family would often escape to this cabin hideaway for fun and relaxation. In the winter, we kids would steer our sleds and inner tubes down the snow-covered road that led up to the cabin. During the warmer months, we would ride the tire swing back and forth next to the creek and go for walks down the leafy back trails that laced the surrounding area.

My grandfather and I would sometimes take short hikes together and I remember during one of those times pointing out to him a lizard sitting just a few feet away from where we were walking along a sunlit path. He congratulated me on what he called my good eyesight, saying that he had not spotted it.

On one particular weekend, when I was about 10 years old, I had ventured up to the Benson family cabin to help my grandfather, at his invitation, do some spring cleaning. It was the first time in that period of my young life that I remember spending any extended one-on-one time with him.

My grandfather was a big, strapping man, over six feet tall. He had a commanding presence and a firm, projecting voice. As a young boy, I stood in awe of him, as seemingly did everyone else in my family.

I dare say that at times as a youth my grandfather appeared downright intimidating. At the cabin that weekend, to a boy like me, he resembled some kind of mountain man, dressed in an open-necked, checkered shirt and big leather boots.

Adding to that image, he hadn’t shaved.

This was hardly the picture I was used to. Usually I saw him as Ezra Taft Benson, Apostle of the Lord, dressed up in his dark General Conference suit and matching tie, complete with starched white shirt.

As we were busily involved cleaning the cabin (with me, as usual, dutifully following orders), my grandfather paused. Through the short, grey stubble that was beginning to sprout from his chin, he smiled and asked, “Stephen, do you think I should grow a moustache?”

Being asked by my grandfather for an opinion about anything somewhat startled me. I remember instinctively blurting out that I thought he looked better without it. He smiled back and agreed.

As we were moving objects around the family room in order to sweep its wooden floor, a small kitchen mouse darted out from behind its cover and made a mad dash toward the open door of a nearby bedroom.

I yelled out to my grandfather what I had just seen.

He ordered me to follow the mouse into the bedroom and catch it.

I had absolutely no idea how I was going to accomplish that task but had no intention of disobeying orders.

So, I did as I was told and headed faithfully into the bedroom.

The bedroom was dimly lit, with the curtains closed. In a far corner of the room was a bed. Trying to adjust my eyes, I couldn’t see any mouse.

My grandfather stood behind me in the frame of the door, holding a broom.

He told me to get down and check under the bed.

I dropped to my hands and knees and peered under the bed.

There, in a dark corner, close to the front left leg of the bed, crouched the brown-haired, black-eyed, quivering little mouse.

Both me and the mouse were scared at our respective predictaments.

I told my grandfather I had spotted the mouse.

He ordered me to move forward and grab it.

I wasn’t wearing any gloves and was afraid that the mouse might bite me.

I hesitated.

My grandfather again commanded me to move toward the objective and complete the mission.

Feeling a growing sense of unease but seeing no alternative to being an obedient Mormon boy, I pressed my stomach against the bedroom floor, spread my arms out wide, palms forward, and began inching my way, ever so slowly, toward the mouse.

As I began to close the gap between myself and the frightened mouse, I was frantically trying to figure out what I was going to do.

One thing for sure, I did not want to grab the mouse.

At the same time, I did not want to disobey my grandfather.

So, I continued to slide forward on my stomach, not knowing how to bring the situation to a satisfactory conclusion.

With my hands mere inches from the cornered mouse, the mouse decided to take matters into its own paws. It made a desperate bolt for freedom, leaping over my outstretched arms and making a beeline for the bedroom door that led back into the family room.

From under the bed, I screamed to my grandfather that the mouse was getting away.

I heard a loud WHACK! behind me.

I backed out from underneath the bed and turned around.

My grandfather was standing in the door frame, broom in one hand, the stunned mouse dangling by its tail from the closed fingers of his other hand.

Without a word, he turned away and headed into the family room.

Wide-eyed, I followed.

At the front of the family room was a large fireplace. Inside it, bright orange flames furiously crackled.

My grandfather strode toward the fireplace.

By now, the tiny mouse was beginning to stir, as it hung upside down from the large hand of my grandfather. It twisted and turned, trying desperately to get away.

My grandfather stopped in front of the roaring fireplace. I had arrived at his side, where I could feel the radiating heat.

My grandfather did not hesitate.

He threw the live mouse into the flames.

The animal landed on the end of a partially-consumed log.

Flames flickered up from beneath toward the terrified mouse.

Briefly, the little animal remained where it had been tossed. Then, it panicked and scampered toward the opposite end of the log.

Unfortunately, that end of the log was fully-engulfed in hot flames.

A finger of fire caught the mouse on the tip of its nose.

Instantaneously, flames swept over its entire, hair-covered body, turning it completely black.

Burned beyond recognition but still alive, the mouse stood frozen on the log, singed from head to tail.

Surrounded by flames, the mouse tried to breathe through scorched lungs.

Its tiny chest expanded and contracted a couple of times, like a miniature set of bellows.

Then, it fell into the flames and disappeared from view.

I was horrified and could not utter a word.

Meanwhile, there was work to be done.

Grandpa Benson turned away from the fireplace and went back to cleaning.

I joined him.

But I never forgot the mouse.
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Ezra Taft Benson: Mormonism's Prophet, Seer And Race Baiter (Part 3-3)
Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005, at 10:17 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
EZRA TAFT BENSON: MORMONISM'S PROPHET, SEER AND RACE BAITER (Part Three of Three) by Steve Benson

Revealing Notes from Ezra Taft Benson's Personal Files on His Private Attitudes about Race

Ezra Taft Benson had a practice of passing on news articles and other items whose contents he found worthy of note to my father, accompanied by my grandfather's personal, handwritten notations.

From my interactions with him over several years, I observed that my grandfather was not a deep reader; he was, instead, a regular skimmer. He would underline portions of what he was perusing which he thought were valuable and then relay them on, before quickly moving on himself.

My father, in turn, would often pass these items on to me and my siblings for our edification.

While passing along information in this fashion, my grandfather rarely made special note of that with which he disagreed.

In fact, he was not particularly inclined to spend much time with sources with which he was at political/religious odds.

This trait of my grandfather's was clearly evidenced in the nature of his personal files and library. They were voluminous but overwhelmingly slanted toward what he considered the "right" ideas.

In essence, my grandfather's database was not so much a source of knowledge gleaned from a wide variety of viewpoints but, rather, a reinforcement of his already-established views.

One item that fit into this category was a photocopy of a letter to the editor, published in BYU's Daily Universe, written by a non-Mormon who was upset with boycott efforts by schools in the Western Athletic Conference against BYU because of the Mormon Church's anti-Black priesthood ban.

Passed from father to son, to grandson, it read in part:

"I am one non-Mormon who thinks the notion of the University of New Mexico's student Senate is one of the most unreasonable examples of the bigoted minds of so-called `liberals' I've ever seen.

"In the first place, BYU is a privately-endowed school. It is not supported by the taxpayers like the other universities are members of the WAC.

"Mainly, the reason for Negro athletes being at the other schools stems not from any great degree of humanitarianism on the part of those institutions. To the contrary, the reason for many, or even most, of Negro athletes being at these schools is because of their acknowledged athletic ability. The alumni preferred these schools during the past 10-15 years to give athletic scholarships to Negro athletes to assure success for their teams.

"The Negro athletes have won games for these schools, they have seen and heard the coed cheerleaders go into hysterical frenzy over their exploits-only to find, after the game was over, they were supposed to keep their place. They were led to believe that by attending otherwise predominantly `white' (a silly word, if you examine it closely) schools), the Negroes would be pals with all the other students and it didn't work out that way. Now, the more militant want their own dorms, eating facilities, etc.

"On the other hand, Brigham Young University has competed with the other members of WAC handicapped by not having black athletes on their teams, but the students, and alums, have registered no complaints. Mind you, BYU is not tax supported, therefore, I ask what the hell business it is of your sanctimonious hypocrites who the BYU administration wants to have on its campus?

"The Negroes have reached the state in their development in this country at which anyone who doesn't agree with tem is considered a `racist,' or bigot. The white students at schools such as New Mexico who voted for the expulsion of BYU from WAC don't give a real hoot about their black brothers. They just consider it the in-thing to be `liberal' about such matters."

The final paragraph of the letter was accompanied by my grandfather's handwritten notation in the margin: "Very good."

Directly across from that notation, the letter read:

"If the LDS only want to have whites for the priesthood, what business of the Negroes? Do they have members of the Black Muslims, the Black Panthers, who are `white'? As a Protestant, such as I am, can I take communion at a Catholic Church? As a non-Mason can I attend the secret sessions of the organization?

"All the more power to Brigham Young."

(Bill Mazill, "More Power to BYU," letter to the editor, reprinted from the Daily Optic, Las Vegas, New Mexico, in the Daily Universe, 12 November 1969, photocopy in my possession)

Also from my grandfather's private files, I came across a copy of a speech by then-ASBYU president, Brian Walton, delivered on 28 October 1970, at the Ernest L. Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus.

Like the preceding letter, Walton's remarks came at a time of increasing criticism directed at the Mormon Church (and by extension, BYU) for its discriminatory doctrine against Blacks.

Below are portions of Walton's speech that my grandfather underlined--indicating, as was his habit, his approval of certain ideas:

"What we are involved in is a nationwide feeling of frustration against continuing discrimination. The black man has been tied down too long. He is tired of being lied to. He is aware of the betrayal of his dignity from the Declaration of Independence until now . . . .

"Do we have to remind ourselves yet again of the almost unspeakable history of black men in America? Hopefully, as Mormons we are aware of the impact of the destruction of family ties which took place in the lives of thousands of American slaves. Surely, as Latter-day Saints, we realize and appreciated the meaning of an environment like Harlem, Watts, or Bedord-Stuyvesant. The Church is obviously aware of the importance of home environment to success in living. And why is the black man in this plight?

"With Martin Luther King we can ask:

`Why does misery constantly haunt the Negro?' . . .

"Listen to Claude Brown, author of "Manchild in the Promised Land, and an escapee from the prison that is Harlem, describe the continuing misery of the American Black Man as he moves from the degradation of the South to the new experiences of urban America. . . .

"Here now Jack Newfield describes a part of the promised land-the Bedford-Stuyvesant ghetto in Brooklyn, New York . . . .

"For every year, 1948-1969, unemployment among Negroes and other races has been double that for white people . . . .

"In various ways Black people are saying that `the American dream has been thrown at me long enough. Now I'm gonna take my place. We will put up with the disrespect, the emasculation, the taunts, the insults, and the overall repression no longer.' . . .

"And some blacks and many whites who want to feel that they are doing something in a moral way, look at BYU and think they sell all that white America represents. WE then become what some students in the Black Student Union in Tucson referred to us as a scapegoat . . . .

"We are caught up in a social movement which is huge and ongoing . . . .

"Proposals have been made that we begin at BYU a recruitment and development program similar to that which has brought 475 Native Americans (or American Indians) to our campus this year. It is thought by some that the largest private institution in the nation should have more than a dozen black people in its 25,000-member student body. . . .

"I have decreasing tolerance for those views which seek to excuse gospel obligations with the rhetoric of `every man for himself' . . .

"Joseph Smith, the Prophet and first President of the Church, in 1844, seventeen years before the Civil War, publicly advocated freeing of the slaves and having the federal government sell public lands, if necessary, in order to obtain money to purchase their freedom . . . .

"Now to the University and what it can do. The suggestion of bring more black people to the campus raises several issues . . . .

"Would black people want to come here? Has anyone asked them if they want to come here? If is about time white men asked black men what they wanted to do rather than making decisions in a vacuum. . . .

"Who would pay for it? . . .

"Should a pilot program be set up . . .? . . .

"Does the University have the facilities . . . to cope with an influx of black people? . . .

"Are we prepared for a Black Student Union . . .? . . .

"What about other alternatives? . . .

"In an attempt to have answers provided, I have formed an investigating committee which will attempt to provide solid information regarding this topic and allow us to thereby know where we stand . . . .

"The committee is open-ended and will attempt to investigate the total situation . . . .

"I hope this evening has helped you understand `where our heads are.' . . .

"[Quoting from a First Presidency statement on `their obligations as members of the communities in which they live and as citizens of the nation']:

"'Where solutions to these practical problems require cooperative action with those not of our faith, members should not be reticent in doing their part in joining and leading in those efforts where the can make an individual contribution to those causes which are consistent with the standards of the Church.'" (Brian Walton, ASBYU President, "BYU and Race: Where We Are Now," ASBYU Convocation, Ernest L. Wilkinson Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 28 October 1970)

As a man reads, so is he.

Ezra Taft Benson, the White Supremacist

The evidence presented up to this point leads, unavoidably, to the conclusion that my grandfather was actually a White supremacist, when the term is used to describe "one who believes that White people are racially superior to others and should therefore dominate society."

(http://www.answers.com/topic/white-supremacy)

Such an assessment should not be surprising since Ezra Taft Benson was a faithful advocate of all things Mormon, and that Mormon theology is, at its roots, White supremacist in nature.

Baptist pastor Mike Schreib, in a blunt analysis of LDS doctrine entitled "Mormonism: A Religion for Dumb White People," points out what Mormon canonized scripture clearly declares: that, in the eyes of the Mormon God, White makes right:

"The Book of Mormon teaches that there was continual warfare between the Nephites who were righteous before God, and the Lamanites who were unrighteous and wicked. This wickedness eventually led God to curse the Lamanites with dark skin:

"`And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became dark and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.' (1 Nephi 12:23)

"`The skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression.' (Alma 3:6) . . .

"The Book of Mormon goes so far as to teach that if the Lamanites truly repented of their wickedness, the visible proof would be their skin once again turning white:

"`And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers...and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people.' (2 Nephi 30: 5-6)

"(Note: Recent editions of the Book of Mormon have been changed to read, `a pure and a delightsome people.' The attempt to water down the original teaching would seem obvious.) . . .

"The second president of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young, was not shy concerning his beliefs about White superiority, or the curse carried specifically by the Negro.

`Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 110, 8 March 1863)

"Later Mormon leaders would also state the official doctrine of the Church concerning Blacks and the priesthood:

"`Negroes in this life are DENIED THE PRIESTHOOD; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty.' (LDS "Apostle" Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 527)

"`Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the FATHER OF AN INFERIOR RACE...Millions of souls have come into the world cursed with black skin and have been DENIED THE PRIVILEGE OF PRIESTHOOD.' (LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way To Perfection, 1931, pp. 101-102) . . .

"In early 1978, the Mormon Church found itself suffering from a massive news media campaign criticizing their attitudes towards Blacks and Non-whites. Allegations of discrimination and racism by such groups as the NAACP and ACLU were directed against the LDS church, and rightly so. The Mormon leadership began to sweat.

"If things progressed badly for them, they feared losing large numbers of their members who saw the church as a White supremacist haven, and were willing to tell the media about it. Even worse, they feared losing their federal tax exempt status from the IRS, a loss that would have devastated their financial empire. . . .

"On June 8, 1978, Mormon President and prophet, Spencer W. Kimball announced to the world a new `Official Declaration' from the Lord. Suddenly, he claimed: " ` . . . . all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood WITHOUT REGARD TO RACE OR COLOR.'

"This was after he and his fellow leaders had `pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful (Black) brethren...supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.'

"They told their members and the world that, `He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood . . . `

"What happened to the Black race being an `inferior race,' and that `under no circumstances' could they hold the authority of the priesthood?

"Certainly, if this was God's church he was free to give new instructions to his designated servants. Yet, we can only guess that fearing the loss of their tax benefits was a great motivator in their `long and earnest' prayer meetings. The timing couldn't have been more convenient. . . .

"Anyone who has studied these matters in detail must see that the history of the Mormon religion is a long history of racial nonsense, offensive doctrine, and well-timed `revelations' intended to help the leadership save face.

"Non-whites who would join such a religion need to open their eyes to the truth, and dumb White people who accept it ought to be ashamed of themselves!"

(http://www.believers.net/english/belief/mormon/mormon.htm, original emphasis)

Author and self-described "positive atheist" Cliff Walker also shines a light into the dark corners of Mormonism's historical doctrines replete with White supremacist teachings:

"The Mormon God's main revelation, the Book of Mormon, explains why . . . many . . . humans have dark skin . . . In 2 Nephi 5:21, Mormon scripture describes Whites: `As they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome to come upon.'

"White skin is a reward from God; dark skin is a course, the result of wickedness.

"`Their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites. And their daughters became exceedingly fair.' (3 Nephi 2:15-16)

"`O, my brethren, I fear that unless you shall repent of your sins, that their skins will be whiter than yours, when you shall be brought with them before the throne of God.' (Jacob 3:8)

"Mormonism has a shameful history of White supremacist doctrines and practices. While I denounce anyone painting an entire group with a broad brush, neither should we allow ourselves to forget things like the history of Mormonism."

(Cliff Walker, "Did Dennis Rodman Have A Point?", July 1997, http://www.positiveatheism.org/crt/cliff77.htm)

My grandfather (like scripturally-faithful Mormons are today) was a White supremacist, in the sense that he believed in the inherent pre-eminence and transcendence of the White race over the Black race.

A particularly ugly piece of evidence I came across from his personal library supports that grim reality.

In 1995, I discovered a book that had belonged to my grandfather. Over the years, he had given me many books from his own collection. At the time I stumbled across this particular one, I did not recall having seen or read it before.

My grandfather's handwritten signature adorned its front cover, which was somewhat unusual. I had many of his personally-owned books and normally he would sign and/or stamp them on the inside.

From the nature of the signature, I could tell that he was proud to have owned this particular book. He not only signed his name to it, he lavished his signature-"E.T. Benson"-upon its cover, above the title, in the upper right-hand corner, in a large, bold, looping writing style--where it could not be missed.

The book was entitled Race and Reason: A Yankee View, authored by Carleton Putnam and published in 1961 by Public Affairs Press in Washington, D.C.

The book's title was in bold, black, capital letters against an orange and white background depicting shattering glass.

On its back cover were the following endorsements:

"A blockbuster . . . [A] book that ought to be read by every thinking American, North and South. It may be the opening gun in a literacy counterattack against ideas of race that have influenced the thinking of Supreme Court justices, Presidents, preachers and writers."

"[This book is what] the South most needs now for its case . . . [It] is a `categorical imperative' for Southerners . . . who know [the light's] fullness will depend henceforth on their own intelligence, literacy, authority and self-control."

"We predict that this book will be on the tongues of all informed Mississippians in the days ahead."

"Incisive, authoritative, effective . . . Mr. Putnam has put all serious and objective students of the race problem in his debt."

As I examined the book's contents, I found myself so repulsed that I stopped reading and wrote the following on its title page:

"This book is brimming with vile, racist and repugnant notions that I find deeply disturbing. I came into possession of it from my grandfather's personal library some years ago and, until recently, it remained tucked away in a dusty closet corner. I cannot condone any attempt to justify racial superiority or the segregation of the races. It is inhumane, immoral and destructive to the peace and progress of human kind. --Steve Benson, 9-12-95"

I went to the Internet and looked up the book's author and title. Not surprisingly, it came up on a White supremacist website, along with several other like-minded works, accompanied by short explanatory texts:

--Who Brought The Slaves to America?

"The Jews did! And did they get upset when the Black Muslims incorporated this into their teachings. Shatters myth of `White guilt.' Paperback. 30 pages. 14 illustrations."

--White Man, Think Again!

"A. Jacob. The White man must rule or perish. Paperback. 348 pages"

--Tracing Our White Ancestors

"Frederick Haberman. Answers many questions. 185 pages."

Links offered to other subjects included:

--"Adolf Hitler"

--"National-Socialism Leaders"

--"The Holohoax"

Then, at the bottom of the web page, was Putnam's book from my grandfather's library, Race and Reason: A Yankee View, with the teaser:

"Explains in-depth racial differences and the dangers of race-mixing. A must for all serious students. Paperback. 120 pages."

Researching further, I discovered that Putnam's book is part of an array of White supremacist literature housed at the University of Southern Mississippi under the title of "Citizen's Council/Civil Rights Collection." The same collection also contains autographed photographs of one of my grandfather's political mentors: George Wallace.

(http://www.lib.usm.edu/~archives/m099.htm)

Digging deeper, I found that Putnam's Race and Reason: A Yankee View is listed among "Selected Right-Wing Apocalyptic, Conspiracist, Populist and Racist Texts."

That list also includes Adolf Hitler's Mein Kamp, and two John Birch works: Alan Stang's, It's Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights and Birch founder Robert Welch's The New Americanism.

("The Public Eye," sponsored by Political Research Associates, 1310 Broadway St., #201, Somerville, Massachusetts, 02144-1731)

I also learned that my grandfather's personal copy of Putnam's book was offered as recommended reading by none other than the "American Fuehrer" of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell, as a guide, he said, for ferreting out "left-wing Jews . . . [who are] . . . deliberately poisoning the minds of two generations of American students at many of our largest universities."

(George Lincoln Rockwell, "From Ivory Tower to Privy Wall: On the Art of Propaganda," circa 1966)

Most unsavory of all were excerpts from the book itself-a book, keep in mind, that was part of the personal reading material of a supposed "prophet, seer and revelator." Examples of its racist filth abound:

"[F]rom the horrors of Reconstruction through the Supreme Court's desegregation decision . . . the North has been trying to force the black man down the white Southerner's throat . . . " (p. 9)

"[The Negro] may force his way into white schools, but he will not force his way into white hearts nor earn the respect he seeks. What evolution was slowly and wisely achieving, revolution has now arrested, and the trail of bitterness will lead far." (p. 9)

"The essential question in this whole controversy is whether the Negro, given every conceivable help regardless of cost to the whites, is capable of full adaptation to our white civilization within a matter of a few generations, or whether the record indicates that such adaptation cannot be expected save in terms of many hundreds, if not thousands of years, and that complete integration of these races, especially in the heavy black belts of the South, can result only in a parasitic deterioration of white culture, with or without genocide. . . . The sin of Cain would pale by comparison." (p. 27)

"There is no basis in sound science for the assumption, promoted by various minority groups in recent decades, that all races are biologically equal in their capacity to advance, or even to sustain, what is commonly called Western civilization . . .

"[W]hat great civilization of the kind we are seeking to develop in the West ever arose AFTER an admixture of Negro genes?. . [T]he question answers itself . . ." (pp. 36-37, original emphasis)

"The ratio of non-whites to whites in the United States as a whole . . . [is] about 10%. If completely absorbed, this would be a substantial admixture, with noticeable effects. More serious is the fact that a large part of the Negro population is concentrated in the South. Absorption in any of these states would be disastrous." (p. 37)

"When white men marry Negro women in any numbers the trend is toward a gradual change in social attitudes of acceptance, and a slow infiltration of the dominant white society by the offspring, with the consequent changing of the standards of that society, as evidenced in various Latin American countries." (p. 37)

". . . [A] thorough study of Negro-white intelligence tests DOES reveal conclusive mathematical proof of the Negro's limitations . . . .

"[T]here is not question that the frontal lobes of the typical Negro are smaller and the cerebral cortex less wrinkled than the typical white's." (p. 41, emphasis in original)

"When the chart of the Caucasoid race as a whole is laid besides the chart of the Negro race as a whole, in those attributes involved in our type of civilization, the Caucasoid will be found superior at each level except perhaps the lowest . . ." (p. 42)

"I am advocating a doctrine of white leadership, based on proved achievement . . . As far as the Negro race is concerned, if it is interested in such cultural elements as our white civilization has to offer, it should realize that to destroy or to debilitate the white race would be to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. It is a temptation as old as the human species, and always ends with a dead goose and no eggs." (p. 55)

". . . [O]ne thing is sure: crossing a superior with an inferior breed can only pull the superior down." (p. 59)

"Almost all the great statesmen of our nation's past have foreseen the danger of the Negro among us and have sought to remove it, even to the point of transplanting the race to Africa. The idea of making the Negro the social equal of the white man never entered their heads. Among those besides Jefferson and Lincoln who favored removal to Africa may be mentioned Francis Scott Key, John Randolph, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay. The modern segregationist is in good company." (p. 62)

"It may be too late to return the American Negro to his biological and spiritual home, but it may not be too late to redeem in America the heritage of the white race." (p. 69)

"The Communists have made the integration movement a part of their conspiracy . . ." (p. 73)

"The white man who preaches to backward races a doctrine of equality not only demeans himself and his own race, but forfeits his opportunity to be of real service." (p.76)

"Let us not suppose for a moment that the average African Negro is about to understand our ideals, or to fight or sacrifice or die for the principle of liberty. All he wants . . . is a greater and greater share of what white men have created, regardless of his ability either to protect, manage or pay for it." (p. 80)

"The fact that it is wrong to bully, humiliate or exploit a Negro, does not make it right to integrate him." (p. 91)

". . . [T]he self-control and judgment . . . of the rank and file, including their willingness to contribute to, rather than drain, the common treasury, are the qualities which produce a stable, free civilization. These were the qualities which built the great Western democracies. There are few signs of them in Africa." (p. 93)

"The greatest of all human rights is the right of a race to protect itself against genocide, and its culture against deterioration." (p. 94)

"For the North to force him[ the Negro] on the white South is as blunt an act of hostility-of hate, if you prefer the word-as can be imagined. It has already damaged the Negro, indeed, it is damaging the whole country. The spirit of those back of the integration movement is not love." (p. 96)

"To suppose that [the development of the Negro race] has reached the point where an infusion of color in government amounting to policy control, or to a balance of power, is an acceptable or healthy thing for a previously white society [is] absurd on its face . . . The inclination of Negroes in the mass to be primarily interested in spending rather than conserving their own or other people's money, is but one of many aspects to this problem." (pp. 98-99)

"Equalitarianism spells stagnation and mediocrity for both [the individual or of society] . . . [I]t is of the very essence of this ideology to build the inferior up by pulling the superior down, and the result is invariably the same. The inferior, in gaining what has not been earned, has lost the spur, and the superior, in losing what was well deserved, has lost the crown." (p.103)

"Can you name one case in all history in which whites and Negroes in large numbers have lived together without segregation and have failed to intermarry? Can you name one case in all history in which a white civilization filed to deteriorate after intermarrying with Negroes? Can you name one case in all history of a stable, free civilization that was predominately, or even substantially, Negro?" (p. 105)

Conclusion: Ezra Taft Benson Was a Dyed-in-the-Whitest-Wool Racist

The evidence pointing to my Ezra Taft Benson as a racial bigot is overwhelming and undeniable:
  • Ezra Taft Benson vehemently opposed the U.S. civil rights movement.
  • Ezra Taft Benson despised the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Ezra Taft Benson's sermons and writings struck ugly, resonant chords with fellow Mormon racists, who leapt to his defense against Dr. King and in opposition to equal rights for African-Americans.
  • When Ezra Taft Benson presided over the Mormon Church as its leader, the Church could not bring itself, morally or politically, to officially honor, by name, the legacy of Dr. King.
  • Ezra Taft Benson publicly associated and sympathized with racists and segregationists.
  • Ezra Taft Benson admired and forged strong political ties with racist politicians-notably, Strom Thurmond and George Wallace,
  • Ezra Taft Benson was directed by the First Presidency to carry out racist actions against African-American members of the Mormon Church in his own stake.
  • Ezra Taft Benson's personal notes and documents from his private files give evidence of his racist views.
  • Ezra Taft Benson's personal conversations with me on racial matters exhibited an overall lack of understanding, depth or compassion for African-Americans.
  • And, to punctuate it all, Ezra Taft Benson's personal library contained an insidiously White supremacist book, emblazoned with his handwritten signature on the front cover and full of bigoted bile.
Yes, Ezra Taft Benson was the Mormons' Prophet, Seer and Race Baiter.
topic image
Ezra Taft Benson: Mormonism's Prophet, Seer And Race Baiter (Part 2-3)
Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005, at 10:16 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
EZRA TAFT BENSON: MORMONISM'S PROPHET, SEER AND RACE BAITER (Part Two of Three) by Steve Benson

Introduction

The purpose of the following examination is to document and report the private and public views of my grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, on what he derisively described as the "so-called civil rights movement," the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other related racial issues

Based on the information from a variety of sources (including many of my own personal encounters with him), it is conclusive that:
  • Ezra Taft Benson was a racist, as amply demonstrated by his own words, actions, beliefs and associations
  • Typical of many White racists, Ezra Taft Benson was condescendingly tolerant of Blacks-as long as they "knew their place" and behaved as he insisted they should.
  • By contrast, Ezra Taft Benson was viciously accusatory and patronizingly dismissive toward Blacks when they engaged in activities that he viewed as politically in opposition to his (and, by extension, God's) interests and purposes. He frequently portrayed Blacks as a threat to the American Way of Life-at least as he defined it.
Correspondence to Me from Mormon Anti-King Benson Supporters

You can tell a person by the company they keep.

For my grandfather, his company included rabid Mormon racists.

Many of them were involved in obnoxious efforts to convince fellow Saints of their supposed obligation to support the anti-King views of Ezra Taft Benson.

One of these outspoken anti-King Mormon agitators was Shirley Whitlock of Mesa, Arizona. Whitlock, at the time, was president of the local chapter of Phyllis Schlafly's far-right "Eagle Forum" and had worked as a political operative for Arizona's impeached Mormon and openly racist governor, Evan Mecham.

(As a side note, Whitlock and another of Mecham's Mormon minions, Earl Taylor, wrote my grandfather, angrily demanding that I be removed from all my Mormon Church responsibilities because of my anti-Mecham cartoons. They warned my grandfather that if I was not removed from my Church callings, I would face a Church court. Upon receipt of their letter, my grandfather's office manager, Gary Gillespie, phoned me at my newspaper office in Arizona, asking me why such pro-Mecham Mormon extremists could not understand how they were making the rest of the Latter-day Saint community look like "fools." My grandfather did not act on Whitlock and Taylor's demand that I be given the boot, although my stake president shortly thereafter did release me from my position as high councilman because of my anti-Mecham drawings and after having received pressure to do so from a local Mormon legislator, Jerry Gillespie [no relation to my grandfather's office manager]).

With regard to Ezra Taft Benson's views on Rev. King, Whitlock sent me the following note:

"Dear Steve:

"Contrary to your apparent belief, Ezra Taft Benson, not E.M. [Evan Mecham] is my political mentor.

"I read him agreed with him, learned from him committed to his political and religious views--long before I ever heard of E.M.

"Do YOU conclude, from the enclosed [anti-King] writing by your grandfather, that this proves HIM to be a racist bigot?

"Your judgment of same for E.M. is based on far less `evidence'!"

(Shirley Whitlock, letter to Steve Benson, 20 September 1989, original emphasis)

Enclosed with the letter was a photocopy of pages from my grandfather's book, An Enemy Hath Done This, with his King-clubbing rhetoric highlighted for my benefit.

Ezra Taft Benson's Private Conversations with Me on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the mid-1960s, I was in junior high school. It was a time when the nation was being rocked by the tumultuous struggle for civil rights.

During those uncertain days, I remember my grandfather telling me that Dr. King was a tool of the Communist conspiracy and urging me to read John Birch Society literature on King's supposed true nature and Communist-inspired agenda.

That propaganda was readily provided me by my father and mother (the latter who was a card-carrying Bircher).

My father kept thick files in his home office on his favorite conservative. One of my weekly chore (for which I earned my allowance) was to organize and categorize their contents.

In the process of doing so, I came across Bircher articles purporting to show Dr. King's Communist connections.

I remember, in particular, a photograph of a young Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting in a classroom at the allegedly Communist Highlander "Folkschool" training center in Tennessee, where, Birchers claimed, he and others underwent undergone Communist indoctrination at the hands of their Kremlin-directed programmers.

That accusation was, in fact, without foundation. The school was not Communist but, rather, a progressive institution devoted to fighting racism. It was attended by none other than Rosa Parks the summer before she refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery Alabama, bus.

(Herbert R. Kohl, reply to Marshall Brady, New York Review of Books, 19 January 1984, http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:GF...)

Unfortunately, as a youngster in junior high school, I didn't know these facts and, thus in dutiful ignorance, was encouraged by my father to enlighten my fellow classmates as to the "truth" about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Under my father's direction, I gathered up stacks of John Birch propaganda, (complete with the photograph of Dr. King supposedly taking orders from Communists in that Tennessee classroom), and brought them to school to show a skeptical classmate. He took one look at my "proof" and laughed.

I was crestfallen.

I had lost that battle to warn my friends against the coming Communist "Negro" invasion. My mother later warned me to limit my association with Black people because, she said, they were "different."

In the Benson household, racial equality was not a topic of priority.

Orders from the First Presidency to Ezra Taft Benson to Implement Racial Segregation in Mormon Wards

The Mormon Church had confidence that Ezra Taft Benson would follow orders when it came to dealing with racial matters.

In 1940, my grandfather was appointed the first president of the newly-organized Washington [D.C.] stake. According the Sheri Dew in her Church-published biography on Ezra Taft Benson, he proved to be "forward-thinking" as he dealt with the "many and complex" problems facing the stake. (Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography [Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book Company, 1987), pp.157-58).

Dew failed to mention that one of those "problems" had to do with Black women sitting too close to White women during Relief Society lessons.

In a letter to "President Ezra T. Benson, Washington [D.C.] Stake," dated 23 June 1942, the First Presidency issued him a directive to segregate the races during Mormon class time:

"Dear President Benson:

"Through the General Board of the Relief Society, who reported to the Presiding Bishopric, and they to us, it comes to us that you have in the Capitol Reef Ward in Washington two colored sisters who apparently are faithful members of the Church.

"The report comes to us that prior to a meeting which was to be held between the Relief Societies of the Washington Ward and the Capitol Ward, Bishop Brossard of the Washington Ward called up the President of the Relief Society of the Capitol Ward and told her that these two colored sisters should [not] be permitted to attend because the President of the Capitol Ward Relief Society failed to carry out the request made of her by the Bishop of the other ward.

"We can appreciate that the situation may present a problem in Washington, but President Clark recalls that in the Catholic churches in Washington at the time he lived there, colored and white communicants used the same church at the same time. He never entered the church to see how the matter was carried out, but he knew that the facts were as stated.

"From this fact we are assuming that there is not in Washington any such feeling as exists in the South where the colored people are apparently not permitted by their white brethren and sisters to come into the meeting houses and worship with them. We feel that we cannot refuse baptism to a colored person who is otherwise worthy, and we feel that we cannot refuses to permit these people to come into our meeting houses and worship once we baptize them.

"It seems to us that it ought to be possible to work this situation out without causing any feelings on the part of anybody. If the white sisters feel that they may not sit with them or near them, we fell very sure that if the colored sisters were discreetly approached, they would be happy to sit at one side in the rear or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters. We will rely upon your tact and discretion to work this out so as not to hurt the feelings on the part of anyone.

"Of course, probably each one of the sisters who can afford it, has a colored maid in her house to do the work and to do the cooking for her, and it would seem that under these circumstances they should be willing to let them sit in Church and worship with them.

"Faithfully your brethren,

[signed]

"Heber J. Grant
"J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
"David O. McKay"

Attempting to downplay the condescending bigotry evidenced in the First Presidency's orders to my grandfather, Mormon historian Lester Bush argued that "[i]t is, of course, no more justified to apply the social values of 1970 to this period than it was to impose them on the nineteenth century, and the point to be made is not that the Church had `racist' ideas as recently as 1950. . . . On the other hand, from our present perspective it is impossible to mistake the role of values and concepts which have since been rejected in the formulation of many aspects of previous Church policy." (Bush, Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview, p. 43)

There is no record that Ezra Taft Benson resisted this directive from Salt Lake City.

The First Presidency was apparently impressed with my grandfather's willingness to do as he was told, however.

A year later, he was called into the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

(Lester E. Bush, Jr., compilation of "scattered" and incomplete "notes" on the "history of the Negro in the LDS Church," pp. 241-42; see also, Bush, Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview [Arlington, Virginia: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought], reprint of original article in Dialogue, Vol. 8., No. 1, Spring 1973, p. 43)

Ezra Taft Benson's Open Association With, and Sympathy For, Avowed Segregationists and Racists

Ezra Taft Benson's life followed a regular pattern of rubbing elbows with racists.

He comfortably associated, for instance, with a notorious segregationist and anti-Communist named Billy James Hargis. In 1967, on the campus of an anti-Communist training school run by Hargis, my grandfather delivered a talk entitled, "Trade and Treason," which Hargis later reprinted in his campus magazine, Christian Crusade.

According to a letter from First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown to a Church member, the First Presidency received "numerous" complaints about my grandfather's link with Hargis. Brown offered his reassurances that my grandfathers "activities in this connection will be curtail[ed]."

(Quinn, Extensions of Power, pp. 97, 462)

Hargis was eventually humiliated in 1974 when two of his Summit Bible College students (a male and a female) came forward to claim he had sexually deflowered them. Hargis admitted to sexual predation and resigned his pastorship, blaming it on "genes and chromosomes."

(Kevin Lambert, "Scandals in Eden: Selected Tales of Religious Misbehavior, Part 1: Billy James Hargis," http://www.postfun.com/pfp/features/97/oct/hargis.html])

Ezra Taft Benson's remarks delivered at Hargis' bigotry-breeding Bible bastion were reprinted--with my grandfather's permission--in a racially poisonous book entitled, The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives. Additionally, his address was entered into the Congressional Record by the notorious segregationist senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond (more on the connection between Ezra and Strom later).

The cover of the Black Hammer book showed the thick-lipped, lowed-browed, decapitated, bleeding head of a Black man superimposed upon the symbol of the Communist hammer and sickle.

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Trade and Treason," reprinted in condensed form as foreword in The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives, by Wes Andres and Clyde Dalton [Oakland, California: Desco Press, 1967], pp. 13-23; and Quinn, Extensions of Power, pp. 98-99)

The Presidential Draft Ticket of Ezra Taft Benson and Strom Thurmond

In 1966, an organization spearheaded primarily by John Birchers and known as the "1976 Committee," nominated my grandfather as its choice for President of the United States, with avowed racist and South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond as his running mate.

At the time of the announcement, I remember the excitement among the Benson clan at the prospect that the grand patriarch of our family might become the president of the country. I recall buttons and bumper stickers being passed around and my grandfather smiling proudly amid all the buzz.

Thurmond was the prominent White supremacist who had himself run for president in 1948 on the platform of the States' Rights Party, commonly known as the "Dixiecrats." The primary goal of Thurmond's earlier presidential bid was to preserve racial segregation. As he declared at the time, "All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negroes into our homes, our schools, our churches."

(Jeff Jacoby, "The Death of American Racism," http://www.bigeye.com/jj071303.htm)

Thurmond later became a strident opponent of civil rights, famously filibustering a 1957 civil rights bill for a record 24 hours and 18 minutes.

(Robert Tanner, "Dixiecrats fueled by racial politics, Civil rights spurred Thurmond's 1948 bid for presidency," Arizona Republic, 14 December 2002, sec. A., p. 9)

In an effort to understand the nature of the group that had hand-picked its Benson-Thurmond ticket, I retrieved from my father's personal office files a news article announcing the formation of this "1976 Committee." Across the top of the article was handwritten the note, "for your memory book."

According to the article, the "1976 Committee" had derived its name from the belief of its members that it was "necessary to head off some sort of conspiratorial one-world, socialist take-over of the United States by 1976."

This fear was rooted in its claim that "the U.S. Communist party's recently professed plan [is] to promote the establishment of state socialism in this country in its next ten-year plan-by 1976."

(Neil Munro, "Benson-Thurmond Team Pushed by Holland Group, `1976 Committee' Limited,'" undated)

The Committee's motto was "Stand Up for Freedom . . . No Matter What the Cost." Its stated goal was to launch "a ten-year course to restore the American Republic."

In its campaign literature (copies of which littered my home during that time) my grandfather and Thurmond were billed as "the best team of `68" and "the team you can trust to guide America."

Invoking the powers of heaven, the "1976 Committee" described Ezra Taft Benson not only as "unquestionably . . . a scholar and patriot [but] . . . primarily a man of God." He was heralded as "one of the Twelve Apostles of the worldwide Mormon Church," "a kind and compassionate man," one who "does not impose his standards on others" and "an outspoken and thoughtful critic of liberalism, socialism, and Communism."

The "1976 Committee" touted Thurmond was as a popular and renowned public servant, a decorated WWII combat veteran who was dedicated to "military preparedness" and a person determined to formulate "an effective policy to eradicate Communism from the Western Hemisphere."

Among the priorities of the "1976 Committee" were:
  • opposition to "international Communist activities,"
  • support for pulling the U.S. out of the United Nations,
  • warnings about Communist control of the civil rights movement,
  • accusations that the U.S. Supreme Court of "waging war" against America,
  • advocacy for U.S. retention of the Panama Canal,
  • complaints of liberal bias in the media,
  • inveighings against Communist "infiltration" of the nation's churches,
  • calls for a return to economic the gold standard; and
  • resistance to nuclear disarmament treaties with the Russians.
Not coincidentally, much of the "1978 "Committee's" recommended literature was published by the John Birch Society.

("The Team You Can Trust to Guide America," campaign brochure published by "The 1976 Committee," 222 River Avenue, Holland Michigan 49423, undated; and "The 1976 Committee," campaign brochure, undated)

Not everyone in the leadership of the Mormon Church was thrilled as either the Benson family or Birchers at the prospects of Ezra Taft Benson running for President of the United States--especially amid claims that my grandfather had won the support of then-LDS president, David O. McKay.

According to First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown, Ezra Taft Benson had "a letter from President McKay endorsing his candidacy" and feared "it would rip the Church apart" if my grandfather released it publicly as part of a presidential bid.

(Hugh B. Brown, interview with BYU professors Ray Hillam and Richard Wirthlin, 9 August 1966, transcribed "from Rough Draft Notes, fd 6, Hillam papers, and box 34, Buerger papers, and quoted in Quinn, Extensions of Power, pp. 96-97, 461)

My grandfather's official biographer, Sheri Dew, offered a benign and misleading account of the controversy, claiming that McKay merely advised Ezra Taft Benson to neither encourage or discourage efforts by the "1976 Committee" to draft him.

Grassroots momentum for the Benson-Thurmond ticket began building in early 1967, but eventually died out when it became apparent that Richard Nixon was the Republican front-runner.

(Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography, pp. 383, 392, 394; see also, Francis M. Gibbons, Ezra Taft Benson: Statesman, Patriot, Prophet of God [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1996], pp. 244, 247-48)

The Ezra Taft Benson-George Wallace Bid for the White House

In 1968, my grandfather gave me a copy of the platform of George Wallace's American Independent Party. I remember that it was adorned with a broad-winged eagle across the top and printed in red, white and blue.

He told me that the principles of Wallace's party were "closer to those of the Founding Fathers than either the Republicans' or the Democrats.'

At the time, we lived in Dallas, Texas, where my father was a local organizer for the "Wallace for President" committee. There, he had planted a "Wallace for President" campaign sign in our front lawn. Our African-American maid, Lilly, had to walk past it every week when she came to clean our house.

Told by my insistent parents and grandfather that Wallace was the solution to our nation's problems, I volunteered as a young high schooler to participate in a mock debate held in my government class during the run-up to the national election.

Two of my classmates represented the major candidates, Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, respectively. I was chosen to stand in for George Wallace, with the assignment of defending "states' rights" and public school segregation.

During the event, my government teacher (who was a Humphrey supporter) stood at the back of the classroom holding up a poster board sign she had made which read in large letters, "If you liked Hitler, you'll love Wallace."

When I told my parents about this afterwards, they demanded a meeting with my teacher to complain. She assured them she had only waved the sign around in order to generate interest among the class in the debate.

As it turned out, George Wallace himself had made serious attempts to generate Ezra Taft Benson's interest in joining his third-party presidential ticket as Wallace's running mate.

This was the same George Wallace who, when running for Alabama's gubernatorial seat in 1962, defiantly declared, "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

The same Wallace who, in defiance of a federal court order, infamously stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama, flanked by armed state troopers, in an unsuccessful attempt to block two African-American students from registering for class.

The same Wallace who, faced with another federal court order to integrate his state's schools, commanded police to prevent their opening but was thwarted when President Kennedy again nationalized the Guard to enforce the decree.

The same Wallace who was governor when state troopers unleashed dogs, tear gas and whips on African-Americans marching from Selma to Montgomery.

(Richard Pearson, "Former Ala. Gov. George C. Wallace Dies," Washington Post, 14 September 1998, sec. A, p. 1)

The same Wallace whose presidential platform my grandfather described as being closest to the hearts and minds of our Elohim-inspired Founding Fathers.

Actually, George Wallace and the 1968 platform of his party was more accurately described as follows:

"The American Independent Party was a `white supremacist . . . ultra-conservative' . . . organization founded in reaction to the 1960's civil rights movement and the Supreme Court's overturning of `separate, but equal' (Plessy v. Ferguson) statute that forced integration.

(see Daniel A. Mazmanian, Third Parties in Presidential Elections [New York: Franklin Watts, 1974], p. 130).

Candidate Wallace was described as "a pronounced racist who . . . ran his campaign on a platform of state's rights and increased defense spending and gained a large following of voters in Southern states.

"The political purpose of Wallace's campaign was to force one or both of the major party candidates, Nixon and Humphrey, to a more conservative position on the issue of state's rights. Wallace wanted the federal government to give the states the power to decide whether of not to desegregate."

("The Effect of Third Party Candidates in Presidential Elections," http://www.123student.com/politics/3417.shtml)

Wallace strongly requested that my grandfather join him in that fight-and, in response, my grandfather gave serious consideration to the offer.

After support of efforts by the "1976 Committee" to draft him and Strom Thurmond on a presidential ticket had fizzled, my grandfather began jockeying into position to be offered the spot as Wallace's vice-presidential mate.

In February 1968, he and my Uncle Reed (Ezra Taft's oldest son), met behind closed doors at Wallace's governor's mansion in Montgomery to examine the possibilities.

After the meeting, Wallace sent a letter to President McKay requesting his "permission and blessings," coupled with "a leave of absence" for Ezra Taft Benson, so that my grandfather could join Wallace in their bid for the Oval Office.

McKay refused.

Later that year, Wallace approached my grandfather again hoping to convince him to join him on the ticket. Wallace was steered a second time to McKay in his efforts to get my grandfather's boss to change his mind.

McKay held firm.

(George C. Wallace, letter to David O. McKay, 12 February 1968, and McKay to Wallace, 14 February 1968, cited in Quinn, Extensions of Power, pp. 99, 102, 463; and Dew, "Ezra Taft Benson," pp. 398-99)

My Personal Conversations with Ezra Taft Benson on Matters of Race

In all my conversations over the years with my grandfather, I do not recall him holding up to me any Black person as a role model or example of high moral character.

Indeed, our discussions very rarely dealt with Blacks, except in the negative or passing sense.

As noted earlier, my grandfather never spoke to me about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., except in disparaging terms, calling him a "liar."

That only remotely positive reference I recall him making to me about African-Americans had to do with his experience while serving as Secretary of Agriculture in the 1950s.

He had been assigned a Black chauffer, whom my grandfather simply described to me as a nice "colored man."

Following President Spencer W. Kimball's announcement in June 1978 that worthy Black males could receive the priesthood, I asked my grandfather in his Church-owned apartment what it was like to have been in the temple with the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve when Kimball made known to them his "revelation."

Had he been so inclined, my grandfather certainly could have told me what had happened, since he had often spoken directly and forthrightly to me in the past.

But in this case, he refused to offer a substantive response, saying only that it was "too sacred" to talk about and that it constituted one of the "most spiritual" experiences of his life.

Curiously, however, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve who was in the same room and the same temple meeting with my grandfather when Kimball announced the change in Mormonism's anti-Black priesthood policy did not have any difficulty talking about the experience.

Indeed, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie spoke freely about what actually happened--in detail and in public. While he said he felt the impact of the occasion on a profoundly personal level, he admitted there was nothing "miraculous" about Kimball's announcement to the assembled Quorum members:

"The Lord could have sent messengers from the other side to deliver it, but he did not. He gave the revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost.

"Latter-day Saints have a complex: many of them desire to magnify and build upon what has occurred, and they delight to think of miraculous things. And maybe some of them would like to believe that the Lord himself was there, or that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to deliver the revelation, which was one of the possibilities.

"Well, these things did not happen. The stories that go around to the contrary are not factual or realistic or true, and you as teachers in the Church Educational System will be in a position to explain and to tell your students that this thing came by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that all the Brethren involved, the thirteen who were present, are independent personal witnesses of the truth and divinity of what occurred. . . ."

McConkie then did some more confessing. This glorious in-temple event was increasingly becoming comparable to experiencing that inexplicably happy feeling during a typical fast and testimony meeting when believing Mormons "know" that the Church is true. McConkie explained:

"To carnal people who do not understand the operating of the Holy Spirit of God upon the souls of man, this may sound like gibberish or jargon or uncertainty or ambiguity; but to those who are enlightened by the power of the Spirit and who have themselves felt its power, it will have a ring of veracity and truth, and they will know of its verity. I cannot describe in words what happened; I can only say that it happened and that it can be known and understood only by the feeling that can come into the heart of man. You cannot describe a testimony to someone. No one can really know what a testimony is--the feeling and the joy and the rejoicing and the happiness that comes into the heart of man when he gets one--except another person who has received a testimony. Some things can be known only by revelation, `The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.' (1 Corinthians 2:11)"

(Bruce R. McConkie, "All Are Alike unto God," general assembly address to Book of Mormon Symposium for Seminary and Institute teachers, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 18 August 1978, manuscript copy in my possession)

There were no angels. No rushing of winds. No appearance of God, Jesus Christ or Joseph Smith to make the grand announcement that the time had finally arrived for Black men to receive the priesthood of the great White God. It all boiled down to those assembled in the temple to hear Kimball's announcement just getting a good feeling in the heart--so overwhelmingly good, in fact, that apparently my grandfather could not bring himself to talk to me about it.

Yet, my grandfather had exhibited a willingness on other occasions to speak publicly about highly personal temple experiences.

For instance, he spoke openly of the "sacred" baptisms for the dead supposedly performed for the Founding Fathers in the St. George temple, under the direction of President Wilford Woodruff.

Just six months after he had refused to share with me what it was like to be told behind temple walls that Black men could now wield power and authority in God's name, my grandfather was freely talking about famous disembodied spirits appearing in the House of the Lord:

"When I became President of the Twelve and Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, we met, just the two of us, every week in our Thursday meetings in the temple, just to be sure that things were properly coordinated between the Twelve and the First Presidency.

"After one of those first meetings, we talked about the man sacred documents in some of the older temples. St. George was mentioned in particular . . . and it was agreed that I would go into the archives-the walk-in vault-of that great temple and review the sacred documents that were there. . . .

"And there in the St. George Temple I saw what I had always hoped and prayed that someday I would see. Ever since I returned as a humble missionary and first learned that the Founding Fathers had appeared in that temple, I wanted to see the record. And I saw the record. They did appear to Wilford Woodruff twice and asked why the work hadn't been done for them. They had founded this country and the Constitution of this land, and they had been true to those principles. Later the work was done for them."

(Ezra Taft Benson, address delivered in Sandy, Utah, 30 December 1978, reprinted in Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1988], p. 603)

But that was not the whole of it. In earlier remarks at the re-dedication of the St. George Temple entitled "Our Founding Fathers Stood in This Holy Place," my grandfather again spoke openly of these "sacred" experiences in the temple vault.

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Our Founding Fathers Stood in This Holy Place," St. George Temple Re-dedication, 12 September 1975, LDS Church Archives; see also, Benson, "The Faith of Our Founding Fathers," in Faith [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1983], pp. 21-22).

Not only did my grandfather talk uninhibitedly about spirits of the Founding Fathers materializing in sacred LDS temples, he also spoke openly of watching his mother iron Mormonism's secret temple clothes.

His account of this event was published during his lifetime--accompanied, no less, by an illustration depicting his mother pressing this intimate apparel as a young Ezra stood by watching and asking questions:

"With the Benson parents, religion was of highest importance. One day when just a young boy, Ezra was coming in from the field, and as he came close to the old farm house, he could hear his mother sing, `Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?' She was bending over the ironing board, papers spread over the floor around it. It was very warm and beads of perspiration stood on her forehead as she ironed long strips of white cloth.

"'What are you doing, Mother?' asked Ezra.

"She answered, `These are temple robes, son. Your father and I are going to the temple in Logan. Then she put her old flatiron on the back of the stove and said, `Sit here by me, Ezra. I want to tell you about the temple.' She explained to him the importance of the temple and the blessings of the sacred ordinances there. She said, `I hope and pray with al my heart that some day you and all your brothers and sisters will enjoy these priceless blessings. I pray for this not only for my children but for my grandchildren and even my great-grandchildren.'

"Ezra Taft Benson later remembered his mother's words as he performed the temple marriages of each of his own children, who were, of course, his mother's grandchildren, and later, the great-grandchildren."

(Della Mae Rasmussen, The Illustrated Story of President Ezra Taft Benson: Great Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Provo, Utah: Eagle Systems International; Steven R. Shallenberger, publisher, 1987], pp. 14-15)

Despite my grandfather's willingness to publicly reveal the details of certain personal temple experiences, he abruptly refused to give equal time to describing what it was like to receive word in the temple from God's prophet on equal rights for Black men.

I think I know why.

Ezra Taft Benson-a man who made a career bashing uppity "Negroes"-did not like talking about that kind of thing.
topic image
Ezra Taft Benson: Mormonism's Prophet, Seer And Race Baiter (Part 1-3)
Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005, at 10:15 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
EZRA TAFT BENSON: MORMONISM'S PROPHET, SEER AND RACE BAITER (Part One) by Steve Benson.

Introduction

The purpose of the following examination is to document and report the private and public views of my grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, on what he derisively described as the "so-called civil rights movement," the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other related racial issues.

Based on the information from a variety of sources (including many of my own personal encounters with him), it is conclusive that:
  • Ezra Taft Benson was a racist, as amply demonstrated by his own words, actions, beliefs and associations
  • Typical of many White racists, Ezra Taft Benson was condescendingly tolerant of Blacks-as long as they "knew their place" and behaved as he insisted they should.
  • By contrast, Ezra Taft Benson was viciously accusatory and patronizingly dismissive toward Blacks when they engaged in activities that he viewed as politically in opposition to his (and, by extension, God's) interests and purposes. He frequently portrayed Blacks as a threat to the American Way of Life-at least as he defined it
Making the Case: An Overview of Ezra Taft Benson's Racist Views

As proof of the assertion that my grandfather was, indeed, a racial bigot, the evidence will be examined from the following perspectives:
  • His public pronouncements on the U.S. civil rights movement
  • His public pronouncements on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • His personal correspondence expressing his anti-King views
  • The personal correspondence from anti-King and anti-civil rights Mormons to Ezra Taft Benson, evidencing their own racial bias, as well as their confidence that in my grandfather they had found a kindred spirit
  • Personal correspondence to me from racist Mormons, indicating their support for Ezra Taft Benson's anti-Black, anti-civil rights views
  • Personal correspondence from LDS Church members to Mormon Church leadership during Ezra Taft Benson's term as Church president, regarding efforts to pass an official Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday-and the Church's official response.
  • Public associations by Ezra Taft Benson with known segregationists and racists
  • Political alliances by Ezra Taft Benson with overtly racist politicians-notably, Strom Thurmond and George Wallace
  • Correspondence from the First Presidency to Ezra Taft Benson, directing him to segregate White and Black Mormon women in Relief Societies within the Washington, D.C. stake when he was serving as the area's stake president
  • Personal notes and documents from the private files of Ezra Taft Benson, indicating his racist views
  • Personal conversations between myself and Ezra Taft Benson on racial matters
  • A White supremacist book from the personal library of Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson's Public Statements on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement

My grandfather regarded the U.S. civil rights movement as part of a Communist plot to destroy America.

Through far right-wing publishing houses and book chains owned by the Mormon Church, he warned that the aim of the U.S. civil rights movement was to "create the animosity, fear and hatred between large segments of our people that would be necessary beginning ingredients for their revolution."

He warned that civil rights grievances by African-Americans were being exploited by the Communists "to agitate blacks into hating whites and whites into hating blacks."

He declared that the U.S. movement for equal civil rights was fueled by "false stories and rumors about injustices and brutality" which, he said, served to "[c]reate martyrs for both sides" while playing "upon mass emotions until they smolder with resentment and hatred."

My grandfather saw the U.S. civil rights movement, in larger conspiratorial context, as a leading element in a vast, ominous and active Communist plot designed to "overthrow established government" through "widespread anarchy," the sparking of "a nation-wide civil war" and the assassination of "anti-Communist leaders of both races."

He warned Americans: "It is happening here! . . . THE COMMUNIST PROGRAM FOR REVOLUTION IN AMERICAN HAS BEEN IN PROGRESS FOR MANY YEARS AND IS FAR ADVANCED."

This Moscow-orchestrated plan, he declared from his General Conference pulpit, was being implemented on American soil "[u]sing unidentified Communist agents and non-Communist sympathizers in key positions in government, in communications media and in mass organizations such as labor unions and civil rights groups [which] demand more and more government power as the solution to all civil rights problems. Total government is the objective of Communism. Without calling it by name, [they] build Communism piece by piece through mass pressures for Presidential decrees, court orders and legislation which appear to be aimed at improving civil rights and other social reforms."

Ezra Taft Benson saw the American South as the initial battleground in Communist efforts to establish a foothold before spreading northward. These attempts, he warned, were designed for "splitting away the 'Black Belt,' those Southern states in which the Negro held a majority, and calling them a Negro Soviet Republic." He warned Americans to be on guard for African-Americans who had "migrated to the Northern states," where they had likewise "applied this same strategy to the so-called 'ghetto' areas in the North."

He reassured White patriots, however, that even "[i]f Communism comes to America . . . the Negro represents only 10 percent of the population. In any all-out race war which might be triggered, there isn't a chance in the world that Communist-led Negro guerilla units could permanently hold on to the power centers of government, even if they could capture them in the first place."

Despite his assurances of security in White numbers, Ezra Taft Benson nonetheless reminded Americans that Blacks might still well attempt a Communist overthrow of the United States:

"It now seems probable that the Communists are determined to use force and violence to its fullest, coupled with a weakening of the economy and military setbacks abroad, in an effort to create as much havoc as possible to weaken American internally, and to create the kind of psychological desperation in the minds of all citizens that will lead them to accept blindly government measures which actually help the Communists in their take-over."

In a throwback to the inquisitional days of McCarthyism, Ezra Taft Benson urged that "duly authorized legislative investigating committees launch an even more exhaustive study and expose the secret Communists who are directing the Civil Rights movement," insisting that "[t]he same needs to be done with militant anti-Negro groups" which, he claimed, were being fit "perfectly into the Communist plan" to "intensify inter-racial friction."

In fighting insidious Communist encroachment on America, my grandfather urged that Americans remain ever-vigilant against enslavement by Big Government. He urged that "our local police . . . not be encumbered by Civilian Review Boards, or asked to be social workers." He warned the police "not to accept grants from the Federal Government," warning his fellow citizens that if they did, it could well "lead to the eventual creation of a national police force" that would be used by the Communists "to hold the people in line."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception," adaptation from address of same title, delivered at General Conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 29 September 1967, reprinted by National Research Group, American Fork, Utah, , pp. 1-4; see also, "Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception," reprint of same "address by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1968, original emphasis)

Ezra Taft Benson's Public Statements on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My grandfather considered the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to have been a disreputable individual, a dishonorable and dishonest man and a Communist.

Of him, he wrote:

"The man who is generally recognized as the leader of the so-called civil rights movement today in America is a man who has lectured at a Communists training school, who has solicited funds through Communist sources, who hired a Communist as a top-level aide, who has affiliated with Communist fronts, who is often praised in the Communist press and who unquestionably parallels the Communist line. This same man advocates the breaking of the law and has been described by J. Edgar Hoover as 'the most notorious liar in the country.' . . .

"Would anyone deny that the President [Lyndon Johnson], the chief law enforcer in the United States, belies his position by playing gracious host to the late Martin L. King who has preached disobedience to laws which in his opinion are unjust?"

(Ezra Taft Benson, "It Can Happen Here," in An Enemy Hath Done This, Jerreld L. Newquist, comp. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Parliament Publishers, 1969], pp. 103, 310)

Reacting to President Johnson's declaration of a national day of mourning two days after the murder of Rev. King, Ezra Taft Benson had nothing but opprobrium for the slain civil rights leader.

In a letter to Mormon hotelier J. Willard Marriott, he claimed that "Martin Luther King had been affiliated with at least the following officially recognized Communist fronts," three of which he then went on to list.

In the same letter, he coldly warned Marriott that "the Communists will use Mr. King's death for as much yardage as possible."

A year later, in another letter to Marriott, my grandfather continued his attack on the dead Black minister, writing that "the kindest thing that could be said about Martin Luther King is that he was an effective Communist tool. Personally, I think he was more than that."

(D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997], pp. 100, 113, 463, 471)

My grandfather also was convinced that Dr. King's assassination was carried out by Communists themselves, in an effort to trigger civil war in America.

In his book, An Enemy Hath Done This, he quoted from an article by Susan L. M. Huck, originally published in the John Birch magazine, American Opinion:

"Okay, let's take the gloves off. This insurrection didn't just happen. It was a set-up-just as the assassination of Martin Luther King was a set-up. The Communists and their Black Power fanatics have been working to create just such a situation for years. They even TOLD us what they were planning to do, again and again, as they did it. . . .

"And remember, the Reds and their Black Power troops have promised us that this is only the beginning! Stokely has said that his forces plan to burn down America.

"They're sure going to try.

"How do you stop it? It's very simple. You stop Communist racial agitation; you arrest the leaders for conspiracy to commit murder, arson and burglary, prove their guilt in a court of law and lock them up. And you free the hands of our police so that the can PREVENT rioting and looting and arson by those citizens now convinced by the actions of our 'Liberals' that theft, incendiarism and assault will be tolerated.

"Don't kid yourself. The people who are behind all of this mean to have a civil war. We either stop them now or they will escalate this thing."

(quoted in Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 335, original emphasis)

My grandfather's hatred of Dr. King had its effects. The reaction of my own parents to the murder of Dr. King reflected by grandfather's attitudes.

Dr. King was assassinated on 4 April 1968, which happened to be my sister's birthday. I remember that day, most notably by the fact that no mourning went on in our home over his death.

Earlier in the evening, I had seen on our television news broadcasts of race riots erupting in major cities across the country in response Dr. King's murder. I remember the columns of black smoke rising from inner cities set aflame by Blacks outraged at the brutal murder of their hero-and of their hope.

But in the Benson home that night, we had more important things to do-like watching my sister blow out the candles on her cake, singing her "Happy Birthday" and passing out presents.

Years later, when the state of Arizona was embroiled in its own controversy over enacting a publicly-funded state holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. King (a holiday which had earlier been rescinded by Mormon governor Evan Mecham), I was reminded again of my grandfather's disdain for the slain civil rights leader.

At that time, I was actively involved in supporting the re-establishment of a state holiday in honor of Dr. King. Together with my wife Mary Ann and our children, we marched in peaceful, pro-King demonstrations in Phoenix and Mesa (the latter being a hotbed of noisy anti-King sentiment largely fueled by Mormon political extremists). We joined thousands of others in multi-ethnic crowds, waving American flags, carrying pictures of Rev. King, chanting slogans in unison with megaphone-toting parade leaders and singing "We Shall Overcome."

One particular year--on the anniversary of Dr. King's birthday--after having spent the morning participating in another public demonstration in behalf of a state holiday in his honor, I received a phone call from my mother.

She asked me how I had spent my day. I informed her that I had taken our youngest daughter, Audrey, down to a King Day rally earlier in the morning, where I had hoisted her on my shoulders and joined with the throngs in petitioning for, and celebrating in behalf of, the re-establishment of an official King Day.

My mother replied, "Stephen, your grandfather would not have approved of that."

Of course, he would not have.

That was one of the main reasons for doing it.

In the wake of the King-bashing legacy left behind by my grandfather, I felt my parents could benefit from some consciousness raising on matters of civil rights.

So, for my father's birthday, I gave him a small music box that featured a likeness of Rev. King and played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

My father politely thanked me and placed it on the desk in his home office.

When visiting my parents' home sometime later, I noticed that the music box was nowhere to be seen. I asked my father what had happened to it.

In a curiously-worded response, he said, "My wife cleans up my office and puts things away so that the grandchildren won't break them."

I did not find that explanation particularly persuasive, given that my dad's office happened to be cluttered with all kinds of figurines and other fragile decorative objects (including a large porcelain American eagle which I had also given him).

As far as I could tell, the only item missing from his office was a little music box paying homage to a certain prominent African-American civil rights and religious leader.

Correspondence from Mormons to Ezra Taft Benson Concerning Rev. King-and the Mormon Church's Official Response

By their racism, ye shall know them.

My grandfather's hate-filled utterances directed at Rev. King brought like-minded rank-and-file LDS bigots out of the woodwork, rallying to his anti-Communist/anti-civil rights cause.

Just as illuminating as their own vicious attacks on Rev. King were the tepid official responses of the Mormon Church --none of which included any direct answer from my grandfather (who was then President of the Church).

As will be seen, the LDS Church was gingerly trying to keep Ezra Taft Benson off the subject of Dr. King, given that my grandfather's bigoted utterances, if repeated by the Church, would be a public relations disaster.

In late 1989, while Arizona was caught in a deep and divisive controversy over whether to approve a state holiday for Rev. King, I received the following copy of a letter that had been written and sent to my grandfather by its right-wing extremist and Mormon author, Julian M. Sanders.

At the time, Sanders was the self-proclaimed "state chairman" of an organization calling itself "Arizonans for Traditional American Values."

His letter is quoted here in full:

"Julian M. Sanders 2113 E. Minton Drive Tempe, Arizona 85282

"1 October 1989

"C-O-P-Y (NOT FOR PUBLICATION)

"THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON 50 East North Temple Street Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

"RE: STATUS M.L.K. JR. HOLIDAY IN ARIZONA--HOT ISSUE "Neutrality" not maintained by L.D.S. spokesman

"Dear and Beloved Prophet:

"A good share of Arizonans rightly understand the truth about Martin Luther King, Jr. Many shared your concerns as quoted in U.S. News and World Report, 30 November 1964:

"'The man who is generally recognized as the leader of the so-called civil rights movement today in America is a man who has lectured at a Communist training school, who has solicited funds through Communist sources, who hired a Communist as a top-level aide, who has affiliated with Communist fronts, who is often praised in the Communist press, and who unquestionably parallels the Communist line. This same man advocates the breaking of the law and ahs been described by J. Edgar Hoover as 'the most notorious liar in the country.' --Ezra T. Benson

"All well-informed members of THE CHURCH are familiar with and hold as sacred (mind and will of the Lord for His Church and for the whole world, if they will receive it) the official declarations of the FIRST PRESIDENCY regarding Communism:

"'Communism being thus hostile to loyal American citizenship and incompatible with true Church membership, of necessity no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist.

"'We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism. The safety of our divinely-inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that COMMUNISM SHALL HAVE NO PLACE IN AMERICA''--First Presidency, 1936, E-39:488

"President David O. McKay put it in simple terms which apply more today than ever before:

"'We are placed on this earth to work . . . It is our duty to strive to till the earth, subdue matter, conquer the globe, take care of the flocks and herds. It is the government's duty to see that you are protected in it, and NO OTHER MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO DEPRIVE YOU OF YOUR PRIVILEGES (fruits of your labors). BUT IT IS NOT THE GOVERNMENT'S DUTY TO SUPPORT YOU . . . I shall raise my voice as long as God gives me sound or ability, against the Communistic (socialistic) idea that the government will take care of us all, and that everything belongs to the government (state or community) . . . It is wrong! NO WONDER, IN TRYING TO PERPETUATE THAT IDEA, THAT MEN BECOME ANTI-CHRIST . . . No government owes you a living. You get it yourself by your own acts---never by trespassing upon the rights of your neighbor, never by cheating him (employer included). You put a blemish upon your character when you do.'---CN-2/14/53

"The above principles apply to the entire human race---all mankind without exception. M.L.K., Jr., put himself and his cause above God, above God's laws---the Ten Commandments and the U.S. Constitution---in demanding the power of Government to REDISTRIBUTE THE WEALTH OF OUR NATION via GUARANTEED ANNUAL INCOME, LOW-COST HOUSING, NEGATIVE INCOME TAX, and what he called 'some form of socialism' to guarantee equality and justice (like Karl Marx philosophized via Communism).

"CONCLUSION: After 30 years of observing and studying the life and works (fruits) of M.L.K., Jr., in the light of President McKay's declarations re: above, I can honestly know that he exceeded Lucifer in his ability to deceive the masses with impressive oration and dedication in spite of his addiction to alcohol, tobacco and sex. Regarding the latter lifestyle of adultery, Rev. King confessed:

"'I'm away from home twenty-five to twenty-seven days a month. (Extramarital sex is) a form of anxiety reduction.'--"Bearing the Cross," p. 375, by David Garrow

"As such, Martin Luther King, Jr., was a liar, adulterer and thief (exemplified by his demand for 'a guaranteed annual income of $4,000 for every American adult'--M.L.K., repeated and lobbied for during 1967-8), which plainly puts him into the category of 'anti-Christ,' according to President McKay.

"OPPOSITION TO A TAX-PAID KING HOLIDAY has been long and consistent in Arizona from all but the liberal elements. Recently the pressure was applied on the State Legislature in the form of ECONOMIC BLACKMAIL: $200 million lure a SUPER BOWL (Pro-Football backers), in conjunction with other political compromises turned around enough moderates to get a KING DAY measure through both houses. Even so, all the L.D.S. Legislators remained loyal opponents along with the staunchly conservative Republicans in both houses. The ARIZONA LAW MAKERS with TRUE PRINCIPLES did NOT respond to the ECONOMIC BLACKMAIL. However, on 24 September 1989, the MESA TRIBUNE ran an article on A7, titled:

"'CHURCH LEADERS PRAISE NEW KING HOLIDAY, DESPITE CIRCUMSTANCES.' (In the second half of the article, quoting various religious leaders, is the quote which represents THE LORD'S TRUE CHURCH in the same chorus, singing praises for the HONORS OF MEN-adding to the MYTH OF THE AGES AND DECEPTION of every 'nation, tongue and people.' They fit the confusion of BABYLON):

"'Mesa's John Lyons, Arizona spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, 'I personally view it, and the Church probably would as well, as another part of the political process. IN THE COLLECTIVE WISDOM OF THE LEGISLATURE, THEY SEEMED TO HAVE FELT IT WAS THE THING TO DO AND OBVIOUSLY WE WOULD SUPPORT IT.'

"Here, Brother Lyons would have us believe that the CHURCH obviously supports the prostituted moderates and liberals who united in 'collective wisdom' to force upon us a TAX-PAID HOLIDAY honoring the MASTER DECIEVER of the ages! Is this the true position of the CHURCH? What happened to the NEUTRALITY in politics? Where is the wisdom and courage of the HONORABLE EZRA TAFT BENSON?

"' . . . [T]hey have all gone astray save it be a FEW, WHO ARE THE HUMBLE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST; nevertheless, THEY ARE LED, that in many instances THEY DO ERR BECAUSE THEY ARE TAUGHT BY THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' ---2 Nephi 28:14

"If Brother Lyons wants to be led by 'the collective wisdom' of a prostituted legislature and support their tyranny, that is his privilege. However, I will stand with President David O. McKay and Elder Ezra Taft Benson as quoted above. Brother Lyons has lost credibility with the most loyal, conservative Saints here. He stands tall in the community of liberals!

"Faithfully your Brother,

[signed]

"Julian M. Sanders"

(Julian Sanders, letter to Ezra Taft Benson, 1 October 1989, copy in my possession, original emphasis)

Sanders had sent me his letter unsolicited. I had not agreed with Sanders' demand that I not publicize his efforts to secretly elicit the support of the President of the Mormon Church in an effort to sabotage public efforts to ratify a state holiday for Dr. King.

I, therefore, immediately provided the letter to the press, which subsequently ran news stories and editorials on its bizarre contents.

The indignant Sanders subsequently called a news conference, which he opened up by singing, "Love at Home."

He then proceeded to accuse me of publicly exposing his behind-the-scenes effort to influence government policy via ecclesiastical meddling in matters of state.

A news account of the press conference noted Sanders' complaint:

"'Every human being has a right to privacy and a right to freely communicate with his or her minister without fear of reprisal. . . . My private letter to Ezra Taft Benson . . . in Salt Lake City regarding religious and spiritual matters constituted privileged communication.

"'Steve Benson's breach of trust in misusing my private letter has created discord, lies and hate, resulting in my life being threatened.'"

In the same article, I was given the opportunity to respond:

"[Steve] Benson, the Church president's grandson, called the 'privileged communication' claim 'preposterous.'

"He said the letter dealt not with 'spiritual matters' but with political questions, including low-income housing and Marxist philosophy.

"'Mr. Sanders himself published his so-called 'private' letter, sending it to at least three other people besides myself and Ezra Taft Benson,' he said. 'If he was willing to copy his letter to me-he knows how I strongly oppose efforts to rescind the holiday for Dr. King-then one can only surmise how widely he must have circulated copies among his friends and supporters.

"'I am offended when closet racists like Mr. Sanders, under the guise of godliness and good government, attack civil rights and attempt to subvert the legislative process, all the while seeking to silence those in the Mormon Church who do not share their bigoted views.'

"The newspaper's management also defended the release of Sanders' letter:

"John F. Oppedahl, managing editor of The Republic, said that although the letter was marked 'Not for Publication,' the paper had not agreed to keep the letter confidential.

"'We were given one of several copies that Mr. Sanders apparently distributed, and we felt the public needed to know what it said,' he said."

(Ed Foster and Steve Yozwiak, "Anti-King petitions get support, thousands sign, drive leader says," Arizona Republic, 10 October 1989, sec. B, p. 1ff).

Throughout the controversy, my grandfather--whether personally, publicly or through official Church spokesmen-never responded directly to Sanders' letter.

For that matter, neither did he address the larger question of a state holiday for Dr. King.

Instead, as the press reported, "Church officials in Salt Lake City moved to put the matter to rest by referring reporters to a statement Benson, the Church's president, made at a news conference when he assumed his position in 1985."

That statement said absolutely nothing about Rev. King:

"'My heart is filled with an overwhelming love and compassion for all our Heavenly Father's children everywhere,' the statement said. 'I love all our Father's children of every color, creed and political persuasion.'"

("Sanders' letter angers his ally, King slurs draw rebuke," Phoenix Gazette, 6 October 1989, sec. B, p. 1ff; Steve Yozwiak, "Holiday opponent says King 'exceeded Lucifer,' Arizona Republic, 5 October 1989, sec. A, p. 1ff; "Bigotry rides again: The Lucifer Epistle," Arizona Republic, 6 October 19898, sec. A, p. 14; and "The Sanders letter, Phoenix Gazette, 6 October 1989, sec. A, p. 16)

A few days after Sanders' letter to my grandfather was reported in the press, a group of prominent Arizona Mormons held a news conference, at which they publicly endorsed a paid state holiday for Dr. King.

While a commendable effort on their part to honor the legacy of the slain civil rights leader and to put the best face possible on the historically racist doctrines of the Mormon Church, the fact remained that they could not point to a single utterance by my grandfather praising Dr. King or the civil rights movement.

Their statement read as follows:

"Members of the Mormon Church from 12 Arizona cities today endorsed Prop. 302 and urged voters to vote YES at the Nov. 6 election.

"Stan Turley, former president of the Arizona State Senate, said, 'The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were intended to place all citizens on an equal basis and prevent discrimination based on race.

"'Because of the diligence of Dr. King and numerous civil rights workers, the principle is now well established that all citizens have equal rights before the law,' Turley said.

"'This remarkable step in the progress toward a free society without discrimination ranks as one of the most important achievements in our nation's history,' Turley said.

"Lamar Shelley, Chairman of the Members of the Mormon Church for Martin Luther King, Jr. /Civil Rights Day Committee, said, 'Dr. King followed the enlightened principle of non-violent, civil disobedience to unjust laws and court decisions.

"'He taught that people must lay down their weapons and hatreds and that oppression could be conquered by love.

"'Dr. King maintained: "This is the beauty of nonviolence; it says you can struggle, without hating, you can fight war without violence,'" Shelley said.

"Quoting Dr. King, Shelley said, 'We must make them know that we love them. If I am stopped, the movement will not stop because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.'

"Shelley said, 'Because the struggle for equality continues today, a holiday is needed to provide a continuing emphasis to these principles for present and future generations.

"'By commemorating the civil rights movement, and Dr. King's birthday, all citizens will learn about the importance of the struggles and the accomplishments of Dr. King and the civil rights movement.'

"Ray Russell, former Special Assistant to Gov. Evan Mecham [who had, before being removed from office for high crimes and misdemeanors, cancelled a paid state holiday honoring Dr. King] said, 'The accomplishments of the civil rights movement forever changed American society.

"'The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and that thereafter no second-class American citizens,' Russell said.

"'This principle has been made much more secure in America as a result of the broad-based civil rights movement led by Dr. King,' he said.

"'I hope all Arizonans will join me in supporting civil rights and the passage of Proposition 302,' he said . . . .

"In early 1990, Jerry P. Cahill with the Church's Public Communications Department said, 'Since the adoption of the federal holiday honoring Dr. King, the LDS Church has included the holiday among those for which Church employees in the United States are give the day off as a paid holiday.'

"In addition, LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University commemorates a specific 'Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday' on the third Monday in January, in conjunction with both the federal holiday and Utah state holiday.

"President Ezra Taft Benson, prophet, seer and revelator for the Mormon Church, has in his capacity as president, made only one public statement relative to Dr. King. On October 6, 1989, Church officials referred reporters to a statement made by Benson at a news conference when he assumed his position in 1985: 'My heart is filled with an overwhelming love and compassion for all members of the Church and our Heavenly Father's children everywhere. I love all our Father's children of every color, creed and political persuasion.'

"His statement of love for all mankind, regardless of color or creed, stands as the only official declaration made by him as the President of the Church.

"The LDS Church, through Richard Lindsay, Managing Director of Public Communications and Special Affairs, issued a public tribute to Dr. King on January 19, 1998, during an ecumenical candelight vigil on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Building. Lindsay praised Dr. King's legacy, reminding all that his vision was founded on faith, prayer and 'conquering oppression through the beauty of love.'"

"('Statewide Committee of Mormon Church Members Endorse Prop. 302,' statement for immediate release, 16 October 1990, copy in my possession)

"Julian Sanders, who had compared Rev. King to Lucifer and the anti-Christ [and whose letter to Ezra Taft Benson had attempted to involve the Mormon Church in killing efforts to pass a King Day in Arizona] responded angrily to the above press release by saying:

"'They say "we are a group of Mormons" and if they involve the name of the Church, they are in violation of the spirit and purpose of the counselor's world to prevent the Church from being involved in such controversy;'"

(Lawn Griffiths, "Prominent Mormons line up behind King holiday," Mesa Tribune,17 October 1990, sec. A, p. 1).

On this, Sanders had a point.

My grandfather, and the Mormon Church, was doing its damndest to stay out of the King holiday controversy.

Based on what I know about my grandfather and those in my family who worked closely with him (like his sons Reed, my uncle, and Mark, my father) I have concluded that he did not get involved because those working for him in crafting his official presidential utterances were well aware of his anti-King racial bias, perhaps even agreed with it but certainly did not want, at this sensitive point in time, to drag it out into the open for the world to see.

At any rate, they were not about to undermine my grandfather's anti-King record with a pro-King declaration uttered in his name.

Indeed, Ezra Taft Benson's Office of the First Presidency remained completely silent on Dr. King himself, despite being directly petitioned by members of the LDS Church to speak up in behalf of the murdered civil rights leader.

Letters from inquiring Church members, imploring the First Presidency to speak publicly on the issue, went unanswered by the Church's highest official body.

One such plea to my grandfather came from Arizona Latter-day Saint W. Julius Johnson:

"January 30, 1990

"President Ezra Taft Benson
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Church Office Building
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

"Dear President Benson:

". . . I know that the Church does not ordinarily get involved in controversial issues of this nature [the Martin Luther King holiday]. However, I also know that the Church will be directly affected by the outcome of this controversy. A negative vote will be blamed on to the Church, along with the implications of bigotry.

"I would urge you to take a strong stand on this issue. If the Church could support the Martin Luther King holiday, it would remove for all time the world's perception of the Church as being racially biased, due to the Church's previous policy on priesthood holders. If this is not possible, please strongly emphasize again the Church's neutral position on this issue.

"Local and national news has portrayed Mormons as opposed to the Martin Luther King holiday; and for good reason. Local brethren here are leaders in the opposition to the holiday. This seems to be a carry-over of the political situation that has embarrassed the Church during the past two years [following Mecham's cancellation of a paid state King holiday]. Unless members of the Church take a lower negative profile on this issue, there is the potential for increased adverse news coverage of the Church.

"Sincerely, your brother in the Gospel.

[signed]

"W. Julius Johnson
"Mesa Second Ward"

(W. Julius Johnson, letter to President Ezra Taft Benson, 30 January 1990, copy in my possession)

My grandfather, as I fully expected, did not respond.

Instead, a public relations spokesman wrote back.

All this designated damage controller could do was quote President Spencer W. Kimball, not President Ezra Taft Benson, even though the member's letter was not written to Kimball, but to Benson.

This is indeed telling: An assistant for a supposedly "living prophet" responds to a direct request that "living prophet" intervene, yet all the Church can manage is to quote a "dead prophet."

That response (from the Church's director of International Communications, Jerry P. Cahill on stationery of the "Public Communications/ Special Affairs Department,") read as follows:

"February 26, 1990

"W. Julius Johnson
428 South Wilbur
Mesa, Arizona 85202

"Dear Mr. Johnson:

"We acknowledge your letter to the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concerning the Martin Luther King holiday.

"On March 31, 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball, then the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reaffirmed a statement first made ten years earlier by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, concerning the Church's institutional role in matters that are best pursued by Church members as individual citizens.

"President Kimball said on that occasion, 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be committed, as an institution except on those issues which are determined by the First Presidency and Twelve to be of such a nature that the Church should take an official position concerning them. We believe that to do otherwise would involve the Church, formally and officially, on an [sic] sufficient number of issues that the result would be to divert the Church from its basic mission of teaching the restored gospel to the world.'

"Based on that statement, the Church did not express a position on the adoption of a holiday honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, either on the national level nor in any of the states where the matter was considered. Since the adoption of the holiday, however, the Church has included the holiday among those for which Church employees in the United States are given the day off as a paid holiday. Church offices are closed on that day, as they are for the observation of Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, among other holidays.

"In his 1978 statement, President Kimball, added, 'We earnestly hope Church members will feel their individual responsibilities keenly and pursue them wisely.' Obviously, individual members of the Church may express their opinions when any matter is being considered by their legislative representatives. We hope they are wise when they choose to express their opinions and avoid the problems and feelings you describe.

"Sincerely,

[signed]

"Jerry P. Cahill
"Director, International Communications"

(Jerry P. Cahill, letter to W. Julius Johnson, 26 February 1990, copy in my possession)

Simply put, the Mormon Church was in a bind on the King issue, placed there by the racist pronouncements of Ezra Taft Benson. It could not issue statements in my grandfather's name extolling the slain civil rights leader. Given his past attacks, that would obviously not appear credible and would serve only to undermine his authority in the eyes of his faithful followers, of and the outside world, if it was pointed out that the Mormon prophet was now reversing course.

But the Mormon Church also realized that if it did not pay Dr. King appropriate homage, it would continue to be viewed--rightly so--as racist.

So, it contorted and dodged the best it could, given the circumstances.

What follows here is information based upon sensitive correspondence in my possession, the details of which cannot be publicly released. I will therefore do the best I can, given that limitation, in explaining the situation that was involved at the time.

Getting around "the King problem" became the assignment of Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of the Public Communications/Special Affairs Department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Lindsay worked for the Church's Special Affairs Committee, which included among its members several Apostles from the Quorum of the Twelve.

It would be inconceivable, therefore, that Lindsay, acting as he did in behalf of the committee, would have issued any public statement that did not meet with the committee's approval.

On 18 January 1988, Lindsay, on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Building, in his capacity as LDS director of communications, paid open and explicit tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King.

To the audience he declared:

"'Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.'

"That's what the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., said to an audience in Memphis, Tennessee, the day before his assassination.

"Over the years he had been a man well-acquainted with the darkness of night.

"The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., was a man who knew the meaning of paradox. To win the battle, he taught, people had to bury their weapons. They must beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. They would conquer oppression through the power of love. 'This is the beauty of nonviolence,' he said. 'It says you can struggle without hating; you can fight war without violence.'

"His life was laced with confrontation, but his response was powered by love, not hatred. He said, 'In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.' This part of the legacy he has left us.

"His vision was founded on faith. Despite the oppression he saw, the bombings, the beatings, the blatant injustice that masqueraded in the robes of the law, he knew that God is a just and loving Father to all mankind. He said, 'Through it all, God walks with us. Never forget that God is able to life you from fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope.'

"During the Montgomery bus boycott in 1956, when a battle for the simple freedom of riding the bus in dignity was being fought, the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., was threatened. Given the mounting pressures of the boycott, he was discouraged, and felt incapable of continuing. He prayed for help. His prayer was answered.

"Standing on the porch of his house, he said, 'We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. If I am stopped, this movement will not stop because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.'

"We have been cautioned against idolizing the man. Wrote one of King's classmates, the Black educator Charles Willie, 'By idolizing those whom we honor, we do a disservice both to them and to ourselves. By exalting the accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr., into a legendary tale that is annually told, we fail to recognize his humanity-his personal and public struggles-that are similar to yours and mine. By idolizing those whom honor, we fail to realize that we could go and do likewise.'

"I think Dr. King would agree with that. I think he would have us remember what GOD has done. It was God who said, 'Well, done thou good and faithful servant.'"

(Richard P. Lindsay, "A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.," 18 January 1988, manuscript copy in my possession)

Even in belated tribute, the Mormon Church's public affairs department could not resist the temptation to remind listeners of Dr. King's personal weaknesses.
topic image
Beware of Plagiarism: Compelling Evidence That Ezra Taft Benson's Heralded "Beware Of Pride" Talk Was a Deliberate and Blatant Rip-Off
Monday, Jul 25, 2005, at 08:30 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Introduction: Ezra Taft Benson’s Much-Loved “Beware of Pride” Sermon and How It Came to Be

Among faithful Mormons, one of the most famous and appreciated talks attributed to my grandfather (and I use the term “attributed” deliberately) was entitled “Beware of Pride.”

As one Mormon commentator has declared:

“['Beware of Pride' is] [p]erhaps the best remembered of all Ezra Taft Benson's talks. . . .
[M]embers from all over the political spectrum love and agree with him here. This talk is NOT controversial, but loved.”

http://www.zionsbest.com/top25.html


Likewise, in a glowing obituary of my grandfather, the sermon was mentioned as follows:

"Continuing to help set the Church in order and perfect the Saints, he delivered another landmark address entitled 'Beware of Pride' . . ."

http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/daily/history/people/Benson_EOM.htm


Actually, the sermon was not delivered by Ezra Taft Benson himself but, instead, read from the pulpit by First Counselor in the First Presidency Gordon B. Hinckley on 1 April 1989 during the Saturday morning session of the 159th Semi-Annual LDS General Conference.

http://www.budgetmaster.net/bewareofpride.html


Not only was the sermon delivered by someone else, persuasive evidence has surfaced that a person other than Ezra Taft Benson actually researched and wrote the talk. That individual’s identity is known and will be revealed below.

Further evidence also overwhelmingly points to the conclusion that the text of my grandfather's pride talk was itself borrowed, without attribution, from the writings of another author, who will also be identified herein.

Hence, the assertion of admirers that “this talk is NOT controversial” is becoming less accurate as the facts surrounding its actual genesis become more well known.

The sermon is, in fact, controversial because much of it consists not of the actual words or ideas of Ezra Taft Benson, but of words and ideas which were stolen from others, researched by others and written by others.
_____


Ezra Taft Benson's Sermon on Pride Was Plagiarized From the Writings of C.S. Lewis

The following question was asked of me a couple of years ago:

”Did ETB steal from C.S. Lewis? . . . The first time I read the C.S. Lewis passage, I nearly fell out of my (TBM) chair. ETB’s talk as so clearly lifted in large part from Lewis and nary an acknowledgment to be heard. Usually such a gaffe by a well-known person gets a lot of coverage, and yet I have never heard . . . any admission or apology. What say ye? Any info?" ("Bobby D," Recovery from Mormonism board, 14 June 2003, 01:58)

Likewise, another questioner followed up with a more recent inquiry::

"Was CS Lewis the author of the pride sermon from ET Benson? Where can that be found? Anyone know?" ("novel-t," Recovery from Mormonism board, 20 January 2004, 20:19)

The answer is a definitive yes.

Significant portions of Ezra Taft Benson’s pride sermon were directly lifted from, influenced by, and cobbled together from the writings of Christian apologist C.S. Lewis--specifically from his book, Mere Christianity, under the chapter of “The Great Sin” (C.S. Lews, Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1952, revised and enlarged).
_____


The Proof: Line-Upon Line, Plagiarism Upon Plagiarism

A line-by-line comparison of the text of both documents provides clear and convincing evidence that a major source source for Ezra Taft Benson's talk on pride was the earlier work of C.S. Lewis.

Moreover, this blatant and heavy borrowing, both in terms of wording and concept, was done without attribution.

Examples of these plagiarisms are listed below, by category.
_____


Pride is the Ultimate Vice

Lewis

"The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride." (p. 109)


Benson

"Pride is the universal sin, the great vice."
_____


The Competitive Nature of Pride

Lewis

"Pride is essentially competitive--is competitive by is very nature . . .” (p. 109)

". . . Pride is essentially competitive in a way that other vices are not." (p. 110)

"Pride is competitive by its very nature." (p. 110)

“Once the element of competition has gone, pride is gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not.” (p. 110)


Benson

"Pride is essentially competitive in nature. . . .

”Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled."
_____


The Proud See Themselves Being Above Others

Lewis

"A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you." (p.111)


Benson

“Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us.”
_____


The Proud Also Look From the Bottom Up

Lewis

“When you delight wholly in yourself and do not care about the praise at all, you have reached the bottom.” (p. 112)


Benson

“There is, however, a more common ailment among us and that is pride from the bottom looking up.”
_____


Pride Equals Enmity

Lewis

"Pride always means enmity--it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God." (p.111)


Benson

"The central feature of pride is enmity--enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowman."

“Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers.”

“Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen.”
_____


Pride and Self-Value

Lewis

"You value other people enough to want them to look at you." (p. 112)


Benson

"The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not."
_____


Pride vs. Humility

Lewis

"The virtue opposite to it [pride], in Christian morals, is called Humility." (p. 109)

“ . . . if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble–delightfully humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which had made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible . . .” (p. 114)


Benson

"The antidote for pride is humility . . . "

“Choose to be humble. God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.”
_____


Pride Not Admitted in Self

Lewis

"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves." (pp. 108-09)


Benson

"Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves."

*****



Only once in ETB's sermon was proper credit given to C.S. Lewis as a source:

"The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: 'Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. . . . It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone' (Mere Christianity [New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109-10)."
_____


The Identity of the Individual Who Researched and Wrote Ezra Taft Benson’s “Beware of Pride” Sermon

Several years ago, my wife, Mary Ann, and I visited with May Benson, wife of Reed Benson (Ezra Taft Benson’s oldest child), in their home in Provo, Utah, during which time the subject of pride and my grandfather’s sermon on the matter was a focus of conversation.

The first occasion was prior to the public delivery of Ezra Taft Benson’s sermon by Gordon B. Hinckley in the April 1989 General Conference and the second visit took place after the speech.

May told us she had very strong feelings about the subject of pride. She was especially offended and concerned with what she regarded as the Benson family's own problems with pride.

(In fact, she had gotten up in disgust and walked out of a wedding breakfast for my sister Meg, when one of the daughters of Ezra Taft Benson, Beverly Benson Parker, as she was listening to the father of the groom, Cap Ferry, make some remarks to the assembled, leaned over and whispered self-righteously to others at the table, "Well, we know which family was blessed with the spirituality").

May told us she had put together quite a few thoughts on the subject of pride that she hoped someday to compile and publish in a book.

However, after my grandfather’s pride sermon was delivered, May told us that she no longer felt it necessary to publish her hoped-for book. Why? Because, she informed us, her husband, Reed, had spoken with Ezra Taft Benson about her research on the topic.

May was clearly indicating to us that her information and study efforts had been used in crafting my grandfather’s sermon on pride.

However, the true extent of May Benson's involvement in that effort was not shared with us by her and did not become evident until some time later.

Reliable sources in Provo subsequently informed me of rumors that May herself may have worked on Ezra Taft Benson’s sermon.

This I was able to confirm relatively recently from a credible source inside the Benson family who knows May quite well, who was familiar with the situation and who wishes to remain anonymous.

The source told me in a face-to-face meeting that May Benson, daughter-in-law of Ezra Taft Benson through marriage to his son Reed, traveled to St. George, Utah, where over a period of several weeks “she wrote his talk.”
_____


Conclusion: Finally Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

It appears that those responsible for the production and delivery of Ezra Taft Benson's "Beware of Pride" sermon were themselves too prideful to acknowlege that:

--(1) the sermon was largely plagiarized from the earlier works of a noted Christian writer; and

--(2) the sermon was actually ghost-written by a woman doing research on the talk for an uninspired Mormon "prophet."

Praise to the man who depends on a woman. :)
topic image
Autopens And Other Ezra Taft Benson-Related Deceptions For Controlling The Members
Wednesday, Aug 3, 2005, at 07:19 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Use of the "Inspired" Ezra Taft Benson Autopen Signature Machine to Deceive His Own Kin

The device was not only questionably employed by my grandfather's First Presidency counselors to sign away his powers of attorney for running the Mormon corporate empire, it was also used regularly by my grandfather's office staff when composing and dispatching letters supposedly written and/or dictated by him to members of his own family.

I regarded the practice as an attempted deception of ETB's flesh-and-blood relatives by his appointed and anointed handlers, who thought they were doing God's work--dishonest as it was.

For instance, Benson family members were provided gift copies of my grandfather's biography, written by Sheri Dew and sanitized for public consumption by faith-promoting censors occupying the Benson inner circle.

Enclosed with each book to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren was a letter supposedly personally written and signed by my grandfather.

All the signatures--not to mention the wording of the letters--were exactly the same.

Likewise, we received fairly lengthy letters of several paragraphs containing long, complex sentences and thought patterns--again, allegedly written and signed by my grandfather.

Unfortunately, they were supposedly written by him at a time when his deteriorating mental and physical state was becoming quite apparent to family members who had actually had the occasion to visit him up close and personal.

(Not all family members, however, were willing to admit that Ezra Taft Benson was steadily slipping away. To this day, some--particularly among certain Benson women who, curiously and inexplicably enough, were among my strongest family critics when I left the Chuch--continue to exhibit profound denial that Ezra Taft Benson was significantly incapacitated in his role as "prophet").

Nonetheless, my grandfather, in reality, could not talk to us in those face-to-face encounters like he could supposedly write to us in those ghost-authored letters.

Moreover, the signatures on the letters matched exactly signatures from other letters. Compared side by side, they were obviously artifically penned.

Typically, below each "signature" would be my grandfather's typewritten name. Unfortunately, sometimes the autopenned name and the typed name on the same letter were not exactly the same. One might, for instance, say "ETB" while the other would say "Ezra Taft Benson," or some other obvious variant mismatch.

It was clear that the autopenned hand didn't always know what the typewritten hand was doing.

"Holy Ghost-Guided" Attempts at Bamboozling the Believers Through Misleading Photos

I also observed other deliberate efforts to misrepresent my grandfather's state of health, to both members of the Church at large and members of his own family.

For example, I saw my father, Mark, and my grandfather's personal secretary, Gary Gillespie, congratulating each other on a Church News cover photograph take of my grandfather.

It showed my grandfather, pleasantly smiling, seated in a chair, dressed in a nice Sunday suit.

It was a carefully posed, prop-and-crop shot.

The smile was that of a man in the twilight haze of creeping mental enfeeblement.

There is Beauty All Around, When There's Sleight-of-Hand at Home

Efforts to manipulate my grandfather's appearance extended even to private family gatherings.

I recall, for instance, being in my grandfather's apartment one afternoon, where I asked if I could get a photograph with him and other members of the family in front of a large, idealized painting of the Benson clan commissioned while ETB was Secretary of Agriculture.

(The artist had painted a cat on the lap of my young aunt Beth, although she did not actually pose with a cat. Ironically, that approach to creating an artificial reality was to unfold as I attempted to get a family photograph in front of that very painting).

My grandfather was confined, by this time in his life, to a wheelchair, in which he sat silently and stoop-shouldered.

I was puzzled by how my father kept repositioning my grandfather's wheelchair after I had already situated him for the photograph.

I'd angle the wheelchair one way for what I though was the best lighting and composition, only to see my father, without comment, move in to abruptly change the setup.

After this had happened a couple of times and I was becoming somewhat frustrated, I realized what my dad was doing.

He was trying to keep the camera from capturing the breathing tube inserted up my grandfather's nostril.

It's a sad metaphor, really.

The Mormon Church has been, since its fanciful inception, desperately attempting to rearrange its elements, its history, its doctrine, its image and its leaders--all in a vain attempt to hide the truth from those in and out of the flock.

Only if one insists on keeping one's eyes squeezed shut can the deception be missed.

From Father to Son: Keep Quiet or You'll be Barred from Seeing Your Grandfather

When I finally went public about the Church's relentless efforts to misrepresent my grandfather's health, I received a call from my father.

He told me that I must not talk to the press about my grandfather because, he declared, the press was an enemy of the Church.

I reminded him that I was a member of the press.

My father responded by telling me that if I ever in the future spoke to the media about my grandfather's health, he would see to it that I would never again be allowed to see my grandfather.

I was stunned.

My father sternly reminded me that it was his duty to protect his father and the Lord's prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, to look after the interests of the Kingdom and to uphold the faith.

He further reminded me that he had been specifically asked by Ezra Taft Benson to move back to Utah from Texas so that he could perform those duties, as commanded by his prophet-father.

This, for me, was a final straw among many straws. (I had already determined that the temple ritual was a Masonic rip-off, that the Book of Mormon was a plagiarized 19th-century fairy tale and that Mormon prophets weren't good at prophesying or at understanding the real world. Now, I was faced with a family showing me the exit if I didn't keep my mouth shut).

I said to my dad, "Do you realize what you are saying? In the name of protecting the Church and the prophet, you are threatening to break up this family. If that's the kind of Church this is, I want out."

It was an emotional and agonizing moment, but a defining and liberating one, as well.

My father--perhaps taken aback by my instinctive revulsion at his conditions for family unity--agreed to reconsider his threat and a few days later implored me to remain in the ranks, but by then I had seen all the light I needed to find my way to the escape hatch.

Within weeks, my wife and I had left the Mormon Church.
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Ezra Taft Benson And Tales Of The Fate Of The Persecutors Of The Prophets
Tuesday, Oct 18, 2005, at 09:25 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Introduction: Ezra Taft Benson on the Horrible Fate That Reportedly Befell Assassins of Joseph and Hyrum Smith

During the Benson family reunion in the summer of 1979, our faithful clan took a reverent pilgrimage to the murder site of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at the Carthage, Illinois, jail.

During our visit to this hallowed place in Mormondumb, I witnessed my grandfather’s serious and skeptical reaction to tales describing the gruesome final chapters in the allegedly haunted lives of many of the members of the mob who participated in the murder of the Smith boys in June of 1844.

To my surprise, Ezra Taft Benson thought it was all a buncha bunk.
_____


Touring Carthage Jail and Shuffling Across Hyrum's Blood

Led by my grandfather, we managed to squeeze our sizeable Benson caravan into the small, brick jailhouse.

Our group was led up the narrow staircase from the first floor to the second-story jail cell where Joseph and Hyrum bought the farm by a small, chatty tour guide–a man who stuck close to my grandfather’s side and pointed him through the exhibits with a sober sense of earnestness.

At the top of the stairs, we entered the cramped cell. I had heard that there were still blood stains from the Smiths somewhere on the floor and asked the guide where they were located.

Come to find out, the guide informed us that we were literally standing on top of them. He said that a blood stain was partially covered by a rug spread over the floorboards but was still visible if we looked carefully.

Peering down at my feet, I noticed a large, irregular faded spot, outlined by a darker outer ring encased in the wood grain of the planks.

The guide said that this was Hyrum’s blood, spilled when he was shot in the face and fell to the floor, exclaiming, "I am a dead man."

The guide then turned to my grandfather and informed him that the Church had removed a sheet of plexiglas that had previously been used to cover the blood stain because, he said, the Church did not want to encourage its members to “worship” the blood of the prophets.

The guide said that unless visitors to Carthage Jail specifically asked about the location of the bloodstains, the guides did not point it out and even allowed people to unknowingly walk on it.

My grandfather nodded somberly.
_____


Drum roll: The Reported Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith

On the way down the stairs from our visit to the hallowed upper room where Joseph Smith had tried to save his own skin by jumping out a window while yelling a Masonic cry for help to lodge members in the mob below, the guide began to solemnly speak to my grandfather about stories of ominous, horrible plagues supposedly visited by a wrathful God upon members of the murderous band who had killed the Lord’s chosen prophets.

By way of background, one enthusiast of these post-martyrdom killer karma stories likened the fate of the doomed Carthage mob to that of plundering excavators who had violated the sanctity of the ancient tombs of the Pharaohs in search of treasure:

The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were said to have mystic powers that surrounded them after death. When King Tut's tomb was discovered in the early 1900's, there was a curse that surrounded the tomb and brought death unto all who entered the tomb.

So it was with Joseph Smith. A curse followed members of the mob that murdered Smith and his brother Hyrum.

. . . [M]any witnesses . . . swear that what they saw and heard is true concerning the sufferings of the mobocrats that participated in the murder of Smith and his brother Hyrum.


http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/dept/d10...
_____


Gruesome accounts of mob members supposedly becoming marked men by a God who was a-gunnin' for 'em eventually appeared in a sensational book, compiled by N. B. Lundwall, entitled, The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft Publishers, 1952, 365 pp].

According to the claims in the book by a devout Mormon who supposedly encountered a doomed mob member who had participated in the killings of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the murderer was visited with horrific physical afflictions:

I noticed that the lower part of one ear was gone, a part of the left side of his nose had rotted away, and there were other repulsive sores on his face. He showed me his hands. There was very little solid flesh on them. I expressed my sympathy for him and he said his feet were worse than his hands. I asked him what had caused all this trouble and he replied: 'I don't know unless it was a curse God had placed on me.' He said some men had told him that was it, because he was with the men who killed Joe Smith, the Mormon Prophet.' I guess that was the main reason I drifted out here; I wanted to know how the Mormons made out without Joe Smith to lead them'"

(Lundwall, The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 297-98).
_____


Another witness to the heavenly plagues that were said to have befallen Joseph and Hyrum Smith’s assassins described the physical torture dished out upon another mob member:

About the year 1892, when I was eighteen years of age . . . an old man by the name of Brooks moved into[our] neighborhood . . . The old man used to come to my father's home, sit on the porch and talk to my father . . . [about] Joseph Smith the Prophet. On one particular evening after my father had talked about Joseph Smith, the old man . . . said: ‘ . . . I saw the last bullet shot onto the old boy.' After Mr. Brooks had gone to his cabin, my father said: "No wonder he is a miserable old soul. If he saw the last bullet shot into Joseph Smith, he was in that mob. If he was in that mob, it has been prophesied that he will suffer all kinds of torment, his limbs shall rot off of his body and he will not have the courage to take his own life."

. . . [A]fter this conversation I took particular notice of the old man and how he suffered. The old man had a belt which he wore around his waist which the son would take off, then beat the old man with it just to hear him scream and when beating him, the son would laugh and profane and seemed to enjoy it. All of this I saw.

The old man was crippled and could walk with only the aid of two sticks---one in each hand and without aid of these he was totally helpless and unable to walk. The cause of this crippled condition was unknown to me. The son would drive the old man up the coal mine dump about three or four hundred yards from their cabin like he would drive cattle and fill sacks with coal, tie the sacks on the old man's back and drive him back to the cabin. The old man would beg his son not to fill the sacks too full of coal. If he would not go fast enough the son would whip him with his belt which he had taken from the father before going for the coal.

They . . . then moved to Coalville . . . While living here his toes rotted off his feet. Later, a Dr. Cannon . . . who owned a ranch in Weber canyon . . . made arrangements with this old man and his son to start a chicken ranch on Dr. Cannon's premises, on to which the father and son moved. . . . Dr. Cannon made inquiry concerning the disappearance of the chickens on the farm and the old man replied that "The skunks had eaten them up." To which Dr. Cannon replied: "You are the biggest skunk."

The son would often leave his father for three or four days and sometimes a week without food. I was up to my brother-in-law's ranch one fall, in November, when an eight inch snow fell, the weather clearing up in the afternoon, and dropping to zero weather by night. My brother-in-law and I took over an extra quilt and some supper to the old man and also chopped wood which we piled close to the stove so that he could handily keep the fire going during the night without getting out of bed.
After returning home later in the night, I heard him screaming. I awoke my brother-in-law and he said: “Don't take notice of him; he always screams like that.” When we got up the next morning, we looked towards his cabin and saw that the house was gone. We immediately went to where his cabin had been and found it had burned to the ground during the night. All the old man's clothes had burned off of him and he was burned all over his body from his feet to the top of his head. He was alive and lay curled up in ashes of the burned cabin, trying to keep warm.

We secured some quilts and with a team and sleigh we took him to Peoa where we found the son. The people of Peoa took up a collection which amounted to five dollars, gave it to the son and told him to go to Park City for the particular medicine he was directed to buy. With the money the son bought liquor and became drunk and did not return for four days. The old man died on the fourth day after he was burned, before his son returned . . . The son was ordered out of the county and he left immediately for parts unknown.


(ibid., pp. 292-93).
_____


Finally, another devout Mormon laid out--in stark and hark! detail--the supposed horrible fate prepared for yet another hapless prophet-murdering mob member:

One man, a "Jack Reed," an old man who was respected in the valley . . . said that he was a member of the mob who martyred the prophet. He was about fifteen years old at the time. He said he took his gun and marched proudly to Carthage and took part in the killing of the two prophets . . .

About the last of September I heard that Jack Reed was very sick of a strange ailment. He was taken ill in a few days after having made the statement that he took part in the affair at Carthage---but no one had told me of his sickness until I heard it from one of my Indian friends who said he had worms in his flesh. I determined to see him if I could and try to get him to verify the statement he had made . . .

The man had no family . . . . I asked . . . if . . . Mrs. Whitmore and myself [would be allowed] to visit Mr. Reed. [I was told] that Mr. Reed was a sight that no white woman could be allowed to look upon.

He was literally eaten alive by worms. His eyeballs had fallen out, the flesh on his cheeks and neck had fallen off and though he could breathe he could take nourishment only through an opening in his throat . . . and [I was told that] "Pieces of flesh as large as my two hands have fallen off from different parts of his body."

The sick man's farm was given to the white men who attended him in the first of his ailment. Finally when they could no longer endure the ordeal the Indians were called in to pour water into his throat and give him whatever other attention they could and these received the sick man's bunch of horses for their pay. When he finally passed, the Indians carried out the awful remains by the four corners of the blanket upon which he had lain for weeks, and lowered that into the box the white had prepared. The blanket was tucked in over him and the box quickly nailed up and put into the deep grave as soon as possible. No funeral was held.

. . . [I gathered that a] bunch of enemies were heading a petition against me because I was a polygamist. . . .

One called “Jack Longstreet" became Reed's first attendant in company . . . To these men Reed confessed that his participation in the murder of the Prophets was the cause of his affliction. He said to Longstreet: "It is the Mormon curse that is upon me. I cannot live---I must utterly rot before I die."

He said that Brigham Young had pronounced that curse upon all that mob, and he had known thirteen of them to die just as he was dying. But he had lived so long and had passed the unlucky number thirteen, that he had thought to escape the curse. He charged his attendants to never do anything against the Mormons, to be their friends, or said he, "You may suffer the Mormon curse." Longstreet related . . . this confession of Reed's as a warning . . . and declared that he himself would not dare to raise a hand against them. I don't think he ever did.


(ibid., pp. 294-96).
_____


As we followed the Carthage Jail tour guide and Ezra Taft Benson down the stairs, the guide emphasized to my grandfather in no uncertain terms that these graphic accounts supposedly detailing the fate of the Smiths’ murderers were not to be believed.

To the contrary, the guide said that many of the members of the mob who were responsible for the death of Mormonism’s two most prominent founders actually went on to very successful business and political careers.

Well, I'll be.

My grandfather again nodded approvingly, scowling slightly as he listened and voicing his agreement with the guide’s views.

All of which I found quite interesting.

This was the same Ezra Taft Benson who believed unswervingly in the literal truthfulness of Book of Mormon tales vividly describing, say, the gruesome fate of a premier prophet persecutor named Korihor--who was struck dumb through the power of God, reduced to abject beggary and eventually trampled to death for his wickedness.

The same held true for the sinful Book of Mormon Lamanites who because of their wicked, adulterous and murderous ways, were said to have been relegated by a vengeful God to darkened loathsomeness, marked by the finger of an accusing Maker with the curse of a brown skin and consigned to wear loincloths, to shave their heads and to stare into a bleak and miserable future.

Woe, woe and double-whammy woe.
_____


The Moral of the Story for Would-Be Prophet Killers

Thus saith the Mormon God, if you’re going to kill the Lord’s prophets and other anointed ones, you'd be much better off doing it in modern times--you know, when there is an actual, historical paper trail that can be used to document what actually happened in your life following your murderous deeds.

As luck could have it, the evidence might end up showing you became a successful financier or a powerful elected public official.

Whatever you do, don’t be unlucky or dumb enough to choose murderous, wicked ways in the hazy, distant past–whereafter spine-tingling scripture stories can be invented and passed down from generation to generation, describing to wide-eyed little children in Sunday School how you were horribly punished by God for what you did.

That's not good because, with no recent paper trail, there's no way for anyone to prove any different.
_____


"Heh, heh, heh, cackle, cackle, cackle . . ."

(Lo, what's that? Behold, the creeped-out voice of Vincent Price, accompanied by Michael the "Thriller" Jackson and his Tap-Dancing Troupe of Bug-Eyed Corpses):

Darkness falls across the land,
The Prophet's blood against you stands,
Your skin falls off, your sperm's a dud,
Your house is gone, God sent a flood.

And whosoever shall be found
With gun in hand for shooting down my prophet
Shall face the hounds of Hell,
And rot a lot, with feet that smell.

The foulest stench is in the air,
Your eyeballs gone, and so's your hair,
Your ears fall off, I curse your womb,
An unmarked grave will be your tomb.

And even though it's all a lie,
Your body starts to shiver,
For no mere Mormon can resist
God messin' with your liver.


"Heh, heh, heh, cackle, cackle, cackle, HEH, HEH, HEH, CACKLE, CACKLE, CACKLE, HEH, HEH, HEH, CACKLE, CACKLE, CACKLE . . ."

Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeak.

SLAM!

Amen.

http://www.exmormon.org/boards/w-agor...
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For All Ezra Taft Benson's Hoo-Rah Talk About Flooding The Earth With The Book Of Mormon
Friday, Nov 4, 2005, at 08:16 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
I rarely saw him actually reading it in his Church apartment or office, nor did he actually preach much from it when we were together in private, face-to-face interaction. or gathered as a clan at family reunions.

Sure, he would occasionally tell me, in person or by letter, that the LDS Church was under condemnation for not more faithfully reading and following the Book of Mormon and quote the DandC to that effect.

His office would routinely send me manuscript copies of his General Conference talks (including ones on the Book of Mormon); however, that was a routine staff procedure and involved no input or attached personalized comments to me from my grandfather.

My grandfather once wrote to me to say, among other things, that he and my grandmother Flora were reading the Book of Mormon together.

But I very rarely saw him actually doing it. I saw his scripture sets both in his apartment and his office--closed, but hardly ever open.

In reality, my grandfather sent me lots more literature and references to John Birch material and other right-wing extremist propaganda than he ever did the Book of Mormon--TONS more, in fact--and would go on at length about Communist agents in government at home and conspiracies abroad.

I suspect that my grandfather's showy, fiery Book of Mormon orations were more for general Church member consumption (and the image that attended them)--and that, moreover, these sermons were probably largely written for him by his staff and certain family members.

In short, Ezra Taft Benson sure talked a good game about delving into "the keystone of our religion" (as he called the Book of Mormon when quoting Joseph Smith about it), but in practice he was a much more religiously-devoted Bircher magazine man.
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On Sheri Dew's Sanitized Authorship Of Ezra Taft Benson's Biography
Monday, Nov 28, 2005, at 09:57 AM
Original Author(s): Anonymous
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
I have it on good authority that my Uncle Reed (ETB's oldest child) was relegated to a somewhat reduced role in helping to put together the final version of my grandfather's biography.

Reed was, at one time, an outrageously right-wing national leader in the John Birch Society and a close political confidant/adviser to ETB. (He, for instance, traveled with ETB to Alabama to negotiate with governor George Wallace over the possible positioning of my grandfather as Wallace's vice-presidential running mate. Also, Reed's fingerprints are evident in such sermons as ETB's "Fourteen Fundamentals of Following the Prophet").

Dew's bio of Ezra Taft Benson is significantly lacking in pertinent detail with regard to my grandfather's deep admiration of and devotion to the John Birch Society, ETB's rabidly conspiratorial anti-Communist views, his embarrassingly racist opposition to the U.S. civil rights movement and his playing footsies in presidential campaign politics with the likes of White supremacist/segregationists Wallace and Wallace's fellow Southerner Strom Thurmond.

Dew's book on my grandfather was a Church-sponsored whitewash, written under the name of a paid LDS propagandist. (By the way, "personal" copies of the book that were distributed to members of the Benson family were signed with an autopen and accompanied by a form letter supposedly from my grandfather, also artificially signatured).

Any informed reader can easily see that the book contains superficial, misleading and doctored accounts of elements of my grandfather's life that the Mormon Church obviously was not enthusiastic about recounting.

On that basis alone, Dew should not be trusted.

She was, after all, merely "dewing" the bidding of a Cult that has never valued the truth.
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Ezra Taft Benson's Private Temple Meetings With The Quorum Of The Twelve
Tuesday, Jan 17, 2006, at 11:31 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
In another thread, "Anon" asked the question:
Steve Benson: Can you comment on whether the special meeting tradition existed when ETB entered the Q12?

I am curious to know how old this doctrine is. I thought perhaps your grandfather may have said something to his family in this regard.
My grandfather used to, on occasion, mention to me and other family members how much he enjoyed and valued assembling with the Quorum of the Twelve in their weekly, private meeting held in the Salt Lake Temple. These meetings, as I recall, were held on Thursdays.

When my grandfather would speak of those meetings, he would frequently emphasize how united the Brethren were; in essence, how they were the Lord's tightly-knit Band of Brothers: unified in purpose in spreading the Gospel as the Lord's special witnesses.

He would also mention how much he loved the Brethren.

In fact, he would speak almost tenderly of the Quorum of the Twelve, as he talked about the temple meetings he had with them. He seemed to have a genuine personal kinship with these fellows that he clearly regarded as both unique and sacred.

Now, on the other hand, when I met privately with Dallin Oaks and Neal Maxwell in September of 1993, Oaks blurted out to me that his loyalty to the Church president only went so far.

Oaks vowed he would "march from sunup to sundown" in following the prophet on a particular teaching but declared to me that "if the prophet was to come out and say that we are no longer going to preach the Book of Mormon as true," he "would look around for an affirmation of that by the Quorum of the Twelve."

Ultimately, as my grandfather became increasingly enfeebled, he would be wheelchaired into these temple meetings with the Quorum and became less and less involved in the discussions held there.
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The Day Ezra Taft Benson Let Me Feel His Pacemaker
Monday, Jan 23, 2006, at 07:48 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
It was January 1987 and, as President of the Mormon Church, he had been flown down from Salt Lake City to Phoenix in order to attend, by invitation of Arizona governor-elect and fellow arch-conservative/Mormon Evan Mecham, the governor-in-waiting's swearing-in ceremony (Mecham, by the way, whom my grandfather warmly referred to in our later conversations as "our man," was eventually impeached, convicted and removed from office by the Arizona legislature for high crimes and misdemeanors).

Anyway, knowing that my grandfather would be leaving Phoenix immediately after the inauguration ceremonies, I left my newspaper offices and hurried over to the airport, where my grandfather's commercial flight was sitting, with him aboard, on the tarmac, preparing to taxi out to the runway and take off.

I was allowed to board the aircraft to visit briefly with him prior to his departure. He was seated in the first-class section, with his suit jacket off. We had a pleasant chat, during which our conversation turned to his health.

My grandfather had been having recent problems with an irregular heartbeat and, consequently, had been fitted with a pacemaker. I asked him where it had been implanted and he pointed to an area just below his collarbone. I asked if I could feel it. He smiled and said I could so I gingerly touched the area through his shirt. It was a small, hard lump.

We chatted some more, then I bid him a fond good-bye and off he went.

In a matter of a few short years, my grandfather was completely out of commission.

He began to deteriorate significantly before the decade was out and by 1993 had suffered a couple of severe cerebral hemorrhages, resulting in massive cranial bleeding and blood clots on his brain, as well having been hit with a heart attack.

For all intents and purposes, these health meltdowns destroyed my grandfather's ability to clearly think, meaningfully speak or effectively administer the affairs of the Church. (Even Dallin Oaks and Neal Maxwell, in private conversations with me, admitted that my grandfather wasn't in any position to carry out his functions as Church president. Oaks said, in fact, that his condition was getting worse, not better. Maxwell chimed in, telling me that when Church members inquired as to my grandfather's health, he [Maxwell] simply replied that Ezra Taft Benson wasn't in pain).

In short, the window in which Ezra Taft Benson was able to actually lead the Church as its president/prophet in any substantive and personal way turned out to be quite small and short-lived.

He eventually died of congestive heart failure, without having had much of an opportunity to run the show on his own.

Which raises the question:

Where was the Lord's hand in guiding the physicians who cared for him?

What the supposedly divinely-appointed doctors did to try to patch up the president of God's church, so that he could run the affairs of the Lord's Kingdom on earth, obviously didn't work very well or last very long.

Where was Jesus to spit in the dirt and rub a little mud on Ezra Taft Benson (kind of like when Jesus healed the blind man), when my grandfather needed it most?

It appears that the Mormon God's heath care system isn't very effective, even for its most favored patients.
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Not To Worry: Based On Personal Experience With Ezra Taft Benson, The Institutionalized Mormon Church Will Effectively Swallow Up And Contain Boyd K. Packer If, And When, He Becomes Cult President
Tuesday, Feb 14, 2006, at 07:56 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Free-thinking elements both in, and outside, the Mormon Church have traditionally expressed concern about the prospect of particularly dogmatic, bombastic and radically intolerant LDS leaders rising through the ranks and eventually becoming Church president, to the detriment of all.

Based upon what I saw happen to my grandfather when he eventually became Mormon Church president, I am inclined to believe that the fearful prospect of any extremist member of the Quorum of the Twelve being allowed to become an outspoken, unfetterd, dictatorial menace at the top of the Mormon hierarchal food chain is largely overblown.

Why?

Because the instutionalized interests of the LDS Church--as a powerfully entrenched bureaucracy that is actually run by politically-savvy career staffers--simply will not allow this to happen, because too much is at stake--and at risk--to allow any one man to threaten the whole Corporation.

Put another way, the institutionalized interests of LDS, Inc. are so deeply entrenched, so historically substantial and so firmly dedicated toward maintaining equilibrium and influence in the larger American society of economic and political realities that even the most doctrinally bellicose, on-the-fringe heir apparent finds himself effectively reined in when he assumes the presidential throne.
_____


This ultimately proved to be the case with Ezra Taft Benson, as I witnessed it through my own personal correspondence from him (or, better yet, lack thereof), once he became Church president.

Through my youth and well into my adulthood, my grandfather would correspond with me on a regular basis and, in his letters to me, would freely impart his extremist opinions on matters both religious and political.

This outspoken mode of personal (and also public) communication, however, abruptly halted once Spencer W. Kimball died and my grandfather assumed the role as titular head of the Mormon Church.

While the LDS Church continued (as it always does) to give lip service to the notion that the President of the LDS Church is in charge of the Church, the reality was that my grandfather, upon becoming "Prophet," found himself immediately reined in by Mormon corporational interests.

His polarizing, over-the-edge voice was effectively silenced by Church bureaucrats who actually (and for all intents and purposes) manage Mormon institutional interests from inside the Church Office Building and from behind the scenes.

It is, in short, powerful staffers and handlers within the bowels of Mormon Central who actually steer and gear the Church, not its supposed "Prophet."

As a telling indicator of this fact, bear in mind that after years of personal correspondence with me, my grandfather's letters to me suddenly--and permanently--ceased coming, immediately upon him becoming Church president in November 1985.

Put succinctly, when Kimball died, the circumstances of communication between the two of us fundamentally and instantly changed. My grandfather personally quit sending me correspondence--which was quite contrary to his style--and, instead, his staff writers took over.

When Ezra Taft Benson became the public personification of the Church's president, the Mormon corporate curtain immediately dropped around him and Church handlers took on the role of running his life, his schedule and his utterances.
_____


Case in point:

Less than a year after assuming the position of Church president (during what proved to be a relatively small window of time when Ezra Taft Benson was still physically and mentally vigorous enough to speak and lead--at least to some extent--on his own without being propped up and manhandled by his handlers, as eventually became the case), my newspaper, the Arizona Republic, expressed an interest in interviewing my grandfather about his role as head of the LDS Church.

I made an inquiry to my grandfather’s office in behalf of the newspaper and on 6 August 1986, received the following stock, carefully-worded and bureaucratic reply from F. Michael Watson, Secretary to the First Presidency:

“Dear Brother Benson:

“I have been asked to acknowledge your letter dated July 18, 1986, in which you requested an interview with your grandfather, President Ezra Taft Benson, and a representative of the Arizona Republic.

“President Benson appreciated this invitation and, although he is unable to grant such an interview, asked me to thank you and your associates for your interest.

“You will be interested to know that Sister Benson had a pleasant birthday in July and President Benson was joined by friends and staff recently at a gathering in the Church Administration Building where they celebrated his 87th birthday. President Benson is grateful for your thoughts and prayers in his behalf and asked me to convey his love and best wishes to you and your family.”

_____


Another case in point:

Shortly into his Church presidency, ETB delivered a sermon where he, as usual, condemned organic evolution Concerns were raised and forwarded to the Office of the First Presidency from certain quarters within the Mormon educational system, which subsequently received quiet assurances back from that office that this would not happen again.

The bureaucratic vice was beginning to tighten--and eventually helped to choke out the genuine voice of ETB.
_____


The Mormon Church has ways of bringing pressures to bear against even its supposedly independent president.

Dallin Oaks, for example, told me privately that if the President of the Mormon Church declared to the Twelve that the Church would no longer preach the Book of Mormon, he (Oaks) would look around the room for a sustaining vote.

Oaks and Neal Maxwell informed me, as well, that a role of the First Presidency counselors is to help keep the Church president from making mistakes.

In other words, what the "Prophet" says doesn't always necessarily go.
_____


The radical, fire-breathing Ezra Taft Benson--despite becoming the ostensible president of the Mormon Church-- found himself effectively controlled, muzzled and contained by the instutionalized interests of Mormon Central--forces that are, in the end, much more powerful and long-lasting than the force of any individual Church president personality, no matter who that person might be.

I predict that the same kind of containment/damage control firewalls will also be swung into place when, and if, the radical, fire-breathing Boyd K. Packer ultimately is crowned Mormon king.

The Mormon Church, as an institution, will simply not allow him to hijack it in pursuit of his own wackily embarrassing personal agenda.

Packer, if anointed (but being that he is terminally disjointed), will inevitably be brought into line (albeit unwillingly, given his stubborn jackass nature) by forces more powerful than he.

The bureaucracy is far, far greater than the imbecile.
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Benson Family Coveting Of General Authority Status
Thursday, Feb 16, 2006, at 09:09 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Receiving "distinguished" callings to positions of authority in the all-important appearance-oriented Mormon Cult is viewed by many devout Latter-day Saints as a sure sign of hitting the nail on the head that God has chosen you for membership in His special cadre of LDS thoroughbreds.

Some members of the Benson clan have shown a noticeably keen interest in attaining this personal trophy to hang on the walls of their celestial mansions here on earth and eventually in the hereafter--yearning, as they have, to see appointment made in their behalf to the righteous ranks of the General Authority-hood.

Two memorable examples come to mind:


Getting a Foot in the General Authority Door

Several years ago, a major remodeling project was undertaken of the Church Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City.

One of the glorious relics in the old interior was a pair of frosted-pane wooden doors, adorned with large, black, stenciled, capital letters, reading: "GENERAL AUTHORITIES"

These doors originally led into the office quarters of the GAs and were targeted for removal and replacement in the overhaul project.

The doors were eventually salvaged and given a place of honor by someone with apparently both a sense of history and a hope for the future.

My sister, Stacy Ann Benson Reeder, asked for--and was given permanent possession of--these old, weathered "GENERAL AUTHORITIES" doors.

To view those properly-preserved doors today, all one has to do is go to her home in the Salt Lake Valley, where she has them hanging (with the permission of her husband Marty, former student body president of BYU), in the doorway of his personal office.

For easier viewing, that office is located just off the main entryway into their home.

Marty eventually became a bishop.

I have not followed his ecclesiastical progress chart very carefully, so I do not know if he has since risen to the coveted position of General Authority--although, to the untutored eye, the doors leading into his study might lead one to conclude that he has attained that goal and is now working for the Lord out of his Church Office Building home office.
_____


God's Word to a Temple Worker: Your Husband Will Someday Become a General Authority

My maternal grandmother, Viola Wing, of Raymond, Alberta, Canada, was a long-time worker in the Cardston temple.

She once told her daughter (my mother) Lela, that she felt impressed that my father, Mark Benson, would someday become a General Authority.

My dad eventually became a mission president, a bishop, a stake president and a stake patriarch but, alas, the calling of General Authority has somehow managed to elude him.

This has been a matter of some disappointment in Benson family circles, where I have heard grumbling that after all the hard work, dedication and life-long committment he has given to the Mormon Kingdom (at the cost of good money he could have otherwise made in the business world, had it not been for those long hours spent serving the Lord), Mark should at least be rewarded with an appointment to the seat of General Authority.
_____


Sigh . . .

Life does have its disappointments. :)
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Fourteen Fundamentals Of Following The Prophet
Tuesday, Jan 9, 2007, at 06:56 AM
Original Author(s): Openeyed/slackjawed
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
FOURTEEN FUNDAMENTALS IN FOLLOWING THE PROPHET
BY
ELDER Ezra Taft Benson
February 26, 1980

[My comments are in italicsc]

1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

All the saints believed in Brigham Young, and in his calling as a prophet. They truly thought he was speaking for the Lord in all his Discourses, yet now we find that living prophets have disavowed his teachings.

2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

The Journal of Discourses should be called scripture then, according to this fundamental, because it is a record of Brigham’s speeches. I suppose the excuse can be made that the spoken word was law, but once it was written down and documented, it became opinion.

3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

Anything that the living prophet says can be relied upon, anything that a dead prophet said in the past can be cast away. Well, then, if Gordon Hinckley says something I don’t agree with, I merely wait until a prophet I like is installed, then I might come back to Mormonism. But, my children and grandchildren won’t get the benefit of having the same prophet as I have all their lives, what if the next prophet disregards my prophet’s teachings, and plants his own interpretations of God’s will? How would my children and grandchildren know what I believed back then? Sounds like the Mormon church does mold itself by the doctrine of man.

4. The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

Ezra Taft Benson himself became feeble, unable to speak or take care of himself, unable to walk or stand, and even unable to sign his name or indicate that he could otherwise run the church. I take that as a sure sign that God bound him and made him unable to lead the church, specifically because he was leading it astray. Howard Hunter only got about 2 years in before his death. Joseph Smith was struck down by God while a prisoner in Carthage Jail. God didn’t save his own prophet, He removed him from office. Brigham Young MUST have been right all along, after all he reigned for over 40 years as prophet and president of the church.

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.

Neither do bishops, stake presidents or anyone else in a capacity as a counselor. Which makes one wonder how qualified a local bishop would be to help anyone who is questioning their faith, or maybe has a doctrinal question. Without installing men who can actually help the members, how can the Mormon church hope to keep it all together? Answer: Blame the members if they can’t maintain their faith, blame Satan, blame intellectual pride, blame feminism, blame anything else but don’t let the church take the blame for their own confusing doctrine and their inability to answer a straight question.

6. The prophet does not have to say "Thus saith the Lord" to give us scripture.

Brigham Young didn’t say this many times during his sermons, yet the current leaders would have you believe that he was merely expressing his own opinions because he did not say, ‘thus saith the Lord’.

7. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

Blood-Atonement, Adam is the same as our Father God, Blacks will never get the priesthood, Polygamy is the only way to the celestial kingdom, these are the many teachings that the early saints had to adopt in order to maintain their membership in the church. How can the modern Mormon church cast these “vital truths” aside?

8. The prophet is not limited by men's reasoning.

It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to come out of the mouth of the prophet, and it becomes “true”. That is, until a later prophet deems it as “opinion”.

9. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter--temporal or spiritual.

Really? Then where was He when Mark Hoffman was selling his forged documents to the leaders of the church? How come He didn’t warn them that the documents were fake and that they were being tricked?

10. The prophet may be involved in civic matters.

Like maybe a dual position as President of the Corporation of the First Presidency? I presume there is a salary that goes with that job.

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.

The learned, being the ones who have discovered that the church isn’t what it claims, and the rich who would probably rather donate to causes that actually account for their expenditures in a physical report of some kind, like a prospectus or a budget analysis.

12. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

Just unaccountable for his speeches, untouchable for his past stances on doctrine, and completely free of having to earn an honest living. Seems that this ‘fundamental of following a prophet’ serves to prove that a prophet is more ‘true’ based on his popularity with the world. The less popular he is, the more ‘true’ he proves to be. This kind of logic makes my head hurt.

13. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency--the highest quorum in the Church.

Each member is to be held in the same regard apparently, holding the same keys, having the same authority. Doesn’t that contradict Fundamental #1?

14. The prophet and the presidency--the living prophet and the First Presidency--follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer.

How many of the early saints would you call blessed? They gave their lives for this church, and suffered greatly because they followed the prophet. Today, many members give their time, their money, and their sense of individuality in order to follow the prophet. So, why is Utah’s rate of suicide, teen pregnancy, divorce, bankruptcy, and debt right up there in the top 5 of all the states in the U.S.? I guess that’s a blessing though….think how much worse it would be if folks left the church.
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Ezra Was Right--Neal Was A Bad Guy: The Night I Heard Ezra Taft Benson Bad-Mouth Neal A. Maxwell
Tuesday, Apr 3, 2007, at 06:59 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
In a private family setting where he unloaded his true feelings on my father, I saw and heard my grandfather criticize Maxwell for being "a liberal"--as he worried about what Maxwell might do to Mormon youth as the newly-appointed Church Commissioner of Education.

Indeed, as others have reported, my grandfather "opposed the appointment of Neal A. Maxwell as church commissioner of education in 1970 because, in part, Maxwell 'leaned too much in the direction of self-styled liberals.'"

(see Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis, "Brigham Young Universtiy: A House of Faith" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1985], at http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/byu/chapter5.htm)

But as ETB headed out the door that night after complaining about Maxwell to my dad (and almost with a sigh of resignation,), he added that, in the end, it was his duty to follow the prophet of the Church, David O. McKay, who had moved Maxwell into that position.

Interestingly enough, my father had earlier served as a counselor to Maxwell in a student ward at the University of Utah, where Maxwell was bishop.

It was through my dad's long personal contact with Maxwell, that he arranged to have me meet privately with Maxwell and Dallin Oaks in September 1993, where I aired my increasing doubts to them about the veracity of Mormon claims on matters of history, doctrine, policy and practice.

After speaking with my dad, Maxwell had written me a personal letter in which he said he would be happy to meet with me--as long (he strongly hinted) as it was done in a just-between-us-guys kind of confidence.

I tell ya, that liberal Maxwell.

It was Maxwell's behind-the-scenes, mealy-mouthed, mumble-jumble attempts at making excuses for the Mormon Church's long road of howling absurdities and abominable abuses that helped me to eventually decide to resign my membership from the LDS mind-washing machine.

If only my grandfather had refused to go along with Church president McKay and instead really gone to the mat in opposition Maxwell's appointment to the office of Church Commissioner of Education (from where Maxwell eventually snaked his way into the apostleship), Maxwell would not have been in a position of towering ecclesiastical authority where his attempts to defend the indefensible would help open the hatch for others to bolt the Cult.

Yup, Neal, ya done led me astray.

(This despite the fact that at the end of my last private meeting with him and Oaks, the two--at Maxwell's suggestion, no less--laid their hands upon on my head and gave me a "blessing," with Maxwell admonishing me to remain true to the faith).

Damn, it seemed not to have worked.

Thanks, Grandpa, for standing aside and allowing, through your faithful "follow-the-prophet" attitude, that lurking liberal Maxwell to rise through the ranks and finally to the top where he was there to help me fall from grace.

Ya done good, Grandpa, ya done real good. :)
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Sales And Tales: As Ezra Taft Benson Was Secretly Squirreled Away, Laying Sick And Debilitated In An Undisclosed Location, His Office Staff Was High-Fiving Over Sales Of His Book
Wednesday, Apr 25, 2007, at 07:37 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
In keeping with its long tradition of deceit by deity, the Mormon Church went to great lengths to hide from the Cult's rank-and-file flock my grandfather's actual increasingly weakened condition.

Such was even the case in attempts by his office staff to bamboozle ETB's own family.

Indeed, members of ETB's inner management team resorted to crafting auto pen-signed letters to Benson kin, attempting to pass them off to flesh and blood as having been composed by the grand family patriarch himself.

While my grandfather was convalescing at the home of his daughter and son-in-law Beth and David Burton in the Salt Lake suburb of Sandy, Utah, his whereabouts were kept a tight secret under the guise of "security"--with Benson family members being ordered to participate in this game of hide-and-prevent-seeking.

What was not kept so secret, however, was the delight of ETB's staff--who gleefully celebrated the then-inside the Cult Corridor vigorous sales of his recently-published biography--one that had been obediently sanitized, censored and sanctified by the hand-picked tall teller of fibs for the faithful, Sheri Dew.

Below is correspondence I received from my grandfather's office staff during this time.

Written as if composed in the first person, the first one read:

“I am so grateful for your life and prayers for me and want you to know that our Heavenly Father is mindful of them as I am improving in health each day.

“The loving hospitality of David and Beth and their four children has been an answer to prayer. The quiet and peace here are making a speedy recovery possible.

“For my sake and that of the Burton family, may I request that all telephone calls and letters be directed to the office. Betty [McDonald, Ezra Taft Benson’s personal secretary] brings me the mail and other messages during the week.

“Also, we have been advised that for security purposes, it is best that the location of my present residence be kept from the public. Therefore we should not inform friends and neighbors as to where I am recuperating.

“Grandma and I love you very much. We know you are loving and concerned, but inquires regarding my progress and other information should be obtained from the office inasmuch as my staff is in close contact with me at all times.”

(Ezra Taft Benson, “Ezra Taft Benson,” written by staff and signed by auto pen, to Stephen and Mary Ann Benson, 11 November 1987)

The second, written by my grandfather's personal secretary, acknowledged receipt of a letter we had sent him a few weeks earlier, while rejoicing in booming book revenue:

“Your grandparents really enjoyed your letter of November 1. Your grandfather is not up to writing letters yet or even dictating them [note: which means others are faking correspondence for him, praise the Lord], although he is doing quite well.

“I took the mail out to him last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and he looked very good and had been on several walks already that morning. He asked me to write and thank you for your letter.

“I was not able to visit with your grandmother as she was napping at the time.

“We understand the biography [of Ezra Taft Benson] is the top in retail sales at Deseret Book outlets. Isn’t that great news?

“May I convey to you your grandparents love and blessings.”

(Mrs. Betty S. McDonald, Personal Secretary to President Ezra Taft Benson, “Betty,” to Stephen and Mary Ann Benson, 30 November 1987)



Hmmmm. Grandpa supposedly was up to dictating the first letter noted above, but not the second. Yet, he was supposed to be getting progressively better?

When attempting to keep its straight-faced fables straight,the Mormon Cult should pay heed to the advice of Mark Twain:

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
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Using Orrin Hatch To Promote Mormon Church Influence In Washington, D.C.: Ezra Taft Benson Lives On Through Utah's Handmaiden Senator
Monday, Apr 30, 2007, at 09:03 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
The following are excerpts from letters written to me by my grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, which demonstrate the willingness of high leaders of the Mormon Church to overtly and unapologetically insert themselves into national politics to advance their own agenda, under protective cover of upper-rank LDS authority.

In the case of ETB, his blatant and inappropriate involvement in politics was clearly evident in his support and promotion of fellow Mormon and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

In letters penned to me on official LDS Church stationery, my grandfather wrote:
“I do hope that things are going well with you. On October 9 I will share the platform with Orrin Hatch at a big dinner in Los Angeles launching a great seminar program in that part of the country.

“The Red Carpet [ETB's anti-communist treatise] was shipped about a week ago and should be reaching you soon. I hope that the distribution can be made very promptly with the help of some people from Senator Hatch’s office. It may have an impact on the defeat of [the nuclear arms treaty] SALT II, which I think becomes more important in view of the serious situation in Cuba."
(Ezra Taft Benson, “Grandpa Benson,” to Stephen Benson, 18 September 1979)
“I have become acquainted with many senators in my life. I know of no one who I feel made a better record in his first term than Orrin Hatch. I will give this matter prayerful consideration in the hope that I may be helpful to one whom I feel is a great asset to the United States Senate and should be continued in office for many years to come . . ."
(Ezra Taft Benson, “Grandpa,” to Stephen Benson, 21-22 April 1981)

P.S.--Having known Hatch for years (particularly going back to my days when I worked on a legislative committee in the Russell building on the Hill), I heard Hatch often tell me that it was ETB who encouraged and inspired him to run for the Senate--and to whom, Hatch said, he gratefully credits his long-term capitol career.

Nothing like the gawd-awful Mormon God in politics.
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Was Ezra Taft Benson's Famous Sermon On Pride Borrowed From The Writings Of C.S. Lewis?
Monday, May 21, 2007, at 07:49 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Introduction: Was Ezra Taft Benson's Famous Sermon on Pride Borrowed From the Writings of C.S. Lewis?

Inquiries along this line have cited a sermon of then-Mormon Church President Ezra Taft Benson, entitled "Beware of Pride," which was delivered (actually read by First Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley) on 1 April 1989 during the 159th Semi-Annual LDS General Conference.

http://www.budgetmaster.net/bewareofp... (pages unnumbered)

The question is whether Benson’s sermon plagiarized the writings of C.S. Lewis, from Lewis' book Mere Christianity, specifically the chapter, “The Great Sin” (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1952, revised and enlarged).

The Answer: Abundant Evidence of Plagiarisms

A line-by-line comparison of the text of both documents provides clear and convincing evidence for the source of Ezra Taft Benson's talk on pride.

His sermon borrowed heavily, and without attribution, both in terms of wording and concept, from Lewis’ earlier work.

Examples of these plagiarisms are listed below, by topic.

Pride is the Ultimate Vice

Lewis

"The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride." (p. 109)

Benson

"Pride is the universal sin, the great vice."

Competitive Nature of Pride

Lewis

"Pride is essentially competitive--is competitive by is very nature . . .” (p. 109)

". . . Pride is essentially competitive in a way that other vices are not." (p. 110)

"Pride is competitive by its very nature." (p. 110)

“Once the element of competition has gone, pride is gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not.” (p. 110)

Benson

"Pride is essentially competitive in nature. . . .

Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled."

The Proud See Themselves Being Above Others

Lewis

"A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you." (p.111)

Benson

“Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us.”

The Proud Also Look From the Bottom Up

Lewis

“When you delight wholly in yourself and do not care about the praise at all, you have reached the bottom.” (p. 112)

Benson

“There is, however, a more common ailment among us and that is pride from the bottom looking up.”

Pride Equals Enmity

Lewis

"Pride always means enmity--it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God." (p.111)

Benson

"The central feature of pride is enmity--enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowman."

“Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers.”

“Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen.”

Pride and Self-Value

Lewis

"You value other people enough to want them to look at you." (p. 112)

Benson

"The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not."

Pride vs. Humility

Lewis

"The virtue opposite to it [pride], in Christian morals, is called Humility." (p. 109)

“ . . . if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble–delightfully humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which had made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible . . .” (p. 114)

Benson

"The antidote for pride is humility . . . "

“Choose to be humble. God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.”

Pride Not Admitted in Self

Lewis

"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves." (pp. 108-09)

Benson

"Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves."

Only once in ETB's sermon was proper credit given to C.S. Lewis as a source:

"The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.... It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone" (C.S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity" [New York: Macmillan, 1952], pp. 109-10)."

Conclusion: Background on the Research and Writing of ETB's Sermon on Pride

Some years ago, my wife Mary Ann, and I visited with May Benson, wife of Reed Benson (ETB's oldest child), in their home in Provo, Utah, during which time the subject of ETB's sermon on pride was a focus of conversation.

The first occasion was prior to the public delivery of ETB's sermon by Gordon B. Hinckley in the April 1989 General Conference and the second visit came after the speech.

May told us she had very strong feelings about the subject of pride. She was especially offended and concerned with what she regarded as the Benson family's own problems with pride.

(In fact, she had gotten up in disgust and walked out of a wedding breakfast for my sister, when one of the daughters of ETB, while listening to the father of the groom make some remarks to the assembled, leaned over and whispered self-righteously, "Well, we know which family was blessed with the spirituality").

May told us she had put together quite a few thoughts on the subject of pride that she hoped someday to compile and publish in a book.

However, after ETB's pride sermon was delivered, May told us that she no longer felt it necessary to publish her hoped-for book.

Why?

Because, she informed us, her husband, Reed, had spoken with ETB about her research on the topic.

May was clearly indicating to us that her information and study efforts had been used in ETB's sermon on pride.

Who actually wrote ETB's pride sermon is also a matter of some interest.

I have been informed by a very reliable Benson family source source that May herself spent several weeks in St. George, Utah, working on the "Beware of Pride" sermon that was eventually delivered by Gordon B. Hinckley in Ezra Taft Benson's name--and for which ghost writer May Benson has never received credit.
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Signs Of The Un True Church - Mormon "Prophet" Ezra Taft Benson On Civil Rights And Martin Luther King, Jr.
Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008, at 08:06 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
On Dr. Martin Luther King Day, it behooves us to recall the racist words of a Mormon leader whom the LDS Church has regarded as God's prophet, seer and revelator.

Ezra Taft Benson's Public Statements on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement

My grandfather regarded the U.S. civil rights movement as part of a Communist plot to destroy America.

Through far right-wing publishing houses and book chains owned by the Mormon Church, he warned that the aim of the U.S. civil rights movement was to "create the animosity, fear and hatred between large segments of our people that would be necessary beginning ingredients for their revolution."

He warned that civil rights grievances by African-Americans were being exploited by the Communists "to agitate blacks into hating whites and whites into hating blacks."

He declared that the U.S. movement for equal civil rights was fueled by "false stories and rumors about injustices and brutality" which, he said, served to "[c]reate martyrs for both sides" while playing "upon mass emotions until they smolder with resentment and hatred."

My grandfather saw the U.S. civil rights movement, in larger conspiratorial context, as a leading element in a vast, ominous and active Communist plot designed to "overthrow established government" through "widespread anarchy," the sparking of "a nation-wide civil war" and the assassination of "anti-Communist leaders of both races."

He warned Americans: "It is happening here! . . . THE COMMUNIST PROGRAM FOR REVOLUTION IN AMERICAN HAS BEEN IN PROGRESS FOR MANY YEARS AND IS FAR ADVANCED."

This Moscow-orchestrated plan, he declared from his General Conference pulpit, was being implemented on American soil "[u]sing unidentified Communist agents and non-Communist sympathizers in key positions in government, in communications media and in mass organizations such as labor unions and civil rights groups [which] demand more and more government power as the solution to all civil rights problems. Total government is the objective of Communism. Without calling it by name, [they] build Communism piece by piece through mass pressures for Presidential decrees, court orders and legislation which appear to be aimed at improving civil rights and other social reforms."

Ezra Taft Benson saw the American South as the initial battleground in Communist efforts to establish a foothold before spreading northward. These attempts, he warned, were designed for "splitting away the 'Black Belt,' those Southern states in which the Negro held a majority, and calling them a Negro Soviet Republic." He warned Americans to be on guard for African-Americans who had "migrated to the Northern states," where they had likewise "applied this same strategy to the so-called 'ghetto' areas in the North."

He reassured White patriots, however, that even "[i]f Communism comes to America . . . the Negro represents only 10 percent of the population. In any all-out race war which might be triggered, there isn't a chance in the world that Communist-led Negro guerilla units could permanently hold on to the power centers of government, even if they could capture them in the first place."

Despite his assurances of security in White numbers, Ezra Taft Benson nonetheless reminded Americans that Blacks might still well attempt a Communist overthrow of the United States:
"It now seems probable that the Communists are determined to use force and violence to its fullest, coupled with a weakening of the economy and military setbacks abroad, in an effort to create as much havoc as possible to weaken American internally, and to create the kind of psychological desperation in the minds of all citizens that will lead them to accept blindly government measures which actually help the Communists in their take-over."

In a throwback to the inquisitional days of McCarthyism, Ezra Taft Benson urged that "duly authorized legislative investigating committees launch an even more exhaustive study and expose the secret Communists who are directing the Civil Rights movement," insisting that "[t]he same needs to be done with militant anti-Negro groups" which, he claimed, were being fit "perfectly into the Communist plan" to "intensify inter-racial friction."

In fighting insidious Communist encroachment on America, my grandfather urged that Americans remain ever-vigilant against enslavement by Big Government. He urged that "our local police . . . not be encumbered by Civilian Review Boards, or asked to be social workers." He warned the police "not to accept grants from the Federal Government," warning his fellow citizens that if they did, it could well "lead to the eventual creation of a national police force" that would be used by the Communists "to hold the people in line."
(Ezra Taft Benson, "Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception," adaptation from address of same title, delivered at General Conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 29 September 1967, reprinted by National Research Group, American Fork, Utah, , pp. 1-4; see also, "Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception," reprint of same "address by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1968, original emphasis)

Ezra Taft Benson's Public Statements on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My grandfather considered the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to have been a disreputable individual, a dishonorable and dishonest man and a Communist.

Of him, he wrote:
"The man who is generally recognized as the leader of the so-called civil rights movement today in America is a man who has lectured at a Communists training school, who has solicited funds through Communist sources, who hired a Communist as a top-level aide, who has affiliated with Communist fronts, who is often praised in the Communist press and who unquestionably parallels the Communist line. This same man advocates the breaking of the law and has been described by J. Edgar Hoover as 'the most notorious liar in the country.' . . .

"Would anyone deny that the President [Lyndon Johnson], the chief law enforcer in the United States, belies his position by playing gracious host to the late Martin L. King who has preached disobedience to laws which in his opinion are unjust?"
(Ezra Taft Benson, "It Can Happen Here," in "An Enemy Hath Done This," Jerreld L. Newquist, comp. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Parliament Publishers, 1969], pp. 103, 310)

Reacting to President Johnson's declaration of a national day of mourning two days after the murder of Rev. King, Ezra Taft Benson had nothing but opprobrium for the slain civil rights leader.

In a letter to Mormon hotelier J. Willard Marriott, he claimed that "Martin Luther King had been affiliated with at least the following officially recognized Communist fronts," three of which he then went on to list.

In the same letter, he coldly warned Marriott that "the Communists will use Mr. King's death for as much yardage as possible."

A year later, in another letter to Marriott, my grandfather continued his attack on the dead Black minister, writing that "the kindest thing that could be said about Martin Luther King is that he was an effective Communist tool. Personally, I think he was more than that."

(D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997], pp. 100, 113, 463, 471)

My grandfather also was convinced that Dr. King's assassination was carried out by Communists themselves, in an effort to trigger civil war in America.

In his book, "An Enemy Hath Done This," he quoted from an article by Susan L. M. Huck, originally published in the John Birch magazine, "American Opinion":
"Okay, let's take the gloves off. This insurrection didn't just happen. It was a set-up-just as the assassination of Martin Luther King was a set-up. The Communists and their Black Power fanatics have been working to create just such a situation for years. They even TOLD us what they were planning to do, again and again, as they did it. . . .

"And remember, the Reds and their Black Power troops have promised us that this is only the beginning! Stokely has said that his forces plan to burn down America.

"They're sure going to try.

"How do you stop it? It's very simple. You stop Communist racial agitation; you arrest the leaders for conspiracy to commit murder, arson and burglary, prove their guilt in a court of law and lock them up. And you free the hands of our police so that the can PREVENT rioting and looting and arson by those citizens now convinced by the actions of our 'Liberals' that theft, incendiarism and assault will be tolerated.

"Don't kid yourself. The people who are behind all of this mean to have a civil war. We either stop them now or they will escalate this thing."
(quoted in Ezra Taft Benson, "An Enemy Hath Done This," p. 335, original emphasis)
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Inquiring Doubting Minds Want To Know: Did Ezra Taft Benson Believe He Was A Prophet Of God?
Monday, Feb 11, 2008, at 08:16 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Over the years since having left Mormonism, I have been asked what, if anything, I was able to conclude from my own experiences and observations regarding the so-called "special witness" of my grandfather/LDS Church president, Ezra Taft Benson, as well regarding the allegedly unique testimonies of other Mormon General Authorities.

For instance, poster "No Longer a Believer" recently asked:

"Steve, did your grandfather consider himself to be a legitimate prophet of God?

"I'm curious to know how a prophet of God could reconcile that he is a prophet notwithstanding he never had a visit from the big guy in the sky, for I'm certain that we agree that Pres. Benson never received such a visit, and he must have wondered why he never did.

"Or, did he know that he was not a prophet but had to keep appearances?

"Or, did he believe he was a true Prophet but that prophets don't receive heavenly visitations anymore? (This is what I tend to think)

"Thanks if you can help me understand the view of the Brethren. Ever since I found out it is not true, my head is spinning trying to make sense of it." (Subject: Question for Steve Benson, Date: Feb 09 19:15, Author: No Longer a Believer)

A similar question was also asked by RfM poster "OntheFence," who wanted to know what information I might have regarding the expression of personal testimonies from Mormon apostles that could help illuminate their personal positions when it came to belief in Mormonism:

"I discovered this site about 5-6 months ago and, as you can guess, have found it and the various links I have followed to be quite injurious to my ever more fragile faith.

"While the historical information and analysis I have encountered (which obviously differs markedly from what I have been exposed to in the past) have had a significant impact, I have found the material supplied by Steve Benson to be the most intriguing.

"To be able to interview two apostles (especially Apostles Maxwell and Oaks) would be major fantasy for me. You indicated that the testimonies provided by these leaders were weak at best.

"What about similar experiences with your grandfather? Did he ever describe direct revelation or the basis of his devotion to the church? In your opinion, are most of the Quorum of the 12 solid believers or do you think that there are some closet doubters among them?" (To Steve Benson -- Testimony of General Authorities, Date: Aug 19, 2007)

In response, based on my own interactions with my grandfather--as well as with other high Mormon Church leaders--my assessment of their personal "Prophet Show and Tell Time" is this:

Testimonies from Mormon apostolic leadership supposedly indicating their "Special Witness" status for Christ are, well, unimpressive.

In fact, I would characterize their expressions of devotion and knowledge as constituting a non-special witness to what they claimed to be true.

I could pose the question another way:

Mormon General Authority leadership may believe the LDS Church is "true," but do they really know it? And are they forthright with the Mormon membership about what they say claim either believe or know?

Based on my individual contact with some of Mormonism’s highest leaders, obtained through direct conversation and correspondence with them, the answers to these questions is simply "No."

The evidence, as I have come across it in my own contact with these men, is outlined below:

APOSTLE DALLIN H. OAKS

In September 1993, I held private conversations behind the closed Salt Lake City LDS Church office doors of Apostle Neal A. Maxwell, where I met with him and his colleague Dallin H. Oaks. (My wife Mary Ann attended and participated in the first meeting; I returned alone approximately two weeks later for a second meeting with the two men).

--Oaks' Personal "Special Witness" Testimony

In the second meeting, I asked Oaks (and Maxwell) the following question:

"What personal spiritual experiences have you had which gave you your testimonies as special witness for Christ?"

In response, Oaks summoned up memories of his days as a college student at the University of Chicago. Back then, he said, he though he "knew a lot" about the Gospel. He admitted, however, that he had "questions about the Church"--although he did not elaborate exactly what they might have been.

Oaks said a local LDS Institute teacher helped him work out the answers.

This, was the sum total of Oaks' answer--an answer that I did not need to travel 700 miles to Salt Lake to hear. I could have saved us all a lot of time and trouble if I had just stayed home, gone to the next fast and testimony meeting at my local ward and listened to regular members bear personal witness to the same kind of experiences.

There was no testimony bearing from this alleged modern-day Peter or Paul of personal visits, in the Flesh, from the Father and/or the Son.

There was no telling of any "road to Damascus" story.

There was no recounting of angelic visitations.

There was no description of rushing winds or flames of fire.

In short, there was "no there there."

During these conversations, Oaks also said that the basis for his personal testimony about the truthfulness of Mormonism took the form of a warm spiritual witness which he felt in his heart.

--Oaks on the Book of Abraham

Oaks said this witness had particular meaning for him with regard to the truthfulness of official Mormon scripture.

He admitted, for instance, that critics of the Book of Abraham seemed to presently hold the upper hand in arguments against its authenticity.

Oaks said, however, that the truthfulness of the Book of Abraham ultimately came through a personal, spiritual witness.

--Oaks on the Book of Mormon

Oaks asserted that the Book of Mormon could neither be proven or disproven by evidentiary examination, but in the end, also had to be accepted on faith.

In admitting that the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon could not be empirically proven, Oaks acknowledged that portions of the Book of Mormon (albeit insignificant, in his opinion) might show potential problems with plagiarism.

Specifically, he admitted that he, too, had wondered while composing his own sermons how the words of the Apostle Paul from his epistles to the Corinthians could end up, almost word for word, in the Book of Mormon, even though Bible prophets preceded by generations their counterparts in the Book of Mormon.

Oaks concluded that God must have inspired Bible and Book of Mormon prophets to speak using the same, exact language.

Oaks then attempted to minimize obvious Book of Mormon plagiarisms by drawing a comparison between the Book of Mormon and one’s marriage.

He said that one should not abandon one’s marriage because it is not perfect; likewise, Oaks argued that merely because 5% of the Book of Mormon (an estimation he came up with himself based upon a quick perusal of a paperback copy of the book which my wife Mary Ann had highlighted with examples of plagiarisms), one should not abandon it.

Regardless, Oaks said that he had received a spiritual witness that served as the basis for his personal testimony that the Book of Mormon was true.

Oaks, however, would say one thing in private and another thing in public when it came to his belief in the Book of Mormon.

Approximately six weeks after the initial meeting that Mary Ann and I held with Oaks and Maxwell, Oaks spoke publicly on the Book of Mormon in a sermon entitled “The Historicity of the Book of Mormon," delivered at the annual dinner for the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) in Provo, Utah.

The text of his banquet remarks are available at:

http://www.boap.org/LDS/Oaks-on-BoM-c...

http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/re...

What follows is a compare-and-contrast examination of what Oaks privately said about the Book of Mormon in those private meetings with him and Maxwell, alongside what he publicly told the FARMS audience a few weeks later at their Provo banquet.

(Give note to the similarities and, more interestingly, to the differences between Oaks’ private and public observations on the Book of Mormon--the keystone, mind you, of the Mormon faith).

--Oaks on the Historicity of the Book of Mormon and Evidence of Plagiarism

In the first meeting with Oaks and Maxwell, Mary Ann began by explaining to them that she was sincerely trying to do what the Mormon Church had admonished its members to do: namely, to study the scriptures. She informed them that the more she examined Mormonism's scriptural texts, the more she found contradictions between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

Mary Ann informed Oaks and Maxwell that she was having a difficult time reconciling those contradictions. Therefore, she said, she decided to undertake her own personal study of the Book of Mormon--but from another point of view.

She took out a well-used, paperback copy of the Book of Mormon and showed them what she had done with it. Opening the book and thumbing through its pages, she demonstrated to them how she, in Seminary scripture study cross-referencing style, had color-coded the text for the "Spalding Manuscript," B.H. Roberts' study of parallels between Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon, the King James text of the Book of Isaiah and the King James text of the New Testament--with particular emphasis on the Book of Mormon timeline from 600 BC to 1 BC, when the words of the New Testament had not yet been written.

She then pointed out to Oaks and Maxwell 17 parallels she had discovered between the lives of the Book of Mormon prophet Alma and the New Testament apostle Paul. She also directed their attention to wording in Alma's letters that was found in exactly the same language as that in Paul's.

Mary Ann asked Oaks and Maxwell to explain to her how these things could find their way into the Book of Mormon.

Mary Ann later recalled how Oaks jumped more eagerly at her question than did Maxwell and how he became quite animated during this portion of the discussion. She also later noted to me that Oaks was, in some ways, "a little condescending" to her.

Oaks told Mary Ann, "Well, you know, as you've thumbed through your book, it only appears to me that 5% of your book has been marked, so I would say don't throw out the 95% because of the 5%. Don't take the 5% that you have serious questions about and cast out the 95% that is unexplained or, as Steve said, divinely inspired." (In point of fact, I did not tell Oaks that I felt 95% of the Book of Mormon was divinely inspired, despite his claim to the contrary).

He continued, "It's like being married to our wives. I'm sure there's more than 5% of me that my wife finds disagreement with, but she puts up with it anyway. It's kind of like being married to the Book of Mormon. Don't let your doubts keep you out of the mainstream."

Oaks (along with Maxwell) challenged Mary Ann to read to them something from the "Spalding Manuscript" that she felt found parallel in the Book of Mormon. Mary Ann initially chose an example in which Spalding described fortresses and earthen banks defended by spikes placed at intervals from one another in order to prevent arrows from coming through. (She later said to me she wished she had offered a better example. Nonetheless, she felt--and I agreed--that it was a comparison of substance).

Mary Ann showed Oaks a pamphlet authored by Vernal Holley, entitled, "Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look," which laid out, among other things, strikingly parallel word combinations between the "Spalding Manuscript" and the Book of Mormon.

Oaks' response was that many of the comparisons were "insignificant" and "almost superficial." He dismissed them as being unimportant, arguing that they reflected general concepts which were typical of the day in which Joseph Smith lived.

I replied that I thought the precise ordering of the words in both texts seemed "more than coincidental." Oaks rejected that position, insisting that the phrases in question represented "common ideas" one could share "across culture and time."

Further, he argued, there was no doctrinal content in the parallels. He asked, "Where's the doctrine? You've only shown me these technical points."

I therefore mentioned that the doctrine of polygamy--which was expressly forbidden in the Book of Mormon unless specifically authorized by God--was also the same doctrine found in the "Spalding Manuscript"--namely, that the practice was forbidden unless divine permission was granted.

I also pointed out to Oaks the shared centrality between the Book of Mormon and the "Spalding Manuscript" in stories featuring a divine figure (Christ, in the Book of Mormon and Labanska, a great teacher in the "Spalding Manuscript").

I encouraged Oaks to read the "Spalding Manuscript" for himself. Oaks, however, was dismissive of Spalding's work and refused to take the offer seriously.

Oaks asked Mary Ann to demonstrate "another example" of "doctrinal evidence" for plagiarisms in Book of Mormon. Mary Ann turned to Moroni 10, where it speaks of gifts of the spirit (To one is given one gift; to someone else is given another, etc). Mary Ann pointed out to him that, verse for verse--comparing Moroni 10 to First Corinthians 12--the texts were almost exactly the same.

Oaks replied, "That's better," but refused to concede, adding, "Well, it's not word-for-word and it's not the whole chapter."

Mary Ann responded that--except for some minor variations, such as the phrase, repeated over and over, "and again"--it was, for all intents and purposes, word-for-word. She asked Oaks how he could explain that Moroni used the same language found in the King James version of the Bible, written hundreds of years after the Book of Mormon was recorded.

Oaks replied that he himself had had the same question while preparing a talk on gifts of the spirit, as outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. Oaks said he concluded that all three authors were "impressed by the Holy Ghost" to record their thoughts "in this particular manner and in these particular words."

Compare and contrast the above with Oaks' banquet speech to FARMS:

"In these remarks I will seek to use rational argument, but I will not rely on any proofs. I will approach the question of the historicity of the Book of Mormon from the standpoint of faith and revelation.

"I maintain that the issue of the historicity of the Book of Mormon is basically a difference between those who rely exclusively on scholarship and those who rely on a combination of scholarship, faith, and revelation.

"Those who rely exclusively on scholarship reject revelation and fulfill Nephi's prophecy that in the last days men 'shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance' (2 Ne. 28:4). The practitioners of that approach typically focus on a limited number of issues, like geography or 'horses' or angelic delivery or nineteenth century language patterns. They ignore or gloss over the incredible complexity of the Book of Mormon record.

"Those who rely on scholarship, faith, and revelation are willing to look at the entire spectrum of issues, content as well as vocabulary, revelation as well as excavation."

--Oaks on Book of Mormon Doctrines That Are Not Supposedly the Product of Plagiarism, but of Divine Revelation

In our meeting with Oaks and Maxwell, Oaks offered me the following advice: "You ought to go through the Book of Mormon," he said, "and color in all the differences and emphasize the unique and special teachings of the Book of Mormon that don't have any similarities to other sources." (However, Mary Ann's point for being at the meeting in the first place, as she herself said, was not to talk about or debate differences between the Book of Mormon and Spalding texts; rather, she wanted to get answers regarding their similarities in areas of story lines, exact wording, etc).

Compare and contrast the above with Oaks' banquet speech to FARMS:

"Scholarship and physical proofs are worldly values. I understand their value, and I have had some experience in using them. Such techniques speak to many after the manner of their understanding.

"But there are other methods and values, too, and we must not be so committed to scholarship that we close our eyes and ears and hearts to what cannot be demonstrated by scholarship or defended according to physical proofs and intellectual reasoning. . . .

"I admire those scholars for whom scholarship does not exclude faith and revelation. It is part of my faith and experience that the Creator expects us to use the powers of reasoning he has placed within us, and that he also expects us to exercise our divine gift of faith and to cultivate our capacity to be taught by divine revelation.

"But these things do not come without seeking. Those who utilize scholarship and disparage faith and revelation should ponder the Savior's question: 'How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?' (John 5:44)."

--Oaks' Claim That God Has Not Yet Provided Final Proofs as to the Truthfulness of the Book of Mormon from our meeting with Oaks:

After Oaks had presented to us his defense of the Book of Mormon, Mary Ann again asked him and Maxwell how she should deal with the things she had found in her own Book of Mormon. At this point, Oaks (along with Maxwell) said that the jury was still out.

Compare and contrast the above with Oaks' banquet speech to FARMS:

"Another way of explaining the strength of the positive position on the historicity of the Book of Mormon is to point out that we who are its proponents are content with a standoff on this question. Honest investigators will conclude that there are so many evidences that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text that they cannot confidently resolve the question against its authenticity, despite some unanswered questions that seem to support the negative determination.

"In that circumstance, the proponents of the Book of Mormon can settle for a draw or a hung jury on the question of historicity and take a continuance until the controversy can be retried in another forum."

--Oaks on the Weight of Evidence For and Against the Book of Mormon

Oaks in his final assessment of evidentiary proof concerning the Book of Mormon, admitted to us that the arguments for and against the book were "equal," with neither side being able to prove whether the Book of Mormon was true or untrue. In the ultimate analysis, he (and Maxwell) told us, the Book of Mormon had to be accepted on faith.

I responded by telling them that I was attempting to examine both sides of the question and was not convinced that the pro-Book of Mormon side had the advantage. To the contrary, I told them that I was inclined to believe the advantage lay with the book's critics. I said that because I did not regard the evidence on the Book of Mormon to be equally balanced, I therefore did not believe I was obligated to accept it on faith. I also expressed the view that if, in fact, there was an evidentiary advantage to one side or the other, that should then allow for the person doing the investigating to make a decision as to Book of Mormon veracity--outside the realm of faith.

Oaks replied by again saying there was no evidence proving or disproving the Book of Mormon. He placed his right hand over his heart and said, "I get this knot, this warm feeling right here, and that is what I go on." Oaks told us that he had a conviction that the Book of Mormon was "true." He said that feeling of truthfulness came from a "personal witness."

Compare and contrast the above with Oaks' banquet speech to FARMS:

". . . [I]t is our position that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Its authenticity depends, as it says, on a witness of the Holy Spirit. Our side will settle for a draw, but those who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon cannot settle for a draw. They must try to disprove its historicity--or they seem to feel a necessity to do this--and in this they are unsuccessful because even the secular evidence, viewed in its entirety, is too complex for that. . . .

"Speaking for a moment as one whose profession is advocacy, I suggest that if one is willing to acknowledge the importance of faith and the reality of a realm beyond human understanding, the case for the Book of Mormon is the stronger case to argue. The case against the historicity of the Book of Mormon has to prove a negative. You don't prove a negative by prevailing on one debater's point or by establishing some subsidiary arguments."

--Oaks on FARMS' Efforts to Empirically Prove the Book of Mormon

Oaks acknowledged to us that FARMS sometimes gets "hyperactive" in trying to prove that the Book of Mormon is true. He said he becomes concerned when FARMS "stops making shields and starts turning out swords," because, he said, "you cannot prove the Book of Mormon out of the realm of faith." Accepting the Book of Mormon, Oaks said, was ultimately a matter of faith.

Compare and contrast the above with Oaks' banquet speech to FARMS:

"Brothers and Sisters, how grateful we are--all of us who rely on scholarship, faith, and revelation--for what you are doing. God bless the founders and the supporters and the workers of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies. The work that you do is important, it is well-known, and it is appreciated."

--Oaks on the Behavior of Fellow Apostle Boyd K. Packer

Moving to other matters, Oaks' testimony (expressed to me in the second meeting) regarding Mormonism's apostles and prophets was both illuminating--and conditional.

He admitted to me not being impressed with the antics of certain fellow members of the Quorum of the Twelve, notably his senior, Boyd K. Packer.

After it became public knowledge that Packer had improperly involved himself in the excommunication of Mormon dissident, Paul Toscano, Oaks, in referring to Packer, told me, "You can't stage manage a grizzly bear."

Oaks then lied on the record to the press about what he actually knew of Packer's inappropriate behavior and was forced to retract when caught.

--Oaks on When Not to Support the President of the Church

Oaks privately said that he would steadfastly stand by the President of the Church, with one notable exception:

Oaks said he would not defer to the President of the Church if the president were to come out and declare that the Book of Mormon was not true.

If that should happen, Oaks said he would look to the Quorum of the Twelve for a vote as to whether what the Church President had said about the Book of Mormon deserved support.

--Oaks on the Believability of LDS Prophet "Prophecies"

Oaks also did not seem all that certain with regard to the reliability of prophecies uttered by Mormon prophets.

He said that Church members should not be keeping track of which prophecies had been borne out and, further, that prophecies made by Mormon prophets were for private, rather than public, application.

Oaks downplayed the prophetic role of Mormon Church prophets by asserting that prophesying was only a minor responsibility of prophets. Their major role, he declared, was to testify of Jesus Christ.

Oaks further argued that the role of Mormon prophets had evolved over time.

He said, for instance, that the basic doctrines of Mormonism were revealed by Joseph Smith early on in the history of the Church.

Oaks noted that the more modern approach of Church governance has been, since the time of President Joseph F. Smith, to "beseech his counselors in the First Presidency to help him, to watch over him, so that they could together make the right decisions that God wanted them to make."

APOSTLE NEAL A. MAXWELL

When it came to testifying to his own unique apostolic conviction of Christ, Maxwell was just as unimpressive as Oaks.

--Maxwell's Personal "Special Witness" Testimony

In answer to my question posed in my second meeting with Maxwell and Oaks--namely, "What personal spiritual experiences have you had which gave you your testimonies as special witness for Christ?"--Maxwell responded by hearkening back to his days as a boy, when he said he observed his father give a healing "priesthood blessing" to his sibling, whom Maxwell thought was dead.

As with Oaks, this was the totality of Maxwell's answer; again, a boiler plate testimony that I could have heard in any typical LDS sacrament meeting from any typically faithful Mormon.

Again, no account of any personal visitation, in the flesh, from God the Father or Jesus Christ.

Again, no telling of any "road to Damascus" story.

Again, no recounting of angelic visitations.

Again, no description of rushing winds or flames of fire.

Again, "no there there."

--Maxwell on the Book of Mormon

As with Oaks, Maxwell also seemed personally unsure as to the evidentiary proof for the Book of Mormon.

He said, for instance, that God would not provide proof of the Book of Mormon until the end--thereby indicating that such proof did not presently exist.

--Maxwell's Dependence on FARMS to Keep From Being Outflanked by Mormonism's Detractors

Maxwell also said that one of the purposes of FARMS was to prevent the General Authorities from being outflanked by the Church's critics.

In fact, in my second meeting with him and Oaks, Maxwell made an attempt to defend the Book of Abraham's supposed historicity by means of a fax that he requested be sent to him by FARMS from its BYU address, which Maxwell gave to me for reference.

--Maxwell on Following the Prophet

As to how Maxwell personally regarded the pronouncements of president of the Church, he said it was his duty to be loyal to the Church president.

Maxwell added, however, that he did not agree with everything President Ezra Taft Benson had to say on political matters.

This was a particularly interesting admission, given that ETB had earlier (albeit as an apostle) publicly declared that God's prophets could speak authoritatively on all matters, including those of a political nature. (See Ezra Taft Benson's "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," Fundamental #7, at: http://www.lds-mormon.com/fourteen.sh...)

--Maxwell on the Reliability of Mormon Prophet "Prophecies"

Maxwell (like Oaks) warned against keeping "box scores" when it came to tallying which prophecies uttered by Mormon prophets turned out to be turned--and which ones turned out to be false.

He maintained that Mormon prophets spoke as prophets only when they were acting as prophets--but that, for instance, the teachings about people living on the moon attributed to Joseph Smith were probably misreported.

--Maxwell on How the Mormon Church Actually Receives "Revelation" from God

Maxwell also explained how revelation for the Mormon Church was actually received.

He said that Joseph Smith's role as unilaterally revealing doctrine in behalf of the LDS Church was a practice not continued by subsequent Mormon prophets.

Maxwell claimed there are four levels of fundamental Church doctrine:

(1) doctrines revealed by the prophet speaking alone;

(2) doctrines revealed by the prophet in conjunction with his First Presidency counselors;

(3) doctrines revealed in First Presidency statements, with the words of the First Presidency assuming "a special status;" and

(4) doctrines revealed by official declaration.

--Maxwell on How to Tell if the Mormon Prophet Is or Is Not Divinely Inspired

Maxwell (along with Oaks) asserted that declarataions by president of the Mormon Church must be in compliance with the Standard Works of the Church in order to be accepted as scripture.

Maxwell (and Oaks) agreed that when Brigham Young taught what Oaks called the "false" doctrine of Adam-God, it was because he was a young prophet who was in need of the help of some good counselors.

PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON

My grandfather's testimony of Mormonism, as expressed to me repeatedly over the years in personal discussions and correspondence, was rooted in the following two basic beliefs:

*ETB on the Book of Mormon

My grandfather fervently believed that the Book of Mormon was the revealed word of God and an actual historical document. From what I was able to observe, he never, for a moment, questioned its authenticity.

That said, however, I never personally heard or saw him analyze or critique the Book of Mormon in any real depth on issues relating to its alleged historicity, authenticity or reliability.

In private, his feelings about the Book of Mormon were not as resounding or convincing as they were when he was behind the pulpit.

For instance, he did admit to me, one-on-one, that even though he insisted the LDS Church was not neutral on the question of organic evolution, one could argue for or against it from the same Mormon scriptures.

In other words, for all his publicly-expressed confidence in the Book of Mormon, in this particular instance he was not nearly as emphatic or confident in private as he appeared in public about the surety of LDS scripture.

Nevertheless, his hesitancy on that question was not enough to shake his unbending faith in the authenticity of the gold plates.

To my grandfather, they were without question the translated word of God, serving as a pillar of unshakeable, personal, testimonial faith.

Politically speaking, he also told me that ranking second only to revealed Mormon scripture in battling what he called godless Communism were the publications of the John Birch Society--which he also told me via personal correspondence every American should have access to.

*ETB on Obeying the Commands of Mormonism's Ranking Leadership

My grandfather unquestioningly believed and simply accepted that the highest leaders of the Church--most notably, the LDS President and the First Presidency counselors, together with the Quorum of the Twelve--were inspired by God in leading the affairs of the Mormon Church.

He insisted that all must follow the Brethren devoutly--and without skepticism.

For example, when he called me one cold, wintry day in Provo, Utah (at the behest of my distraught mother) to tell me to break off my engagement, he introduced himself to me on the phone by saying, "Stephen, I'm not calling as your grandfather, but as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve."

He did, however, privately acknowledge to me that these Church leaders were human, that they made mistakes, that they did not always agree among themselves on doctrinal matters (such as on the official Church position on organic evolution) and that some matters about which they disagreed among themselves (again, such as with organic evolution) were not necessary to one's eternal salvation.

Still, he told me that obedience to the General Authorities--even if what they claimed to be true was, in fact, wrong--constituted a fundamental principle of the Gospel.

He assured me that God would bless those who followed the Brethren, even when the Brethren were in error.

My grandfather also told me that he did not want me to publish anything that would undermine faith or testimony in the leaders of the Mormon Church. (He gave me this directive while I was doing a BYU undergraduate research paper on the LDS Church's official position on organic evolution).

In short, he was more committed to the idea that obedience trumped truth than the other way around.

--ETB on His Personal Revelatory Encounters with Deity

My grandfather never claimed to me (or anyone else of whom I was aware) that he had personally seen God, Jesus Christ or other divine beings.

He did, however, emotionally inform me that he had had an experience in the Salt Lake temple (regarding the announcement by President Kimball on Blacks and the priesthood) that was too sacred to talk about.

He told me that it was one of the most "spiritual" experiences of his life but that he would not delve into it at all, even though I requested that he do so.

He also informed those in attendance at a Benson family reunion in Nauvoo, Illinois, that there were other matters which he was not at liberty to discuss, either.

What those were, he never did say.

My grandfather was never specific with me in revealing any particular personal experiences of his that formed the basis for his testimony of the truthfulness of Mormonism--other than to bear witness to knowing that truth of LDS claims through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

--Ezra Taft Benson's "Prophetic" Plagiarisms

For all my grandfather's professed belief in Mormon prophets receiving modern revelation from God, his sermonizing actually contained significant, unattributed lifting of material (both in terms of wording and concept) from non-Mormon Christian sources.

In LDS circles, one of the most beloved sermons attributed to the then-Mormn Church president Ezra Taft Benson is the one entitled, "Beware of Pride" (which was actually read on 1 April 1989, at the Saturday morning session of the 159th semi-annual General Conference, not by my grandfather, but by First Presidency counselor Gordon B. Hinckley, who delivered it in his ailing behalf).

This talk by my grandfather has been described by LDS devotees as "[p}erhaps the best remembered of all Ezra Taft Benson's talks . . . [Church] [m]embers from all over the political spectrum love and agree with him here. This talk is . . . loved."

http://www.zionsbest.com/pride.html

http://www.zionsbest.com/top25.html

Moreover, in a glowing obituary of my grandfather authored by his oldest son Reed, the sermon was mentioned as follows:

"Continuing to help set the Church in order and perfect the Saints, he delivered another landmark address entitled 'Beware of Pride' . . ."

http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/da...

Unfortunately, much of ETB's "Pride" sermon was a blatant exercise in plagiarism, extracted from the writings of Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, as found in Lewis' work, "Mere Christianity," under the chapter heading, “The Great Sin” (C.S. Lews, "Mere Christianity," revised and enlarged [New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1952]).

http://www.readinggroupguides.com/gui...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060...

Not only was my grandfather's sermon delivered by someone else, persuasive evidence has surfaced that a person other than Ezra Taft Benson actually researched and wrote the talk.

That person was Reed Benson's wife.

First, a line-by-line comparison of the text of both documents provides clear and convincing evidence that a major source source for ETB's talk on pride was, in fact, the earlier work of Lewis.

Examples of these plagiarisms are listed below, by category.

*Pride is the Ultimate Vice*

Lewis:

"The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride." (p. 109)

Benson:

"Pride is the universal sin, the great vice."

*The Competitive Nature of Pride*

Lewis:

"Pride is essentially competitive--is competitive by is very nature . . .” (p. 109)

". . . Pride is essentially competitive in a way that other vices are not." (p. 110)

"Pride is competitive by its very nature." (p. 110)

“Once the element of competition has gone, pride is gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not.” (p. 110)

Lewis:

"A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you." (p.111)

Benson:

"Pride is essentially competitive in nature. . . .

”Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled."

*The Proud See Themselves Being Above Others*

Lewis:

“When you delight wholly in yourself and do not care about the praise at all, you have reached the bottom.” (p. 112)

Benson:

“Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us.”

“There is, however, a more common ailment among us and that is pride from the bottom looking up."

*Pride Equals Enmity*

Lewis:

"Pride always means enmity--it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God." (p.111)

Benson:

"The central feature of pride is enmity--enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowman."

“Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers.”

“Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen.”

*Pride and Self-Value*

Lewis:

"You value other people enough to want them to look at you." (p. 112)

Benson:

"The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not."

*Pride vs. Humility*

Lewis:

"The virtue opposite to it [pride], in Christian morals, is called Humility." (p. 109)

“ . . . if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble–delightfully humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which had made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible . . .” (p. 114)

Benson:

"The antidote for pride is humility . . . "

“Choose to be humble. God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.”

*Pride Not Admitted in Self*

Lewis:

"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves." (pp. 108-09)

Benson:

"Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves."

Only once in ETB's sermon was proper credit given to C.S. Lewis as a source:

"The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: 'Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. . . . It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone' ("Mere Christianity" [New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109-10)."

Now, as to the individual who actually researched and wrote Ezra Taft Benson’s “Beware of Pride” sermon.

Several years ago, Mary Ann and I visited with May Benson, wife of Reed Benson (Ezra Taft Benson’s oldest child), in their home in Provo, Utah, during which time the subject of pride and my grandfather’s sermon on the matter was a focus of conversation.

The first occasion was prior to the public delivery of Ezra Taft Benson’s sermon by Gordon B. Hinckley in the April 1989 General Conference and the second visit took place after the speech.

May told us that she had very strong feelings about the subject of pride. She was especially offended and concerned with what she regarded as the Benson family's own problems with pride.

(In fact, May had gotten up in disgust and walked out of a wedding breakfast for one of my sisters, Meg, when one of the daughters of Ezra Taft Benson, Beverly Benson Parker, as she was listening to the father of the groom, Cap Ferry, make some remarks to the assembled, leaned over and whispered to others at the table, "Well, we know which family was blessed with the spirituality").

May also said she had put together quite a few thoughts on the subject of pride that she hoped someday to compile and publish in a book.

However, after my grandfather’s pride sermon was delivered, May said that she no longer felt it necessary to publish her hoped-for book. Why? Because, she indicated, her husband Reed had spoken with Ezra Taft Benson about her research on the topic.

May was clearly indicating to us that her information and study efforts had been used in crafting my grandfather’s sermon on pride.

However, the true extent of May Benson's involvement in that effort was not shared with us by her and did not become evident until some time later.

Reliable sources in Provo subsequently informed me of rumors that May herself may have worked on Ezra Taft Benson’s sermon.

This I was able to confirm conclusively from a very credible source inside the Benson family who knows May quite well, who was directly familiar with the situation and who wishes to remain anonymous.

The source told me in a face-to-face meeting that May Benson, daughter-in-law of Ezra Taft Benson through marriage to his son Reed, traveled to St. George, Utah, where over a period of several weeks “she wrote his talk.”

It appears that those responsible for the production and delivery of Ezra Taft Benson's "Beware of Pride" sermon were themselves too prideful to acknowlege that:

--(1) the sermon was largely plagiarized from the earlier works of a noted Christian writer; and

--(2) the sermon was actually ghost-written by a woman doing research on the talk for an uninspired Mormon "prophet."

To borrow from an old Mormon hymn, praise to the man who depends on a woman.

APOSTLE BRUCE R. McCONKIE

In a lengthy face-to-face conversation I had with McConkie at his home while doing a BYU research paper on the official Mormon Church position on the subject of organic evolution, McConkie strongly emphasized what was an obvious and fundamental basis for his belief in the truthfulness of the Mormon Church.

--McConkie's Criticism of Sitting Mormon Church Presidents as Being in Uninspired Opposition to the Standard Works

It was McConkie's assertion to me that the doctrinal foundation of Mormonism were that the Standard Works of the Church, which he argued served as the ultimate authority in determining LDS doctrinal truth--even more so than the words of the so-called "living prophets."

McConkie said that the canonized LDS scriptures superceded anything that living Presidents of the Church had declared, or might declare.

He said that the Standard Works served as the final test--the pre-eminent standard of measurement--in ascertaining the validity of any claim made by Mormon Church leaders, including teachings of both living and dead presidents of the Church.

Otherwise, McConkie told me, these scriptures would not be known as the "Standard" Works.

In making this claim, McConkie specifically criticized in my presence two LDS Church presidents whom he said had made uninspired pronouncements while serving as heads of the Church.

Their pronouncements were false, he argued, because what they said was clearly contradicted by the LDS Standard Works.

The first was President Brigham Young, for his teachings on the Adam-God doctrine (specifically, that Adam, of Adam and Eve fame, was actually our Heavenly Father and had sired Jesus Christ through sexual intercourse with Mary).

On this subject, McConkie admitted to me that one could quote Young against himself.

The second Mormon Church head to utter false doctrine in that capacity was, McConkie told me, President David O. McKay.

McConkie said that McKay delivered untruths to BYU students in a campus oration, in which he advised them to study the theory of organic evolution and the geologic history pointing to an ancient earth.

McKay told the students that organic evolution was a beautiful theory, as long as God was not divorced from it, and that the Earth was, in fact, millions of years old.

McConkie informed me that these claims of McKay had not been inspired by the Holy Ghost.

McConkie did not admit to having himself made any doctrinal errors himself. In this area, his testimony seemed to rest on his own sense of doctrinal infallibility.

In fact, McConkie told me that his emphatic claim (published in the first edition of his book "Mormon Doctrine" but edited out of its second edition) that the Roman Catholic Church was the Church of the Devil was true.

When I asked him to explain its deletion from the books later edition, McConkie insisted that it was removed not because it was not true but because it was too difficult for people to accept.

--McConkie's "Prophetic" Plagiarisms

Years after personally meeting with McConkie, I discovered through researching McConkie's own sermonized writings that he, too, had plagiarized non-Mormon sources without attribution for General Conference remarks.

In his case, McConkie relied on an unknown Arab in donning a "divinely inspired" disguise.

Faithful Mormons took the hook.

For example, in eulogizing the by-then-dead McConkie at a BYU fireside, then-member of the First Quorum of the Seventy John K. Carmack offered this glowing tribute to McConkie, comparing the Mormon Church to caravan moving steadily advancing into eternal realms of glory:

” . . . [A]s an expression of his confidence in the Church, and as a seer whose words light the pathway we must travel as we endure to the end of that path, Elder McConkie saw the road ahead and the kingdom as a moving caravan triumphantly moving to its destiny.”

http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader...

Carmack was borrowing his in-memorium caravan image from an earlier McConkie sermon entitled “The Caravan Moves On.”

Come to find out, McConkie himself had lifted the caravan metaphor (without attribution) from an old Arab proverb.

McConkie’s sermon (which appeared in the November 1984 issue of the Ensign) likened critics of the Mormon Church to dogs yapping at the heels of the caravan of truth as it rolled ahead, undaunted and undeterred by apostate hounds nipping at its rear.

Declared McConkie in solemn, stolen tones:

”The Church is like a great caravan--organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.

”What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way?

"The caravan moves on.

”Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise.

"The caravan moves on.

”Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere.

"The caravan moves on.

”Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest.

"Thank God that the caravan moves on!

”In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.”

http://www.schoolofabraham.com/carava...

McConkie’s celestial caravan imagery was purloined from what has proven to be a popular ancient Arab proverb. In historical practice, the caravan line has been used to illustrate all kinds of points of view, McConkie’s anti-dog doctrine being just one of them.

The utility of this well-known Arab proverb was illustrated when Russian President Vladimir Putin was mentioned in a news article as "recit[ing] a long list of Russia's economic accomplishments during his presidency, dismissing foreign critics of Russia's worthiness for Group of Eight membership with a proverb: ‘The dog keeps barking, but the caravan moves on.’"

http://smh.com.au/news/world/hamas-mu...

But far from McConkie to give thanks to some lowly, brown-skinned Arab, although he's not named in history as the proverb's originator:

http://www.wiseoldsayings.com/wosdire...

Old myths about supposedly inspired Mormon leader utterances die hard. (As they say, never let the facts get in the way of a good prophecy).

In a talk delivered at a Brigham Young University-Idaho devotional entitled “Obedience to the Commandments of the Lord,” Kim B. Clark soberly to make a nonsensical point.

" . . . I would like to marry Nephi’s metaphor of the iron rod and the strait and narrow path to another image given us by another prophet, seer, and revelator in our day. I think in so doing we may see new dimensions of the journey and gain deeper understanding of what we must do to obtain eternal life.

"The metaphor I have in mind was given to us by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in a talk he gave in General Conference in the fall of 1984.

"Let’s listen to Elder McConkie:

"'The Church is like a great caravan--organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of ten and captains of hundreds in place.

"‘What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way?

"The caravan moves on.

"'Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise.

"'The caravan moves on.

"'Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, rivers to ford? Such is life in the fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.

“'Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest.

"'Thank God that the caravan moves on!'”

http://www.byui.edu/Presentations/Tra...

Sorry to burst the testimonial bubble of the Mormon faithful, but McConkie did not give them that inspiring metaphor.

An anonymous Arab--one long lost to history--did.

Time to move on.

To borrow from Islamic scripture, "There is no God but Allah and McConkie's not his prophet."

PRESIDENT SPENCER W. KIMBALL

During the course of my BYU research paper on the official LDS stand regarding organic evolution, I repeatedly corresponded with Kimball, who was then Mormon Church President.

It proved to largely be an exercise in futility.

--Kimball's Inability and Unwillingness to Give Direct Answers to Gospel Questions on Organic Evolution

Throughout the course of our exchanges, I had a difficult and increasingly frustrating time obtaining direct and clear answers from him on the subject, even though I made specific and detailed inquiries.

For instance, on the question of previous First Presidency statements on the physical origins of humankind, Kimball informed me in personal correspondence that he was not familiar with the First Presidency statements I had cited in my initial correspondence with him and requested that I mail them to him, which I did.

Clearly, whatever confidence Kimball had in the truthfulness of Mormonism was not always based on official Mormon positions enunciated by the Presidents of the Church, some of which he admitted to me he knew nothing.

However, in contradicting Kimball for whom he worked, Secretary to the Office of the First Presidency Arthur C. Haycock later told me in a phone conversation that Kimball was incorrect in confessing to me ignorance about the First Presidency statements he had asked me to send him.

In a discussion from his Church office in Salt Lake City, Haycock informed me that Kimball was, in fact, aware of those official First Presidency statements--but that he had forgotten he was aware of them.

When I asked Haycock for permission to reproduce Kimball’s correspondence to me in a BYU undergraduate research paper I was doing on the subject, Haycock said I could--as long as I made it clear in my paper that the interpretations reached about Kimball's correspondence with me were my own.

Haycock did not offer me Kimball’s explanatons of his owncorrespondence with me, assuming Kimball had any to give.

On the subject of organic evolution and faith, the only direction Kimball gave me was to ask if I had Henry Eyring's book, "Faith of a Scientist," in which Eyring asserted that science and religion both served as tools in the search for truth: the former in helping people avoid myth; and the latter in directing people toward God.

When I told Kimball that I had read Eyring's book (a copy of which had been given to me by my grandfather) and asked him to provide me with his own views on it, Kimball remained silent.

Over the course of several months I had doggedly pressed Kimball for answers but received nothing of substance from him.

Eventually, the First Presidency (consisting of Kimball and his two counselors, N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney) signed and sent a letter to my Arizona bishop, directing him to answer my questions in their behalf.

To assist the bishop in that effort, Kimball, Tanner and Romney included a 1909 statement from the First Presidency of Joseph F. Smith on the subject of organic evolution--a statement that Kimball had told me in his earlier correspondence with me that he was not familiar with and which had I ended up sending to him, at his request.

Although they included the 1909 statement for use by my bishop in explaining to me the official Church position on organic evolution to me, the Kimball First Presidency did not tell my bishop what that statement meant.

Despite Kimball's, Tanner's and Romney's directive to my bishop to answer my questions on the official Church stance on organic evolution, the bishop felt unqualified to do so.

Therefore, the bishop advised me to write Kimball one more time, requesting further clarification on the subject.

I did so but Kimball never answered back.

APOSTLE MARK E. PETERSEN

In conducting my research on the question of the official Mormon Church position on organic evolution, I also corresponded with Petersen.

--Petersen's Admission That He Anonymously Wrote 'Church News' Editorials and That They Were Only His Opinion

Petersen evidenced in personal correspondence with me a lack of firm belief in the seemingly official pronouncements of even unsigned editorials in the official LDS publication, the "Church News."

In pressing him, Petersen admitted to me the following:

*The unsigned "Church News" editorials written on the subject of organic evolution had actually been authored by him.

*These editorials represented his personal opinion only.

*Official statements on Church doctrine came soley from signed First Presidency statements.

--Peterson's Failure to Explain Official Mormon Church Positions

Petersen then refused to tell me, even though I specifically asked him to so, what the official Mormon Church position was on the topic of organic evolution.

PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN TO EXPOSE THE GENERAL AUTHORITY TESTIMONIAL PARADE CHARADE

The above statements by Mormonism's supposed prophets, seers and revelators amply speak for themselves.

Based upon their own admissions and practices, these men do not have persuasive, convincing or complete knowledge concerning the truthfulness of Mormon doctrine or scripture.

Nor do they have unswerving confidence in the ability of Mormon prophets, including the President of the Church, to speak divine truth.

The LDS Church is a demonstrable fraud--rooted in myths perpetrated by its leaders in public, confessed by them in private and exposed by their own sermons written for consumption by the believing Mormon masses.
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Fidel Castro, LDS And Ezra Taft Benson : One Thing The Old Commie Coot Had Over His Fellow LDS Cult Dictators
Thursday, Feb 21, 2008, at 07:58 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
At least he knew when to leave office.

Speaking of the homegrown Havana despot, my grandfather used to privately complain to me that despite the New York Times' hailing of Fidel Castro as "the George Washington of Cuba," ETB knew that he was an unrepentant Communist to the core.

My grandfather further told me that he warned then-U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower (under whom my grandfather was serving in the Cabinet at the time) that Castro was as Red of a Red as Red could be and would manifest his true Commie colors in no time.

Even as he told me this, however, he shrugged in resignation, noting that he was merely the Secretary of Agriculture, not the Secretary of State, and that no one was bothering to listen to his warnings.

So strongly was my grandfather opposed to Castro that he felt the United States should have invoked the Monroe Doctrine to keep foreign countries out of our self-declared sphere of influence (i.e, the Western Hemisphere)--meaning that we should have launched a military invasion of Cuba to drive out the Soviets.

Parroting the line of his hero and founder of the John Birch Society Robert Welch, my grandfather also told me that Eisenhower's refusal to topple Castro led him to conclude that either Ike was a Communist dupe or a knowing Communist agent.

ETB also wrote to me via personal correspondence, declaring that outside the Mormon Church, the Birch Society was the most effective tool on the planet fighting the worldwide Communist menace.

Sigh . . . those were the days.

Holy Hulabaloo Hysteria: the words of Mormon scripture mingled with the words of Mormon men. :)
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Oops: Etb's Ill-Advised Prophesies That This Is The Last Generation Before Jesus Comes Back
Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009, at 08:27 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
At least that's what he pounded home to students at BYU. Were any of you there when he declared the following?:

"My beloved brothers and sisters, . . . [y]ou students are a part of a choice young generation--a generation which might well witness the return of our Lord.

"Not only is the Church growing in numbers today, it is growing in faithfulness and, even more important, our young generation, as a group, is even more faithful than the older generation.

"God has reserved you for the eleventh hour--the great and dreadful day of the Lord. It will be your responsibility not only to help bear off the kingdom of God triumphantly but to save your own soul and strive to save those of your family and to honor the principles of our inspired Constitution. . . .

"May God bless us all to look to the prophet and the presidency in the critical and crucial days ahead is my prayer. . . ."

"For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord. Every previous gospel dispensation has drifted into apostasy, but ours will not.

"True, there will be some individuals who will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head--even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time.

"It is that God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God. . . .

"My beloved brothers and sisters, . . . [y]ou are a royal generation. The heavenly grandstands are cheering you on. We are fast coming to the close of this game. The opposition is real and is scoring. But we have scored, we are scoring, and we will score in the future. The Lord is our coach and manager. His team will win, and we can be a valiant part of it if we so desire.

"Rise up, O youth of Zion! You hardly realize the great divine potential that lies within you. May you all follow your leader, Jesus Christ, and increase mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially, I pray for all of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," devotional address at Brigham Young University, Marriott Center, Provo, Utah, 26 February 1980; and Benson, "In His Steps," devotional address at Brigham Young University, Marriott Center, Provo, Utah, 4 March 1979)
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Ezra Taft Benson Didn't Think Liberal Republicans Made Good Mormons, Either: The Case Of Neal A. Maxwell
Friday, Nov 13, 2009, at 08:13 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
In documenting that view of ETB, authors Gary Bergera and Ron Priddis, in their book, "Brigham Young University: A House of Faith" (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1985, pp. 221, 455), also mention the anti-Neal A. Maxwell views of my grandfather:

"He [ETB] subsequently maintained that a 'liberal Mormon' could not be a 'good Mormon if he [were] living the gospel and understood it.'

"He thus opposed the appointment of Neal A. Maxwell as church commissioner of education in 1970 because, in part, Maxwell 'leaned too much in the direction of self-styled liberals'. . . ."

I can verify that fact from my own personal experience with my grandfather.

I was in the home of my parents one evening, where my grandfather happened to be visiting.

He told them that he didn't understand why Maxwell was being appointed as Church Commissioner of Education because, my grandfather complained, Maxwell was such a "liberal."

Nonetheless, with an air of resignation, ETB then added that he was going to accept the decision because it was his duty to follow the prophet, who happened to be David O. McKay at the time.

Maxwell--for what it's worth--was not a Democrat. He was a Republican, who was one time on the staff of Utah Senator Wallace F. Bennett.

http://www.ldsmag.com/books/020510dis...

So, apparently according to Ezra Taft Benson, you can't be a liberal Republican or a liberal Democrat--and a good Mormon--all at the same time.

Which is interesting because ETB's second-oldest child, Mark Benson (my father), was a counselor to Maxwell when Maxwell was bishop of a University of Utah student ward. :)
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LDS Attitude Towards Rock Music, Talents, Art, Featuring Ezra Taft Benson And Lynn Bryson
Wednesday, Nov 10, 2010, at 08:23 AM
Original Author(s): Bernelli
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Even the most faithful among us would have to concede that there are some people who use religion in order to obtain their own objectives, and sometimes those objectives have absolutely nothing to do with the actual scriptures and doctrines which allegedly serve as the basis not only of their faith, but of any subsequent claims that are presented as a natural extension of it. Statements made by religious authority carry a lot of weight among the faithful, and may have profound social and cultural consequences which deserve thoughtful consideration. And it seems only fair to say that individuals placed in positions of religious leadership - especially individuals whose statements are seen as prophetic clarifications or even additions to canonical religious doctrine - have a responsibility to make sure that the statements that they make do not contain factual errors and gross, objectively observable inaccuracies. Additionally, if a religious leader says something that might have been considered plausible at thetime but later turns out to be factually inaccurate, the leader (or those who succeed him or her) has an obligation to their congregation to acknowledge the error instead of insisting that their membership continue to believe in (and defend) any untrue thing. To do otherwise is an abuse of the concepts of both religious authority and religious obedience.

I'm not really going out on a limb by saying any of this, as the contents of this paragraph likely appeal to most people's sense of what is to be considered fair and appropriate exercise of religious authority. After all, these are not exactly avant-garde "thinking-outside-the-box" ideas that I'm espousing, but rather innocuous and sensible values that are, for the most part, broadly accepted with little, if any, controversy.

But religion has proven its willingness to fight in order to preserve preciously-held beliefs, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And it is willing to go to almost any length to silence opposing thought. Just ask Galileo, who was punished by the Catholic church for suggesting that, in direct contradiction of the Bible, the Earth wasn't the center of the universe, and that the Earth orbited the sun instead of vice-versa. Religion fought the idea of empirical science explaining the phenomena of the universe tooth and nail, especially when the conclusions of science contradicted the teachings of the church.

At some point, society had to concede to reason, and science's explanation of the heliocentric solar system was eventually accepted, at the expense of religion's credibility on such matters. But that took a very long time, and obviously, when one observes the ongoing debate over evolution, it is clear that the battle continues.

At the same time, I don't believe that drawing from the historical record and talking about events that actually happened should be construed as an attack on religion. Everything that I've written here is historical fact that isn't argued by religious scholarship. These things happened, and continue to happen, whether one likes it or not. My pointing out events from the inarguable historical record is no more of an attack on religion than a historian stating that slavery was condoned in this country prior to Lincoln could be considered an attack on the United States. Whatever happened, happened, regardless of whether or not any specific individual is able to come to terms with it.

Additionally, it is unfortunate the extent to which religion sometimes conditions its members to see any conflicting opinion as an all-out attack, and, once perceived as an attack, members are often conditioned to take it personally. This attitude that religious ideas or statements are never to be questioned, coupled with the assumption that anyone who dares question religious assumptions must therefore be fallen, or evil, or under Satan's influence, makes any rational discussion of any even remotely controversial topic impossible. This is why the right-wing "Tea Party" movement appeals to so many religious people - they are accustomed to declaring the infallible righteousness of their ideas without having to substantiate any of their claims with problematic facts or evidence. And this is why it took over 350 years for the Catholic church to finally acknowledge that, in spite of banning his books, placing him under house arrest for the rest of his life and threatening him with torture if he didn't recant hisobservations, Galileo hadn't actually done anything wrong when he observed that the movement of objects in the heavens didn't jive with the religious assumption of a tiny, geocentric universe.

At the time of Galileo's persecutions at the hand of the Catholic church, the church arrogantly assumed that it's beliefs about the true nature of the universe were divine revelations received from no less than the mind of God. Obviously, that assumption was wrong, and no warm fuzzy feeling assumed to be spiritual manifestation of God's truth was going to make it otherwise. Yet, religion hasn't stopped making wild, contestable assumptions which continue to compromise its credibility. If religion is God's mouthpiece, then God seems more than willing to make his most pious and devoted servants look like complete imbeciles. Now there's a great boss.

It might be seen as an attack to state that when it comes to the arts, religion has historically positioned itself as moral arbiter, declaring which works were to be considered acceptable and which works were not - determinations frequently made for somewhat less-than-enlightened reasons. But again, there are plenty of facts available to support this statement. These arbitrary determinations of what is to be considered acceptable continue well into the present day, and have certainly been evident within my lifetime.

Perhaps nothing explains the cultural attitude towards the arts that I was raised within any better than a speech that was delivered in 1971 by a high-ranking member of the leadership of the church I was raised in. Now, I sort of have to tread carefully here, simply because having been raised in the church, most of the people I know and who I still value as my friends are church members, but even more so because the culture of the church that I was raised in still bears the scars of persecution from generations ago and has developed a persecution complex in which EVERYTHING is seen as an attack and EVERYTHING considered an attack is to be taken personally. But in any case, all I'm going to do is repeat what somebody in a position of religious authority actually said, and I'm going to try to stay out of the way here so that his words don't get misconstrued as an attack by me.

Here's some of what was said back in 1971, when I was four years old:

"Never in our memory have the forces of evil been arrayed in such deadly formation. The devil is well organized. Never in our day has he had so many emissaries working for him. Through his many agents, his satanic majesty has proclaimed his intentions to destroy one whole generation of our choice young people."

"The devil-inspired destructive forces are present in our literature, in our art, in the movies, on the radio, in our dress, in our dances, on the TV screen, and even in our modern, so-called popular music. Satan uses many tools to weaken and destroy the home and family and especially our young people. Today, as never before, it seems the devil’s thrust is directed at our youth."

At this point, the speaker cites somebody identified as "a concerned father... (and a) well-informed teacher of youth, (and) member of a college music department" and states the following about "the evil effects of some popular music":

“Music creates atmosphere. Atmosphere creates environment. Environment influences behavior. What are the mechanics of this process?

“Rhythm is the most physical element in music. It is the only element in music that can exist in bodily movement without benefit of sound. A mind dulled by drugs or alcohol can still respond to the beat.

“Loudness adds to muddling the mind. Sound magnified to the threshold of pain is of such physical violence as to block the higher processes of thought and reason. (And turning down the volume of this destructive music does not remove the other evils.)

“Repetition to the extreme is another primitive rock device.

“Gyrations, a twin to rock rhythm, are such that even clean hands and a pure heart cannot misinterpret their insinuations.

“Darkness [and dimmed lights] is another facet of the rock scene. It is a black mass that deadens the conscience in a mask of anonymity. Identity lost in darkness shrinks from the normal feelings of responsibility.

“Strobe lights split the darkness in blinding shafts that reduce resistance like the lights of an interrogator’s third degree or the swinging pendulum of the hypnotist who would control your behavior.

“The whole psychedelic design [this father continues] is a swinging door to drugs, sex, rebellion, and Godlessness. Combined with the screaming obscenities of the lyrics, this mesmerizing music has borne the fruit of filth. Leaders of the rock society readily proclaim their degeneracy.

“And the most diabolical deceit of this infamy is that it denies evil to be an absolute. Our religion is one of absolutes and cannot be rationalized into a relativistic philosophy of the ‘liberal (church members).’ We cannot safely rationalize away righteousness.

“What could be more misguided than fear that ‘if rock music were not endorsed by our leaders, we may lose many young people.’ Even now we are losing them to the songs of Satan, drugs, sex, riot, and apostasy."

The speaker, no longer quoting another source, then goes on to say that "The hedonist, who proclaims “Do your thing,” who lives for sinful, so-called pleasure, is never happy. Behind his mask of mock gaiety lurks the inevitable tragedy of eternal death. Haunted by its black shadow, he trades the useful, happy life for the bleak forgetfulness of drugs, alcohol, sex, and rock." He goes on to endorse censorship by suggesting that certain rock songs "be stricken from our songbooks."

"No filth is implied in many of the lyrics. It is proclaimed," he continues, “If there are any doubts as to the insidious evil of rock, you can judge by its fruits. The well-publicized perversions of its practitioners alone are enough to condemn its influence. Its ultimate achievement is that contemporary phenomenon, the mammoth rock music festival. As these diseased celebrations mount into the hundreds, they infect youth by the hundreds of thousands. And where is there today a rock festival that is not also a drug festival, a sex festival, and a rebellion festival?”

"The speech of the rock festival is often obscene. Its music, crushing the sensibilities in a din of primitive idolatry, is in glorification of the physical to the debasement of the spirit. In the long panorama of man’s history, these youthful rock music festivals are among Satan’s greatest successes. The legendary orgies of Greece and Rome cannot compare to the monumental obscenities found in these cesspools of drugs, immorality, rebellion, and pornophonic sound. The famed Woodstock festival was a gigantic manifestation of a sick nation. Yet the lurid movie and rock recordings of its unprecedented filth were big business in our own mountain home."

Sheesh, where to begin...

The funny thing is that in spite of the fact that I just quoted a huge portion of the speech, even quoting complete paragraphs at a time, there is somebody out there who will probably attempt to discredit me by saying that I took the above information "out of context." This would, of course, be a lame argument, and pretty much what I'd expect from someone who couldn't really argue the content.

The next argument that would probably be thrown at me is something along the lines of "but Karis, the speaker isn't making the grand, sweeping condemnation that you accuse him of making. He clearly states his concerns about "the evil effects of some popular music," and that "the speech of the rock festival is often obscene." Those aren't absolutist statements, so I don't see how you could interpret them as a sweeping condemnation of all rock music."

While there is no denying that the qualifiers "some" and "often" appear in those two sentences, in the context of the larger speech and the numerous broad condemnations made without qualifiers, they seem hardly representative of the speaker's point. In fact, when the speaker states that "No filth is implied in many of the lyrics," he doesn't follow up the statement with an acknowledgment that plenty of safe music exists within rock, but instead declares that filth "is proclaimed." Statements such as "The devil-inspired destructive forces are present... in our modern, so-called popular music," "This mesmerizing music has borne the fruit of filth," "songs of Satan, drugs, sex, riot, and apostasy," "the bleak forgetfulness of drugs, alcohol, sex, and rock," "the insidious evil of rock," "Its music, crushing the sensibilities in a din of primitive idolatry," and "The legendary orgies of Greece and Rome cannot compare to the monumental obscenities found in these cesspools of drugs, immorality, rebellion, and pornographic sound" contain no such qualifiers. Further, looking at the manner in which he cites that our religion is "one of absolutes and cannot be rationalized into a relativistic philosophy," it seems pretty clear that the speaker isn't splitting hairs. The speaker clearly isn't attempting to caution church members about some worrisome content that might be found in some rock, he is, in fact, making sweeping, unqualified condemnations of what he considers "unprecedented filth." The audience isn't hearing qualifiers. They're hearing condemnation. And the speaker, as a result of his status as a religious authority, is providing them with the justification to approach the subject not with logic and reason, or even with respect for the right of others, but with irrational, fear-based assumptions coupled with a perception that they are in possession of "righteous" anger. And even though the scope of the speaker's fear-mongering statements is infused with such unjustified exaggeration and hyperbole that his accusations objectively become untrue, his believers go off half-cocked into the world, armed only with exaggerations, falsehoods and assumptions that they accept without question, making their own sweeping condemnations with the utmost confidence, and even attempting to infringe upon the liberties of others (to create or to listen to the music they choose) with callous apathy.

It is important to note that this speaker, Ezra Taft Benson, who later rose to the highest position of leadership in the church, was a member of the John Birch Society who considered the Civil Rights Movement to be a communist plot. I'm not kidding. He simply wasn't the type of person who qualified his statements, so there's no reason to pretend that he was approaching this topic with a great concern for, you know, honesty and accuracy. Even if there were some legitimate concerns about some rock music that were worth expressing to the church congregation, and I concede that, at least from the perspective of mainstream conservativism, there were, this blustery old coot was more committed to bombastic fearmongering than he was to the truth, and he compromised both the integrity of his argument and his own credibility as a result.

But, that only matters if you are really evaluating the logic and rationality of his argument, which, of course, his audience wasn't. I could easily go on for pages and pages, crucifying this speaker's logic (such as it is) and arguments, because, believe me, there are a LOT of vulnerabilities to exploit (for instance, does his statement that "never in our memory have the forces of evil been arrayed in such deadly formation" place the perceived evils of rock music as even worse than that of, oh, for example, the Nazis? The Taliban?). But much of the debate would fall upon deaf ears simply because the speaker was a church authority, and therefore anything that tumbles from his lips is pretty much accepted by the church membership at face value.

For example, his argument that the lifestyles of the musicians are enough to justify the condemnation of their work as evil is clearly bullshit. While the debauchery of some musicians has been well-publicized, the speaker is making assumptions about the lifestyles of all rock musicians - again, there was no attempt made to qualify his statement - and conveniently ignoring the fact that utilizing this criterion as a standard for evaluation would also effectively condemn much classical music, significant works of art and architecture around the world, and numerous professional athletes. According to this speaker's logic, Tiger Woods' putting is to be considered immoral, as the talent and ability required to sink a putt stems from someone who has lived (according to the standards of the church) an immoral lifestyle. A businessman's company should be considered immoral if the owner cheats on his wife. Tax returns prepared by an accountant who views pornography is to be considered immoral. If your teeth are cleaned by a homosexual dental hygienist, then one would suppose that (according to the so-called morals of the church) the brightness of your smile should be considered immoral. I mean, really.

Now, like I said before, this speech was just one example of the attitude that the culture that I grew up in had, and in some cases, still has, about rock music. This speech isn't the flashpoint of such thinking, and certainly didn't represent the attitudes of every single member of the church. Not by a long shot. But, as the words were spoken by a church authority that are assumed to represent official church policy, and therefore the only way that church members could distance themselves from the claims being made by the church was through some form of disobedience. In a church of absolutes, if you're not marching in step with the others, you're an apostate. How dare you doubt the orders of the high command.

Just a reminder - even though I've criticized a speech, divulged info about the background of the speaker, criticized the use of religious authority and the expectation to conform, criticized the assumption of the possession of unquestionable truths without evidence, and criticized a culture's willingness to abandon its critical thinking skills by accepting claims at face value - I HAVE NOT ATTACKED RELIGION. Technically, I haven't. Promise kept. Peace and love, my homies.

In fairness, rock and roll culture has done little to thwart the commonly-held perception that it was threatening and even dangerous to the mainstream. Frequently, it seemed to revel in such a perception. The manner in which it questioned long-held traditional values was seen as a radical assault on the status quo, and the manner in which it aligned itself with the civil rights, the Native American rights and the women's rights movements in the 1960's - openly rejecting societal constructs which, when it comes right down to it, have continued to exist thanks, in no small part, to the the sanctioned marginalization of women and ethnic races presented in the Bible - was anathema to the conservative mainstream. Opposition to the Vietnam War and openly questioning the government were also seen as radical, and even communistic, behaviors. Instead of attempting to understand what was happening within this growing social movement and/or the underlying reasons why, many of the practitioners of religion chose, as theyfrequently do, to simply condemn. Hey, it required less effort, and you didn't have to sit in a beanbag chair pretending to like sitar music.

In the early 1980's, there was a travelling huckster named Lyn Bryson who went from town to town preaching about the evils of rock music. Somehow he was able to convince local chapels and meetinghouses to commit to two consecutive nights of his seminars, and the church leadership promoted these events heavily - utilizing fear, of course, ensuring that Mr. Bryson would have a packed house to preach to. He came and spoke at my church when I was about 15 years old.

On the first night of the "seminar," he railed at length about how dangerous rock music was to today's youth, and described a clear (in his opinion) connection between rock music and, of all things, astral projection, which, although myself and my friends had never heard of (and haven't heard mentioned since), Bryson seemed assured was spiritually dangerous and commonplace and a clear and present moral threat. Once he had sufficiently made the congregation, well, essentially fear its own imagination, he told horrific tales of Satanism, spoke of the power of pentagrams, subliminal messages and backward masking, and made it clear that rock music was the devil's chosen medium with which to communicate with and control the young. The centerpiece of his lecture was an in-depth evaluation of the lyrics to "Stairway To Heaven," in which each line was interpreted in the most devious, spiritually malicious way possible, pointing the way and establishing clear precedent for parents to rifle through their children's record collections and assume that anything that was ambiguous or that they didn't understand, no matter how potentially innocuous, was interpreted in the most fearful way. Undoubtedly, many records were thrown in the garbage by terrified parents when Bryson came to town.

One of the oddest things about the first night's lecture (at least structurally, given how batshit crazy the content was), was the fact that he continually made reference to the importance of attending the second night's lecture. Every few minutes he would reference some crucially important detail that he couldn't really talk about tonight but would cover in detail the next night. In spite of the fact that he already had a crowded room and a more or less captive audience, he was shamelessly plugging the next night's lecture.

Upon arriving the second night, Bryson's previously hidden agenda was now made clear. The second night was more of a concert than a seminar. Bryson, guitar in hand, presented a performance of his own original music, and, of course, cassettes of his songs were available for purchase. Parents who were now, as a result of having attending the first night's lecture, wracked with fear about the satanic influences in, well, everything, could feel assured that Mr. Bryson's music was quite possibly the safest, most trustworthy music for their children's delicate ears. And parents who felt guilty about demolishing their children's record collections the previous night could compensate with a gift of, you guessed it, Lyn Bryson playing guitar and singing his bland, non-threatening and patently awful music on cassette. Also available for sale was a series of cassettes of Bryson's anti-rock lectures, souvenirs of his crusade to terrorize congregations into obedience. By the time people realized that they had been taken (assuming, of course, that they ever did), Bryson, like the circuit preachers and snake-oil salesmen of the past, would be busily spreading paranoia and selling his wares to a desperately terrified audience in another town.

In a way, one has to admire the man's verve. The "churches" section of the yellow pages in every city provided dozens of potential contacts, and these churches would, out of some misplaced sense of moral obligation to protect the youth from Satan's influence, do all of the promotion for Bryson's "seminars," and once the congregation was gathered, Bryson could then push all of the emotional buttons which, in turn, created a viable market for his music in a community that otherwise wouldn't have likely shown any interest in his work at all. Whether he actually believed anything that he said in his seminar is almost entirely beside the point. He knew how to make religion work for him. Even if everything that came out of his mouth was complete bullshit - and, make no mistake, it was - and even if there isn't a single soul who still treasures the music that Mr. Bryson exploited his audience's fears in order to sell - and, make no mistake, there isn't - he certainly profited from the misplaced trust of the congregation.

And it must have felt pretty good for Bryson. In fact, it must have felt like revenge. You see, Bryson had good reason to be disillusioned by the music industry. Known alternately as "Lynner the Spinner" or "Lynster the Spinster" in his gig as a DJ while going to college, he was also a member of a vocal group called the Sandmen. Enthusiastic about the possibility of a career in music, he released a few songs as a solo act. "Big Mean Drag Machine" was an attempt to crack the then-popular market of songs about cars, and "Trials and Tribulations of the BYU Boy Missionary" marked his first attempt to exploit a religious audience in order to further his ambitions. He must have been excited when he got a job with the Hanna-Barbera production company, but must have been disappointed when it amounted to one song on a Flintstones-themed children's album. By the time his anti-rock crusade began, it must have been difficult to watch other artists his own age enjoying a level of success that he would never know. So he travelled across the country spreading frightening tales about how band names were really acronyms for Satanic statements (you know, KISS as "Knights In Satan's Service" and other such nonsense) and convincing the most suggestable among the congregation that subliminal messages were abundant on rock records, and that it was impossible for human beings to come up with phrases that could have one meaning when played forward and yet an altogether different meaning when played backwards - but that such a task wasn't impossible for Satan, and therefore Satan himself was ghost-authoring a good portion of the Album Oriented Rock on F.M. radio. Satan must have found those royalty checks for "Another One Bites The Dust" and "Stairway To Heaven" pretty satisfying. Certainly more satisfying than the royalty checks from a Flintstones kiddie record.

The one tirade of Bryson's that really sticks in my memory, however, was when he suggested that Olivia Newton-John might be the Anti-Christ. And he had his reasons for believing such an idiotic thing, and even quoted some passage that described the Anti-Christ's appearance in a manner that was remarkably similar to that of our Australian Sandra Dee, allowing us to see all of the pieces of the Satanic Xanadu conspiracy come together right before our eyes. And all because her wildly successful and suggestive (but hardly pornographic) song "Physical" had topped the charts around the globe. I remember this specifically because at that exact moment I was sitting on the church pew next to a girl who could just as easily have matched the description of the Anti-Christ that Bryson had offered to condemn Ms. Newton-John. And, really, who is to say that he could have been any more wrong if he had pointed his accusatory finger in the face of my friend than at the vocalist of such pointedly evil songs as "Have You NeverBeen Mellow" and "Please Mister Please." Yes, I'm rolling my eyes as I type this.

So it isn't difficult to see how Mr. Bryson, after receiving an indifferent shrug from the music-buying public regarding his own work and sensing his own hopes for a music career fading into obscurity, might have found it somewhat thrilling to tear down the popular musical icons of the day in order to create a cultural vaccuum in which his captive audience, in the absence of any popular artist left unmarred by his invective, would more readily accept his own songs as some kind of pale substitute for music that was actually listenable.

But he also helped to fabricate a foundation for the condemnation of music and artists based on rumors, heresay, and urban myths. And people who might have otherwise used their own reasoning skills in order to attempt to determine what they might have considered either troubling or innocuous about the music their children were listening to ended up taking Mr. Bryson's word at face value, as his presence at the pulpit of a religious institution imbued Mr. Bryson with the perception that his words and ideas were officially sanctioned by the leadership of the church. Of course, it didn't hurt that much of Bryson's polemic, while differing in specific (although unsubstantiated) details, was reminiscent of speeches which had been coming from church leadership and whose ideas had been accepted by the culture for decades. In the minds of many church members, Mr. Bryson's seminars were the embodiment of sanctioned church policy, and the broad strokes with which Mr. Bryson painted musicians (again, not unlike the broad strokes of condemnation utilized by church leadership) effectively made even the tamest musicians appear as suspicious as the most overtly confrontational ones, convicted for no actual crime other than perhaps not appealing to the personal tastes of Lyn Bryson (or perhaps serving as a continual reminder of his own musical shortcomings), as he held court in his self-appointed role as judge, jury and executioner.

As someone who has always been creative and interested in the arts, the message was distressingly clear. Although the culture payed lip-service towards the importance of developing one's talents, the application of those talents towards secular uses, the type of which receive condemnation on an almost weekly basis from church pulpits across the country, was not to be particularly encouraged. Learning to play piano is a useful skill as long as you play the piano in church. But if you want to use that talent to go play Jerry Lee Lewis songs at a local club, then you're just another lost soul with misplaced priorities who refuses to humble himself before the will of the Lord, and you shouldn't expect to find the type of encouragement that you might otherwise hope for. You might be lucky to find a circle of supportive friends among the faithful, but you'll also receive your share of disapproving glances, and you might even find yourself alienated by more than a few, and maybe even some that you wouldn't expect. And that alienation will probably hurt.

And this is why it is important for leaders, religious or otherwise, to thoughtfully consider the consequences of the shit that they say. They need to think about who is being turned against who, and for what reasons, and if those reasons justify the rift created by the fabrication of unsupported belief.
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ETB: May the Plagues of Egypt Descend Upon Your Offspring Who Are Taught by Corrupt BYU Teachers (Unless One of Them is the Grandson of a Mormon Apostle)
Monday, May 23, 2011, at 07:21 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
In a previous thread, poster "AngelCowgirl" made note of "Another Heartwarming Quote on Parenting from E.T.B.":

"Ezra Taft Benson--

“'I would rather have my child exposed to smallpox, typhus fever, cholera, or other malignant and deadly diseases than to the degrading influence of a corrupt teacher. It is infinitely better to take chances with an ignorant, but pure-minded teacher than with the greatest philosopher who is impure.' (General Conference, October 1970)

"Guess this goes along nicely with all that drivel about women better off being dead than 'losing their virtue.'"

("Another Heartwarming Quote on Parenting from E.T.B." posted by "AngelCowgirl," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 20 May 2011 12:26 p.m.)

Somehow I survived the onslaught of deadly diseases, despite having chosen to be taught by one of those supposedly "corrupt teachers."

When I was an undergrad student at BYU in the 1970s, I had the wonderful opportunity to take classes from and work as a T.A. for Ray Hillam, professor of political science.

Hillam was a great, highly-esteemed and thought-provoking teacher who challenged his Mormon undergrad classes to shift their focus to outside the box of traditional LDS political dogma. Hillam was quite popular among his students and although he was a devout temple Mormon his willingness to approach his departmental curricula from various points of view was legendary. I took a class from him in international relations (IR), which I enjoyed immensely. I eventually worked as a teaching assistant for him, devising and grading exams, as I assisted in conducting/managing a lower-level course in Conflict Resolution, where we utilized war-gaming techniques as a teaching tool. I would spend hours visiting with him in his office, then located in Knight Magnum Hall on the lower end of campus. (I also regularly played racquetball with him but never prevailed because his superb tactical positioning in center court made up for what he had lost in speed over the years).

As much as I enjoyed being under Hillam’s tutelage as both a student and a TA, he was nonetheless viewed as an ominous threat by a paranoid BYU administration because of his outspoken, out-of-the-Mormon-mainstream points of view.

In fact, he had been a high-value target of an infamous on-campus BYU student "spy ring" in the 1960s, during the reign of terror and error under its arch-conservative, extremist president Ernest L. Wilkinson.

In an effort to ferret out "liberals" and other "subversives" among the faculty, Wilkinson (with support and encouragement from my grandfather Ezra Taft Benson) had selected faithful BYU students to infiltrate Hillam's classes, take secret notes on his lectures, then report back to Wilkinson.

The primary goal of this clunky and covert espionage operation was to monitor certain, specified campus BYU professors who were deemed to be politically unacceptable and whose testimonies of the LDS Gospel were therefore deemed suspect. Students were recruited by local Provo John Birch operatives and other radical sympathizers to enroll in the classes of the suspect teachers posing as legitimate members of the class, when in fact they were there simply to take notes of what the professors said and then report their findings to Wilkinson and Company.

(see Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis, “Brigham Young University: A House of Faith" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1985], pp. 207-217; and Bryan Waterman and Bryan Kagel, "The Lord's University: Freedom and Authority at BYU" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1998], pp. 12, 127, 159, 370).

The eventual exposure of this clumsy, clandestine operation created enormous controversy and embarrassment.

When, in the mid-1970s, I decided to switch my major from graphic arts to political science and in the process chose Hillam as one of my professors, I was warned by my family that Hillam was a "liberal" about whom my grandfather, in particular, harbored serious concerns. Specifically in that regard, when I informed my father that I was taking poli sci classes from Hillam, his response was that my grandfather had clear misgivings over Hillam's politics, but said no more.

Interestingly enough, my grandfather did not subsequently contact me to warn me that he would rather "have [me] exposed to smallpox, typhus fever, cholera, or other malignant and deadly diseases than to the degrading influence of a corrupt teacher," or that it was "infinitely better [for me] to take chances with an ignorant, but pure-minded teacher than with the greatest philosopher who is impure.”

I guess Grandpa wasn't willing to put those diseases where his mouth was--or at least where I was (which might have been a good thing, since human bites can be pretty infectious).

Or, it's possible that he was never informed that I was taking classes from Hillam so as not to cause him to disown me. :)
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How The Mormon Church Really Works At The Top--And Why ETB Wasn't More On The Personal Initiative In Issuing His Own Statements While Church President . . .
Monday, Jul 25, 2011, at 07:51 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
How the Mormon Church Really Works at the Top--and Why ETB Wasn't More on the Personal Initiative in Issuing His Own Statements While Church President . . .

In another thread, poster "Motrix" asked:

"Steve, how come your grandpa didn't make is own declaration [on organic evolution] when he became president, do you know?"

Allow me to address this from the big-picture standpoint and not simply through a narrow focus on the Mormon Church vs. organic evolution.

I believe that Ezra Taft Benson, as Mormon Church president, was essentially corralled by his handlers--namely, First Presidency counselor Gordon B. Hinckley (who had such experience with the previous Church president, Spencer W. Kimball), and other inside managers working with Hinckley at the highest levels of the Mormon Church bureaucracy.

This harnessing happened relatively quickly. ETB gave, as I recall, only one news conference as LDS Church president (shortly after he was officially sworn in, and where he did not take questions from the press). That scripted performance was a sign of things to come, given that thereafter he was effectively shielded from the secular media. Indeed, at the request of my newspaper's publisher, I tried to facilitate back-channel arrangements (through the Secretary for the Office of the First Presidency) for the publisher to meet with ETB shortly after he became Church president and that request was firmly denied.

My grandfather's statements and actions as Mormon Church president were, I strongly believe, ultimately controlled from within from the LDS Church's highest corridors of power where decisions were, and are today, ultimately made by experienced, long-term, permanently-fixtured, strategizing bureaucrats who move from one Church presidency to the next. (As LDS apostle Dallin Oaks privately admitted to me in the Church Adminstration office of fellow apostle Neal A. Maxwell, anything of fundamental importance to the Church on which the president wanted to act was subject to a sustaining vote by the Quorum of the Twelve. So much for an independent-acting Mormon Church president).

Moreover, ETB was only functional as Mormon Church president in any potentially meaningful sense of the word during the early years he was in that office. He became LDS Inc.'s head in late 1985 and by 1988-89 was entering decline to the point of eventual and effective incapacitation, both mentally and physically. The nails in the coffin for ETB's control and leadership of the Mormon Church (if he ever really had or exercised that control and leadership) began being pounded into place by the late 1980s, when his mental and physical condition marked the beginning of the end for him in terms of appreciable awareness of, and participation in, administrative decision-making. (Keep in mind that in 1989, Hinckley and Monson secretly had legal authority to govern the Mormon Church transferred from ETB to them via ETB's autopenning signature machine--a manuever that ETB was not present at to even witness. He died some five years later).

But putting aside the physical and mental ailments of Mormon Church leaders that can restrict their leadership activities and output, the ultimate question is: How does the LDS Church actually handle its business of running the Church at the top?

It does it the way it handled Mormon Church president Ezra Taft Benson--who was co-opted and reined in from the beginning of his term as Church president by those tasked with protecting and advancing larger LDS Inc. interests (interests which eclipse even the desires of figurehead Church presidents. That's why I think that if Boyd K. Packer ever became Mormon Church president, he would similarly be managed by Church institutional interests greater than himself).

And that's why in the long run, in my opinion, my grandfather wasn't issuing his own statements, be they ad hoc or formalized. He simply wasn't the man in charge. It was Hinckley who was really running the Mormon Church--with Monson's assistance (supplemented by input from hired attorneys, connected politicians and top-tier ad agencies). Having had a great deal of hands-on experience in taking the reins from the presidents he worked for, Hinckley was the glib-with-a-fib, go-to pro in situations where savvy, politically keen decision-making was of paramount importance. I think it is no coincidence that ETB kept him over from the Kimball administration as his First Counselor. My grandfather knew that Hinckley could (and, in fact, did) run the show. Or at least his closest advisers knew it and leaned on ETB to retain Hinckley for that reason.

*Additional Note:

When my grandfather was President of the Quorum of the Twelve, he told me in a phone conversation that the Mormon Church would not be issuing any statement on organic evolution because the subject was "too controversial."

This he relayed to me after, at his personal and direct request, I had sent him several sources on the official position of the Mormon Church on the subject, as declared by various First Presidencies during the 20th century. He told me that he wanted these sources because he wished to make them available in the future in the form of a Mormon Church reply to inquiring members.

When he did not respond to me sending him the statements he had requested, I asked him in a follow-up phone conversation if the information I had provided him would be used by the Mormon Church to educate inquiring members. That is when he replied that it would not because such an approach would prove "too controversial."

This is an object lesson in how, in real time and terms, Mormon Church presidents are muzzled because of inter-office realities that are guided more by short-term tactics than by long-term truth. The matter at hand can be anything: organic evolution, man-to-god progression, polygamy in post-Earth Mormon heaven, secret temple practices or any other hot PR-dangerous potato.

If only the Mormon Church would answer straight-up as to how the game is really played:

"Truth? You can't handle the truth. And neither can we. That's why you won't be hearing from the Church President. Families: Isn't it about time?"
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Ezra Taft Benson Gem: "Civil Rights: Tool Of Communist Deception"
Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011, at 02:18 PM
Original Author(s): Commodore
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
http://michael-bonham.com/wordpress/w...

Seriously amazing writing. Here are some highlights:

"Prophecying of our day, Nephi said, "They have all gone astray save it be a few, who are humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught the precepts of men." (2 Nephi 28:14)

Yes, it is the precepts of men versus the revealed word of God. The more we follow the word of God the less we are deceived, while those who follow the wisdom of men are deceived the most."

It's a small logical extension, but Benson takes "in many instances" to the extreme. This to me implies that the precepts of men are always wrong (or at least most of the time). Many =/= most or always. Of course, the BoM is just a rip-off of the bible and other sources, but still.

"The world largely ignores the first and great commandment--to love God--but talks a lot about loving their brother. They worship at the altar of man. Would Nephi have slain Laban if he put the love of neighbor above the love of God? Would Abraham have taken Isaac up for a sacrifice if he put the second commandment first?

...[cutting out some drivel about/hate on government welfare]

When we fail to put the love of God first, we are easily deceived by crafty men, who profess a great love of humanity, while advocating programs that are not of the Lord."

Wow. I would say this is sly, but it's really not. This clearly advocates murder, etc. in the name of the Lord. We definitely wouldn't want to listen to those "crafty men" who "profess a great love of humanity." Yeah, loving your fellow man is so lame.

"That timely counsel about a "fervid, but false solicitude for the unfortunate" could have saved China and Cuba if enough people knew what the communist "master of deceit" really had in mind when they promised agrarian reform. Such timely counsel could help save our country from communism, as the same "masters of deceit" are showing the same false solicitude for the unfortunate in the name of civil rights.

Now there is nothing wrong with civil rights--it is what's being done in the name of civil rights that is alarming. There is no doubt that the so-called Civil Rights movement as it exists today is used as a communist program for revolution in America, just as agrarian reform was used by the communists to take over China and Cuba."

In other words, MLK Jr. doesn't really love black people. He just wants power. At the time, there was probably a lot of support for this kind of reasoning. Now, even right-wingers probably have to admit that this is some crazy sh*t.
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Outside Request Per Ezra Taft Benson's Diaries For Purpose Of Writing Book On My Grandfather's Anti-Black Views (Info I Can Share From His Personal Letters, Private/Public Beliefs And Fbi File)
Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013, at 07:41 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: EZRA TAFT BENSON   -Link To MC Article-
Outside Request per ETB's Diaries for Purpose of Writing Book on My Grandfather's Anti-Black Views (info I can share from his personal letters, private/public beliefs and FBI file)

By way of background, I recently received the e-mail below, asking me for access to my grandfather Ezra Taft Benson's diaries so that the requestee could write a book on my grandfather's views on Blackk.

It reads as follows:

"Dear Steve,

"I am writing a book on Mormons and Blacks and I'd like to know if you could help me. Specifically, I'd like to review your grandfather's diaries and correspondence that might shed light on my topic. I should note that I've already read Quinn's splendid article in Dialogue (2003) about your grandfather as well as his 'Extensions of Power.' Is there any way I could review his materials? Would your family make these items available to me?

"I would appreciate any assistance you might provide.

"Cordially,

[name deleted]

"PS: I admire your courage, candor, and willingness to speak truth to power. I know firsthand that leaving the Mormon church is not an easy thing."

I have not responded to this particular correspondent but here is the situation as to my grandfather's diaries and any access that I might have to them:

In short, I don't have access to those diaries (at least not yet).

Nor do I anticipate that the Mormon Church is likely to share them with me (at least not those journals and office records he wrote or contributed to when he was in the Mormon Church hierarchy).

However, I do have:

--personal correspondence, which ETB sent to me (none of it about Blacks, other than a defense to me of James Watt, Secretary of the Interior who was booted from the Reagan Cabinet for his patronizing comments about Blacks, Jews and "cripples:"

--a three-part series which I composed on my grandfather's racist views (re-posted in this thread); and

--a link to a book, relatively recently published, on the FBI file compiled on Ezra Taft Benson under the directorship of J. Edgar Hoover. The information therein was gathered when U.S. president-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower was proposing Ezra Taft Benson's nomination as Secretary of Agriculture in the 1950s. The file extends into ETB's tenure as Secretary of Agricuture , once he was confirmed (also posted in this thread).

First, under the heading, "Looking Inside the Mind of Ezra Taft Benson Through His Personal Correspondence to a Grandson." This corresponce provides a closer look at some of the political, religious and personal views of one of Mormonism's "prophets, seers and revelators," Ezra Taft Benson, quoted from the personal correspondence of him to me, written when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and later as President of the Mormon Church.

They are grouped by topic and provide an inside track for viewing the world through the eyes of Ezra Taft Benson. The letters were written by him (or on a few occasions, in his behalf) from the years 1977 to 1986, back in the bygone days when I was an active and generally politically conservative member of the Mormon faith..

--The Founding Fathers, Conservatism, the Mormon Church and Latter-day Blood-Spilling

"Learn all you can about this country, its heritage, our birthright, the spiritual foundation and the prophetic history of this great land and then be sure you keep your feet solidly on the ground in support of conservative, solid principles, as spoken of by the founding fathers and the leadership of this Church.

"What we need and must get eventually is our policies in operation in the tradition of the founding fathers.

"God bless you in all that you do. Keep closes to the Lord, close to the Church and close to the tradition of the founding fathers as they established this great nation, the Lord's base of operations in these latter days, a nation that will endure even if it takes blood to save it."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Steve Benson, 18 April 1978)

--Battling the Subversions of Socialism and Communism

"I do hope that you are finding this period out of college valuable, not only from the standpoint of earnings, but also from the standpoint of study. It pleases me that you have decided to use your talents in the interest of presenting the weaknesses and the dangers of socialism and communism and the power of blessing of the free enterprise, capitalist system, which has built this country.

"If you are to be effective, you must have a good background of knowledge regarding the basic concepts and philosophies of the founding fathers and be able and willing at all times to defend these concepts without equivocation. Unless this is true, your words will be as sounding brass and tinkling cymbal, as Paul said, and your cartoons will also be much less effective. In other words, you will need to maintain the same spirit you had as a young man in high school when you used to write to Grandpa indicating that a certain issue was coming up, and then you'd say, 'What do you have on it?' Then I'd try to send you the materials which would be helpful to you.

"The subversive and freedom-destroying forces are closing in, Stephen, as never before in my memory. They are among our own people. They are whispering in the ears of our people that there's nothing particularly wrong with accepting government help or supporting unsound programs being promoted by our elected leaders. It is of the utmost importance that you become fully familiar with the subject matter and follow carefully the current issues and problems and stand ready to defend the American way of life as it was established under the inspiration of heaven through a written Constitution."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 11 May 1977)

--The Book of Mormon's Prophetic Eye on America

"We're proud of you, Stephen, and pray the Lord to continue to open the way for you to render even greater service to the Kingdom and to this great nation. Be sure you read the Book of Mormon each day, if you can. Grandma and I have just started reading it together again. We just finished First Nephi this morning. It is a great book for our time. The Prophets saw our day and they gave us the counsel which they felt we would need."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa," to Stephen Benson, 21 April 1981)

--The Worsening Condition of the World

"With conditions of the world as they are and getting worse, may I suggest that you read weekly Section One of the Doctrine and Covenants.

"It pretty well gives us the Lord's appeal, counsel, and reasons for the condition of the world. It is the preface, or introduction, to His Book of Commandments."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Father and Grandfather," to "Beloved Children and Married Grandchildren," 1 May 1980)

--The John Birch Society: Second Only to the Scriptures

"I am enclosing [a] copy of the 'Review of the News' [a weekly magazine published by the John Birch Society]. I assume you get it. I believe you should. This has more pertinent information and timely information on the situation today than most any little, inexpensive magazines.

"If you want to get something good, solid, more-detailed articles on various subjects, I recommend 'American Opinion' [the John Birch Society's monthly magazine]. You should be acquainted with Scott Stanley, the managing editor of these two magazines and one of the most brilliant young editors I know."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandfather Benson," signed by his secretary Betty MacDonald, to Steve Benson, 11 February 1982)

"I loaned you several books when you favored us with a visit in Salt Lake enroute to Texas. I hope you were able to get some time to study them. If there are any others which I could help you with, I would be happy to do so. I believe your father gets 'American Opinion' and 'Review of the News' [the John Birch Society's weekly news magazine]. These I consider of great importance as the best single source of reliable information next to the writings of the prophets and the Holy Scriptures on the question o of socialism, communism, and other dangerous evils, which are rapidly invading this great land."

(Ezra Taft Benson, 'Grandpa Benson,' to Stephen Benson, 11 May 1977)

"It was good to talk to you yesterday from the home of your parents . . .

"I suggested to you at that time American Opinion magazine. I['ll] send you [a] copy of the magazine together with the Birch log by McManus and a copy of the 'Alan Stang Report' [another Birch publication]. All of these, I believe, would be helpful to you in the important work you are doing."

(Grandpa Benson, "ETB," signed by autopen, to Steve Benson, 10 May 1982)

"I enclose the July/August Scoreboard edition of American Opinion.

"Congratulations on the fact that you have three cartoons in this issue. As I am told, it is the same number for your predecessor.

"I assume you receive the 'American Opinion.' No red-blooded American should be without it and that's where I classify you. I hope this one will be helpful to you also. I assume you also received the companion weekly magazine, 'Review of the News,' which I believe you need in the great work you are doing."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 1 July 1982)

--A Great American Newspaper

"I enclose [a] copy of the May issue of the Manchester Union Leader which is one of the great conservative newspapers of the nation. The publisher wrote to me sometime ago and indicating that he believes so much in my philosophy and that of the Church that he was sending me a year's subscription to his daily paper. His editorials are on the front page so people know where he stands. It's important that we let people know where we stand on important issues."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 11 May 1977)

--Calling Up Orrin Hatch to Help Fight Communism, Sell Ezra Taft Benson Books, Defeat a Nuclear Arms Treaty and Handle a Secret, Soon-To-Be-Destroyed Memo

"I do hope that things are going well with you. On October 9 I will share the platform with Orrin Hatch at a big dinner in Los Angeles launching a great seminar program in that part of the country.

"'The Red Carpet' [Ezra Taft Benson's an anti-communist treatise] was shipped about a week ago and should be reaching you soon. I hope that the distribution can be made very promptly with the help of some people from Senator [Orrin] Hatch's office. It may have an impact on the defeat of [the nuclear arms treaty] SALT II, which I think becomes more important in view of the serious situation in Cuba.

"We face difficult days, Stephen. We don't know what will come. If Soviet Russia thought she could win, she would not hesitate to make the first strike. There is much that is favorable to the enemy at this time. I consider Communism the greatest enemy and the greatest threat to all we hold dear."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," 18 September 1979)

"I received your memorandum by telephone and thank you for your concern. I have become acquainted with many senators in my life. I know of no one who I feel made a better record in his first term than Orrin Hatch. I will give this matter prayerful consideration in the hope that I may be helpful to one whom I feel is a great asset to the United States Senate and should be continued in office for many years to come . . .

"Had a pleasant visit on the telephone with Senator [Orrin] Hatch last evening. He appreciated your concern as well as mine and thanked me very much for the information contained in your memo. It was agreed that the memo would be destroyed and there would be nothing more said about it. He would try and handle the situation as he thinks best. Thanks, Stephen, for your concern and your willingness to help. May the Lord bless you in your important work. [For the record and for the life of me, I do not remember anything about this above-mentioned memo, although I wish I could].

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa," to Stephen Benson, 21-22 April 1981)

--Recommending Ronald Reagan--and Asking for Advice on Who to Support as Reagan's Running Mate

"As you know, the time is getting close for the election. Reagan seems to have an increasingly favorable opportunity. I am getting questionnaires and requests to indicate my preference for his running mate as Vice President. I wonder if you have any information that would be helpful to me.

"I assume you get 'Human Events' [a conservative magazine], which is published in Washington. In the current issue there is an article entitled 'The Case for Jack Kemp.' If you have any information that you think will be helpful, Steve, please drop me a note."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa," to Steve Benson, 13 June 1980)

--Defending Secretary of Interior James Watt, Even Though He Is a "Saved" Christian

"Congratulations on the Watt cartoon. May I say to you, however, that he's one of the best men, I believe, that the President has in his Cabinet.

"He is fully loyal to the President. He came into my office, at his own request, where we spent 45 minutes together. He is a fine Christian, although a 'saved' Christian.

"He is active in his church, has a fine spirituality and was responsive as I quoted to him from the Doctrine and Covenants, sections 101 and 98. I you will turn to these, you will understand why I quoted them to him. He has courage, faith, and I think a great deal of wisdom.

"Maybe you could do a favorable one on him before long" [I had been critical in my cartoons of Watts' embarrassing foot-in-mouth disease, a bad habit of his which eventually got him fired].

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 27 January 1983)

--The Writings of Economist Ludwig Von Mises, Other Fine Books and a "Secret Hope" Expressed for a Grandson

"I have just read 'My Years With Ludwig von Mises' by his wife Margit von Mises. It is a very choice 191 page volume and inn part a love story also. As I have don so, the various publications of this greatest of all economists have been impressed upon me. I hope you will safeguard, as I know you will, the books I loaned to you, Stephen, some of which are by this immortal author. I would appreciate if you would send me, at your earliest convenience, a list of the books you have from my library. Then, of course, you will bring them with you when you come to Salt Lake so that I might put them back on the shelves here, from which shelves, you may draw some of those and others if you continue your study of economics, which I hop you will do.

"If I can purchase a copy of this book by Mrs. Von Mises I will do so in the hope I can send it to you or make it available when you come to Salt Lake . . .

"I hope that your plans are being firmed up for the days ahead. I still have a secret hope that if you continue your interest in political science and economics you might someday become an active defender of the free market and that you might spend six months or a year in one of the solid, private colleges such as the one in Pennsylvania with Dr. Sennholz. In any event, this is a grandfather's dream for a great grandson, whom I would like to see become one of the great and powerful advocates of the free market, so much needed if we are to preserve this country and its glorious basic concepts."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 21 June 1977)

"While going through some of the volumes of reading I had on Saturday, it occurred to me that you would gain much information from the publication of FEE, the Freeman, Ideas on Liberty. I have just scanned the article in the current issues by Benjamin A> Rogge, professor of political economy at Wabash College, one of our fine independent educational institutions. This one, as I remember, is located in Indiana. Mr. Rogge has an article entitled, 'Yes, America, There is an Energy Problem--BUT.' It could be a very excellent suggestion for a cartoon, if you were going to do an editorial on the energy problem. There are also excellent articles by two other outstanding economists and friends of mine--Henry Hazlitt and Hans S. Sennholz, and also one by Clarence B. Carson.

"If you do not receive the Freeman, I suggest you write to Dr. Leonard E. Read, The Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-the-Hudson, New York 10533 and ask him to put you on the mailing list and let him know a little of what you're doing. Send him a few samples of your cartoons. Who know, you may be doing cartoons for the Freeman."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 31 October 1977)

Bad Congressional Bills and Good Political Leaders

"The financial situation in the country is serious. This last bank bill is the worst ever. It's hard for me to believe that conscientious members of Congress would pass a piece of legislation like the one they've passed in a hurry, without a roll call on a voice vote, in order to get home for Easter recess. I often think of the statement I had on my desk while I was in the Cabinet, 'Oh, God, give us men with a mandate higher than the ballot box!'"

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa," to Steve Benson, 13 June 1980)

"I hope you'll become thoroughly familiar with this sheet which has been torn out of the 'U.S. News and World Report' in order to make copies. It contains an interview with William E. Simon, former Secretary of the Treasury. It is one of the best summaries I have seen.

"The entire 'U.S. News' has much valuable information in it this week."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 19 April 1978)

Faithful Service to God and Country

"May the Lord bless you. We love you and pray for your success. Keep close to the Lord, close to His Church, and fully active in the Kingdom, which is the greatest ting of all."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa," to Stephen Benson, 13 November 1980)

"May the good Lord bless and magnify you as parents, servants in the ward, and faithful citizens of this great nation. May you have guidance in all of your worthy endeavors from the Holy Spirit."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa," to Stephen and Mary Ann Benson, 23 December 1980)

"We heard the recording of the talk you gave at the 'We the People' breakfast [a conservative political group which Ezra Taft Benson headed as president, he said, 'at the request of President David O. McKay sometime ago when they had their headquarters n Chicago'] . . . and hope your humor coupled with humility and faithfulness will carry you much further than popularity."

(Ezra Taft Benson, to Steve Benson, 11 February 1982; and Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Steve Benson, 11 March 1982)

"We're proud of the work you're doing and pray that in spite of the barbs that are directed your way you will keep that sweet, humble spirit of the gospel mixed with your usual good humor. If you do so, the Lord will bless and magnify you."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," 18 August 1982)

--The Self-Proclaimed Royal Benson Blood Line

"Your father is doing an outstanding job as a Regional Representative. The people love him. He has their support and they plead with me not to move him . . . He is a great man, Stephen. You have choice blood in your veins.

'God bless you. We?re so proud of you . . ."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 6 December 1978)

"We have a great family and the grandchildren are all marrying well and are performing beautifully as they face the responsibilities and problems of life. We are proud of all the children, grandchildren, their companions, and the great-grandchildren. Of course, grandma says they're all 'great' and I know they are."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 18 August 1982)

"Your father is doing an outstanding job as bishop . . .

"What a great family and what grateful grandparents and parents. The Lord bless you all--now and always--is our humble wish and prayer."

("Grandpa and Grandma Benson," to Stephen and Mary Ann Benson, 20 February 1980)

"How I love you all and express deep gratitude for you and your wonderful qualities and for your love and support."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Father, Grandfather and Greatgrandfather," to "Dear Children, Grandchildren, Great-Grandchildren and Eternal Companions," 18 June 1980)

"Stephen, I enjoyed a glorious weekend with your father in Jackson, Mississippi and in New Orleans. He is a great man, one of the outstanding sons of our Heavenly Father. This was impressed upon Grandma and me even more fully as we spent the weekend and Monday with him in the South.

"The Lord bless the posterity of your father and mother and bless you as you go forward following the instructions and example which they have set."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen and Mary Ann Benson, 11 December 1978)

--Recommended Romance Reading

"Knowing that your are probably giving serious thought to love these days, I though you might enjoy reading Irving Stone's great historic novel, 'THOSE WHO LOVE,' which is the biographical novel of John and Abigail Adams. You may return it to me when you have finished with it."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa Benson," to Stephen Benson, 11 May 1977)

--Written from an Undisclosed Location: The Secret Convalescence of Ezra Taft Benson, Amid Soaring Book Sales

"I am so grateful for your life and prayers for me and want you to know that our Heavenly Father is mindful of them as I am improving in health each day.

"The loving hospitality of David and Beth [Burton, son-in-law and daughter of Ezra Taft and Flora Benson] and their four children has been an answer to prayer. The quiet and peace here are making a speedy recovery possible.

"For my sake and that of the Burton family, may I request that all telephone calls and letters be directed to the office. Betty [McDonald, Ezra Taft Benson's personal secretary] brings me the mail and other messages during the week.

"Also, we have been advised that for security purposes, it is best that the location of my present residence [in the Salt Lake suburb of Sandy] be kept from the public. Therefore we should not inform friends and neighbors as to where I am recuperating.

"Grandma and I love you very much. We know you are loving and concerned, but inquires regarding my progress and other information should be obtained from the office inasmuch as my staff is in close contact with me at all times."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Ezra Taft Benson," written by staff and signed by auto pen, to Stephen and Mary Ann Benson, 11 November 1987)

"Your grandparents really enjoyed your letter of November 1. Your grandfather is not up to writing letters yet or even dictating them, although he is doing quite well.

"I took the mail out to him last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and he looked very good and had been on several walks already that morning. He asked me to write and thank you for your letter.

"I was not able to visit with your grandmother as she was napping at the time.

"We understand the biography [of Ezra Taft Benson] is the top in retail sales at Deseret Book outlets. Isn't that great news?

"May I convey to you your grandparents love and blessings."

(Mrs. Betty S. McDonald, Personal Secretary to President Ezra Taft Benson, "Betty," to Stephen and Mary Ann Benson, 30 November 1987)

--No Laughing Matter: Cartooning the Hofmann Scandal

"Dear Stephen:

"I still love you and encourage you to keep up the good work by pointing out by the cartoon method the evils of the day. I would just like to suggest that you go easy on the Church.

"The Lord bless you, my devoted grandson. I am proud of you. Love and blessings to all."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Grandpa," to Stephen Benson, 7 November 1985)

--Last Correspondence Contact from My Grandfather to Me--and No Further Contact by Him with the Media

The Hofmann cartoon letter was the last personal piece of correspondence I received from my grandfather before he died nine years later. A few days after he penned it, he found himself the acting President of the Mormon Church, following the sudden death of Spencer W. Kimball.

Instantly, circumstances changed. The curtain dropped around my grandfather and Church handlers took an increasing role in running his life, his schedule and his attributed utterances.

Less than a year later, my newspaper, the 'Arizona Republic,' expressed an interest in interviewing my grandfather in his new role as Church president. I made an inquiry to my grandfather's office in behalf of the paper and on 6 August 1986, received the following reply from F. Michael Watson, Secretary to the First Presidency:

"Dear Brother Benson:

"I have been asked to acknowledge your letter dated July 18, 1986, in which you requested an interview with your grandfather, President Ezra Taft Benson, and a representative of 'The Arizona Republic.'

"President Benson appreciated this invitation and, although he is unable to grant such an interview, asked me to thank you and your associates for your interest.

"You will be interested to know that Sister Benson had a pleasant birthday in July and President Benson was joined by friends and staff recently at a gathering in the Church Administration Building where they celebrated his 87th birthday. President Benson is grateful for your thoughts and prayers in his behalf and asked me to convey his love and best wishes to you and your family."

By now, the overriding interests of the institutionally-driven Church were in firm control of my grandfather's affairs. As family members, we did get to see him with increasing frequency--just not at the office. As he became steadily enfeebled and incapable of administering the day-to-day business of the Church, he was relegated to his apartment, where we would drop by for personal visits.

As in life, when my grandfather finally died in 1994, the Church also ran his funeral.

*********

(Parts 1, 2 and 3 on ETB's race-baiting beliefs below, plus a link to the FBI file on him):

http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,761567,761570#msg-761570

http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,761567,761572#msg-761572

http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,761567,761575#msg-761575

http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,761567,761580#msg-761580

On a website dealing with the life and times of Ezra Taft Benson, I recently discovered one poster trying (rather ineffectively, as the record will show) to defend my grandfather's stridently racist views by striving to minimize them, while at the same time accusing me of evidencing a bad attitude when it comes to laying out the actual historical record. This apologist starts out promisingly, but quickly turns defensive on the indefensible:

"[It]s] [h]ard to believe that such a 'respected' religious leader would write the foreword to a book like this [The poster then links to a grossly racist book for which my grandfather wrote the forword. For the image of its patently racist cover, see: http://www.affirmation.org/images/covers/the_black_hammer.gif] Ugh."

Despite such graphic evidence, the poster then seeks to dismiss it as any proof of racism on Ezra Taft Benson's part:

"Regardless of the shock value of the cover, the text of the foreward seems to be unavailable anywhere. A cursory search for the above shows that the person making the biggest deal of this was Benson's grandson Steve Benson - who (reading his other writings) seems to have quite the chip on his shoulder regarding his grandfather. He advertises his stance against the LDS church and just about anything associated with it.

"I dont think this trivial rises to the level of inclusion in this article. To illuminate: when reading the old quotes of E.T. Benson as noted by by Steve Benson, it quickly becomes clear that most (if not all) of these statements are taken out of context an pieced together for a more inflammatory effect. The bulk of them come from a talk given in 1967. When read more critically than a cursory glance looking for buzzwords, you see that the talk is more about communists than black people. In that very talk, E.T. Benson qualifies his statements thus:

"'First of all, we must not place the blame upon Negroes. They are merely the unfortunate group that has been selected by professional Communist agitators to be used as the primary source of cannon fodder. Not one in a thousand Americans-black or white-really understands the full implications of today's civil rights agitation. The planning, direction, and leadership come from the Communists, and most of those are white men who fully intend to destroy America by spilling Negro blood, rather than their own.'

"While not very PC language, the intent is obviously *not* advocating violence against African Americans. E.T. Benson was a noted anti-communist, and in the 1950s and 1960s, such conspiracy theories abounded at every level of society and government; And he uses the vocabulary of that time to express his views. But using today's PC-paintbrush to color him as a racist isn't clearly representing the person. And throwing trivial (out-of-context) factoids out there doesnt do justice, or give perspective."

("Talk: Ezra Taft Benson," at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AEzra_Taft_Benson)

Frankly, the apologist quoted above simply doesn't know what he's talking about. (More on that disgusting ETB-endorsed racist pamphlet later).

Members of my own family have come to ETB's defense on his racist attitudes, employing the argument that he was, like everyone else, an imperfect human product of his times and therefore it should not be surprising that he harbored racist sentiments.

I've always found this kind of "logic" both curious and unpersuasive, since the unavoidable conclusion follows that if ETB was a prophet of God expressing God's will, then the Mormon God himself is a racist. (Perhaps this also means that this Mormon God is a product of his racist times and can't be faulted for his divine bigotry).

Moreover, if Ezra Taft Benson's "speaking only as a man" and not as a divinely-inspired prophet of God, then what's the point of having a prophet to convey God's divine plan of action from the pulpit when what this "prophet" does is merely speak humanly like every other human?

And, problematically for Mormonism's true believers, if Ezra Taft Benson was only expressing his personal racist views and not the mind and will of God, then, according to Mormon doctrine, God would not have allowed him to lead the Mormon Church astray as one of its specially-designated "prophets, seers and revelators." Yet, he survived to age 94 and never repudiated his racist views.

I submit that Ezra Taft Benson remained in good-standing Mormon Church leadership circles for as long as he did precisely because he loyally and unquestioningly towed the LDS party line--a line which included (and still does in the canonized scriptures found within the pages of the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price) God-commanded devotion to racial discrimination based on skin-color punishment imposed for supposed wickedness.

In this context, I think it is appropriate to lay out the historical record, so that Ezra Taft Benson's attitudes and actions on the racial front can be seen in the larger view of his life in service to Mormonism.

Warning: The picture isn't a pretty one.

What follows is a documented examination on both the private and public views of my grandfather on what he derisively described as the "so-called civil rights movement," the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other related racial issues

Based on the information from a variety of sources (including many of my own personal encounters with him), it is irrefutably true that:

--Ezra Taft Benson was a racist, as amply demonstrated by his own words, actions, beliefs and associations

--Typical of many White racists, Ezra Taft Benson was condescendingly tolerant of Blacks-as long as they "knew their place" and behaved as he insisted they should.

--By contrast, Ezra Taft Benson was viciously accusatory and patronizingly dismissive toward Blacks when they engaged in activities that he viewed as politically in opposition to his (and, by extension, God's) interests and purposes. He frequently portrayed Blacks as a threat to the American Way of Life-at least as he defined it

--Making the Case: An Overview of Ezra Taft Benson's Racially-Poisionous Beliefs

As proof of the assertion that my grandfather was, indeed, a racial bigot, the evidence will be examined from the following perspectives:

--His public pronouncements on the U.S. civil rights movement

--His public pronouncements on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

--His personal correspondence expressing his anti-King views

--The personal correspondence from anti-King and anti-civil rights Mormons to Ezra Taft Benson, evidencing their own racial bias, as well as their confidence that in my grandfather they had found a kindred spirit

--Personal correspondence to me from racist Mormons, indicating their support for Ezra Taft Benson's anti-Black, anti-civil rights views

--Personal correspondence from LDS Church members to Mormon Church leadership during Ezra Taft Benson's term as Church president, regarding efforts to pass an official Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday-and the Church's official response.

--Public associations by Ezra Taft Benson with known segregationists and racists

--Political alliances by Ezra Taft Benson with overtly racist politicians-notably, Strom Thurmond and George Wallace

--Correspondence from the First Presidency to Ezra Taft Benson, directing him to segregate White and Black Mormon women in Relief Societies within Washington, D.C. stake when he was serving as the area's stake president

--Personal notes and documents from the private files of Ezra Taft Benson, indicating his racist views

--Personal conversations between myself and Ezra Taft Benson on racial matters

--A White supremacist book from the personal library of Ezra Taft Benson

--Ezra Taft Benson's Public Statements on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement

My grandfather regarded the U.S. civil rights movement as part of a Communist plot to destroy America.

Through far right-wing publishing houses and book chains owned by the Mormon Church, he warned that the aim of the U.S. civil rights movement was to "create the animosity, fear and hatred between large segments of our people that would be necessary beginning ingredients for their revolution."

He warned that civil rights grievances by African-Americans were being exploited by the Communists "to agitate blacks into hating whites and whites into hating blacks."

He declared that the U.S. movement for equal civil rights was fueled by "false stories and rumors about injustices and brutality" which, he said, served to "[c]reate martyrs for both sides" while playing "upon mass emotions until they smolder with resentment and hatred."

My grandfather saw the U.S. civil rights movement, in larger conspiratorial context, as a leading element in a vast, ominous and active Communist plot designed to "overthrow established government" through "widespread anarchy," the sparking of "a nation-wide civil war" and the assassination of "anti-Communist leaders of both races."

He warned Americans: "It is happening here! . . . THE COMMUNIST PROGRAM FOR REVOLUTION IN AMERICAN HAS BEEN IN PROGRESS FOR MANY YEARS AND IS FAR ADVANCED."

This Moscow-orchestrated plan, he declared from his General Conference pulpit, was being implemented on American soil "[u]sing unidentified Communist agents and non-Communist sympathizers in key positions in government, in communications media and in mass organizations such as labor unions and civil rights groups [which] demand more and more government power as the solution to all civil rights problems. Total government is the objective of Communism. Without calling it by name, [they] build Communism piece by piece through mass pressures for Presidential decrees, court orders and legislation which appear to be aimed at improving civil rights and other social reforms."

Ezra Taft Benson saw the American South as the initial battleground in Communist efforts to establish a foothold before spreading northward. These attempts, he warned, were designed for "splitting away the 'Black Belt,' those Southern states in which the Negro held a majority, and calling them a Negro Soviet Republic." He warned Americans to be on guard for African-Americans who had "migrated to the Northern states," where they had likewise "applied this same strategy to the so-called 'ghetto' areas in the North."

He reassured White patriots, however, that even "[i]f Communism comes to America . . . the Negro represents only 10 percent of the population. In any all-out race war which might be triggered, there isn't a chance in the world that Communist-led Negro guerilla units could permanently hold on to the power centers of government, even if they could capture them in the first place."

Despite his assurances of security in White numbers, Ezra Taft Benson nonetheless reminded Americans that Blacks might still well attempt a Communist overthrow of the United States:

"It now seems probable that the Communists are determined to use force and violence to its fullest, coupled with a weakening of the economy and military setbacks abroad, in an effort to create as much havoc as possible to weaken American internally, and to create the kind of psychological desperation in the minds of all citizens that will lead them to accept blindly government measures which actually help the Communists in their take-over."

In a throwback to the inquisitional days of McCarthyism, Ezra Taft Benson urged that "duly authorized legislative investigating committees launch an even more exhaustive study and expose the secret Communists who are directing the Civil Rights movement," insisting that "[t]he same needs to be done with militant anti-Negro groups" which, he claimed, were being fit "perfectly into the Communist plan" to "intensify inter-racial friction."

In fighting insidious Communist encroachment on America, my grandfather urged that Americans remain ever-vigilant against enslavement by Big Government. He urged that "our local police . . . not be encumbered by Civilian Review Boards, or asked to be social workers." He warned the police "not to accept grants from the Federal Government," warning his fellow citizens that if they did, it could well "lead to the eventual creation of a national police force" that would be used by the Communists "to hold the people in line."

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception," adaptation from address of same title, delivered at General Conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 29 September 1967, reprinted by "National Research Group," American Fork, Utah, , pp. 1-4; see also, "Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception," reprint of same "address by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1968, emphasis in original)

--Ezra Taft Benson's Public Statements on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My grandfather considered the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to have been a disreputable individual, a dishonorable and dishonest man and a Communist.

Of him, he wrote:

"The man who is generally recognized as the leader of the so-called civil rights movement today in America is a man who has lectured at a Communists training school, who has solicited funds through Communist sources, who hired a Communist as a top-level aide, who has affiliated with Communist fronts, who is often praised in the Communist press and who unquestionably parallels the Communist line. This same man advocates the breaking of the law and has been described by J. Edgar Hoover as 'the most notorious liar in the country.' . . .

"Would anyone deny that the President [Lyndon Johnson], the chief law enforcer in the United States, belies his position by playing gracious host to the late Martin L. King who has preached disobedience to laws which in his opinion are unjust?"

(Ezra Taft Benson, "It Can Happen Here," in "An Enemy Hath Done This," Jerreld L. Newquist, comp. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Parliament Publishers, 1969], pp. 103, 310)

Reacting to President Johnson's declaration of a national day of mourning two days after the murder of Rev. King, Ezra Taft Benson had nothing but opprobrium for the slain civil rights leader.

In a letter to Mormon hotelier J. Willard Marriott, he claimed that "Martin Luther King had been affiliated with at least the following officially recognized Communist fronts," three of which he then went on to list.

In the same letter, he coldly warned Marriott that "the Communists will use Mr. King's death for as much yardage as possible."

A year later, in another letter to Marriott, my grandfather continued his attack on the dead Black minister, writing that "the kindest thing that could be said about Martin Luther King is that he was an effective Communist tool. Personally, I think he was more than that."

(D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997], pp. 100, 113, 463, 471)

My grandfather also was convinced that Dr. King's assassination was carried out by Communists themselves, in an effort to trigger civil war in America.

In his book, "An Enemy Hath Done This," he quoted from an article by Susan L. M. Huck, originally published in the John Birch magazine, "American Opinion":

"Okay, let's take the gloves off. This insurrection didn't just happen. It was a set-up-just as the assassination of Martin Luther King was a set-up. The Communists and their Black Power fanatics have been working to create just such a situation for years. They even TOLD us what they were planning to do, again and again, as they did it. . . .

"And remember, the Reds and their Black Power troops have promised us that this is only the beginning! Stokely has said that his forces plan to burn down America.

"They're sure going to try.

"How do you stop it? It's very simple. You stop Communist racial agitation; you arrest the leaders for conspiracy to commit murder, arson and burglary, prove their guilt in a court of law and lock them up. And you free the hands of our police so that the can PREVENT rioting and looting and arson by those citizens now convinced by the actions of our 'Liberals' that theft, incendiarism and assault will be tolerated.

"Don't kid yourself. The people who are behind all of this mean to have a civil war. We either stop them now or they will escalate this thing."

(quoted in Ezra Taft Benson, "An Enemy Hath Done This," p. 335, original emphasis)

My grandfather's hatred of Dr. King had its effects. The reaction of my own parents to the murder of Dr. King reflected by grandfather's attitudes.

Dr. King was assassinated on 4 April 1968, which happened to be my sister's birthday. I remember that day, most notably by the fact that no mourning went on in our home over his death.

Earlier in the evening, I had seen on our television news broadcasts of race riots erupting in major cities across the country in response Dr. King's murder. I remember the columns of black smoke rising from inner cities set aflame by Blacks outraged at the brutal murder of their hero-and of their hope.

But in the Benson home that night, we had more important things to do-like watching my sister blow out the candles on her cake, singing her "Happy Birthday" and passing out presents.

Years later, when the state of Arizona was embroiled in its own controversy over enacting a publicly-funded state holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. King (a holiday which had earlier been rescinded by Mormon governor Evan Mecham), I was reminded again of my grandfather's disdain for the slain civil rights leader.

At that time, I was actively involved in supporting the re-establishment of a state holiday in honor of Dr. King. Together with my wife and our children, we marched in peaceful, pro-King demonstrations in Phoenix and Mesa (the latter being a hotbed of noisy anti-King sentiment largely fueled by Mormon political extremists). We joined thousands of others in multi-ethnic crowds, waving American flags, carrying pictures of Rev. King, chanting slogans in unison with megaphone-toting parade leaders and singing "We Shall Overcome."

One particular year--on the anniversary of Dr. King's birthday--after having spent the morning participating in another public demonstration in behalf of a state holiday in his honor, I received a phone call from my mother.

She asked me how I had spent my day. I informed her that I had taken our youngest daughter down to a King Day rally earlier in the morning, where I had hoisted her on my shoulders and joined with the throngs in petitioning for, and celebrating in behalf of, the re-establishment of an official King Day.

My mother replied, "Stephen, your grandfather would not have approved of that."

Of course, he would not have.

That was one of the main reasons for doing it.

In the wake of the King-bashing legacy left behind by my grandfather, I felt my parents could benefit from some consciousness raising on matters of civil rights.

So, for my father's birthday, I gave him a small music box that featured a likeness of Rev. King and played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

My father politely thanked me and placed it on the desk in his home office.

When visiting my parents' home sometime later, I noticed that the music box was nowhere to be seen. I asked my father what had happened to it.

In a curiously-worded response, he said, "My wife cleans up my office and puts things away so that the grandchildren won't break them."

I did not find that explanation particularly persuasive, given that my dad's office happened to be filled with all kinds of figurines and other fragile decorative objects (including a large porcelain American eagle which I had also given him).

As far as I could tell, the only item missing from his office was a little music box paying homage to a certain prominent African-American civil rights and religious leader.

--Correspondence from Mormons to Ezra Taft Benson Concerning Rev. King-and the Mormon Church's Official Response

By their racism, ye shall know them.

My grandfather's hate-filled utterances directed at Rev. King brought like-minded rank-and-file LDS bigots out of the woodwork, rallying to his anti-Communist/anti-civil rights cause.

Just as illuminating as their own vicious attacks on Rev. King were the tepid official responses of the Mormon Church --none of which included any direct answer from my grandfather (who was then President of the Church).

As will be seen, the LDS Church was gingerly trying to keep Ezra Taft Benson off the subject of Dr. King, given that my grandfather's bigoted utterances, if repeated by the Church, would be a public relations disaster.

In late 1989, while Arizona was caught in a deep and divisive controversy over whether to approve a state holiday for Rev. King, I received the following copy of a letter that had been written and sent to my grandfather by its right-wing extremist and Mormon author, Julian M. Sanders.

At the time, Sanders was the self-proclaimed "state chairman" of an organization calling itself "Arizonans for Traditional American Values."

His letter is quoted here in full:

"Julian M. Sanders 2113 E. Minton Drive Tempe, Arizona 85282

"1 October 1989

"C-O-P-Y (NOT FOR PUBLICATION)

"THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON 50 East North Temple Street Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

"RE: STATUS M.L.K. JR. HOLIDAY IN ARIZONA--HOT ISSUE "Neutrality" not maintained by L.D.S. spokesman

"Dear and Beloved Prophet:

"A good share of Arizonans rightly understand the truth about Martin Luther King, Jr. Many shared your concerns as quoted in U.S. News and World Report, 30 November 1964:

"'The man who is generally recognized as the leader of the so-called civil rights movement today in America is a man who has lectured at a Communist training school, who has solicited funds through Communist sources, who hired a Communist as a top-level aide, who has affiliated with Communist fronts, who is often praised in the Communist press, and who unquestionably parallels the Communist line. This same man advocates the breaking of the law and ahs been described by J. Edgar Hoover as 'the most notorious liar in the country.' --Ezra T. Benson

"All well-informed members of THE CHURCH are familiar with and hold as sacred (mind and will of the Lord for His Church and for the whole world, if they will receive it) the official declarations of the FIRST PRESIDENCY regarding Communism:

"'Communism being thus hostile to loyal American citizenship and incompatible with true Church membership, of necessity no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist.

"'We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism. The safety of our divinely-inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that COMMUNISM SHALL HAVE NO PLACE IN AMERICA''--First Presidency, 1936, E-39:488

"President David O. McKay put it in simple terms which apply more today than ever before:

"'We are placed on this earth to work . . . It is our duty to strive to till the earth, subdue matter, conquer the globe, take care of the flocks and herds. It is the government's duty to see that you are protected in it, and NO OTHER MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO DEPRIVE YOU OF YOUR PRIVILEGES (fruits of your labors). BUT IT IS NOT THE GOVERNMENT'S DUTY TO SUPPORT YOU . . . I shall raise my voice as long as God gives me sound or ability, against the Communistic (socialistic) idea that the government will take care of us all, and that everything belongs to the government (state or community) . . . It is wrong! NO WONDER, IN TRYING TO PERPETUATE THAT IDEA, THAT MEN BECOME ANTI-CHRIST . . . No government owes you a living. You get it yourself by your own acts---never by trespassing upon the rights of your neighbor, never by cheating him (employer included). You put a blemish upon your character when you do.'---'CN'-2/14/53

"The above principles apply to the entire human race---all mankind without exception. M.L.K., Jr., put himself and his cause above God, above God's laws---the Ten Commandments and the U.S. Constitution---in demanding the power of Government to REDISTRIBUTE THE WEALTH OF OUR NATION via GUARANTEED ANNUAL INCOME, LOW-COST HOUSING, NEGATIVE INCOME TAX, and what he called 'some form of socialism' to guarantee equality and justice (like Karl Marx philosophized via Communism).

"CONCLUSION: After 30 years of observing and studying the life and works (fruits) of M.L.K., Jr., in the light of President McKay's declarations re: above, I can honestly know that he exceeded Lucifer in his ability to deceive the masses with impressive oration and dedication in spite of his addiction to alcohol, tobacco and sex. Regarding the latter lifestyle of adultery, Rev. King confessed:

"'I'm away from home twenty-five to twenty-seven days a month. (Extramarital sex is) a form of anxiety reduction.'--"Bearing the Cross," p. 375, by David Garrow

"As such, Martin Luther King, Jr., was a liar, adulterer and thief (exemplified by his demand for 'a guaranteed annual income of $4,000 for every American adult'--M.L.K., repeated and lobbied for during 1967-8), which plainly puts him into the category of 'anti-Christ,' according to President McKay.

"OPPOSITION TO A TAX-PAID KING HOLIDAY has been long and consistent in Arizona from all but the liberal elements. Recently the pressure was applied on the State Legislature in the form of ECONOMIC BLACKMAIL: $200 million lure a SUPER BOWL (Pro-Football backers), in conjunction with other political compromises turned around enough moderates to get a KING DAY measure through both houses. Even so, all the L.D.S. Legislators remained loyal opponents along with the staunchly conservative Republicans in both houses. The ARIZONA LAW MAKERS with TRUE PRINCIPLES did NOT respond to the ECONOMIC BLACKMAIL. However, on 24 September 1989, the MESA TRIBUNE ran an article on A7, titled:

"'CHURCH LEADERS PRAISE NEW KING HOLIDAY, DESPITE CIRCUMSTANCES.' (In the second half of the article, quoting various religious leaders, is the quote which represents THE LORD'S TRUE CHURCH in the same chorus, singing praises for the HONORS OF MEN-adding to the MYTH OF THE AGES AND DECEPTION of every 'nation, tongue and people.' They fit the confusion of BABYLON):

"'Mesa's John Lyons, Arizona spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, 'I personally view it, and the Church probably would as well, as another part of the political process. IN THE COLLECTIVE WISDOM OF THE LEGISLATURE, THEY SEEMED TO HAVE FELT IT WAS THE THING TO DO AND OBVIOUSLY WE WOULD SUPPORT IT.'

"Here, Brother Lyons would have us believe that the CHURCH obviously supports the prostituted moderates and liberals who united in 'collective wisdom' to force upon us a TAX-PAID HOLIDAY honoring the MASTER DECIEVER of the ages! Is this the true position of the CHURCH? What happened to the NEUTRALITY in politics? Where is the wisdom and courage of the HONORABLE EZRA TAFT BENSON?

"' . . . [T]hey have all gone astray save it be a FEW, WHO ARE THE HUMBLE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST; nevertheless, THEY ARE LED, that in many instances THEY DO ERR BECAUSE THEY ARE TAUGHT BY THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' ---2 Nephi 28:14

"If Brother Lyons wants to be led by 'the collective wisdom' of a prostituted legislature and support their tyranny, that is his privilege. However, I will stand with President David O. McKay and Elder Ezra Taft Benson as quoted above. Brother Lyons has lost credibility with the most loyal, conservative Saints here. He stands tall in the community of liberals!

"Faithfully your Brother,

[signed]

"Julian M. Sanders"

(Julian Sanders, letter to Ezra Taft Benson, 1 October 1989, copy in my possession, original emphasis)



Sanders had sent me his letter unsolicited. I had not agreed with Sanders' demand that I not publicize his efforts to secretly elicit the support of the President of the Mormon Church in an effort to sabotage public efforts to ratify a state holiday for Dr. King.

I, therefore, immediately provided the letter to the press, which subsequently ran news stories and editorials on its bizarre contents.

The indignant Sanders subsequently called a news conference, which he opened up by singing, "Love at Home."

He then proceeded to accuse me of publicly exposing his behind-the-scenes effort to influence government policy via ecclesiastical meddling in matters of state.

A news account of the press conference noted Sanders' complaint:

"'Every human being has a right to privacy and a right to freely communicate with his or her minister without fear of reprisal. . . . My private letter to Ezra Taft Benson . . . in Salt Lake City regarding religious and spiritual matters constituted privileged communication.

"'Steve Benson's breach of trust in misusing my private letter has created discord, lies and hate, resulting in my life being threatened.'"

In the same article, I was given the opportunity to respond:

"[Steve] Benson, the Church president's grandson, called the 'privileged communication' claim 'preposterous.'

"He said the letter dealt not with 'spiritual matters' but with political questions, including low-income housing and Marxist philosophy.

"'Mr. Sanders himself published his so-called 'private' letter, sending it to at least three other people besides myself and Ezra Taft Benson,' he said. 'If he was willing to copy his letter to me-he knows how I strongly oppose efforts to rescind the holiday for Dr. King-then one can only surmise how widely he must have circulated copies among his friends and supporters.

"'I am offended when closet racists like Mr. Sanders, under the guise of godliness and good government, attack civil rights and attempt to subvert the legislative process, all the while seeking to silence those in the Mormon Church who do not share their bigoted views.'

"The newspaper's management also defended the release of Sanders' letter:

"John F. Oppedahl, managing editor of 'The Republic,' said that although the letter was marked 'Not for Publication,' the paper had not agreed to keep the letter confidential.

"'We were given one of several copies that Mr. Sanders apparently distributed, and we felt the public needed to know what it said,' he said."

(Ed Foster and Steve Yozwiak, "Anti-King petitions get support, thousands sign, drive leader says," "Arizona Republic," 10 October 1989, sec. B, p. 1ff).

Throughout the controversy, my grandfather--whether personally, publicly or through official Church spokesmen-never responded directly to Sanders' letter.

For that matter, neither did he address the larger question of a state holiday for Dr. King.

Instead, as the press reported, "Church officials in Salt Lake City moved to put the matter to rest by referring reporters to a statement Benson, the Church's president, made at a news conference when he assumed his position in 1985."

That statement said absolutely nothing about Rev. King:

"'My heart is filled with an overwhelming love and compassion for all our Heavenly Father's children everywhere,' the statement said. 'I love all our Father's children of every color, creed and political persuasion.'"

("Sanders' letter angers his ally, King slurs draw rebuke," in "Phoenix Gazette," 6 October 1989, sec. B, p. 1ff; Steve Yozwiak, "Holiday opponent says King 'exceeded Lucifer,'" in "Arizona Republic," 5 October 1989, sec. A, p. 1ff; "Bigotry rides again: The Lucifer Epistle," in "Arizona Republic," 6 October 19898, sec. A, p. 14; and "The Sanders letter,"in "Phoenix Gazette," 6 October 1989, sec. A, p. 16)

A few days after Sanders' letter to my grandfather was reported in the press, a group of prominent Arizona Mormons held a news conference, at which they publicly endorsed a paid state holiday for Dr. King.

While a commendable effort on their part to honor the legacy of the slain civil rights leader and to put the best face possible on the historically racist doctrines of the Mormon Church, the fact remained that they could not point to a single utterance by my grandfather praising Dr. King or the civil rights movement.

Their statement read as follows:

"Members of the Mormon Church from 12 Arizona cities today endorsed Prop. 302 and urged voters to vote YES at the Nov. 6 election.

"Stan Turley, former president of the Arizona State Senate, said, 'The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were intended to place all citizens on an equal basis and prevent discrimination based on race.

"'Because of the diligence of Dr. King and numerous civil rights workers, the principle is now well established that all citizens have equal rights before the law,' Turley said.

"'This remarkable step in the progress toward a free society without discrimination ranks as one of the most important achievements in our nation's history,' Turley said.

"Lamar Shelley, Chairman of the Members of the Mormon Church for Martin Luther King, Jr. /Civil Rights Day Committee, said, 'Dr. King followed the enlightened principle of non-violent, civil disobedience to unjust laws and court decisions.

"'He taught that people must lay down their weapons and hatreds and that oppression could be conquered by love.

"'Dr. King maintained: "This is the beauty of nonviolence; it says you can struggle, without hating, you can fight war without violence,'" Shelley said.

"Quoting Dr. King, Shelley said, 'We must make them know that we love them. If I am stopped, the movement will not stop because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.'

"Shelley said, 'Because the struggle for equality continues today, a holiday is needed to provide a continuing emphasis to these principles for present and future generations.

"'By commemorating the civil rights movement, and Dr. King's birthday, all citizens will learn about the importance of the struggles and the accomplishments of Dr. King and the civil rights movement.'

"Ray Russell, former Special Assistant to Gov. Evan Mecham [who had, before being removed from office for high crimes and misdemeanors, cancelled a paid state holiday honoring Dr. King] said, 'The accomplishments of the civil rights movement forever changed American society.

"'The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and that thereafter no second-class American citizens,' Russell said.

"'This principle has been made much more secure in America as a result of the broad-based civil rights movement led by Dr. King,' he said.

"'I hope all Arizonans will join me in supporting civil rights and the passage of Proposition 302,' he said . . . .

"In early 1990, Jerry P. Cahill with the Church's Public Communications Department said, 'Since the adoption of the federal holiday honoring Dr. King, the LDS Church has included the holiday among those for which Church employees in the United States are give the day off as a paid holiday.'

"In addition, LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University commemorates a specific 'Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday' on the third Monday in January, in conjunction with both the federal holiday and Utah state holiday.

"President Ezra Taft Benson, prophet, seer and revelator for the Mormon Church, has in his capacity as president, made only one public statement relative to Dr. King. On October 6, 1989, Church officials referred reporters to a statement made by Benson at a news conference when he assumed his position in 1985: 'My heart is filled with an overwhelming love and compassion for all members of the Church and our Heavenly Father's children everywhere. I love all our Father's children of every color, creed and political persuasion.'

"His statement of love for all mankind, regardless of color or creed, stands as the only official declaration made by him as the President of the Church.

"The LDS Church, through Richard Lindsay, Managing Director of Public Communications and Special Affairs, issued a public tribute to Dr. King on January 19, 1998, during an ecumenical candelight vigil on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Building. Lindsay praised Dr. King's legacy, reminding all that his vision was founded on faith, prayer and 'conquering oppression through the beauty of love.'"

"('Statewide Committee of Mormon Church Members Endorse Prop. 302,' statement for immediate release, 16 October 1990, copy in my possession)

"Julian Sanders, who had compared Rev. King to Lucifer and the anti-Christ [and whose letter to Ezra Taft Benson had attempted to involve the Mormon Church in killing efforts to pass a King Day in Arizona] responded angrily to the above press release by saying:

"'They say "we are a group of Mormons" and if they involve the name of the Church, they are in violation of the spirit and purpose of the counselor's world to prevent the Church from being involved in such controversy;'"

(Lawn Griffiths, "Prominent Mormons line up behind King holiday," in "Mesa Tribune," 17 October 1990, sec. A, p. 1).

On this, Sanders had a point.

My grandfather, and the Mormon Church, was doing its damndest to stay out of the King holiday controversy.

Based on what I know about my grandfather and those in my family who worked closely with him (like his sons Reed, my uncle, and Mark, my father) I have concluded that he did not get involved because those working for him in crafting his official presidential utterances were well aware of his anti-King racial bias, perhaps even agreed with it but certainly did not want, at this sensitive point in time, to drag it out into the open for the world to see.

At any rate, they were not about to undermine my grandfather's anti-King record with a pro-King declaration uttered in his name.

Indeed, Ezra Taft Benson's Office of the First Presidency remained completely silent on Dr. King himself, despite being directly petitioned by members of the LDS Church to speak up in behalf of the murdered civil rights leader.

Letters from inquiring Church members, imploring the First Presidency to speak publicly on the issue, went unanswered by the Church's highest official body.

One such plea to my grandfather came from Arizona Latter-day Saint W. Julius Johnson:

"January 30, 1990

"President Ezra Taft Benson The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church Office Building Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

"Dear President Benson:

". . . I know that the Church does not ordinarily get involved in controversial issues of this nature [the Martin Luther King holiday]. However, I also know that the Church will be directly affected by the outcome of this controversy. A negative vote will be blamed on to the Church, along with the implications of bigotry.

"I would urge you to take a strong stand on this issue. If the Church could support the Martin Luther King holiday, it would remove for all time the world's perception of the Church as being racially biased, due to the Church's previous policy on priesthood holders. If this is not possible, please strongly emphasize again the Church's neutral position on this issue.

"Local and national news has portrayed Mormons as opposed to the Martin Luther King holiday; and for good reason. Local brethren here are leaders in the opposition to the holiday. This seems to be a carry-over of the political situation that has embarrassed the Church during the past two years [following Mecham's cancellation of a paid state King holiday]. Unless members of the Church take a lower negative profile on this issue, there is the potential for increased adverse news coverage of the Church.

"Sincerely, your brother in the Gospel.

[signed]

"W. Julius Johnson "Mesa Second Ward"

(W. Julius Johnson, letter to President Ezra Taft Benson, 30 January 1990, copy in my possession)

My grandfather, as I fully expected, did not respond.

Instead, a public relations spokesman wrote back.

All this designated damage controller could do was quote President Spencer W. Kimball, not President Ezra Taft Benson, even though the member's letter was not written to Kimball, but to Benson.

This is indeed telling: An assistant for a supposedly "living prophet" responds to a direct request that "living prophet" intervene, yet all the Church can manage is to quote a "dead prophet."

That response (from the Church's director of International Communications, Jerry P. Cahill on stationery of the "Public Communications/ Special Affairs Department,") read as follows:

"February 26, 1990

"W. Julius Johnson 428 South Wilbur Mesa, Arizona 85202

"Dear Mr. Johnson:

"We acknowledge your letter to the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concerning the Martin Luther King holiday.

"On March 31, 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball, then the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reaffirmed a statement first made ten years earlier by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, concerning the Church's institutional role in matters that are best pursued by Church members as individual citizens.

"President Kimball said on that occasion, 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be committed, as an institution except on those issues which are determined by the First Presidency and Twelve to be of such a nature that the Church should take an official position concerning them. We believe that to do otherwise would involve the Church, formally and officially, on an [sic] sufficient number of issues that the result would be to divert the Church from its basic mission of teaching the restored gospel to the world.'

"Based on that statement, the Church did not express a position on the adoption of a holiday honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, either on the national level nor in any of the states where the matter was considered. Since the adoption of the holiday, however, the Church has included the holiday among those for which Church employees in the United States are given the day off as a paid holiday. Church offices are closed on that day, as they are for the observation of Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, among other holidays.

"In his 1978 statement, President Kimball, added, 'We earnestly hope Church members will feel their individual responsibilities keenly and pursue them wisely.' Obviously, individual members of the Church may express their opinions when any matter is being considered by their legislative representatives. We hope they are wise when they choose to express their opinions and avoid the problems and feelings you describe.

"Sincerely,

[signed]

"Jerry P. Cahill "Director, International Communications"

(Jerry P. Cahill, letter to W. Julius Johnson, 26 February 1990, copy in my possession)

Simply put, the Mormon Church was in a bind on the King issue, placed there by the racist pronouncements of Ezra Taft Benson. It could not issue statements in my grandfather's name extolling the slain civil rights leader. Given his past attacks, that would obviously not appear credible and would serve only to undermine his authority in the eyes of his faithful followers, of and the outside world, if it was pointed out that the Mormon prophet was now reversing course.

But the Mormon Church also realized that if it did not pay Dr. King appropriate homage, it would continue to be viewed--rightly so--as racist.

So, it contorted and dodged the best it could, given the circumstances.

What follows here is information based upon sensitive correspondence in my possession, the details of which cannot be publicly released. I will therefore do the best I can, given that limitation, in explaining the situation that was involved at the time.

Getting around "the King problem" became the assignment of Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of the Public Communications/Special Affairs Department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Lindsay worked for the Church's Special Affairs Committee, which included among its members several Apostles from the Quorum of the Twelve.

It would be inconceivable, therefore, that Lindsay, acting as he did in behalf of the committee, would have issued any public statement that did not meet with the committee's approval.

On 18 January 1988, Lindsay, on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Building, in his capacity as LDS director of communications, paid open and explicit tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King.

To the audience he declared:

"'Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.'

"That's what the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., said to an audience in Memphis, Tennessee, the day before his assassination.

"Over the years he had been a man well-acquainted with the darkness of night.

"The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., was a man who knew the meaning of paradox. To win the battle, he taught, people had to bury their weapons. They must beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. They would conquer oppression through the power of love. 'This is the beauty of nonviolence,' he said. 'It says you can struggle without hating; you can fight war without violence.'

"His life was laced with confrontation, but his response was powered by love, not hatred. He said, 'In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.' This part of the legacy he has left us.

"His vision was founded on faith. Despite the oppression he saw, the bombings, the beatings, the blatant injustice that masqueraded in the robes of the law, he knew that God is a just and loving Father to all mankind. He said, 'Through it all, God walks with us. Never forget that God is able to life you from fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope.'

"During the Montgomery bus boycott in 1956, when a battle for the simple freedom of riding the bus in dignity was being fought, the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., was threatened. Given the mounting pressures of the boycott, he was discouraged, and felt incapable of continuing. He prayed for help. His prayer was answered.

"Standing on the porch of his house, he said, 'We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. If I am stopped, this movement will not stop because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.'

"We have been cautioned against idolizing the man. Wrote one of King's classmates, the Black educator Charles Willie, 'By idolizing those whom we honor, we do a disservice both to them and to ourselves. By exalting the accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr., into a legendary tale that is annually told, we fail to recognize his humanity-his personal and public struggles-that are similar to yours and mine. By idolizing those whom honor, we fail to realize that we could go and do likewise.'

"I think Dr. King would agree with that. I think he would have us remember what GOD has done. It was God who said, 'Well, done thou good and faithful servant.'"

(Richard P. Lindsay, "A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.," 18 January 1988, manuscript copy in my possession)



Even in belated tribute, the Mormon Church's public affairs department could not resist the temptation to remind listeners of Dr. King's personal weaknesses.

Typical of many White racists, Ezra Taft Benson was condescendingly tolerant of Blacks--as long as they "knew their place" and behaved as he insisted they should.

By contrast, he was viciously accusatory and patronizingly dismissive toward Blacks when they engaged in activities that he viewed as politically in opposition to his (and, by extension, God's) interests and purposes. He frequently portrayed Blacks as a threat to the American Way of Life-at least as he defined it.

--Correspondence to Me from Mormon Anti-King Benson Supporters

You can tell a person by the company they keep.

For my grandfather, his company included rabid Mormon racists.--and they racist views that they admired of his brought out the worst in them.

Many of them were involved in obnoxious efforts to convince fellow Saints of their supposed obligation to support the anti-King views of Ezra Taft Benson.

One of these outspoken anti-King Mormon agitators was Shirley Whitlock of Mesa, Arizona. Whitlock, at the time, was president of the local chapter of Phyllis Schlafly's far-right "Eagle Forum" and had worked as a political operative for Arizona's impeached Mormon and openly racist governor, Evan Mecham.

(As a side note, Whitlock and another of Mecham's Mormon minions, Earl Taylor, wrote my grandfather, angrily demanding that I be removed from all my Mormon Church responsibilities because of my anti-Mecham cartoons. They warned my grandfather that if I was not removed from my Church callings, I would face a Church court. Upon receipt of their letter, my grandfather's office manager, Gary Gillespie, phoned me at my newspaper office in Arizona, asking me why such pro-Mecham Mormon extremists could not understand how they were making the rest of the Latter-day Saint community look like "fools." My grandfather did not act on Whitlock and Taylor's demand that I be given the boot, although my stake president shortly thereafter did release me from my position as high councilman because of my anti-Mecham drawings and after having received pressure to do so from a local Mormon legislator, Jerry Gillespie [no relation to my grandfather's office manager]).

With regard to Ezra Taft Benson's views on Rev. King, Whitlock sent me the following note:

"Dear Steve:

"Contrary to your apparent belief, Ezra Taft Benson, not E.M. [Evan Mecham] is my political mentor.

"I read him agreed with him, learned from him committed to his political and religious views--long before I ever heard of E.M.

"Do YOU conclude, from the enclosed [anti-King] writing by your grandfather, that this proves HIM to be a racist bigot?

"Your judgment of same for E.M. is based on far less 'evidence'!"

(Shirley Whitlock, letter to Steve Benson, 20 September 1989, original emphasis)

Enclosed with the letter was a photocopy of pages from my grandfather's book, "An Enemy Hath Done This," with his King-clubbing rhetoric highlighted for my benefit.

--Ezra Taft Benson's Private Conversations with Me on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the mid-1960s, I was in junior high school. It was a time when the nation was being rocked by the tumultuous struggle for civil rights.

During those uncertain days, I remember my grandfather telling me that Dr. King was a tool of the Communist conspiracy and urging me to read John Birch Society literature on King's supposed true nature and Communist-inspired agenda.

That propaganda was readily provided me by my father and mother (the latter who was a card-carrying Bircher).

My father kept thick files in his home office on his favorite conservative. One of my weekly chore (for which I earned my allowance) was to organize and categorize their contents.

In the process of doing so, I came across Bircher articles purporting to show Dr. King's Communist connections.

I remember, in particular, a photograph of a young Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting in a classroom at the allegedly Communist Highlander "Folkschool" training center in Tennessee, where, Birchers claimed, he and others underwent undergone Communist indoctrination at the hands of their Kremlin-directed programmers.

That accusation was, in fact, without foundation. According to Herbert R. Kohl, writing in the "New York Review of Books," 19 January 1984, the school was not Communist but, rather, a progressive institution devoted to fighting racism. It was attended by none other than Rosa Parks the summer before she refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery Alabama, bus.

Unfortunately, as a youngster in junior high school, I didn't know these facts and, thus in dutiful ignorance, was encouraged by my father to enlighten my fellow classmates as to the "truth" about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Under my father's direction, I gathered up stacks of John Birch propaganda, (complete with the photograph of Dr. King supposedly taking orders from Communists in that Tennessee classroom), and brought them to school to show a skeptical classmate. He took one look at my "proof" and laughed.

I was crestfallen.

I had lost that battle to warn my friends against the coming Communist "Negro" invasion. My mother later warned me to limit my association with Black people because, she said, they were "different."

In the Benson household, racial equality was not a topic of priority.

--Orders from the First Presidency to Ezra Taft Benson to Implement Racial Segregation in Mormon Wards

The Mormon Church had confidence that Ezra Taft Benson would follow orders when it came to dealing with racial matters.

In 1940, my grandfather was appointed the first president of the newly-organized Washington [D.C.] stake. According the Sheri Dew in her Church-published biography on Ezra Taft Benson, he proved to be "forward-thinking" as he dealt with the "many and complex" problems facing the stake.

(Sheri L. Dew, "Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book Company, 1987), pp.157-58).



Dew failed to mention that one of those "problems" had to do with Black women sitting too close to White women during Relief Society lessons.

In a letter to "President Ezra T. Benson, Washington [D.C.] Stake," dated 23 June 1942, the First Presidency issued him a directive to segregate the races during Mormon class time:

"Dear President Benson:

"Through the General Board of the Relief Society, who reported to the Presiding Bishopric, and they to us, it comes to us that you have in the Capitol Reef Ward in Washington two colored sisters who apparently are faithful members of the Church.

"The report comes to us that prior to a meeting which was to be held between the Relief Societies of the Washington Ward and the Capitol Ward, Bishop Brossard of the Washington Ward called up the President of the Relief Society of the Capitol Ward and told her that these two colored sisters should [not] be permitted to attend because the President of the Capitol Ward Relief Society failed to carry out the request made of her by the Bishop of the other ward.

"We can appreciate that the situation may present a problem in Washington, but President Clark recalls that in the Catholic churches in Washington at the time he lived there, colored and white communicants used the same church at the same time. He never entered the church to see how the matter was carried out, but he knew that the facts were as stated.

"From this fact we are assuming that there is not in Washington any such feeling as exists in the South where the colored people are apparently not permitted by their white brethren and sisters to come into the meeting houses and worship with them. We feel that we cannot refuse baptism to a colored person who is otherwise worthy, and we feel that we cannot refuses to permit these people to come into our meeting houses and worship once we baptize them.

"It seems to us that it ought to be possible to work this situation out without causing any feelings on the part of anybody. If the white sisters feel that they may not sit with them or near them, we fell very sure that if the colored sisters were discreetly approached, they would be happy to sit at one side in the rear or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters. We will rely upon your tact and discretion to work this out so as not to hurt the feelings on the part of anyone.

"Of course, probably each one of the sisters who can afford it, has a colored maid in her house to do the work and to do the cooking for her, and it would seem that under these circumstances they should be willing to let them sit in Church and worship with them.

"Faithfully your brethren,

[signed]

"Heber J. Grant J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David O. McKay"

Attempting to downplay the condescending bigotry evidenced in the First Presidency's orders to my grandfather, Mormon historian Lester Bush argued that "[i]t is, of course, no more justified to apply the social values of 1970 to this period than it was to impose them on the nineteenth century, and the point to be made is not that the Church had 'racist' ideas as recently as 1950. . . . On the other hand, from our present perspective it is impossible to mistake the role of values and concepts which have since been rejected in the formulation of many aspects of previous Church policy." (Bush, "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview," p. 43)

There is no record that Ezra Taft Benson resisted this directive from Salt Lake City.

The First Presidency was apparently impressed with my grandfather's willingness to do as he was told, however.

A year later, he was called into the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

(Lester E. Bush, Jr., compilation of "scattered" and incomplete "notes" on the "history of the Negro in the LDS Church," pp. 241-42; see also, Bush, "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview [Arlington, Virginia: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought," reprint of original article in "Dialogue," Vol. 8., No. 1, Spring 1973, p. 43)

Efforts by LDS Church Apologists to Defend Ezra Taft Benson--Mormonism's Prophet, Seer and Race-baiter

Part 2 of 3

--Ezra Taft Benson's Open Association With, and Sympathy For, Avowed Segregationists and Racists

Ezra Taft Benson's life followed a regular pattern of rubbing elbows with racists.

He comfortably associated, for instance, with a notorious segregationist and anti-Communist named Billy James Hargis. In 1967, on the campus of an anti-Communist training school run by Hargis, my grandfather delivered a talk entitled, "Trade and Treason," which Hargis later reprinted in his campus magazine, Christian Crusade.

According to a letter from First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown to a Church member, the First Presidency received "numerous" complaints about my grandfather's link with Hargis. Brown offered his reassurances that my grandfathers "activities in this connection will be curtail[ed]."

(Quinn, "Extensions of Power," pp. 97, 462)

Hargis was eventually humiliated in 1974 when two of his Summit Bible College students (a male and a female) came forward to claim he had sexually deflowered them. Hargis admitted to sexual predation and resigned his pastorship, blaming it on "genes and chromosomes."

(Kevin Lambert, "Scandals in Eden: Selected Tales of Religious Misbehavior, Part 1: Billy James Hargis," http://www.postfun.com/pfp/features/97/oct/hargis.html])



Ezra Taft Benson's remarks delivered at Hargis' bigotry-breeding Bible bastion were reprinted--with my grandfather's permission--in the racially poisonous book (noted at the beginning of this examnation) entitled, "The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives."

Additionally, his address was entered into the Congressional Record by the notorious segregationist senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond (more on the connection between Ezra and Strom later).

The cover of the "Black Hammer" book (as obvious in the link provided earlier to its actual cover) showed the thick-lipped, lowed-browed, decapitated, bleeding head of a Black man superimposed upon the symbol of the Communist hammer and sickle.

(Ezra Taft Benson, "Trade and Treason," reprinted in condensed form as foreword in "The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives," by Wes Andres and Clyde Dalton [Oakland, California: Desco Press, 1967], pp. 13-23; and Quinn, "Extensions of Power," pp. 98-99)

--The Presidential Draft Ticket of Ezra Taft Benson and Strom Thurmond

In 1966, an organization spearheaded primarily by John Birchers and known as the "1976 Committee," nominated my grandfather as its choice for President of the United States, with avowed racist and South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond as his running mate.

At the time of the announcement, I remember the excitement among the Benson clan at the prospect that the grand patriarch of our family might become the president of the country. I recall buttons and bumper stickers being passed around and my grandfather smiling proudly amid all the buzz.

Thurmond was the prominent White supremacist who had himself run for president in 1948 on the platform of the States' Rights Party, commonly known as the "Dixiecrats." The primary goal of Thurmond's earlier presidential bid was to preserve racial segregation. As he declared at the time, "All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negroes into our homes, our schools, our churches."

(Jeff Jacoby, "The Death of American Racism," http://www.bigeye.com/jj071303.htm)

Thurmond later became a strident opponent of civil rights, famously filibustering a 1957 civil rights bill for a record 24 hours and 18 minutes.

(Robert Tanner, "Dixiecrats fueled by racial politics, Civil rights spurred Thurmond's 1948 bid for presidency," in "Arizona Republic," 14 December 2002, sec. A., p. 9)

In an effort to understand the nature of the group that had hand-picked its Benson-Thurmond ticket, I retrieved from my father's personal office files a news article announcing the formation of this "1976 Committee." Across the top of the article was handwritten the note, "for your memory book."

According to the article, the "1976 Committee" had derived its name from the belief of its members that it was "necessary to head off some sort of conspiratorial one-world, socialist take-over of the United States by 1976."

This fear was rooted in its claim that "the U.S. Communist party's recently professed plan [is] to promote the establishment of state socialism in this country in its next ten-year plan-by 1976."

(Neil Munro, "Benson-Thurmond Team Pushed by Holland Group, '1976 Committee' Limited,'" undated)

The Committee's motto was "Stand Up for Freedom . . . No Matter What the Cost." Its stated goal was to launch "a ten-year course to restore the American Republic."

In its campaign literature (copies of which littered my home during that time) my grandfather and Thurmond were billed as "the best team of '68" and "the team you can trust to guide America."

Invoking the powers of heaven, the "1976 Committee" described Ezra Taft Benson not only as "unquestionably . . . a scholar and patriot [but] . . . primarily a man of God." He was heralded as "one of the Twelve Apostles of the worldwide Mormon Church," "a kind and compassionate man," one who "does not impose his standards on others" and "an outspoken and thoughtful critic of liberalism, socialism, and Communism."

The "1976 Committee" touted Thurmond was as a popular and renowned public servant, a decorated WWII combat veteran who was dedicated to "military preparedness" and a person determined to formulate "an effective policy to eradicate Communism from the Western Hemisphere."

Among the priorities of the "1976 Committee" were:

--opposition to "international Communist activities,"

--support for pulling the U.S. out of the United Nations,

--warnings about Communist control of the civil rights movement,

--accusations that the U.S. Supreme Court of "waging war" against America,

--advocacy for U.S. retention of the Panama Canal,

--complaints of liberal bias in the media,

--inveighings against Communist "infiltration" of the nation's churches,

--calls for a return to economic the gold standard; and

--resistance to nuclear disarmament treaties with the Russians.

Not coincidentally, much of the "1978 "Committee's" recommended literature was published by the John Birch Society.

("The Team You Can Trust to Guide America," campaign brochure published by "The 1976 Committee," 222 River Avenue, Holland Michigan 49423, undated; and "The 1976 Committee," campaign brochure, undated)

Not everyone in the leadership of the Mormon Church was thrilled as either the Benson family or Birchers at the prospects of Ezra Taft Benson running for President of the United States--especially amid claims that my grandfather had won the support of then-LDS president, David O. McKay.

According to First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown, Ezra Taft Benson had "a letter from President McKay endorsing his candidacy" and feared "it would rip the Church apart" if my grandfather released it publicly as part of a presidential bid.

(Hugh B. Brown, interview with BYU professors Ray Hillam and Richard Wirthlin, 9 August 1966, transcribed "from Rough Draft Notes, fd 6, Hillam papers, and box 34, Buerger papers, and quoted in Quinn, "Extensions of Power," pp. 96-97, 461)

My grandfather's official biographer, Sheri Dew, offered a benign and misleading account of the controversy, claiming that McKay merely advised Ezra Taft Benson to neither encourage or discourage efforts by the "1976 Committee" to draft him.

I remember, however, the bumperstickers that Benson-Thurmond supporters had prodeuced and circulated. Members of the Benson family obtained some of them and passed them out among themselves.

Grassroots momentum for the Benson-Thurmond ticket began building in early 1967, but eventually died out when it became apparent that Richard Nixon was the Republican front-runner.

(Dew, "Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography," pp. 383, 392, 394; see also, Francis M. Gibbons, "Ezra Taft Benson: Statesman, Patriot, Prophet of God" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1996], pp. 244, 247-48)

--The Ezra Taft Benson/George Wallace Bid for the White House

In 1968, my grandfather gave me a copy of the platform of George Wallace's American Independent Party. I remember that it was adorned with a broad-winged eagle across the top and printed in red, white and blue.

He told me that the principles of Wallace's party were "closer to those of the Founding Fathers than either the Republicans' or the Democrats.'

At the time, we lived in Dallas, Texas, where my father was a local organizer for the "Wallace for President" committee. There, he had planted a "Wallace for President" campaign sign in our front lawn. Our African-American maid, Lilly, had to walk past it every week when she came to clean our house.

Told by my insistent parents and grandfather that Wallace was the solution to our nation's problems, I volunteered as a young high schooler to participate in a mock debate held in my government class during the run-up to the national election.

Two of my classmates represented the major candidates, Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, respectively. I was chosen to stand in for George Wallace, with the assignment of defending "states' rights" and public school segregation.

During the event, my government teacher (who was a Humphrey supporter) stood at the back of the classroom holding up a poster board sign she had made which read in large letters, "If you liked Hitler, you'll love Wallace."

When I told my parents about this afterwards, they demanded a meeting with my teacher to complain. She assured them she had only waved the sign around in order to generate interest among the class in the debate.

As it turned out, George Wallace himself had made serious attempts to generate Ezra Taft Benson's interest in joining his third-party presidential ticket as Wallace's running mate.

This was the same George Wallace who, when running for Alabama's gubernatorial seat in 1962, defiantly declared, "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

The same Wallace who, in defiance of a federal court order, infamously stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama, flanked by armed state troopers, in an unsuccessful attempt to block two African-American students from registering for class.

The same Wallace who, faced with another federal court order to integrate his state's schools, commanded police to prevent their opening but was thwarted when President Kennedy again nationalized the Guard to enforce the decree.

The same Wallace who was governor when state troopers unleashed dogs, tear gas and whips on African-Americans marching from Selma to Montgomery.

(Richard Pearson, "Former Ala. Gov. George C. Wallace Dies," in "Washington Post," 14 September 1998, sec. A, p. 1)

The same Wallace whose presidential platform my grandfather described as being closest to the hearts and minds of our Elohim-inspired Founding Fathers.

Actually, George Wallace and the 1968 platform of his party was more accurately described as follows:

"The American Independent Party was a 'white supremacist . . . ultra-conservative' . . . organization founded in reaction to the 1960's civil rights movement and the Supreme Court's overturning of 'separate, but equal' (Plessy v. Ferguson) statute that forced integration.

(see Daniel A. Mazmanian, "Third Parties in Presidential Elections" [New York: Franklin Watts, 1974], p. 130)

Candidate Wallace was described as "a pronounced r
 
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Ezra Taft Benson: "Our Divine Constitution" VS Our Godless Constitution
Review Of The Book "Teachings Of Ezra Taft Benson"
Ezra Taft Benson And The Mouse That Roared
Ezra Taft Benson: Mormonism's Prophet, Seer And Race Baiter (Part 3-3)
Ezra Taft Benson: Mormonism's Prophet, Seer And Race Baiter (Part 2-3)
Ezra Taft Benson: Mormonism's Prophet, Seer And Race Baiter (Part 1-3)
Beware of Plagiarism: Compelling Evidence That Ezra Taft Benson's Heralded "Beware Of Pride" Talk Was a Deliberate and Blatant Rip-Off
Autopens And Other Ezra Taft Benson-Related Deceptions For Controlling The Members
Ezra Taft Benson And Tales Of The Fate Of The Persecutors Of The Prophets
For All Ezra Taft Benson's Hoo-Rah Talk About Flooding The Earth With The Book Of Mormon
On Sheri Dew's Sanitized Authorship Of Ezra Taft Benson's Biography
Ezra Taft Benson's Private Temple Meetings With The Quorum Of The Twelve
The Day Ezra Taft Benson Let Me Feel His Pacemaker
Not To Worry: Based On Personal Experience With Ezra Taft Benson, The Institutionalized Mormon Church Will Effectively Swallow Up And Contain Boyd K. Packer If, And When, He Becomes Cult President
Benson Family Coveting Of General Authority Status
Fourteen Fundamentals Of Following The Prophet
Ezra Was Right--Neal Was A Bad Guy: The Night I Heard Ezra Taft Benson Bad-Mouth Neal A. Maxwell
Sales And Tales: As Ezra Taft Benson Was Secretly Squirreled Away, Laying Sick And Debilitated In An Undisclosed Location, His Office Staff Was High-Fiving Over Sales Of His Book
Using Orrin Hatch To Promote Mormon Church Influence In Washington, D.C.: Ezra Taft Benson Lives On Through Utah's Handmaiden Senator
Was Ezra Taft Benson's Famous Sermon On Pride Borrowed From The Writings Of C.S. Lewis?
Signs Of The Un True Church - Mormon "Prophet" Ezra Taft Benson On Civil Rights And Martin Luther King, Jr.
Inquiring Doubting Minds Want To Know: Did Ezra Taft Benson Believe He Was A Prophet Of God?
Fidel Castro, LDS And Ezra Taft Benson : One Thing The Old Commie Coot Had Over His Fellow LDS Cult Dictators
Oops: Etb's Ill-Advised Prophesies That This Is The Last Generation Before Jesus Comes Back
Ezra Taft Benson Didn't Think Liberal Republicans Made Good Mormons, Either: The Case Of Neal A. Maxwell
LDS Attitude Towards Rock Music, Talents, Art, Featuring Ezra Taft Benson And Lynn Bryson
ETB: May the Plagues of Egypt Descend Upon Your Offspring Who Are Taught by Corrupt BYU Teachers (Unless One of Them is the Grandson of a Mormon Apostle)
How The Mormon Church Really Works At The Top--And Why ETB Wasn't More On The Personal Initiative In Issuing His Own Statements While Church President . . .
Ezra Taft Benson Gem: "Civil Rights: Tool Of Communist Deception"
Outside Request Per Ezra Taft Benson's Diaries For Purpose Of Writing Book On My Grandfather's Anti-Black Views (Info I Can Share From His Personal Letters, Private/Public Beliefs And Fbi File)
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  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 1 (35)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 10 (24)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 11 (25)
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  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 13 (25)
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  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 16 (25)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 17 (25)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 18 (25)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 19 (26)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 2 (25)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 20 (24)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 21 (25)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 22 (24)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 23 (25)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 24 (28)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 3 (24)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 4 (24)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 5 (23)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 6 (24)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 7 (25)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 8 (24)
  · EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 9 (26)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 1 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 10 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 11 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 12 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 13 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 14 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 15 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 16 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 17 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 18 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 19 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 2 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 20 (24)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 21 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 22 (24)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 23 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 24 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 25 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 26 (61)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 3 (21)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 4 (22)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 5 (24)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 6 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 7 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 8 (25)
  · EX-MORMONISM SECTION 9 (26)
  · EXCOMMUNICATION AND COURTS OF LOVE (19)
  · EZRA TAFT BENSON (30)
  · FACIAL HAIR (6)
  · FAIR / MADD - APOLOGETICS (70)
  · FAITH PROMOTING RUMORS (11)
  · FARMS (30)
  · FIRST VISION (23)
  · FOOD STORAGE (3)
  · FUNDAMENTALIST LDS (17)
  · GENERAL AUTHORITIES (29)
  · GENERAL CONFERENCE (14)
  · GENERAL NEWS (5)
  · GEORGE P. LEE (1)
  · GORDON B. HINCKLEY (68)
  · GRANT PALMER (8)
  · GREGORY L. SMITH (9)
  · GUNNISON MASSACRE (1)
  · H. DAVID BURTON (2)
  · HAROLD B. LEE (1)
  · HATE MAIL I RECEIVE (23)
  · HAUNS MILL (2)
  · HBO BIG LOVE (12)
  · HEBER C. KIMBALL (4)
  · HELEN RADKEY (17)
  · HELLEN MAR KIMBALL (4)
  · HENRY B. EYRING (5)
  · HOLIDAYS (13)
  · HOME AND VISITING TEACHING (9)
  · HOWARD W. HUNTER (1)
  · HUGH NIBLEY (13)
  · HYMNS (7)
  · INTERVIEWS IN MORMONISM (18)
  · J REUBEN CLARK (1)
  · JAMES E. FAUST (7)
  · JEFF LINDSAY (6)
  · JEFFREY MELDRUM (1)
  · JEFFREY R. HOLLAND (32)
  · JEFFREY S. NIELSEN (11)
  · JOHN GEE (3)
  · JOHN L. LUND (3)
  · JOHN L. SORENSON (4)
  · JOHN TAYLOR (1)
  · JOSEPH B. WIRTHLIN (1)
  · JOSEPH F. SMITH (1)
  · JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH (8)
  · JOSEPH SITATI (1)
  · JOSEPH SMITH (101)
  · JOSEPH SMITH - POLYGAMY (43)
  · JOSEPH SMITH - PROPHECY (8)
  · JOSEPH SMITH - SEER STONES (7)
  · JOSEPH SMITH - WORSHIP (13)
  · JUDAISM (3)
  · JULIE B. BECK (6)
  · KEITH B. MCMULLIN (1)
  · KERRY MUHLESTEIN (9)
  · KERRY SHIRTS (6)
  · KINDERHOOK PLATES (6)
  · KIRTLAND BANK (6)
  · KIRTLAND EGYPTIAN PAPERS (17)
  · L. TOM PERRY (5)
  · LAMANITE PLACEMENT PROGRAM (3)
  · LAMANITES (36)
  · LANCE B. WICKMAN (1)
  · LARRY ECHO HAWK (1)
  · LDS CHURCH (19)
  · LDS CHURCH OFFICE BUILDING (9)
  · LDS OFFICIAL ESSAYS (22)
  · LDS SOCIAL SERVICES (3)
  · LGBT - AND MORMONISM (44)
  · LORENZO SNOW (1)
  · LOUIS C. MIDGLEY (6)
  · LYNN A. MICKELSEN (2)
  · LYNN G. ROBBINS (1)
  · M. RUSSELL BALLARD (13)
  · MARK E. PETERSON (7)
  · MARK HOFFMAN (12)
  · MARLIN K. JENSEN (3)
  · MARRIOTT (2)
  · MARTIN HARRIS (5)
  · MASONS (16)
  · MELCHIZEDEK/AARONIC PRIESTHOOD (9)
  · MERRILL J. BATEMAN (3)
  · MICHAEL D. WILLIAMS (1)
  · MICHAEL OTTERSON (1)
  · MICHAEL R. ASH (26)
  · MITT ROMNEY (71)
  · MORE GOOD FOUNDATION (4)
  · MORMON CELEBRITIES (14)
  · MORMON CHURCH HISTORY (8)
  · MORMON CHURCH PR (13)
  · MORMON CHURCH PROPAGANDA (5)
  · MORMON CLASSES (1)
  · MORMON DOCTRINE (35)
  · MORMON FUNERALS (12)
  · MORMON GARMENTS (20)
  · MORMON HANDCARTS (12)
  · MORMON INTERPRETER (4)
  · MORMON MARRIAGE EXCLUSIONS (1)
  · MORMON MEMBERSHIP (38)
  · MORMON MISSIONARIES (142)
  · MORMON MONEY (73)
  · MORMON NEWSROOM (5)
  · MORMON POLITICAL ISSUES (5)
  · MORMON RACISM (18)
  · MORMON TEMPLE CEREMONIES (38)
  · MORMON TEMPLE CHANGES (15)
  · MORMON TEMPLES (116)
  · MORMON VISITOR CENTERS (10)
  · MORMON WARDS AND STAKE CENTERS (1)
  · MORMONTHINK (13)
  · MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE (21)
  · MURPHY TRANSCRIPT (1)
  · NATALIE R. COLLINS (11)
  · NAUVOO (3)
  · NAUVOO EXPOSITOR (2)
  · NEAL A. MAXWELL (1)
  · NEAL A. MAXWELL INSTITUTE (1)
  · NEIL L. ANDERSEN - SECTION 1 (3)
  · NEW ORDER MORMON (8)
  · OBEDIENCE - PAY, PRAY, OBEY (15)
  · OBJECT LESSONS (15)
  · OLIVER COWDREY (6)
  · ORRIN HATCH (10)
  · PARLEY P. PRATT (11)
  · PATRIARCHAL BLESSING (5)
  · PAUL H. DUNN (5)
  · PBS DOCUMENTARY THE MORMONS (20)
  · PERSECUTION (9)
  · PIONEER DAY (3)
  · PLAN OF SALVATION (5)
  · POLYGAMY (60)
  · PRIESTHOOD BLESSINGS (1)
  · PRIESTHOOD EXECUTIVE MEETING (0)
  · PRIMARY (1)
  · PROCLAMATIONS (1)
  · PROPOSITION 8 (21)
  · PROPOSITION 8 COMMENTS (11)
  · QUENTIN L. COOK (11)
  · RELIEF SOCIETY (14)
  · RESIGNATION PROCESS (31)
  · RICHARD E. TURLEY, JR. (6)
  · RICHARD G. HINCKLEY (2)
  · RICHARD G. SCOTT (7)
  · RICHARD LYMAN BUSHMAN (11)
  · ROBERT D. HALES (5)
  · ROBERT L. MILLET (7)
  · RODNEY L. MELDRUM (15)
  · ROYAL SKOUSEN (2)
  · RUNTU'S RINCON (78)
  · RUSSELL M. NELSON (14)
  · SACRAMENT MEETING (11)
  · SALT LAKE TRIBUNE (1)
  · SCOTT D. WHITING (1)
  · SCOTT GORDON (5)
  · SEMINARY (5)
  · SERVICE AND CHARITY (24)
  · SHERI L. DEW (3)
  · SHIELDS RESEARCH - MORMON APOLOGETICS (4)
  · SIDNEY RIGDON (7)
  · SIMON SOUTHERTON (34)
  · SPAULDING MANUSCRIPT (8)
  · SPENCER W. KIMBALL (12)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1 (18)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 10 (17)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 11 (15)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 12 (19)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 13 (21)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 14 (17)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 15 (12)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 2 (21)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 3 (18)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4 (25)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 5 (22)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 6 (19)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7 (15)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 8 (13)
  · STEVE BENSON - SECTION 9 (19)
  · STORIES (1)
  · SUNSTONE FOUNDATION (2)
  · SURVEILLANCE (SCMC) (12)
  · TAD R. CALLISTER (3)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 1 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 2 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 3 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 4 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 5 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 6 (25)
  · TAL BACHMAN - SECTION 7 (9)
  · TALKS - SECTION 1 (1)
  · TEMPLE WEDDINGS (6)
  · TEMPLES - NAMES (1)
  · TERRYL GIVENS (1)
  · THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE (1)
  · THE SINGLE WARDS (5)
  · THE WORLD TABLE (3)
  · THOMAS PHILLIPS (18)
  · THOMAS S. MONSON (33)
  · TIME (4)
  · TITHING (63)
  · UGO PEREGO (5)
  · UK COURTS (7)
  · UNNANOUNCED, UNINVITED AND UNWELCOME (36)
  · UTAH LIGHTHOUSE MINISTRY (3)
  · VALERIE HUDSON (3)
  · VAN HALE (16)
  · VAUGHN J. FEATHERSTONE (1)
  · VIDEOS (30)
  · WARD CLEANING (4)
  · WARREN SNOW (1)
  · WELFARE (0)
  · WENDY L. WATSON (7)
  · WHITE AND DELIGHTSOME (11)
  · WILFORD WOODRUFF (6)
  · WILLIAM HAMBLIN (11)
  · WILLIAM LAW (1)
  · WILLIAM SCHRYVER (5)
  · WILLIAM WINES PHELPS (3)
  · WOMEN AND MORMONISM (86)
  · WORD OF WISDOM (7)
  · WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIES (1)
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