55 years ago today - Sep 2, 1965

Son of Ezra Taft Benson -- Reed Benson escalated both the Birch conflict and racial tensions in Mormonism with a memorandum to all Birch Society chapters in Utah on 2 September 1965:

It is common knowledge that the Civil Rights Movement is Communist controlled, influenced and dominated. . . . Our founder and guide, Mr. Robert Welch, has instructed us that when necessary we must adopt the communist technique in our ever present battle against Godless Communism. It is urged that in the coming weeks the Utah Chapters begin a whispering campaign and foster rumors that the Civil Rights groups are going to organize demonstrations in Salt Lake City in connection with the forthcoming LDS conference. . . . A few well placed comments will soon mushroom out of control and before the conference begins there will be such a feeling of unrest and distrust that the populace will hardly know who to believe. The news media will play it to the very hilt. No matter what the Civil Rights leaders may try to say to deny it the seed will have been sown and again the Civil Rights movement will suffer a telling blow.

[Reed A. Benson, "Memo to the Utah Chapters," 2 Sept. 1965, on letterhead of the John Birch Society, photocopy in Williams Papers; Quinn G. McKay to J. D. Williams, 20 May 1966, Williams Papers. 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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