-- 13 Feb 1986
Conservative members of the Utah legislature in 1986 refused to allow the state to call this national holiday by King's name. The state of Utah uses the name "Human Rights Day" instead of Martin Luther King Day. (1)
-- April 1986
When Ezra Taft Benson was sustained as President in April 1986, the quorums did not sit together in Solomn Assembly, and the ceremony was substantially shortened, requiring only ten votes. (2)
-- 2 Apr 1986
BYU's administration prepares document for its external accreditation review, including: "BYU administrators are advised not to publish in 'Dialogue, a Journal of Mormon Thought,' nor to participate in 'Sunstone' symposia." (3)
-- April 6, 1986
In a solemn assembly at general conference, [Behson] was sustained by Church members as the prophet, seer, and revelator, and President of the Church. In his opening address at that conference, President Benson stressed the need to "cleanse the inner vessel, beginning first with ourselves, then with our families, and finally with the Church" (Ensign 16 [May 1986]:4). In commencing that cleansing, he declared, "The Book of Mormon has not been, nor is it yet, the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching, and missionary work. Of this we must repent" (Ensign 16 [May 1986]:5-6).
In his concluding address of the conference, he said, "The Lord inspired His servant Lorenzo Snow to reemphasize the principle of tithing to redeem the Church from financial bondage.... Now, in our day, the Lord has revealed the need to reemphasize the Book of Mormon to get the Church and all the children of Zion out from under condemnation—the scourge and judgment" (Ensign 16 [May 1986]:78).
To that end, his address "The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God" was repeated in regional conferences throughout the Church. (4)
-- 30 Apr 1986
Church membership was estimated to have reached the 6-million member milestone. (5)
-- 6 Jul 1986
Announcement of "Improved missionary discussions [which] put aside the specific dialogue of the past. Missionaries will now use their own words and follow an outline to share the gospel." This ends twenty-five years of requiring LDS missionaries to memorize and speak word-for-word dialogue when teaching non-Mormons. (3)
-- October, 1986
All stake quorums of the seventy were discontinued. The church encouraged local leaders to have ordained seventies meet with the local elders quorum or to ordain them as high priests. (6)
-- 4 Oct 1986
At priesthood session of General Conference, President Ezra Taft Benson announces that "the seventies quorums in the stakes of the Church are to be discontinued." Soon church's only Seventies (at one time the largest body of priesthood in the church) are general authorities who have been ordained High Priests.
-- October 5, 1986
President Benson's administration expressed Church opposition to the legalization of gambling and government-sponsored lotteries being proposed in many states. "First Presidency Issues Statement against Gambling." (7)
-- 05 Oct 1986
The First Presidency releases a statement indicating that the Church is opposed to the legalization of gambling and government-sponsored lotteries.
-- 09 Oct 1986
Joseph B. Wirthlin is ordained an Apostle, replacing Thomas S. Monson, who had been called to the First Presidency.
-- October 24–28 1986
Dedicates Denver Colorado Temple. This is the 4th temple dedicated during his presidency, the 1st by Benson. Historically, temples are usually dedicated by the president as their health permits. (8)
1 - For the difficult passage and renaming of Martin Luther King day in Utah, see Deseret News, 14 Oct. 1985, A-2,13 Feb. 1986, A-l; Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Feb. 1986, A-l, 28 Feb. 1986, A-5,18 Mar. 1986, B-l. For the Utah legislature's continued disrespect toward the national King holiday, see "Martin Luther King Holiday or Not, Utah Lawmakers Convene Today," Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Jan. 1993, B-l; also companion article "Utah's Mix of Church and State: Theocratic or Just Homogenized?" Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Jan. 1993, B-2. These are referenced in in D. Michael Quinn, "Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:2 (Summer 1992) and Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power Salt Lake City (Signature Books, 1994), Chapter 3
2 - "The Solemn Assembly and Sustaining of Church Officers," Ensign 16 (May 1986): 73–75 -- as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
3 - On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com
4 - Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "Ezra Taft Benson," Reed Benson and Sheri Dew, Daniel H. Ludlow (editor), New York: Macmillan, 1992
5 - Church News: Historical Chronology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/58765/Historical-chronology-of-The-Church-of-Jesus-Christ-of-Latter-day-Saints.html
6 - "Stake Seventies Quorums Discontinued". Ensign: 97–98. November 1986 -- as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
7 - Church News, October 5, 1986, 4. In 1994, Mormon efforts helped defeat a lottery initiative in Oklahoma. "Members Help Defeat Lottery Initiative," Church News, July 23, 1994, 12 -- as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
8 - http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/chronological
LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson
Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson