40 years ago today - Sep 3, 1983-Saturday

Near the end of his talk [to BYU Faculty], [BYU President Jeffery] Holland said, "I want to make an off-the-record statement" (this to 2,000 people and another 10,000 potential viewers on radio and television). "The church is in a period of difficulty; many of the brethren have been ill and incapacitated, and (by implication) the church is in a leadership vacuum. Some of you are writing things critical of The Brethren. I want you to quit it. Those who write things critical of The Brethren will not last long at BYU."

Ron understands that this is probably a reaction to a meeting held a couple of days earlier in which The Brethren called Holland to account for the considerable number of BYU people that participated in the Sunstone Symposium. One would suppose that the age-old enemies of historians-Roy Doxey, Tom Truitt, Calvin Rudd, Bill Nelson-went through the Symposium program, jotted down the names of BYU professors participating, and called this to the attention of Elders [Ezra Taft] Benson and [Mark E.] Petersen and [Boyd K.] Packer. These then dressed down Jeff Holland in a very forceful way. Ron understands that he was lashed so heavily that he was ill the next day.

I go through the [Sunstone] program myself and find the following BYU people on the Symposium program: Stan Albrecht, Tom Alexander, Marilyn Arnold, Leonard Arrington, Howard Bahr, Georganne Ballif Arrington [no relation], Arthur Bassett, Maureen Beecher, Todd Britsch, Ann Edwards- Cannon, Eugene England, Gary Gillum, Michael Graves, Bruce Jorgensen, Reba Keele, Ed Kimball, Marvin Hill, D. Michael Quinn, Stephen Ricks, J. Bonner Ritchie, Tom Rogers, Alan Swanson, John Tvedtnes, Steven C. Walker, David Whittaker, Joyce Woodbury, and perhaps others whose affiliation is not mentioned. These are 26 names; I heard from a friend there were 37 from BYU. Of all those, I personally do not know of a single one who was "critical of the Brethren" or who has other than a deep attachment to the Church and its leaders.

Ron [Walker] says that he is not going to let this pass. He will try, during the coming week, to see a vice president or President Holland himself to proclaim the loyalty of the historians and others who write about the Church. I told him I had no objection if he did so.

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

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