Jul 20 04:56 2005


steve benson



The purpose of the following examination is to document and report the private and public views of my grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, on what he derisively described as the “so-called civil rights movement,” the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other related racial issues

Based on the information from a variety of sources (including many of my own personal encounters with him), it is conclusive that:

--Ezra Taft Benson was a racist, as amply demonstrated by his own words, actions, beliefs and associations

--Typical of many White racists, Ezra Taft Benson was condescendingly tolerant of Blacks—as long as they “knew their place” and behaved as he insisted they should.

--By contrast, Ezra Taft Benson was viciously accusatory and patronizingly dismissive toward Blacks when they engaged in activities that he viewed as politically in opposition to his (and, by extension, God’s) interests and purposes. He frequently portrayed Blacks as a threat to the American Way of Life—at least as he defined it

Making the Case: An Overview of Ezra Taft Benson’s Racist Views

As proof of the assertion that my grandfather was, indeed, a racial bigot, the evidence will be examined from the following perspectives:

--His public pronouncements on the U.S. civil rights movement

--His public pronouncements on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

--His personal correspondence expressing his anti-King views

--The personal correspondence from anti-King and anti-civil rights Mormons to Ezra Taft Benson, evidencing their own racial bias, as well as their confidence that in my grandfather they had found a kindred spirit

--Personal correspondence to me from racist Mormons, indicating their support for Ezra Taft Benson’s anti-Black, anti-civil rights views

--Personal correspondence from LDS Church members to Mormon Church leadership during Ezra Taft Benson’s term as Church president, regarding efforts to pass an official Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday—and the Church’s official response.

--Public associations by Ezra Taft Benson with known segregationists and racists

--Political alliances by Ezra Taft Benson with overtly racist politicians—notably, Strom Thurmond and George Wallace

--Correspondence from the First Presidency to Ezra Taft Benson, directing him to segregate White and Black Mormon women in Relief Societies within Washington, D.C. stake when he was serving as the area’s stake president

--Personal notes and documents from the private files of Ezra Taft Benson, indicating his racist views

--Personal conversations between myself and Ezra Taft Benson on racial matters

--A White supremacist book from the personal library of Ezra Taft Benson

Ezra Taft Benson’s Public Statements on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement

My grandfather regarded the U.S. civil rights movement as part of a Communist plot to destroy America.

Through far right-wing publishing houses and book chains owned by the Mormon Church, he warned that the aim of the U.S. civil rights movement was to “create the animosity, fear and hatred between large segments of our people that would be necessary beginning ingredients for their revolution.”

He warned that civil rights grievances by African-Americans were being exploited by the Communists “to agitate blacks into hating whites and whites into hating blacks.”

He declared that the U.S. movement for equal civil rights was fueled by “false stories and rumors about injustices and brutality” which, he said, served to “[c]reate martyrs for both sides” while playing “upon mass emotions until they smolder with resentment and hatred.”

My grandfather saw the U.S. civil rights movement, in larger conspiratorial context, as a leading element in a vast, ominous and active Communist plot designed to “overthrow established government” through “widespread anarchy,” the sparking of “a nation-wide civil war” and the assassination of “anti-Communist leaders of both races.”


This Moscow-orchestrated plan, he declared from his General Conference pulpit, was being implemented on American soil “[u]sing unidentified Communist agents and non-Communist sympathizers in key positions in government, in communications media and in mass organizations such as labor unions and civil rights groups [which] demand more and more government power as the solution to all civil rights problems. Total government is the objective of Communism. Without calling it by name, [they] build Communism piece by piece through mass pressures for Presidential decrees, court orders and legislation which appear to be aimed at improving civil rights and other social reforms.”

Ezra Taft Benson saw the American South as the initial battleground in Communist efforts to establish a foothold before spreading northward. These attempts, he warned, were designed for "splitting away the ‘Black Belt,’ those Southern states in which the Negro held a majority, and calling them a Negro Soviet Republic.” He warned Americans to be on guard for African-Americans who had “migrated to the Northern states,” where they had likewise “applied this same strategy to the so-called ‘ghetto’ areas in the North.”

He reassured White patriots, however, that even “[i]f Communism comes to America . . . the Negro represents only 10 percent of the population. In any all-out race war which might be triggered, there isn’t a chance in the world that Communist-led Negro guerilla units could permanently hold on to the power centers of government, even if they could capture them in the first place.”

Despite his assurances of security in White numbers, Ezra Taft Benson nonetheless reminded Americans that Blacks might still well attempt a Communist overthrow of the United States:

“It now seems probable that the Communists are determined to use force and violence to its fullest, coupled with a weakening of the economy and military setbacks abroad, in an effort to create as much havoc as possible to weaken American internally, and to create the kind of psychological desperation in the minds of all citizens that will lead them to accept blindly government measures which actually help the Communists in their take-over.”

In a throwback to the inquisitional days of McCarthyism, Ezra Taft Benson urged that “duly authorized legislative investigating committees launch an even more exhaustive study and expose the secret Communists who are directing the Civil Rights movement,” insisting that “[t]he same needs to be done with militant anti-Negro groups” which, he claimed, were being fit “perfectly into the Communist plan” to “intensify inter-racial friction.”

In fighting insidious Communist encroachment on America, my grandfather urged that Americans remain ever-vigilant against enslavement by Big Government. He urged that “our local police . . . not be encumbered by Civilian Review Boards, or asked to be social workers.” He warned the police “not to accept grants from the Federal Government,” warning his fellow citizens that if they did, it could well “lead to the eventual creation of a national police force” that would be used by the Communists “to hold the people in line.”

(Ezra Taft Benson, “Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception,” adaptation from address of same title, delivered at General Conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 29 September 1967, reprinted by National Research Group, American Fork, Utah, , pp. 1-4; see also, “Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception,” reprint of same “address by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson” [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1968, emphasis in original)

Ezra Taft Benson’s Public Statements on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My grandfather considered the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to have been a disreputable individual, a dishonorable and dishonest man and a Communist.

Of him, he wrote:

“The man who is generally recognized as the leader of the so-called civil rights movement today in America is a man who has lectured at a Communists training school, who has solicited funds through Communist sources, who hired a Communist as a top-level aide, who has affiliated with Communist fronts, who is often praised in the Communist press and who unquestionably parallels the Communist line. This same man advocates the breaking of the law and has been described by J. Edgar Hoover as ‘the most notorious liar in the country.’ . . .

”Would anyone deny that the President [Lyndon Johnson], the chief law enforcer in the United States, belies his position by playing gracious host to the late Martin L. King who has preached disobedience to laws which in his opinion are unjust?”

(Ezra Taft Benson, “It Can Happen Here,” in An Enemy Hath Done This, Jerreld L. Newquist, comp. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Parliament Publishers, 1969], pp. 103, 310)

Reacting to President Johnson’s declaration of a national day of mourning two days after the murder of Rev. King, Ezra Taft Benson had nothing but opprobrium for the slain civil rights leader.

In a letter to Mormon hotelier J. Willard Marriott, he claimed that “Martin Luther King had been affiliated with at least the following officially recognized Communist fronts,” three of which he then went on to list.

In the same letter, he coldly warned Marriott that “the Communists will use Mr. King’s death for as much yardage as possible.”

A year later, in another letter to Marriott, my grandfather continued his attack on the dead Black minister, writing that “the kindest thing that could be said about Martin Luther King is that he was an effective Communist tool. Personally, I think he was more than that.”

(D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997], pp. 100, 113, 463, 471)

My grandfather also was convinced that Dr. King’s assassination was carried out by Communists themselves, in an effort to trigger civil war in America.

In his book, An Enemy Hath Done This, he quoted from an article by Susan L. M. Huck, originally published in the John Birch magazine, American Opinion:

“Okay, let’s take the gloves off. This insurrection didn’t just happen. It was a set-up—just as the assassination of Martin Luther King was a set-up. The Communists and their Black Power fanatics have been working to create just such a situation for years. They even TOLD us what they were planning to do, again and again, as they did it. . . .

“And remember, the Reds and their Black Power troops have promised us that this is only the beginning! Stokely has said that his forces plan to burn down America.

“They’re sure going to try.

“How do you stop it? It’s very simple. You stop Communist racial agitation; you arrest the leaders for conspiracy to commit murder, arson and burglary, prove their guilt in a court of law and lock them up. And you free the hands of our police so that the can PREVENT rioting and looting and arson by those citizens now convinced by the actions of our ‘Liberals’ that theft, incendiarism and assault will be tolerated.

“Don’t kid yourself. The people who are behind all of this mean to have a civil war. We either stop them now or they will escalate this thing.”

(quoted in Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 335, original emphasis)

My grandfather’s hatred of Dr. King had its effects. The reaction of my own parents to the murder of Dr. King reflected by grandfather’s attitudes.

Dr. King was assassinated on 4 April 1968, which happened to be my sister’s birthday. I remember that day, most notably by the fact that no mourning went on in our home over his death.

Earlier in the evening, I had seen on our television news broadcasts of race riots erupting in major cities across the country in response Dr. King’s murder. I remember the columns of black smoke rising from inner cities set aflame by Blacks outraged at the brutal murder of their hero—and of their hope.

But in the Benson home that night, we had more important things to do—like watching my sister blow out the candles on her cake, singing her “Happy Birthday” and passing out presents.

Years later, when the state of Arizona was embroiled in its own controversy over enacting a publicly-funded state holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. King (a holiday which had earlier been rescinded by Mormon governor Evan Mecham), I was reminded again of my grandfather’s disdain for the slain civil rights leader.

At that time, I was actively involved in supporting the re-establishment of a state holiday in honor of Dr. King. Together with my wife Mary Ann and our children, we marched in peaceful, pro-King demonstrations in Phoenix and Mesa (the latter being a hotbed of noisy anti-King sentiment largely fueled by Mormon political extremists). We joined thousands of others in multi-ethnic crowds, waving American flags, carrying pictures of Rev. King, chanting slogans in unison with megaphone-toting parade leaders and singing “We Shall Overcome.”

One particular year--on the anniversary of Dr. King’s birthday--after having spent the morning participating in another public demonstration in behalf of a state holiday in his honor, I received a phone call from my mother.

She asked me how I had spent my day. I informed her that I had taken our youngest daughter, Audrey, down to a King Day rally earlier in the morning, where I had hoisted her on my shoulders and joined with the throngs in petitioning for, and celebrating in behalf of, the re-establishment of an official King Day.

My mother replied, “Stephen, your grandfather would not have approved of that.”

Of course, he would not have.

That was one of the main reasons for doing it.

In the wake of the King-bashing legacy left behind by my grandfather, I felt my parents could benefit from some consciousness raising on matters of civil rights.

So, for my father’s birthday, I gave him a small music box that featured a likeness of Rev. King and played “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

My father politely thanked me and placed it on the desk in his home office.

When visiting my parents’ home sometime later, I noticed that the music box was nowhere to be seen. I asked my father what had happened to it.

In a curiously-worded response, he said, “My wife cleans up my office and puts things away so that the grandchildren won’t break them.”

I did not find that explanation particularly persuasive, given that my dad’s office happened to be cluttered with all kinds of figurines and other fragile decorative objects (including a large porcelain American eagle which I had also given him).

As far as I could tell, the only item missing from his office was a little music box paying homage to a certain prominent African-American civil rights and religious leader.

Correspondence from Mormons to Ezra Taft Benson Concerning Rev. King—and the Mormon Church’s Official Response

By their racism, ye shall know them.

My grandfather’s hate-filled utterances directed at Rev. King brought like-minded rank-and-file LDS bigots out of the woodwork, rallying to his anti-Communist/anti-civil rights cause.

Just as illuminating as their own vicious attacks on Rev. King were the tepid official responses of the Mormon Church --none of which included any direct answer from my grandfather (who was then President of the Church).

As will be seen, the LDS Church was gingerly trying to keep Ezra Taft Benson off the subject of Dr. King, given that my grandfather’s bigoted utterances, if repeated by the Church, would be a public relations disaster.

In late 1989, while Arizona was caught in a deep and divisive controversy over whether to approve a state holiday for Rev. King, I received the following copy of a letter that had been written and sent to my grandfather by its right-wing extremist and Mormon author, Julian M. Sanders.

At the time, Sanders was the self-proclaimed “state chairman” of an organization calling itself “Arizonans for Traditional American Values.”

His letter is quoted here in full:

“Julian M. Sanders
2113 E. Minton Drive
Tempe, Arizona 85282

“1 October 1989


50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

“Neutrality” not maintained by L.D.S. spokesman

“Dear and Beloved Prophet:

“A good share of Arizonans rightly understand the truth about Martin Luther King, Jr. Many shared your concerns as quoted in U.S. News and World Report, 30 November 1964:

“’The man who is generally recognized as the leader of the so-called civil rights movement today in America is a man who has lectured at a Communist training school, who has solicited funds through Communist sources, who hired a Communist as a top-level aide, who has affiliated with Communist fronts, who is often praised in the Communist press, and who unquestionably parallels the Communist line. This same man advocates the breaking of the law and ahs been described by J. Edgar Hoover as ‘the most notorious liar in the country.’ --Ezra T. Benson

“All well-informed members of THE CHURCH are familiar with and hold as sacred (mind and will of the Lord for His Church and for the whole world, if they will receive it) the official declarations of the FIRST PRESIDENCY regarding Communism:

“’Communism being thus hostile to loyal American citizenship and incompatible with true Church membership, of necessity no loyal American citizen and no faithful Church member can be a Communist.

“’We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism. The safety of our divinely-inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that COMMUNISM SHALL HAVE NO PLACE IN AMERICA’’--First Presidency, 1936, E-39:488

“President David O. McKay put it in simple terms which apply more today than ever before:

“’We are placed on this earth to work . . . It is our duty to strive to till the earth, subdue matter, conquer the globe, take care of the flocks and herds. It is the government’s duty to see that you are protected in it, and NO OTHER MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO DEPRIVE YOU OF YOUR PRIVILEGES (fruits of your labors). BUT IT IS NOT THE GOVERNMENT’S DUTY TO SUPPORT YOU . . . I shall raise my voice as long as God gives me sound or ability, against the Communistic (socialistic) idea that the government will take care of us all, and that everything belongs to the government (state or community) . . . It is wrong! NO WONDER, IN TRYING TO PERPETUATE THAT IDEA, THAT MEN BECOME ANTI-CHRIST . . . No government owes you a living. You get it yourself by your own acts---never by trespassing upon the rights of your neighbor, never by cheating him (employer included). You put a blemish upon your character when you do.’---CN-2/14/53

“The above principles apply to the entire human race---all mankind without exception. M.L.K., Jr., put himself and his cause above God, above God’s laws---the Ten Commandments and the U.S. Constitution---in demanding the power of Government to REDISTRIBUTE THE WEALTH OF OUR NATION via GUARANTEED ANNUAL INCOME, LOW-COST HOUSING, NEGATIVE INCOME TAX, and what he called ‘some form of socialism’ to guarantee equality and justice (like Karl Marx philosophized via Communism).

“CONCLUSION: After 30 years of observing and studying the life and works (fruits) of M.L.K., Jr., in the light of President McKay’s declarations re: above, I can honestly know that he exceeded Lucifer in his ability to deceive the masses with impressive oration and dedication in spite of his addiction to alcohol, tobacco and sex. Regarding the latter lifestyle of adultery, Rev. King confessed:

“’I’m away from home twenty-five to twenty-seven days a month. (Extramarital sex is) a form of anxiety reduction.’--“Bearing the Cross,” p. 375, by David Garrow

“As such, Martin Luther King, Jr., was a liar, adulterer and thief (exemplified by his demand for ‘a guaranteed annual income of $4,000 for every American adult’--M.L.K., repeated and lobbied for during 1967-8), which plainly puts him into the category of ‘anti-Christ,’ according to President McKay.

“OPPOSITION TO A TAX-PAID KING HOLIDAY has been long and consistent in Arizona from all but the liberal elements. Recently the pressure was applied on the State Legislature in the form of ECONOMIC BLACKMAIL: $200 million lure a SUPER BOWL (Pro-Football backers), in conjunction with other political compromises turned around enough moderates to get a KING DAY measure through both houses. Even so, all the L.D.S. Legislators remained loyal opponents along with the staunchly conservative Republicans in both houses. The ARIZONA LAW MAKERS with TRUE PRINCIPLES did NOT respond to the ECONOMIC BLACKMAIL. However, on 24 September 1989, the MESA TRIBUNE ran an article on A7, titled:

“’CHURCH LEADERS PRAISE NEW KING HOLIDAY, DESPITE CIRCUMSTANCES.’ (In the second half of the article, quoting various religious leaders, is the quote which represents THE LORD’S TRUE CHURCH in the same chorus, singing praises for the HONORS OF MEN—adding to the MYTH OF THE AGES AND DECEPTION of every ‘nation, tongue and people.’ They fit the confusion of BABYLON):

“’Mesa’s John Lyons, Arizona spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, ‘I personally view it, and the Church probably would as well, as another part of the political process. IN THE COLLECTIVE WISDOM OF THE LEGISLATURE, THEY SEEMED TO HAVE FELT IT WAS THE THING TO DO AND OBVIOUSLY WE WOULD SUPPORT IT.’

“Here, Brother Lyons would have us believe that the CHURCH obviously supports the prostituted moderates and liberals who united in ‘collective wisdom’ to force upon us a TAX-PAID HOLIDAY honoring the MASTER DECIEVER of the ages! Is this the true position of the CHURCH? What happened to the NEUTRALITY in politics? Where is the wisdom and courage of the HONORABLE EZRA TAFT BENSON?

“’ . . . [T]hey have all gone astray save it be a FEW, WHO ARE THE HUMBLE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST; nevertheless, THEY ARE LED, that in many instances THEY DO ERR BECAUSE THEY ARE TAUGHT BY THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ ---2 Nephi 28:14

“If Brother Lyons wants to be led by ‘the collective wisdom’ of a prostituted legislature and support their tyranny, that is his privilege. However, I will stand with President David O. McKay and Elder Ezra Taft Benson as quoted above. Brother Lyons has lost credibility with the most loyal, conservative Saints here. He stands tall in the community of liberals!

“Faithfully your Brother,


“Julian M. Sanders”

(Julian Sanders, letter to Ezra Taft Benson, 1 October 1989, copy in my possession, original emphasis)

Sanders had sent me his letter unsolicited. I had not agreed with Sanders’ demand that I not publicize his efforts to secretly elicit the support of the President of the Mormon Church in an effort to sabotage public efforts to ratify a state holiday for Dr. King.

I, therefore, immediately provided the letter to the press, which subsequently ran news stories and editorials on its bizarre contents.

The indignant Sanders subsequently called a news conference, which he opened up by singing, “Love at Home.”

He then proceeded to accuse me of publicly exposing his behind-the-scenes effort to influence government policy via ecclesiastical meddling in matters of state.

A news account of the press conference noted Sanders’ complaint:

“’Every human being has a right to privacy and a right to freely communicate with his or her minister without fear of reprisal. . . . My private letter to Ezra Taft Benson . . . in Salt Lake City regarding religious and spiritual matters constituted privileged communication.

“’Steve Benson’s breach of trust in misusing my private letter has created discord, lies and hate, resulting in my life being threatened.’”

In the same article, I was given the opportunity to respond:

“[Steve] Benson, the Church president’s grandson, called the ‘privileged communication’ claim ‘preposterous.’

“He said the letter dealt not with ‘spiritual matters’ but with political questions, including low-income housing and Marxist philosophy.

“’Mr. Sanders himself published his so-called ‘private’ letter, sending it to at least three other people besides myself and Ezra Taft Benson,’ he said. ‘If he was willing to copy his letter to me—he knows how I strongly oppose efforts to rescind the holiday for Dr. King—then one can only surmise how widely he must have circulated copies among his friends and supporters.

“’I am offended when closet racists like Mr. Sanders, under the guise of godliness and good government, attack civil rights and attempt to subvert the legislative process, all the while seeking to silence those in the Mormon Church who do not share their bigoted views.’

“The newspaper’s management also defended the release of Sanders’ letter:

“John F. Oppedahl, managing editor of The Republic, said that although the letter was marked ‘Not for Publication,’ the paper had not agreed to keep the letter confidential.

“’We were given one of several copies that Mr. Sanders apparently distributed, and we felt the public needed to know what it said,’ he said.”

(Ed Foster and Steve Yozwiak, “Anti-King petitions get support, thousands sign, drive leader says,” Arizona Republic, 10 October 1989, sec. B, p. 1ff).

Throughout the controversy, my grandfather--whether personally, publicly or through official Church spokesmen—never responded directly to Sanders’ letter.

For that matter, neither did he address the larger question of a state holiday for Dr. King.

Instead, as the press reported, “Church officials in Salt Lake City moved to put the matter to rest by referring reporters to a statement Benson, the Church’s president, made at a news conference when he assumed his position in 1985.”

That statement said absolutely nothing about Rev. King:

“’My heart is filled with an overwhelming love and compassion for all our Heavenly Father’s children everywhere,’ the statement said. ‘I love all our Father’s children of every color, creed and political persuasion.’”

("Sanders’ letter angers his ally, King slurs draw rebuke,” Phoenix Gazette, 6 October 1989, sec. B, p. 1ff; Steve Yozwiak, “Holiday opponent says King ‘exceeded Lucifer,’ Arizona Republic, 5 October 1989, sec. A, p. 1ff; “Bigotry rides again: The Lucifer Epistle,” Arizona Republic, 6 October 19898, sec. A, p. 14; and “The Sanders letter, Phoenix Gazette, 6 October 1989, sec. A, p. 16)

A few days after Sanders’ letter to my grandfather was reported in the press, a group of prominent Arizona Mormons held a news conference, at which they publicly endorsed a paid state holiday for Dr. King.

While a commendable effort on their part to honor the legacy of the slain civil rights leader and to put the best face possible on the historically racist doctrines of the Mormon Church, the fact remained that they could not point to a single utterance by my grandfather praising Dr. King or the civil rights movement.

Their statement read as follows:

“Members of the Mormon Church from 12 Arizona cities today endorsed Prop. 302 and urged voters to vote YES at the Nov. 6 election.

“Stan Turley, former president of the Arizona State Senate, said, ‘The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were intended to place all citizens on an equal basis and prevent discrimination based on race.

“’Because of the diligence of Dr. King and numerous civil rights workers, the principle is now well established that all citizens have equal rights before the law,’ Turley said.

“’This remarkable step in the progress toward a free society without discrimination ranks as one of the most important achievements in our nation’s history,’ Turley said.

“Lamar Shelley, Chairman of the Members of the Mormon Church for Martin Luther King, Jr. /Civil Rights Day Committee, said, ‘Dr. King followed the enlightened principle of non-violent, civil disobedience to unjust laws and court decisions.

“’He taught that people must lay down their weapons and hatreds and that oppression could be conquered by love.

“’Dr. King maintained: “This is the beauty of nonviolence; it says you can struggle, without hating, you can fight war without violence,’” Shelley said.

“Quoting Dr. King, Shelley said, ‘We must make them know that we love them. If I am stopped, the movement will not stop because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.’

“Shelley said, ‘Because the struggle for equality continues today, a holiday is needed to provide a continuing emphasis to these principles for present and future generations.

“’By commemorating the civil rights movement, and Dr. King’s birthday, all citizens will learn about the importance of the struggles and the accomplishments of Dr. King and the civil rights movement.’

“Ray Russell, former Special Assistant to Gov. Evan Mecham [who had, before being removed from office for high crimes and misdemeanors, cancelled a paid state holiday honoring Dr. King] said, ‘The accomplishments of the civil rights movement forever changed American society.

“’The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and that thereafter no second-class American citizens,’ Russell said.

“’This principle has been made much more secure in America as a result of the broad-based civil rights movement led by Dr. King,’ he said.

“’I hope all Arizonans will join me in supporting civil rights and the passage of Proposition 302,’ he said . . . .

“In early 1990, Jerry P. Cahill with the Church’s Public Communications Department said, ‘Since the adoption of the federal holiday honoring Dr. King, the LDS Church has included the holiday among those for which Church employees in the United States are give the day off as a paid holiday.’

“In addition, LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University commemorates a specific ‘Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday’ on the third Monday in January, in conjunction with both the federal holiday and Utah state holiday.

“President Ezra Taft Benson, prophet, seer and revelator for the Mormon Church, has in his capacity as president, made only one public statement relative to Dr. King. On October 6, 1989, Church officials referred reporters to a statement made by Benson at a news conference when he assumed his position in 1985: ‘My heart is filled with an overwhelming love and compassion for all members of the Church and our Heavenly Father’s children everywhere. I love all our Father’s children of every color, creed and political persuasion.’

“His statement of love for all mankind, regardless of color or creed, stands as the only official declaration made by him as the President of the Church.

“The LDS Church, through Richard Lindsay, Managing Director of Public Communications and Special Affairs, issued a public tribute to Dr. King on January 19, 1998, during an ecumenical candelight vigil on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Building. Lindsay praised Dr. King’s legacy, reminding all that his vision was founded on faith, prayer and ‘conquering oppression through the beauty of love.’”

”(‘Statewide Committee of Mormon Church Members Endorse Prop. 302,’ statement for immediate release, 16 October 1990, copy in my possession)

”Julian Sanders, who had compared Rev. King to Lucifer and the anti-Christ [and whose letter to Ezra Taft Benson had attempted to involve the Mormon Church in killing efforts to pass a King Day in Arizona] responded angrily to the above press release by saying:

“’They say “we are a group of Mormons” and if they involve the name of the Church, they are in violation of the spirit and purpose of the counselor’s world to prevent the Church from being involved in such controversy;’”

(Lawn Griffiths, “Prominent Mormons line up behind King holiday,” Mesa Tribune,17 October 1990, sec. A, p. 1).

On this, Sanders had a point.

My grandfather, and the Mormon Church, was doing its damndest to stay out of the King holiday controversy.

Based on what I know about my grandfather and those in my family who worked closely with him (like his sons Reed, my uncle, and Mark, my father) I have concluded that he did not get involved because those working for him in crafting his official presidential utterances were well aware of his anti-King racial bias, perhaps even agreed with it but certainly did not want, at this sensitive point in time, to drag it out into the open for the world to see.

At any rate, they were not about to undermine my grandfather’s anti-King record with a pro-King declaration uttered in his name.

Indeed, Ezra Taft Benson’s Office of the First Presidency remained completely silent on Dr. King himself, despite being directly petitioned by members of the LDS Church to speak up in behalf of the murdered civil rights leader.

Letters from inquiring Church members, imploring the First Presidency to speak publicly on the issue, went unanswered by the Church’s highest official body.

One such plea to my grandfather came from Arizona Latter-day Saint W. Julius Johnson:

“January 30, 1990

“President Ezra Taft Benson
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Church Office Building
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

“Dear President Benson:

“. . . I know that the Church does not ordinarily get involved in controversial issues of this nature [the Martin Luther King holiday]. However, I also know that the Church will be directly affected by the outcome of this controversy. A negative vote will be blamed on to the Church, along with the implications of bigotry.

“I would urge you to take a strong stand on this issue. If the Church could support the Martin Luther King holiday, it would remove for all time the world’s perception of the Church as being racially biased, due to the Church’s previous policy on priesthood holders. If this is not possible, please strongly emphasize again the Church’s neutral position on this issue.

“Local and national news has portrayed Mormons as opposed to the Martin Luther King holiday; and for good reason. Local brethren here are leaders in the opposition to the holiday. This seems to be a carry-over of the political situation that has embarrassed the Church during the past two years [following Mecham’s cancellation of a paid state King holiday]. Unless members of the Church take a lower negative profile on this issue, there is the potential for increased adverse news coverage of the Church.

“Sincerely, your brother in the Gospel.


“W. Julius Johnson
”Mesa Second Ward”

(W. Julius Johnson, letter to President Ezra Taft Benson, 30 January 1990, copy in my possession)

My grandfather, as I fully expected, did not respond.

Instead, a public relations spokesman wrote back.

All this designated damage controller could do was quote President Spencer W. Kimball, not President Ezra Taft Benson, even though the member’s letter was not written to Kimball, but to Benson.

This is indeed telling: An assistant for a supposedly “living prophet” responds to a direct request that “living prophet” intervene, yet all the Church can manage is to quote a “dead prophet.”

That response (from the Church’s director of International Communications, Jerry P. Cahill on stationery of the “Public Communications/ Special Affairs Department,”) read as follows:

“February 26, 1990

“W. Julius Johnson
428 South Wilbur
Mesa, Arizona 85202

“Dear Mr. Johnson:

“We acknowledge your letter to the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concerning the Martin Luther King holiday.

“On March 31, 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball, then the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reaffirmed a statement first made ten years earlier by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, concerning the Church’s institutional role in matters that are best pursued by Church members as individual citizens.

“President Kimball said on that occasion, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be committed, as an institution except on those issues which are determined by the First Presidency and Twelve to be of such a nature that the Church should take an official position concerning them. We believe that to do otherwise would involve the Church, formally and officially, on an [sic] sufficient number of issues that the result would be to divert the Church from its basic mission of teaching the restored gospel to the world.’

“Based on that statement, the Church did not express a position on the adoption of a holiday honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, either on the national level nor in any of the states where the matter was considered. Since the adoption of the holiday, however, the Church has included the holiday among those for which Church employees in the United States are given the day off as a paid holiday. Church offices are closed on that day, as they are for the observation of Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, among other holidays.

“In his 1978 statement, President Kimball, added, ‘We earnestly hope Church members will feel their individual responsibilities keenly and pursue them wisely.’ Obviously, individual members of the Church may express their opinions when any matter is being considered by their legislative representatives. We hope they are wise when they choose to express their opinions and avoid the problems and feelings you describe.



“Jerry P. Cahill
”Director, International Communications”

(Jerry P. Cahill, letter to W. Julius Johnson, 26 February 1990, copy in my possession)

Simply put, the Mormon Church was in a bind on the King issue, placed there by the racist pronouncements of Ezra Taft Benson. It could not issue statements in my grandfather’s name extolling the slain civil rights leader. Given his past attacks, that would obviously not appear credible and would serve only to undermine his authority in the eyes of his faithful followers, of and the outside world, if it was pointed out that the Mormon prophet was now reversing course.

But the Mormon Church also realized that if it did not pay Dr. King appropriate homage, it would continue to be viewed--rightly so--as racist.

So, it contorted and dodged the best it could, given the circumstances.

What follows here is information based upon sensitive correspondence in my possession, the details of which cannot be publicly released. I will therefore do the best I can, given that limitation, in explaining the situation that was involved at the time.

Getting around “the King problem” became the assignment of Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of the Public Communications/Special Affairs Department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Lindsay worked for the Church’s Special Affairs Committee, which included among its members several Apostles from the Quorum of the Twelve.

It would be inconceivable, therefore, that Lindsay, acting as he did in behalf of the committee, would have issued any public statement that did not meet with the committee’s approval.

On 18 January 1988, Lindsay, on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Building, in his capacity as LDS director of communications, paid open and explicit tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King.

To the audience he declared:

“’Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.’

“That’s what the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., said to an audience in Memphis, Tennessee, the day before his assassination.

“Over the years he had been a man well-acquainted with the darkness of night.

“The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., was a man who knew the meaning of paradox. To win the battle, he taught, people had to bury their weapons. They must beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. They would conquer oppression through the power of love. ‘This is the beauty of nonviolence,’ he said. ‘It says you can struggle without hating; you can fight war without violence.’

“His life was laced with confrontation, but his response was powered by love, not hatred. He said, ‘In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.’ This part of the legacy he has left us.

“His vision was founded on faith. Despite the oppression he saw, the bombings, the beatings, the blatant injustice that masqueraded in the robes of the law, he knew that God is a just and loving Father to all mankind. He said, ‘Through it all, God walks with us. Never forget that God is able to life you from fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope.’

“During the Montgomery bus boycott in 1956, when a battle for the simple freedom of riding the bus in dignity was being fought, the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., was threatened. Given the mounting pressures of the boycott, he was discouraged, and felt incapable of continuing. He prayed for help. His prayer was answered.

“Standing on the porch of his house, he said, ‘We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. If I am stopped, this movement will not stop because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.’

“We have been cautioned against idolizing the man. Wrote one of King’s classmates, the Black educator Charles Willie, ‘By idolizing those whom we honor, we do a disservice both to them and to ourselves. By exalting the accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr., into a legendary tale that is annually told, we fail to recognize his humanity—his personal and public struggles—that are similar to yours and mine. By idolizing those whom honor, we fail to realize that we could go and do likewise.’

“I think Dr. King would agree with that. I think he would have us remember what GOD has done. It was God who said, ‘Well, done thou good and faithful servant.’”

(Richard P. Lindsay, “A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.,” 18 January 1988, manuscript copy in my possession)

Even in belated tribute, the Mormon Church’s public affairs department could not resist the temptation to remind listeners of Dr. King’s personal weaknesses.

(Part Two follows)




Jul 20 05:11 2005


steve benson



The purpose of the following examination is to document and report the private and public views of my grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, on what he derisively described as the “so-called civil rights movement,” the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other related racial issues

Based on the information from a variety of sources (including many of my own personal encounters with him), it is conclusive that:

--Ezra Taft Benson was a racist, as amply demonstrated by his own words, actions, beliefs and associations

--Typical of many White racists, Ezra Taft Benson was condescendingly tolerant of Blacks—as long as they “knew their place” and behaved as he insisted they should.

--By contrast, Ezra Taft Benson was viciously accusatory and patronizingly dismissive toward Blacks when they engaged in activities that he viewed as politically in opposition to his (and, by extension, God’s) interests and purposes. He frequently portrayed Blacks as a threat to the American Way of Life—at least as he defined it.


Correspondence to Me from Mormon Anti-King Benson Supporters

You can tell a person by the company they keep.

For my grandfather, his company included rabid Mormon racists.

Many of them were involved in obnoxious efforts to convince fellow Saints of their supposed obligation to support the anti-King views of Ezra Taft Benson.

One of these outspoken anti-King Mormon agitators was Shirley Whitlock of Mesa, Arizona. Whitlock, at the time, was president of the local chapter of Phyllis Schlafly’s far-right “Eagle Forum” and had worked as a political operative for Arizona’s impeached Mormon and openly racist governor, Evan Mecham.

(As a side note, Whitlock and another of Mecham’s Mormon minions, Earl Taylor, wrote my grandfather, angrily demanding that I be removed from all my Mormon Church responsibilities because of my anti-Mecham cartoons. They warned my grandfather that if I was not removed from my Church callings, I would face a Church court. Upon receipt of their letter, my grandfather’s office manager, Gary Gillespie, phoned me at my newspaper office in Arizona, asking me why such pro-Mecham Mormon extremists could not understand how they were making the rest of the Latter-day Saint community look like “fools.” My grandfather did not act on Whitlock and Taylor’s demand that I be given the boot, although my stake president shortly thereafter did release me from my position as high councilman because of my anti-Mecham drawings and after having received pressure to do so from a local Mormon legislator, Jerry Gillespie [no relation to my grandfather’s office manager]).

With regard to Ezra Taft Benson’s views on Rev. King, Whitlock sent me the following note:

“Dear Steve:

“Contrary to your apparent belief, Ezra Taft Benson, not E.M. [Evan Mecham] is my political mentor.

“I read him agreed with him, learned from him committed to his political and religious views--long before I ever heard of E.M.

“Do YOU conclude, from the enclosed [anti-King] writing by your grandfather, that this proves HIM to be a racist bigot?

“Your judgment of same for E.M. is based on far less ‘evidence’!”

(Shirley Whitlock, letter to Steve Benson, 20 September 1989, original emphasis)

Enclosed with the letter was a photocopy of pages from my grandfather’s book, An Enemy Hath Done This, with his King-clubbing rhetoric highlighted for my benefit.

Ezra Taft Benson’s Private Conversations with Me on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the mid-1960s, I was in junior high school. It was a time when the nation was being rocked by the tumultuous struggle for civil rights.

During those uncertain days, I remember my grandfather telling me that Dr. King was a tool of the Communist conspiracy and urging me to read John Birch Society literature on King’s supposed true nature and Communist-inspired agenda.

That propaganda was readily provided me by my father and mother (the latter who was a card-carrying Bircher).

My father kept thick files in his home office on his favorite conservative. One of my weekly chore (for which I earned my allowance) was to organize and categorize their contents.

In the process of doing so, I came across Bircher articles purporting to show Dr. King’s Communist connections.

I remember, in particular, a photograph of a young Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting in a classroom at the allegedly Communist Highlander “Folkschool” training center in Tennessee, where, Birchers claimed, he and others underwent undergone Communist indoctrination at the hands of their Kremlin-directed programmers.

That accusation was, in fact, without foundation. The school was not Communist but, rather, a progressive institution devoted to fighting racism. It was attended by none other than Rosa Parks the summer before she refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery Alabama, bus.

(Herbert R. Kohl, reply to Marshall Brady, New York Review of Books, 19 January 1984,

Unfortunately, as a youngster in junior high school, I didn’t know these facts and, thus in dutiful ignorance, was encouraged by my father to enlighten my fellow classmates as to the “truth” about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Under my father’s direction, I gathered up stacks of John Birch propaganda, (complete with the photograph of Dr. King supposedly taking orders from Communists in that Tennessee classroom), and brought them to school to show a skeptical classmate. He took one look at my “proof” and laughed.

I was crestfallen.

I had lost that battle to warn my friends against the coming Communist “Negro” invasion. My mother later warned me to limit my association with Black people because, she said, they were “different.”

In the Benson household, racial equality was not a topic of priority.

Orders from the First Presidency to Ezra Taft Benson to Implement Racial Segregation in Mormon Wards

The Mormon Church had confidence that Ezra Taft Benson would follow orders when it came to dealing with racial matters.

In 1940, my grandfather was appointed the first president of the newly-organized Washington [D.C.] stake. According the Sheri Dew in her Church-published biography on Ezra Taft Benson, he proved to be “forward-thinking” as he dealt with the “many and complex” problems facing the stake. (Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography [Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book Company, 1987), pp.157-58).

Dew failed to mention that one of those “problems” had to do with Black women sitting too close to White women during Relief Society lessons.

In a letter to “President Ezra T. Benson, Washington [D.C.] Stake,” dated 23 June 1942, the First Presidency issued him a directive to segregate the races during Mormon class time:

“Dear President Benson:

“Through the General Board of the Relief Society, who reported to the Presiding Bishopric, and they to us, it comes to us that you have in the Capitol Reef Ward in Washington two colored sisters who apparently are faithful members of the Church.

“The report comes to us that prior to a meeting which was to be held between the Relief Societies of the Washington Ward and the Capitol Ward, Bishop Brossard of the Washington Ward called up the President of the Relief Society of the Capitol Ward and told her that these two colored sisters should [not] be permitted to attend because the President of the Capitol Ward Relief Society failed to carry out the request made of her by the Bishop of the other ward.

“We can appreciate that the situation may present a problem in Washington, but President Clark recalls that in the Catholic churches in Washington at the time he lived there, colored and white communicants used the same church at the same time. He never entered the church to see how the matter was carried out, but he knew that the facts were as stated.

“From this fact we are assuming that there is not in Washington any such feeling as exists in the South where the colored people are apparently not permitted by their white brethren and sisters to come into the meeting houses and worship with them. We feel that we cannot refuse baptism to a colored person who is otherwise worthy, and we feel that we cannot refuses to permit these people to come into our meeting houses and worship once we baptize them.

“It seems to us that it ought to be possible to work this situation out without causing any feelings on the part of anybody. If the white sisters feel that they may not sit with them or near them, we fell very sure that if the colored sisters were discreetly approached, they would be happy to sit at one side in the rear or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters. We will rely upon your tact and discretion to work this out so as not to hurt the feelings on the part of anyone.

“Of course, probably each one of the sisters who can afford it, has a colored maid in her house to do the work and to do the cooking for her, and it would seem that under these circumstances they should be willing to let them sit in Church and worship with them.

“Faithfully your brethren,


“Heber J. Grant
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
David O. McKay”

Attempting to downplay the condescending bigotry evidenced in the First Presidency’s orders to my grandfather, Mormon historian Lester Bush argued that “[i]t is, of course, no more justified to apply the social values of 1970 to this period than it was to impose them on the nineteenth century, and the point to be made is not that the Church had ‘racist’ ideas as recently as 1950. . . . On the other hand, from our present perspective it is impossible to mistake the role of values and concepts which have since been rejected in the formulation of many aspects of previous Church policy.” (Bush, Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview, p. 43)

There is no record that Ezra Taft Benson resisted this directive from Salt Lake City.

The First Presidency was apparently impressed with my grandfather’s willingness to do as he was told, however.

A year later, he was called into the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

(Lester E. Bush, Jr., compilation of “scattered” and incomplete “notes” on the “history of the Negro in the LDS Church,” pp. 241-42; see also, Bush, Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview [Arlington, Virginia: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought], reprint of original article in Dialogue, Vol. 8., No. 1, Spring 1973, p. 43)

Ezra Taft Benson’s Open Association With, and Sympathy For, Avowed Segregationists and Racists

Ezra Taft Benson’s life followed a regular pattern of rubbing elbows with racists.

He comfortably associated, for instance, with a notorious segregationist and anti-Communist named Billy James Hargis. In 1967, on the campus of an anti-Communist training school run by Hargis, my grandfather delivered a talk entitled, “Trade and Treason,” which Hargis later reprinted in his campus magazine, Christian Crusade.

According to a letter from First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown to a Church member, the First Presidency received “numerous” complaints about my grandfather’s link with Hargis. Brown offered his reassurances that my grandfathers “activities in this connection will be curtail[ed].”

(Quinn, Extensions of Power, pp. 97, 462)

Hargis was eventually humiliated in 1974 when two of his Summit Bible College students (a male and a female) came forward to claim he had sexually deflowered them. Hargis admitted to sexual predation and resigned his pastorship, blaming it on “genes and chromosomes.”

(Kevin Lambert, “Scandals in Eden: Selected Tales of Religious Misbehavior, Part 1: Billy James Hargis,”])

Ezra Taft Benson’s remarks delivered at Hargis’ bigotry-breeding Bible bastion were reprinted--with my grandfather’s permission--in a racially poisonous book entitled, The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives. Additionally, his address was entered into the Congressional Record by the notorious segregationist senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond (more on the connection between Ezra and Strom later).

The cover of the Black Hammer book showed the thick-lipped, lowed-browed, decapitated, bleeding head of a Black man superimposed upon the symbol of the Communist hammer and sickle.

(Ezra Taft Benson, “Trade and Treason,” reprinted in condensed form as foreword in The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives, by Wes Andres and Clyde Dalton [Oakland, California: Desco Press, 1967], pp. 13-23; and Quinn, Extensions of Power, pp. 98-99)

The Presidential Draft Ticket of Ezra Taft Benson and Strom Thurmond

In 1966, an organization spearheaded primarily by John Birchers and known as the “1976 Committee,” nominated my grandfather as its choice for President of the United States, with avowed racist and South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond as his running mate.

At the time of the announcement, I remember the excitement among the Benson clan at the prospect that the grand patriarch of our family might become the president of the country. I recall buttons and bumper stickers being passed around and my grandfather smiling proudly amid all the buzz.

Thurmond was the prominent White supremacist who had himself run for president in 1948 on the platform of the States’ Rights Party, commonly known as the “Dixiecrats.” The primary goal of Thurmond’s earlier presidential bid was to preserve racial segregation. As he declared at the time, “All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negroes into our homes, our schools, our churches.”

(Jeff Jacoby, “The Death of American Racism,”

Thurmond later became a strident opponent of civil rights, famously filibustering a 1957 civil rights bill for a record 24 hours and 18 minutes.

(Robert Tanner, “Dixiecrats fueled by racial politics, Civil rights spurred Thurmond’s 1948 bid for presidency,” Arizona Republic, 14 December 2002, sec. A., p. 9)

In an effort to understand the nature of the group that had hand-picked its Benson-Thurmond ticket, I retrieved from my father’s personal office files a news article announcing the formation of this “1976 Committee.” Across the top of the article was handwritten the note, “for your memory book.”

According to the article, the “1976 Committee” had derived its name from the belief of its members that it was “necessary to head off some sort of conspiratorial one-world, socialist take-over of the United States by 1976.”

This fear was rooted in its claim that “the U.S. Communist party’s recently professed plan [is] to promote the establishment of state socialism in this country in its next ten-year plan—by 1976.”

(Neil Munro, “Benson-Thurmond Team Pushed by Holland Group, ‘1976 Committee’ Limited,’” undated)

The Committee's motto was “Stand Up for Freedom . . . No Matter What the Cost.” Its stated goal was to launch “a ten-year course to restore the American Republic.”

In its campaign literature (copies of which littered my home during that time) my grandfather and Thurmond were billed as “the best team of ‘68” and “the team you can trust to guide America.”

Invoking the powers of heaven, the “1976 Committee” described Ezra Taft Benson not only as “unquestionably . . . a scholar and patriot [but] . . . primarily a man of God.” He was heralded as “one of the Twelve Apostles of the worldwide Mormon Church,” “a kind and compassionate man,” one who “does not impose his standards on others” and “an outspoken and thoughtful critic of liberalism, socialism, and Communism.”

The “1976 Committee” touted Thurmond was as a popular and renowned public servant, a decorated WWII combat veteran who was dedicated to “military preparedness” and a person determined to formulate “an effective policy to eradicate Communism from the Western Hemisphere.”

Among the priorities of the “1976 Committee” were:

--opposition to “international Communist activities,”

--support for pulling the U.S. out of the United Nations,

--warnings about Communist control of the civil rights movement,

--accusations that the U.S. Supreme Court of “waging war” against America,

--advocacy for U.S. retention of the Panama Canal,

--complaints of liberal bias in the media,

--inveighings against Communist “infiltration” of the nation’s churches,

--calls for a return to economic the gold standard; and

--resistance to nuclear disarmament treaties with the Russians.

Not coincidentally, much of the “1978 "Committee’s” recommended literature was published by the John Birch Society.

(“The Team You Can Trust to Guide America,” campaign brochure published by "The 1976 Committee," 222 River Avenue, Holland Michigan 49423, undated; and “The 1976 Committee,” campaign brochure, undated)

Not everyone in the leadership of the Mormon Church was thrilled as either the Benson family or Birchers at the prospects of Ezra Taft Benson running for President of the United States--especially amid claims that my grandfather had won the support of then-LDS president, David O. McKay.

According to First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown, Ezra Taft Benson had “a letter from President McKay endorsing his candidacy” and feared “it would rip the Church apart” if my grandfather released it publicly as part of a presidential bid.

(Hugh B. Brown, interview with BYU professors Ray Hillam and Richard Wirthlin, 9 August 1966, transcribed “from Rough Draft Notes, fd 6, Hillam papers, and box 34, Buerger papers, and quoted in Quinn, Extensions of Power, pp. 96-97, 461)

My grandfather’s official biographer, Sheri Dew, offered a benign and misleading account of the controversy, claiming that McKay merely advised Ezra Taft Benson to neither encourage or discourage efforts by the “1976 Committee” to draft him.

Grassroots momentum for the Benson-Thurmond ticket began building in early 1967, but eventually died out when it became apparent that Richard Nixon was the Republican front-runner.

(Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography, pp. 383, 392, 394; see also, Francis M. Gibbons, Ezra Taft Benson: Statesman, Patriot, Prophet of God [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1996], pp. 244, 247-48)

The Ezra Taft Benson-George Wallace Bid for the White House

In 1968, my grandfather gave me a copy of the platform of George Wallace’s American Independent Party. I remember that it was adorned with a broad-winged eagle across the top and printed in red, white and blue.

He told me that the principles of Wallace’s party were “closer to those of the Founding Fathers than either the Republicans’ or the Democrats.’

At the time, we lived in Dallas, Texas, where my father was a local organizer for the “Wallace for President” committee. There, he had planted a “Wallace for President” campaign sign in our front lawn. Our African-American maid, Lilly, had to walk past it every week when she came to clean our house.

Told by my insistent parents and grandfather that Wallace was the solution to our nation’s problems, I volunteered as a young high schooler to participate in a mock debate held in my government class during the run-up to the national election.

Two of my classmates represented the major candidates, Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, respectively. I was chosen to stand in for George Wallace, with the assignment of defending “states’ rights” and public school segregation.

During the event, my government teacher (who was a Humphrey supporter) stood at the back of the classroom holding up a poster board sign she had made which read in large letters, “If you liked Hitler, you’ll love Wallace.”

When I told my parents about this afterwards, they demanded a meeting with my teacher to complain. She assured them she had only waved the sign around in order to generate interest among the class in the debate.

As it turned out, George Wallace himself had made serious attempts to generate Ezra Taft Benson’s interest in joining his third-party presidential ticket as Wallace’s running mate.

This was the same George Wallace who, when running for Alabama’s gubernatorial seat in 1962, defiantly declared, "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

The same Wallace who, in defiance of a federal court order, infamously stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama, flanked by armed state troopers, in an unsuccessful attempt to block two African-American students from registering for class.

The same Wallace who, faced with another federal court order to integrate his state’s schools, commanded police to prevent their opening but was thwarted when President Kennedy again nationalized the Guard to enforce the decree.

The same Wallace who was governor when state troopers unleashed dogs, tear gas and whips on African-Americans marching from Selma to Montgomery.

(Richard Pearson, “Former Ala. Gov. George C. Wallace Dies,” Washington Post, 14 September 1998, sec. A, p. 1)

The same Wallace whose presidential platform my grandfather described as being closest to the hearts and minds of our Elohim-inspired Founding Fathers.

Actually, George Wallace and the 1968 platform of his party was more accurately described as follows:

“The American Independent Party was a ‘white supremacist . . . ultra-conservative’ . . . organization founded in reaction to the 1960's civil rights movement and the Supreme Court's overturning of ‘separate, but equal’ (Plessy v. Ferguson) statute that forced integration.

(see Daniel A. Mazmanian, Third Parties in Presidential Elections [New York: Franklin Watts, 1974], p. 130).

Candidate Wallace was described as “a pronounced racist who . . . ran his campaign on a platform of state's rights and increased defense spending and gained a large following of voters in Southern states.

“The political purpose of Wallace's campaign was to force one or both of the major party candidates, Nixon and Humphrey, to a more conservative position on the issue of state's rights. Wallace wanted the federal government to give the states the power to decide whether of not to desegregate.”

(“The Effect of Third Party Candidates in Presidential Elections,”

Wallace strongly requested that my grandfather join him in that fight—and, in response, my grandfather gave serious consideration to the offer.

After support of efforts by the “1976 Committee” to draft him and Strom Thurmond on a presidential ticket had fizzled, my grandfather began jockeying into position to be offered the spot as Wallace’s vice-presidential mate.

In February 1968, he and my Uncle Reed (Ezra Taft’s oldest son), met behind closed doors at Wallace’s governor’s mansion in Montgomery to examine the possibilities.

After the meeting, Wallace sent a letter to President McKay requesting his “permission and blessings,” coupled with “a leave of absence” for Ezra Taft Benson, so that my grandfather could join Wallace in their bid for the Oval Office.

McKay refused.

Later that year, Wallace approached my grandfather again hoping to convince him to join him on the ticket. Wallace was steered a second time to McKay in his efforts to get my grandfather’s boss to change his mind.

McKay held firm.

(George C. Wallace, letter to David O. McKay, 12 February 1968, and McKay to Wallace, 14 February 1968, cited in Quinn, Extensions of Power, pp. 99, 102, 463; and Dew, “Ezra Taft Benson,” pp. 398-99)

My Personal Conversations with Ezra Taft Benson on Matters of Race

In all my conversations over the years with my grandfather, I do not recall him holding up to me any Black person as a role model or example of high moral character.

Indeed, our discussions very rarely dealt with Blacks, except in the negative or passing sense.

As noted earlier, my grandfather never spoke to me about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., except in disparaging terms, calling him a “liar.”

That only remotely positive reference I recall him making to me about African-Americans had to do with his experience while serving as Secretary of Agriculture in the 1950s.

He had been assigned a Black chauffer, whom my grandfather simply described to me as a nice “colored man.”

Following President Spencer W. Kimball’s announcement in June 1978 that worthy Black males could receive the priesthood, I asked my grandfather in his Church-owned apartment what it was like to have been in the temple with the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve when Kimball made known to them his “revelation.”

Had he been so inclined, my grandfather certainly could have told me what had happened, since he had often spoken directly and forthrightly to me in the past.

But in this case, he refused to offer a substantive response, saying only that it was “too sacred” to talk about and that it constituted one of the “most spiritual” experiences of his life.

Curiously, however, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve who was in the same room and the same temple meeting with my grandfather when Kimball announced the change in Mormonism’s anti-Black priesthood policy did not have any difficulty talking about the experience.

Indeed, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie spoke freely about what actually happened--in detail and in public. While he said he felt the impact of the occasion on a profoundly personal level, he admitted there was nothing “miraculous” about Kimball’s announcement to the assembled Quorum members:

“The Lord could have sent messengers from the other side to deliver it, but he did not. He gave the revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“Latter-day Saints have a complex: many of them desire to magnify and build upon what has occurred, and they delight to think of miraculous things. And maybe some of them would like to believe that the Lord himself was there, or that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to deliver the revelation, which was one of the possibilities.

“Well, these things did not happen. The stories that go around to the contrary are not factual or realistic or true, and you as teachers in the Church Educational System will be in a position to explain and to tell your students that this thing came by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that all the Brethren involved, the thirteen who were present, are independent personal witnesses of the truth and divinity of what occurred. . . .”

McConkie then did some more confessing. This glorious in-temple event was increasingly becoming comparable to experiencing that inexplicably happy feeling during a typical fast and testimony meeting when believing Mormons “know” that the Church is true. McConkie explained:

“To carnal people who do not understand the operating of the Holy Spirit of God upon the souls of man, this may sound like gibberish or jargon or uncertainty or ambiguity; but to those who are enlightened by the power of the Spirit and who have themselves felt its power, it will have a ring of veracity and truth, and they will know of its verity. I cannot describe in words what happened; I can only say that it happened and that it can be known and understood only by the feeling that can come into the heart of man. You cannot describe a testimony to someone. No one can really know what a testimony is--the feeling and the joy and the rejoicing and the happiness that comes into the heart of man when he gets one--except another person who has received a testimony. Some things can be known only by revelation, ‘The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.’ (1 Corinthians 2:11)”

(Bruce R. McConkie, "All Are Alike unto God," general assembly address to Book of Mormon Symposium for Seminary and Institute teachers, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 18 August 1978, manuscript copy in my possession)

There were no angels. No rushing of winds. No appearance of God, Jesus Christ or Joseph Smith to make the grand announcement that the time had finally arrived for Black men to receive the priesthood of the great White God.
It all boiled down to those assembled in the temple to hear Kimball’s announcement just getting a good feeling in the heart--so overwhelmingly good, in fact, that apparently my grandfather could not bring himself to talk to me about it.

Yet, my grandfather had exhibited a willingness on other occasions to speak publicly about highly personal temple experiences.

For instance, he spoke openly of the “sacred” baptisms for the dead supposedly performed for the Founding Fathers in the St. George temple, under the direction of President Wilford Woodruff.

Just six months after he had refused to share with me what it was like to be told behind temple walls that Black men could now wield power and authority in God’s name, my grandfather was freely talking about famous disembodied spirits appearing in the House of the Lord:

“When I became President of the Twelve and Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, we met, just the two of us, every week in our Thursday meetings in the temple, just to be sure that things were properly coordinated between the Twelve and the First Presidency.

“After one of those first meetings, we talked about the man sacred documents in some of the older temples. St. George was mentioned in particular . . . and it was agreed that I would go into the archives—the walk-in vault—of that great temple and review the sacred documents that were there. . . .

“And there in the St. George Temple I saw what I had always hoped and prayed that someday I would see. Ever since I returned as a humble missionary and first learned that the Founding Fathers had appeared in that temple, I wanted to see the record. And I saw the record. They did appear to Wilford Woodruff twice and asked why the work hadn’t been done for them. They had founded this country and the Constitution of this land, and they had been true to those principles. Later the work was done for them.”

(Ezra Taft Benson, address delivered in Sandy, Utah, 30 December 1978, reprinted in Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1988], p. 603)

But that was not the whole of it. In earlier remarks at the re-dedication of the St. George Temple entitled “Our Founding Fathers Stood in This Holy Place,” my grandfather again spoke openly of these “sacred” experiences in the temple vault.

(Ezra Taft Benson, “Our Founding Fathers Stood in This Holy Place,” St. George Temple Re-dedication, 12 September 1975, LDS Church Archives; see also, Benson, “The Faith of Our Founding Fathers,” in Faith [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1983], pp. 21-22).

Not only did my grandfather talk uninhibitedly about spirits of the Founding Fathers materializing in sacred LDS temples, he also spoke openly of watching his mother iron Mormonism’s secret temple clothes.

His account of this event was published during his lifetime--accompanied, no less, by an illustration depicting his mother pressing this intimate apparel as a young Ezra stood by watching and asking questions:

“With the Benson parents, religion was of highest importance. One day when just a young boy, Ezra was coming in from the field, and as he came close to the old farm house, he could hear his mother sing, ‘Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?’ She was bending over the ironing board, papers spread over the floor around it. It was very warm and beads of perspiration stood on her forehead as she ironed long strips of white cloth.

“’What are you doing, Mother?’ asked Ezra.

“She answered, ‘These are temple robes, son. Your father and I are going to the temple in Logan. Then she put her old flatiron on the back of the stove and said, ‘Sit here by me, Ezra. I want to tell you about the temple.’ She explained to him the importance of the temple and the blessings of the sacred ordinances there. She said, ‘I hope and pray with al my heart that some day you and all your brothers and sisters will enjoy these priceless blessings. I pray for this not only for my children but for my grandchildren and even my great-grandchildren.’

“Ezra Taft Benson later remembered his mother’s words as he performed the temple marriages of each of his own children, who were, of course, his mother’s grandchildren, and later, the great-grandchildren.”

(Della Mae Rasmussen, The Illustrated Story of President Ezra Taft Benson: Great Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Provo, Utah: Eagle Systems International; Steven R. Shallenberger, publisher, 1987], pp. 14-15)

Despite my grandfather’s willingness to publicly reveal the details of certain personal temple experiences, he abruptly refused to give equal time to describing what it was like to receive word in the temple from God’s prophet on equal rights for Black men.

I think I know why.

Ezra Taft Benson—a man who made a career bashing uppity “Negroes”—did not like talking about that kind of thing.

Revelatory Notes from Ezra Taft Benson’s Personal Files on His Private Attitudes about Race

Ezra Taft Benson had a practice of passing on news articles and other items whose contents he found worthy of note to my father, accompanied by my grandfather’s personal, handwritten notations.

From my interactions with him over several years, I observed that my grandfather was not a deep reader; he was, instead, a regular skimmer. He would underline portions of what he was perusing which he thought were valuable and then relay them on, before quickly moving on himself.

My father, in turn, would often pass these items on to me and my siblings for our edification.

While passing along information in this fashion, my grandfather rarely made special note of that with which he disagreed.

In fact, he was not particularly inclined to spend much time with sources with which he was at political/religious odds.

This trait of my grandfather’s was clearly evidenced in the nature of his personal files and library. They were voluminous but overwhelmingly slanted toward what he considered the “right” ideas.

In essence, my grandfather’s database was not so much a source of knowledge gleaned from a wide variety of viewpoints but, rather, a reinforcement of his already-established views.

One item that fit into this category was a photocopy of a letter to the editor, published in BYU’s Daily Universe, written by a non-Mormon who was upset with boycott efforts by schools in the Western Athletic Conference against BYU because of the Mormon Church’s anti-Black priesthood ban.

Passed from father to son, to grandson, it read in part:

“I am one non-Mormon who thinks the notion of the University of New Mexico’s student Senate is one of the most unreasonable examples of the bigoted minds of so-called ‘liberals’ I’ve ever seen.

“In the first place, BYU is a privately-endowed school. It is not supported by the taxpayers like the other universities are members of the WAC.

“Mainly, the reason for Negro athletes being at the other schools stems not from any great degree of humanitarianism on the part of those institutions. To the contrary, the reason for many, or even most, of Negro athletes being at these schools is because of their acknowledged athletic ability. The alumni preferred these schools during the past 10-15 years to give athletic scholarships to Negro athletes to assure success for their teams.

“The Negro athletes have won games for these schools, they have seen and heard the coed cheerleaders go into hysterical frenzy over their exploits—only to find, after the game was over, they were supposed to keep their place. They were led to believe that by attending otherwise predominantly ‘white’ (a silly word, if you examine it closely) schools), the Negroes would be pals with all the other students and it didn’t work out that way. Now, the more militant want their own dorms, eating facilities, etc.

“On the other hand, Brigham Young University has competed with the other members of WAC handicapped by not having black athletes on their teams, but the students, and alums, have registered no complaints. Mind you, BYU is not tax supported, therefore, I ask what the hell business it is of your sanctimonious hypocrites who the BYU administration wants to have on its campus?

“The Negroes have reached the state in their development in this country at which anyone who doesn’t agree with tem is considered a ‘racist,’ or bigot. The white students at schools such as New Mexico who voted for the expulsion of BYU from WAC don’t give a real hoot about their black brothers. They just consider it the in-thing to be ‘liberal’ about such matters.”

The final paragraph of the letter was accompanied by my grandfather’s handwritten notation in the margin: “Very good.”

Directly across from that notation, the letter read:

“If the LDS only want to have whites for the priesthood, what business of the Negroes? Do they have members of the Black Muslims, the Black Panthers, who are ‘white’? As a Protestant, such as I am, can I take communion at a Catholic Church? As a non-Mason can I attend the secret sessions of the organization?

“All the more power to Brigham Young.”

(Bill Mazill, “More Power to BYU,” letter to the editor, reprinted from the Daily Optic, Las Vegas, New Mexico, in the Daily Universe, 12 November 1969, photocopy in my possession)

Also from my grandfather’s private files, I came across a copy of a speech by then-ASBYU president, Brian Walton, delivered on 28 October 1970, at the Ernest L. Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus.

Like the preceding letter, Walton’s remarks came at a time of increasing criticism directed at the Mormon Church (and by extension, BYU) for its discriminatory doctrine against Blacks.

Below are portions of Walton’s speech that my grandfather underlined--indicating, as was his habit, his approval of certain ideas:

“What we are involved in is a nationwide feeling of frustration against continuing discrimination. The black man has been tied down too long. He is tired of being lied to. He is aware of the betrayal of his dignity from the Declaration of Independence until now . . . .

“Do we have to remind ourselves yet again of the almost unspeakable history of black men in America? Hopefully, as Mormons we are aware of the impact of the destruction of family ties which took place in the lives of thousands of American slaves. Surely, as Latter-day Saints, we realize and appreciated the meaning of an environment like Harlem, Watts, or Bedord-Stuyvesant. The Church is obviously aware of the importance of home environment to success in living. And why is the black man in this plight?

“With Martin Luther King we can ask:

‘Why does misery constantly haunt the Negro?’ . . .

“Listen to Claude Brown, author of “Manchild in the Promised Land, and an escapee from the prison that is Harlem, describe the continuing misery of the American Black Man as he moves from the degradation of the South to the new experiences of urban America. . . .

“Here now Jack Newfield describes a part of the promised land—the Bedford-Stuyvesant ghetto in Brooklyn, New
York . . . .

“For every year, 1948-1969, unemployment among Negroes and other races has been double that for white people . . . .

“In various ways Black people are saying that ‘the American dream has been thrown at me long enough. Now I’m gonna take my place. We will put up with the disrespect, the emasculation, the taunts, the insults, and the overall repression no longer.’ . . .

“And some blacks and many whites who want to feel that they are doing something in a moral way, look at BYU and think they sell all that white America represents. WE then become what some students in the Black Student Union in Tucson referred to us as a scapegoat . . . .

“We are caught up in a social movement which is huge and ongoing . . . .

“Proposals have been made that we begin at BYU a recruitment and development program similar to that which has brought 475 Native Americans (or American Indians) to our campus this year. It is thought by some that the largest private institution in the nation should have more than a dozen black people in its 25,000-member student body. . . .

“I have decreasing tolerance for those views which seek to excuse gospel obligations with the rhetoric of ‘every man for himself’ . . .

“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and first President of the Church, in 1844, seventeen years before the Civil War, publicly advocated freeing of the slaves and having the federal government sell public lands, if necessary, in order to obtain money to purchase their freedom . . . .

“Now to the University and what it can do. The suggestion of bring more black people to the campus raises several issues . . . .

“Would black people want to come here? Has anyone asked them if they want to come here? If is about time white men asked black men what they wanted to do rather than making decisions in a vacuum. . . .

“Who would pay for it? . . .

“Should a pilot program be set up . . .? . . .

“Does the University have the facilities . . . to cope with an influx of black people? . . .

“Are we prepared for a Black Student Union . . .? . . .

“What about other alternatives? . . .

“In an attempt to have answers provided, I have formed an investigating committee which will attempt to provide solid information regarding this topic and allow us to thereby know where we stand . . . .

“The committee is open-ended and will attempt to investigate the total situation . . . .

“I hope this evening has helped you understand ‘where our heads are.’ . . .

“[Quoting from a First Presidency statement on ‘their obligations as members of the communities in which they live and as citizens of the nation’]:

“’Where solutions to these practical problems require cooperative action with those not of our faith, members should not be reticent in doing their part in joining and leading in those efforts where the can make an individual contribution to those causes which are consistent with the standards of the Church.’” (Brian Walton, ASBYU President, “BYU and Race: Where We Are Now,” ASBYU Convocation, Ernest L. Wilkinson Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 28 October 1970)

As a man reads, so is he.

Ezra Taft Benson, the White Supremacist

The evidence presented up to this point leads, unavoidably, to the conclusion that my grandfather was actually a White supremacist, when the term is used to describe “one who believes that White people are racially superior to others and should therefore dominate society.”
Such an assessment should not be surprising since Ezra Taft Benson was a faithful advocate of all things Mormon, and that Mormon theology is, at its roots, White supremacist in nature.
Baptist pastor Mike Schreib, in a blunt analysis of LDS doctrine entitled “Mormonism: A Religion for Dumb White People,” points out what Mormon canonized scripture clearly declares: that, in the eyes of the Mormon God, White makes right:
“The Book of Mormon teaches that there was continual warfare between the Nephites who were righteous before God, and the Lamanites who were unrighteous and wicked. This wickedness eventually led God to curse the Lamanites with dark skin:
“‘And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became dark and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.’ (1 Nephi 12:23)
“‘The skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression.’ (Alma 3:6) . . .
“The Book of Mormon goes so far as to teach that if the Lamanites truly repented of their wickedness, the visible proof would be their skin once again turning white:
“‘And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers...and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people.’ (2 Nephi 30: 5-6)
“ (Note: Recent editions of the Book of Mormon have been changed to read, ‘a pure and a delightsome people.’ The attempt to water down the original teaching would seem obvious.) . . .
“The second president of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young, was not shy concerning his beliefs about White superiority, or the curse carried specifically by the Negro.
‘Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 110, 8 March 1863)
“Later Mormon leaders would also state the official doctrine of the Church concerning Blacks and the priesthood:
“‘Negroes in this life are DENIED THE PRIESTHOOD; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty.’ (LDS “Apostle” Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 527)
“‘Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the FATHER OF AN INFERIOR RACE...Millions of souls have come into the world cursed with black skin and have been DENIED THE PRIVILEGE OF PRIESTHOOD.’ (LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way To Perfection, 1931, pp. 101-102) . . .
“In early 1978, the Mormon Church found itself suffering from a massive news media campaign criticizing their attitudes towards Blacks and Non-whites. Allegations of discrimination and racism by such groups as the NAACP and ACLU were directed against the LDS church, and rightly so. The Mormon leadership began to sweat.
“If things progressed badly for them, they feared losing large numbers of their members who saw the church as a White supremacist haven, and were willing to tell the media about it. Even worse, they feared losing their federal tax exempt status from the IRS, a loss that would have devastated their financial empire. . . .
“On June 8, 1978, Mormon President and prophet, Spencer W. Kimball announced to the world a new ‘Official Declaration’ from the Lord. Suddenly, he claimed:
“ ‘ . . . . all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood WITHOUT REGARD TO RACE OR COLOR.’
“This was after he and his fellow leaders had ‘pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful (Black) brethren...supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.’
“They told their members and the world that,
“‘He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood . . . ‘
“What happened to the Black race being an ‘inferior race,’ and that ‘under no circumstances’ could they hold the authority of the priesthood?
“Certainly, if this was God’s church he was free to give new instructions to his designated servants. Yet, we can only guess that fearing the loss of their tax benefits was a great motivator in their ‘long and earnest’ prayer meetings. The timing couldn’t have been more convenient. . . .
“Anyone who has studied these matters in detail must see that the history of the Mormon religion is a long history of racial nonsense, offensive doctrine, and well-timed ‘revelations’ intended to help the leadership save face.
“Non-whites who would join such a religion need to open their eyes to the truth, and dumb White people who accept it ought to be ashamed of themselves!”
(, original emphasis)

Author and self-described “positive atheist” Cliff Walker also shines a light into the dark corners of Mormonism’s historical doctrines replete with White supremacist teachings:
“The Mormon God’s main revelation, the Book of Mormon, explains why . . . many . . . humans have dark skin . . . In 2 Nephi 5:21, Mormon scripture describes Whites: ‘As they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome to come upon.’
“White skin is a reward from God; dark skin is a course, the result of wickedness.
“‘Their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites. And their daughters became exceedingly fair.’ (3 Nephi 2:15-16)
?‘O, my brethren, I fear that unless you shall repent of your sins, that their skins will be whiter than yours, when you shall be brought with them before the throne of God.’ (Jacob 3:8)
“Mormonism has a shameful history of White supremacist doctrines and practices. While I denounce anyone painting an entire group with a broad brush, neither should we allow ourselves to forget things like the history of Mormonism.”
(Cliff Walker, “Did Dennis Rodman Have A Point?”, July 1997,
My grandfather (like scripturally-faithful Mormons are today) was a White supremacist, in the sense that he believed in the inherent pre-eminence and transcendence of the White race over the Black race.

A particularly ugly piece of evidence I came across from his personal library supports that grim reality.

In 1995, I discovered a book that had belonged to my grandfather. Over the years, he had given me many books from his own collection. At the time I stumbled across this particular one, I did not recall having seen or read it before.

My grandfather’s handwritten signature adorned its front cover, which was somewhat unusual. I had many of his personally-owned books and normally he would sign and/or stamp them on the inside.

From the nature of the signature, I could tell that he was proud to have owned this particular book. He not only signed his name to it, he lavished his signature—“E.T. Benson”—upon its cover, above the title, in the upper right-hand corner, in a large, bold, looping writing style--where it could not be missed.

The book was entitled Race and Reason: A Yankee View, authored by Carleton Putnam and published in 1961 by Public Affairs Press in Washington, D.C.

The book’s title was in bold, black, capital letters against an orange and white background depicting shattering glass.

On its back cover were the following endorsements:

“A blockbuster . . . [A] book that ought to be read by every thinking American, North and South. It may be the opening gun in a literacy counterattack against ideas of race that have influenced the thinking of Supreme Court justices, Presidents, preachers and writers.”

“[This book is what] the South most needs now for its case . . . [It] is a ‘categorical imperative’ for Southerners . . . who know [the light’s] fullness will depend henceforth on their own intelligence, literacy, authority and self-control.”

“We predict that this book will be on the tongues of all informed Mississippians in the days ahead.”

“Incisive, authoritative, effective . . . Mr. Putnam has put all serious and objective students of the race problem in his debt.”

As I examined the book’s contents, I found myself so repulsed that I stopped reading and wrote the following on its title page:

“This book is brimming with vile, racist and repugnant notions that I find deeply disturbing. I came into possession of it from my grandfather’s personal library some years ago and, until recently, it remained tucked away in a dusty closet corner. I cannot condone any attempt to justify racial superiority or the segregation of the races. It is inhumane, immoral and destructive to the peace and progress of human kind. –-Steve Benson, 9-12-95”

I went to the Internet and looked up the book’s author and title. Not surprisingly, it came up on a White supremacist website, along with several other like-minded works, accompanied by short explanatory texts:

--Who Brought The Slaves to America?

”The Jews did! And did they get upset when the Black Muslims incorporated this into their teachings. Shatters myth of ‘White guilt.’ Paperback. 30 pages. 14 illustrations.”

White Man, Think Again!

”A. Jacob. The White man must rule or perish. Paperback. 348 pages”

--Tracing Our White Ancestors

”Frederick Haberman. Answers many questions. 185 pages.”

Links offered to other subjects included:

--“Adolf Hitler”

--“National-Socialism Leaders”

--“The Holohoax”

Then, at the bottom of the web page, was Putnam’s book from my grandfather’s library, Race & Reason: A Yankee View, with the teaser:

”Explains in-depth racial differences and the dangers of race-mixing. A must for all serious students. Paperback. 120 pages.”

Researching further, I discovered that Putnam’s book is part of an array of White supremacist literature housed at the University of Southern Mississippi under the title of “Citizen’s Council/Civil Rights Collection.”
The same collection also contains autographed photographs of one of my grandfather’s political mentors: George Wallace.

Digging deeper, I found that Putnam’s Race and Reason: A Yankee View is listed among “Selected Right-Wing Apocalyptic, Conspiracist, Populist and Racist Texts.”

That list also includes Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kamp, and two John Birch works: Alan Stang’s, It’s Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights and Birch founder Robert Welch’s The New Americanism.

(“The Public Eye,” sponsored by Political Research Associates, 1310 Broadway St., #201, Somerville, Massachusetts, 02144-1731)

I also learned that my grandfather’s personal copy of Putnam’s book was offered as recommended reading by none other than the “American Fuehrer” of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell, as a guide, he said, for ferreting out “left-wing Jews . . . [who are] . . . deliberately poisoning the minds of two generations of American students at many of our largest universities.”

(George Lincoln Rockwell, “From Ivory Tower to Privy Wall: On the Art of Propaganda,” circa 1966)

Most unsavory of all were excerpts from the book itself—a book, keep in mind, that was part of the personal reading material of a supposed “prophet, seer and revelator.”
Examples of its racist filth abound:

“[F]rom the horrors of Reconstruction through the Supreme Court’s desegregation decision . . . the North has been trying to force the black man down the white Southerner’s throat . . . “ (p. 9)

“[The Negro] may force his way into white schools, but he will not force his way into white hearts nor earn the respect he seeks. What evolution was slowly and wisely achieving, revolution has now arrested, and the trail of bitterness will lead far.” (p. 9)

“The essential question in this whole controversy is whether the Negro, given every conceivable help regardless of cost to the whites, is capable of full adaptation to our white civilization within a matter of a few generations, or whether the record indicates that such adaptation cannot be expected save in terms of many hundreds, if not thousands of years, and that complete integration of these races, especially in the heavy black belts of the South, can result only in a parasitic deterioration of white culture, with or without genocide. . . . The sin of Cain would pale by comparison.” (p. 27)

“There is no basis in sound science for the assumption, promoted by various minority groups in recent decades, that all races are biologically equal in their capacity to advance, or even to sustain, what is commonly called Western civilization . . .

“[W]hat great civilization of the kind we are seeking to develop in the West ever arose AFTER an admixture of Negro genes?. . [T]he question answers itself . . .” (pp. 36-37, original emphasis)

“The ratio of non-whites to whites in the United States as a whole . . . [is] about 10%. If completely absorbed, this would be a substantial admixture, with noticeable effects. More serious is the fact that a large part of the Negro population is concentrated in the South. Absorption in any of these states would be disastrous.” (p. 37)

“When white men marry Negro women in any numbers the trend is toward a gradual change in social attitudes of acceptance, and a slow infiltration of the dominant white society by the offspring, with the consequent changing of the standards of that society, as evidenced in various Latin American countries.” (p. 37)

“. . . [A] thorough study of Negro-white intelligence tests DOES reveal conclusive mathematical proof of the Negro’s limitations . . . .

“[T]here is not question that the frontal lobes of the typical Negro are smaller and the cerebral cortex less wrinkled than the typical white’s.” (p. 41, emphasis in original)

“When the chart of the Caucasoid race as a whole is laid besides the chart of the Negro race as a whole, in those attributes involved in our type of civilization, the Caucasoid will be found superior at each level except perhaps the lowest . . .” (p. 42)

“I am advocating a doctrine of white leadership, based on proved achievement . . . As far as the Negro race is concerned, if it is interested in such cultural elements as our white civilization has to offer, it should realize that to destroy or to debilitate the white race would be to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. It is a temptation as old as the human species, and always ends with a dead goose and no eggs.” (p. 55)

“. . . [O]ne thing is sure: crossing a superior with an inferior breed can only pull the superior down.” (p. 59)

“Almost all the great statesmen of our nation’s past have foreseen the danger of the Negro among us and have sought to remove it, even to the point of transplanting the race to Africa. The idea of making the Negro the social equal of the white man never entered their heads. Among those besides Jefferson and Lincoln who favored removal to Africa may be mentioned Francis Scott Key, John Randolph, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay. The modern segregationist is in good company.” (p. 62)

“It may be too late to return the American Negro to his biological and spiritual home, but it may not be too late to redeem in America the heritage of the white race.” (p. 69)

“The Communists have made the integration movement a part of their conspiracy . . .” (p. 73)

“The white man who preaches to backward races a doctrine of equality not only demeans himself and his own race, but forfeits his opportunity to be of real service.” (p.76)

“Let us not suppose for a moment that the average African Negro is about to understand our ideals, or to fight or sacrifice or die for the principle of liberty. All he wants . . . is a greater and greater share of what white men have created, regardless of his ability either to protect, manage or pay for it.” (p. 80)

“The fact that it is wrong to bully, humiliate or exploit a Negro, does not make it right to integrate him.” (p. 91)

“. . . [T]he self-control and judgment . . . of the rank and file, including their willingness to contribute to, rather than drain, the common treasury, are the qualities which produce a stable, free civilization. These were the qualities which built the great Western democracies. There are few signs of them in Africa.” (p. 93)

“The greatest of all human rights is the right of a race to protect itself against genocide, and its culture against deterioration.” (p. 94)

“For the North to force him[ the Negro] on the white South is as blunt an act of hostility—of hate, if you prefer the word—as can be imagined. It has already damaged the Negro, indeed, it is damaging the whole country. The spirit of those back of the integration movement is not love.” (p. 96)

“To suppose that [the development of the Negro race] has reached the point where an infusion of color in government amounting to policy control, or to a balance of power, is an acceptable or healthy thing for a previously white society [is] absurd on its face . . . The inclination of Negroes in the mass to be primarily interested in spending rather than conserving their own or other people’s money, is but one of many aspects to this problem.” (pp. 98-99)

“Equalitarianism spells stagnation and mediocrity for both [the individual or of society] . . . [I]t is of the very essence of this ideology to build the inferior up by pulling the superior down, and the result is invariably the same. The inferior, in gaining what has not been earned, has lost the spur, and the superior, in losing what was well deserved, has lost the crown.” (p.103)

“Can you name one case in all history in which whites and Negroes in large numbers have lived together without segregation and have failed to intermarry? Can you name one case in all history in which a white civilization filed to deteriorate after intermarrying with Negroes? Can you name one case in all history of a stable, free civilization that was predominately, or even substantially, Negro?” (p. 105)

Conclusion: Ezra Taft Benson Was a Dyed-in-the-Whitest-Wool Racist

The evidence pointing to my Ezra Taft Benson as a racial bigot is overwhelming and undeniable:

--Ezra Taft Benson vehemently opposed the U.S. civil rights movement.

--Ezra Taft Benson despised the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

--Ezra Taft Benson’s sermons and writings struck ugly, resonant chords with fellow Mormon racists, who leapt to his defense against Dr. King and in opposition to equal rights for African-Americans.

--When Ezra Taft Benson presided over the Mormon Church as its leader, the Church could not bring itself, morally or politically, to officially honor, by name, the legacy of Dr. King.

--Ezra Taft Benson publicly associated and sympathized with racists and segregationists.

--Ezra Taft Benson admired and forged strong political ties with racist politicians—notably, Strom Thurmond and George Wallace,

--Ezra Taft Benson was directed by the First Presidency to carry out racist actions against African-American members of the Mormon Church in his own stake.

--Ezra Taft Benson’s personal notes and documents from his private files give evidence of his racist views.

--Ezra Taft Benson’s personal conversations with me on racial matters exhibited an overall lack of understanding, depth or compassion for African-Americans.

--And, to punctuate it all, Ezra Taft Benson’s personal library contained an insidiously White supremacist book, emblazoned with his handwritten signature on the front cover and full of bigoted bile.

Yes, Ezra Taft Benson was the Mormons’ Prophet, Seer and Race baiter.

 Other Benson Topics


409 Ezra Taft Benson - Racist Prophet

407 Benson - What do Mormon Leaders Really Know?

419 Looking Inside the Mind of Ezra Taft Benson Through His Personal Correspondence

415 Benson: Sonia Johnson's Speech "Patriarchal Panic..."

424 Benson:  Mormon Handcarts 1800's

420 Benson: Post-Manifesto Polygamy - Pathetic Response of Two Mormon Apostles to Quinn’s Expose’

418 Steve Benson: "Good-bye to God": My public testament to leaving Mormonism...

421 Benson: efforts by the Benson family to silence their "disloyal" own

427 Benson:  Patriarchal Abuse at the Hands of Mormon Church Leaders




Recovery from Mormonism - The Mormon Church

Listing of additional short Topics  |  Main Page