40 years ago today - Jun 23, 1981-Tuesday

[Leonard Arrington]

A little more information on the Lavina [Fielding Anderson] firing episode. After the appearance of the "leak" in Sunstone in regard to the succession of Joseph [Smith] III document, they suspected Lavina of being the source. Somebody called that suspicion to the attention of Elder [M. Russell] Ballard who called in Church security. Church security began opening her mail and, Lavina thinks, they tapped her phone. That is how they found the material in the letter addressed to Randy Dixon.

Peggy Fletcher of Sunstone had noted that there was a difference between Elder Rector's talk in April [1981 general] conference and the version of his talk that was published in the Ensign. She asked if she could see a copy of his talk to compare it with the published version. This would save her copying from a tape of the conference proceedings. In all innocence (!) Lavina sent to Randy the wrong draft of Elder Rector's talk. It appears that Elder Rector, well in advance of the conference, had prepared a talk which had gone to Correlation and which had not been cleared by them, so the talk was considerably altered by the time he gave it in conference. Then there was a further alteration of the revised conference talk after it was delivered. Instead of sending the revised draft given in conference Lavina sent the very first draft which was of course an improper thing for her to do. Randy Dixon was involved in all this quite innocently. He did not know a letter was coming from Lavina when Lavina phoned him a day or two later and asked him "did you get my letter?" He replied, "what letter?" I suppose Lavina sent it to him in order not to be sending anything directly to Sunstone. After Lavina was "caught" and fired Church security called in Randy Dixon and grilled him for some time but of course he didn't know anything about it. Randy was almost fired from Church employment but I suppose they did not do so because they were persuaded he was indeed quite innocent. Elder [G. Homer] Durham then called Randy in and told him that he would have to cease his connection with Sunstone. He has now resigned from the [Sunstone] staff. Bill Slaughter was called in and told the same. He has also resigned. Peggy Fletcher had to run down to the [printing] press to take both their names off the masthead before the issue came out. Richard Oman was called in by Elder Durham and strong hints were made to him that his wife Susan [Staker Oman] ought to resign from Sunstone, but of course they could not order this and she does not expect to do so. Richard assured Elder Durham that his wife was not subversive. Elder Hugh Pinnock, President of the Sunday School, called on Peggy and asked her to eliminate the section on Sunday School lessons ["Sunday School Supplement"] in Sunstone. This was giving the impression that the Sunday School somehow was sponsoring or welcoming this section. Peggy did agree to change the title so as to avoid giving that impression. It is very clear that the Brethren are suddenly down on Sunstone and somehow view it as an insidious threat. Peggy has already determined: A. That she will not frequent the Church Office Building. B. That she will not run as many Church history articles. C. That she will make fewer requests [of the church] for photographs.

Elder Durham has threatened to make the photographs unavailable to Sunstone, but as of this minute has stopped short of that decision (it would be ineffective anyhow as so many of the photographs are already out.)

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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