55 years ago today - Oct 4, 1963

Immediately after [Hugh B.] Brown was sustained as first counselor, Benson's conference sermon relayed a covert subtext to both supporters and detractors. On the surface, the talk referred to the excommunication of early church leaders and warned of the need to detect error today: "For even the Master followed the will of the Father by selecting Judas." In warning current Mormons not to be deceived, Benson quoted Brigham Young against deception by persons "speaking in the most winning tone, attended with the most graceful attitudes." Benson warned against those who "support in any way any organization, cause or measure which, in its remotest effect, would jeopardize free agency, whether it be in politics, government, religion, employment, education, or any other field." He then concluded with a long plea against the threats of socialism and Communism.

BYU's Ernest Wilkinson felt that the "Judas" reference specifically referred to Benson's "running controversy with President Brown." Brown was known as one of the most eloquent speakers in the church and as a defender of liberalism and socialism. Brown also recognized Benson's subtext. "I don't think I'm going to be excommunicated," the new first counselor told Wilkinson right after the conference session ended. Wilkinson saw Benson's October 1963 talk as further evidence of the animosity between Brown and Benson. "The feeling is very intense between them," BYU's president recorded; Brown wrote of being "surrounded by enemies or opponents."

[Benson, "Be Not Deceived," Improvement Era 66 (Dec. 1963): 1063-65; Wilkinson diary, 4 Oct. 1963; Brown to Gustive O. Larson, 2 Oct. 1963, copy in folder 15, box 11, Larson Papers, also copy in Campbell Papers. Aside from Benson, Brown resented the influence on President McKay by Clare Middlemiss and Thorpe B. Isaacson who shared much of Benson's philosophy. From D. Michael Quinn, Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:2 (Summer 1992), also in Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power Salt Lake City (Signature Books, 1994), Chapter 3.]

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