55 years ago today - Dec 13, 1963

Ezra Taft Benson's gave a talk in Logan that was an endorsement of the Birch Society. Early in his remarks, he referred to the "Communist attack on the John Birch Society." A textual analysis also revealed that, without citing his source, 24 percent of Benson's talk quoted verbatim from the Blue Book of the John Birch Society, and another 10 percent paraphrased this publication. Benson's talk also repeated such Birch Society themes as the American civil rights movement was "phony" and actually "part of the pattern for the Communist take over of America." Benson's statements against the civil rights movement worsened the LDS church's negative public image during the 1960s.

The apostle predicted that within ten years the United States of America will be ruled by a Communist dictatorship which "will include military occupation, concentration camps, tortures, terror and all that is required to enable about 3% of the population to rule the other 97% as slaves." Benson promised such dire consequences "unless we join with those small but determined and knowledgeable patriots." He added: "Words will not stop the communists" ... " we can no longer resist the Communist conspiracy as free citizens, but can resist Communist tyranny only by themselves becoming conspirators against established government". He rallied Americans to battle Communism "even with our lives, if the time comes when we must . . . before the Godless Communist Conspiracy destroys our civilization."

[Benson, "We Must Become Alerted and Informed: An Address by Ezra Taft Benson At A Public Patriotic Meeting," Logan, Utah, 13 Dec. 1963, 2, transcript, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City; B. Delworth Gardner, N. Keith Roberts, E. Boyd Wennergren preface to an annotated typescript of Benson's "We Must Become Alerted and Informed," Utah State Historical Society. In the margins of this annotated typescript are the page numbers of the Blue Book from which Benson's talk quoted or paraphrased; "Elder Benson Links Reds to (Civil) Rights Furor," Deseret News, 14 Dec. 1963, B-5; "Communism Moving In on U.S., Benson Warns," Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Dec. 1963, 28. Compare with Ross R. Barnett, governor of Mississippi, "The Rape Of Our Constitution and Civil Rights," in the Birch Society's American Opinion 6 (Sept. 1963): 20-23; John Rousselot, "Civil Rights: Communist Betrayal Of A Good Cause," American Opinion 7 (Feb. 1964): 1-11. 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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