55 years ago today - Oct 2, 1966

Ezra Taft Benson used October 1966 general conference to begin an extraordinary response to his hierarchy critics at the previous conference. "There are some who apparently feel that the fight for freedom is separate from the Gospel. They express it in several ways, but it generally boils down to this: Just live the gospel; there's no need to get involved in trying to save freedom and the Constitution or stop communism." Then in an obvious reference to himself and other general authorities, Benson said: "Should we counsel people, `Just live your religion--there's no need to get involved in the fight for freedom?' No we should not, because our stand for freedom is a most basic part of our religion . . . " He added: "We will be given a chance to choose between conflicting counsel given by some," and he observed: "All men are entitled to inspiration, but only one man is the Lord's mouthpiece. Some lesser men have in the past, and will in the future, use their offices unrighteously. Some will, ignorantly or otherwise, use it to promote false counsel; some will use it to lead the unwary astray; some will use it to persuade us that all is well in Zion; some will use it to cover and excuse their ignorance."

[Ezra Taft Benson reading copy of his general conference talk, 2 Oct. 1966, photocopy in "Hugh B. Brown's File on the John Birch Society." 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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