-- March 19, 1980
"Ezra Taft Benson said the Mormons are bound to obey every word of the prophet including politics. ... Church doctrine teaches free agency and individual responsibility. How can one practice this principle of one is bound to let someone else make his decisions for him, even in religion." (1)
-- 3 May 1980
Flanked by his two Counselors in the First Presidency and apostles Hinckley and Packer, together with forger Mark Hofmann, Mormon prophet Spencer W. Kimball is photographed examining the bogus "Anthon Transcript" with a magnifying glass (Church News, May 3, , p. 3). The prophet, seer and revelator clearly does not have a clue. Over the next five years, Hofmann dupes Kimball and his successor, Ezra Taft Benson, as well as several of the Apostles, bilking the Mormon Church for large sums of money (Hofmann's Confession, 3 Volumes, 540 pages). (2)
-- Jul 1, 1980.
It is announced that the History Division, renamed the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History, will move to Brigham Young University. By February 1981 a sixteen-volume history of the church is canceled and the authors are paid for the proportion of work they have done. (3)
-- 12 Oct 1980
While organizing a stake in Brasilia, Brazil, Apostle Ezra Taft Benson gives blessing to new stake president's daughter who "had a large growth on her neck," that "growth would disappear" without surgery recommended by physicians. Five days later the growth is gone.
-- 27 Feb 1981
First Presidency authorizes stake presidents to ordain partiarchs. Previously, the Twelve maintained that as exclusive right, even denying it to church's patriarch.
-- 5 May 1981
The First Presidency publicly voiced its opposition to the proposed basing of the MX missile system in the Utah-Nevada desert. (4)
-- 23 Jul 1981
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley is called as third counselor in the First Presidency due to the physical weakness of Presidents Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, and Marion G. Romney. Hinckley is referred to in the press as the "acting president of the church" because Kimball, Tanner, and Romney are largely out of the public eye.
Neal A. Maxwell is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to fill the vacancy left by Hinckley's call to the First Presidency. (5)
-- Oct 1,1981
New York Times reports official announcement that new edition of Book of Mormon changes prophecy that Lamanites will "become white and delightsome." Instead of continuing original reference to skin color, new edition emphasizes inward spirituality: "become pure and delightsome." (6)
-- October 24, 1981
Ezra Taft Benson had hip replacement surgery in October 1981 to repair a horse-handling injury suffered in 1978 (7)
-- December 1981
During the laying of the Jordan River temple cornerstone in 1981, a helicopter from Salt Lake television Channel 2 passed repeatedly over the proceedings, drowning out the proceedings with its roar. Afterward Wolsey [a church liaison with the media] called the television producer, objected to what had happened, and said, "This is not a religious issue; it's a matter of common courtesy." The producer answered belligerently, "What do you want me to do? Apologize?" "If you don't know," snapped Wolsey, "don't expect me to tell you." The producer wrote to Elder Benson, president of the Twelve, apologizing for the insensitive act. President Benson answered: "Dear sir, repentance and forgiveness are great principles. I believe in both. With best wishes. . . ." (8)
Skousen renamed the Freemen Institute to the National Center for Constitutional Studies and moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C., as an ecumenical effort to attract conservative non-Mormons who had been put off by the Mormon orientation of the Freemen. Within a few years the membership in this spin-off of Utah's Birch Society shifted from 90 percent Mormon to more than half non-Mormon. (9)
-- 25 Jan 1982
First Presidency formally releases Leonard J. Arrington as Church Historian. Position has been in administrative limbo since 1980, when he and his staff are released form LDS Historical Department and transferred administratively to BYU. Day after this letter Presidency sets apart G. Homer Durham as church historian. There is no mention in either General Conference or in the CHURCH NEWS about Arrington's release.
1 - Salt Lake Tribune, "Church is Drifting," Leon Johnson, 3/19/80 (provided by Joe Geisner)
2 - Watchman Fellowship Inc, Historical Events, Notable Doctrines: Mormonism Overview, http://www.watchman.org/lds/ldshst96.htm
3 - Anderson, Lavina Fielding, "The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology," Dialogue, Vol.26, No.1
4 - 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
5 - Wikipedia, 20th Century (Mormonism), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20th_century_(Mormonism)
6 - Quinn, D. Michael, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Appendix 5, Selected Chronology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1848-1996, http://amzn.to/extensions-power
7 - 1983 Church Almanac (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1982), 12 -- as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
8 - Wolsey, "PR Man for a Prophet." -- as referenced in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft)
9 - 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
LDS History Chronology: Ezra Taft Benson
Mormon History Timeline: the life of Ezra Taft Benson