Ezra Taft Benson, August 17, 1961

-- August 17, 1961
David O. McKay: "we must be careful about condemning any efforts that are anti-Communistic because Communism is a real danger in our country." (1)

-- Sep 30, 1961
Elder Harold B. Lee announces the Church's new correlation effort, which includes the creation of an all-Church Coordination Council. The council is made up of four members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Presiding Bishop, the auxiliary heads, and representatives from the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee and the Church Educational System.

-- 6 Oct, 1961
Hugh B. Brown writes Los Angeles LDS Institute director that the First Presidency "hope some action can be taken to reduce or control the unwise actions of some of our people there and in other parts of the church" [regarding Mormons promoting the Birch society]. (2)

-- October 1961
"We should accept the command of the Lord and treat socialistic communism as the tool of Satan. We should follow the counsel of the President of the Church and resist the influence and policies of the socialist-communist conspiracy wherever they are found–in the schools, in the churches, in governments, in unions, in businesses, in agriculture. ... Concerning the United States, the Lord revealed to his prophets that its greatest threat would be a vast, worldwide 'secret combination' which would not only threaten the United States but also seek to 'overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations…'(Ether 8:25)" (3)

-- Oct 6, 1961
[Quorum of the Twelve] J. Reuben Clark dies. (4)

-- 8 Oct 1961
Benson Preaches in conference: "No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist or support programs leading in that direction." (5)

-- Oct 12, 1961
[Quorum of the Twelve] Henry D. Moyle set apart as First Counselor, Hugh B. Brown Second Counselor to President David O. McKay. (4)

-- 18 Oct 1961
[An associate director] of an LDS institute of religion [George T. Boyd] wrote: "May a dumb spirit possess Bro. E.T.B. [Ezra Taft Benson]" (6)

-- 27 Oct 1961
Upon inquiry by a politically liberal Mormon, First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown replied that a Mormon "can be a Democrat or a Socialist and still be a good church member." Brown added that "he had just had a talk with Bro Benson" who was "on the carpet in regard to his political sallies of late." (7)

-- 28 Oct 1961
Mark E. Petersen (unsigned editorial writer for the Deseret News) ... criticized the Birch Society without actually naming it.

Some groups and persons have attacked certain Americans . . . by casting doubt on their loyalty . . . they have set themselves up as judges of who is loyal and who is "un- American." They [i.e., Robert Welch] have accused certain men [i.e., Dwight D. Eisenhower] of being `unconscious agents of communism' . . . they have attributed national blunders not to errors in judgment but to evil motives. . . . by blaming our problems on certain scapegoats, they can keep us from manfully recognizing the real problems-- internal as well as external . . ." (8)

-- November 16, 1961
Mormon Congressman, David S. King (D-Utah), warned McKay that the church seemed to be abandoning its position of neutrality in politics, to the extent that "Sunday School teachers are making broad hints and innuendoes in classes that those who follow the Democratic program are handmaidens of Communists, and cannot expect to consider themselves in full fellowship in the Church." (9)

-- Dec 1961
Ezra Taft Benson ... established an association with the Birch Society. (10)

1 - David O. McKay diary as referenced in Greg Prince, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
2 - Brown & Benson; Mormon Americana M208, Ala #44, Special Collections, Lee Library, also MS 2260, LDS archives. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
3 - Ezra Taft Benson, Conference, October 1961
4 - Wikipedia, Chronology of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (LDS Church), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_Quorum_of_the_Twelve_Apostles_(LDS_Church)
5 - Conference Report, October 1961, p.74. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
6 - George T. Boyd to "Dick" (Richard D. Poll), undated but written ca. 18 Oct. 1961 and answered 24 Oct. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
7 - Brown & Benson; Brown statements, as quoted and paraphrased in Frederick S. Buchanan diary, 27 Oct. 1961. Buchanan walked in Brown's office just as Benson was leaving. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
8 - Brown & Benson; "What Americanism Must Mean," Deseret News, 28 Oct. 1961, A-10. See Quinn, "Mormon Political Conflicts" for full cite and context.
9 - Notes on a meeting between McKay, Brown, and King in McKay's office, David O. McKay diary as referenced in Greg Prince, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
10 - D. Michael Quinn, "Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:2 (Summer 1992)

LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson

Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson