40 years ago today - Mar 5, 1980

The First Presidency was critical of Ezra Taft Benson's 1980 BYU talk. On 5 March the presidency issued a statement that "we reaffirm that we take no partisan stand as to candidates or political parties, and exercise no constraint on the freedom of individuals to make their own choices in these matters." However, the church's official spokesperson claimed that "there is no connection between this [First Presidency] letter and a speech by Apostle Ezra Taft Benson to Brigham Young University" a few days before.

Kimball's son affirms that President Kimball bore no ill feeling toward his longtime associate but "was concerned about Elder Benson's February 1980 talk at BYU." The church president wanted "to protect the Church against being misunderstood as espousing ultraconservative politics, or--in this case--espousing an unthinking `follow the leader' mentality."

In 1980 President Kimball's wife Camilla also described "his displeasure with the speech" to her brother-in-law George T. Boyd.

[Brown & Benson; First Presidency statement, 5 Mar. 1980, Deseret News "Church News, "8 Mar. 1980, 3; "Church Policies and Announcements," Ensign 10 (Aug. 1980): 79; Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Mar. 1980, C-31.; Edward L. Kimball to D. Michael Quinn, 14 Aug., 20 Aug. 1992, concerning discussions with his father in 1980 ; Boyd to D. Michael Quinn, 24 Sept. 1992. See D. Michael Quinn, "Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:2 (Summer 1992) for full cite and context.]

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