55 years ago today - Feb 11, 1966

Ezra Taft Benson spoke about the right-wing John Birch Society to a standing-room-only crowd at the Assembly Hall on Salt Lake Temple Square. He charged that "a minority bloc of American liberals [had] formed a propaganda coalition with the Communists . . . [and] drew the line of fire away from the Communist Conspiracy and to focus the heat of attack on the patriots." Benson added that this conspiracy of liberals and Communists "decided to level practically their entire arsenal on The John Birch Society."

Benson then told this February 1966 meeting on Temple Square that he had read the Birch Society's Blue Book, Robert Welch's The Politician, and recommended that the audience subscribe to the Birch Society's official magazine American Opinion. His talk even included the mailing address. Of his support for the Birch Society, the Deseret News added Benson's comment to the Mormons on Temple Square: "It has been very unpopular to defend this group," he said, "But I can remember when it was unpopular to defend my own church."

[Ezra Taft Benson, "Stand Up For Freedom," address to the Utah Forum for the American Idea, Assembly Hall, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, 11 Feb. 1966, typescript, 9, 11, Vertical File, Special Collections, Marriott Library; "Benson Hits Liberals' 'Conspiracy': Assails Plots, Propaganda," Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Feb. 1966,17. 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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