-- 14 Mar 1963
Benson published an acknowledgement that his support of the Birch Society was "my personal opinion only." Benson's statement went on to quote the church president as being "opposed to anyone's using the Church for purposes of increasing membership" of the Birch Society or other anti-Communist organizations. (1)
-- 21 Mar 1963
Newspapers reported that more than a thousand LDS members of the Birch Society had written church headquarters with complaints or requests for clarification. The media may have obtained that information from McKay's secretary, Clare Middlemiss, who supported the Birch Society. In fact her pro-Birch orientation became the source of complaints by rank-and-file Mormons to the First Presidency. (2)
-- 10 Apr 1963
An LDS bishop visiting from Scotland was "shocked at Ezra Taft Benson's attack on socialists" in his conference talk. "If socialists are the same as communists, then all we're left is the Tories." The bishop vowed "to tell the people in Scotland about Ezra's comments." (3)
-- 1 May 1963
Ezra Taft Benson publically endorses Robert Welch, head of the John Birch Society] in Washington State. (4)
-- 13 May 1963
By 1963 [Apostle Harold B.] Lee privately said Benson labelled as a Communist "anyone who didn't agree with Brother Benson's mind." (5)
[F]irst counselor Moyle said Benson "just didn't have any reason" in his anti-Communist crusade. (6)
-- May 13, 1963
[Wilkinson received a phone call from Benson] "who read me the riot act for having invited a Communist to speak to our students ... Brother Lee commented that anyone who didn't agree with Brother Benson's mind was, indeed, a Communist. Brother Moyle said that he was happy that I was finding Brother Benson out, that when it came to this subject, he just didn't have any reason." (7)
-- 19 May 1963
Benson had identified Martin Luther King as a Communist. (8)
Someone ... burned a Nazi swastika in the lawn of Reed Benson's house shortly after his appointment as state coordinator for the John Birch Society. (9)
-- 20 May 1963
[T]he Birch Society's Utah membership tripled in the next six months after Reed Benson's appointment as state coordinator. (10)
-- 21 May 1963
Although Mormon Birchers later became famous for "espionage" at Brigham Young University, anti-Birch Mormons were also involved in similar subterfuge. LDS bishop and political scientist J. D. Williams referred in May 1963 to "one of my `spies' in the local Birch Society in Salt Lake City." He felt justified in this approach toward "the Birchers, who hate me . . ." (11)
-- Jun 22, 1963
[Hugh B. Brown] became ... First Counselor in 1963. His record of earlier service, his effective writings and sermons, and his long friendship and ideological affinity with LDS Church President David O. McKay probably accounted for his rapid advancement in the church hierarchy. McKay's failing health and his own policy differences within the church leadership later weakened Brown's influence, though his popularity remained great. (12)
1 - "Benson Declares His Birch Society Support Has No Bearing on Church, Sacramento Bee, 14 Mar. 1963, A-2; "Elder Benson Makes Statement," Deseret News "Church News," 16. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
2 - "CROSS REFERENCE SHEET," Mrs. Joyce M. Sowerwine letter, 25 Nov. 1966, "re: Claire Middlemiss & John Birch Society," in "Hugh B. Brown's File on the John Birch Society." See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
3 - Quoted in Buchanan diary, 10 Apr. 1963. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
4 - Remarks to students at the University of Washington in "Ezra Taft Benson Sees Reds 'Everywhere,' Lauds Birchers," Seattle Times, 1 May 1963,15. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
5 - Wilkinson diary, 13 May 1963. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
6 - Wilkinson diary, 13 May 1963. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
7 - Ernest L. Wilkenson diary as referenced in Greg Prince, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
8 - "Benson Ties Rights Issue to Reds in Mormon Rift," Washington Post, 19 May 1963, E-l, E-7. Benson told BYU students that the American civil rights movement was "Communist inspired" and that its unnamed leader was a Communist sympathizer, if not an actual Communist. The publication of this talk identified King in the index as this Communist civil rights leader. See Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, ed. Jerreld L. Newquist (Salt Lake City: Parliament Publishers, 1969), 310,361. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
9 - "Vandals, Reds, Loaded Queries Plague Utah's Bircher Benson," Portland Oregonian, 19 May 1963, 16, with photo of Reed beside the swastika vandalism. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
10 - "Benson's Son Claims He Has Tripled Utah Birch Membership," Washington Post, 20 May 1963, A-l. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
11 - J. D. Williams to James M. Whitmire, 21 May 1963. Reed Benson had already targeted Williams for classroom surveillance at the University of Utah. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
12 - Utah History Encyclopedia: Hugh B. Brown, http://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/
LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson
Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson