Subject: The grandson of the prophet Ezra T. Benson (Steve Benson)
Date: Oct 03 23:21
Author: Cattle Mutilator
Mail Address:
Benson's comments are below
For those who missed Steve Benson's post regarding his grandfather, this is dynamite!

It is cited verbatim below:

By 1993, my grandfather was on his last mental and physical legs, being in full decline on both counts.

He exhibited only brief moments of awareness of his surroundings and was unable to carry on meaningful conversations, including with members of his own family.

I personally witnessed his condition deteroriate to this state over the course of several years.

By 1993, he had had a suffered from series of significant health setbacks, including blood clots on the brain, a stroke and a heart attack, all of which had been downplayed to one degree or another by the Church.

My grandfather eventually died in May 1994, barely a year after the conference to which you refer.

By September 1993, even Apostles Oaks and Maxwell were personally (but only privately) confirming the reality of ETB's increasingly debilitated state.

In a visit that month with my wife, Mary Ann, and I in Maxwell's Church Administration Building office, Oaks admitted that my grandfather's health was declining steadily (a fact that we both, as well as our children, already knew from personal visits with him in the confines of his apartment overlooking Temple Square).

Oaks said the Quorum of the Twelve rotated in pairs each week to visit my grandfather at the apartment, with the purpose of only to check in on how he was doing, not to engage in adminstrative action or to discuss major issues, since my grandfather was incapable of doing any such thing.

Maxwell said that when Church members asked him how the prophet was doing, he would reply only that "he is not in pain."

Either Maxwell or Oaks (I would have to go back and check my notes from the visit) also told us that major administrative decisions were not being made, given the inability of my grandfather to be involved in the process.

I asked Oaks why he didn't come out and set the record straight on my grandfather's health, especially since the Church Public Relations Department, headed by Don LeFevre at the time, was issuing press releases significantly misrepresenting my grandfather's actual mental and physical condition.

Oaks responded by waving dismissively in the direction of the the Church Office Building (which we could see through the windows of Maxwell's office) and saying, "I don't know what goes on over there in the high rise."

I then asked Maxwell why he didn't speak up on the actual state of my grandfather's health.

Maxwell replied by saying he already had several responsibilities and "didn't need any more."

Oaks then urged me to deal with the issue of my grandfather's health through "back channels," rather than in the public square (a sure-fire remedy for deep-sixing the whole thing).

I chose not to follow that advice.

A few weeks later, during 1993 October Conference, I encountered Don LeFevre of the Church PR Department and asked him why he was releasing statements about the health of my grandfather that were clearly not true.

LeFevre told me, "All my statements have been approved by my superiors."

I responded, "Don, that doesn't make them true."

LeFevre simply replied, "Steve, this is a difficult job."

It is a matter of public record (thanks to the reporting of the Salt Lake Tribune) that--in direct contravention of established protocol for the transfer of power in the event that the Church president should die OR become incapacitated--Hinckely and Monson had the power of attorney over LDS corporate affairs shifted to them in the Church's incorporation documents a few years before my grandfather's death (see Talmadge's treatment of Church governance procedures in Articles of Faith).

Instead of having the First Presidency dissolved and an acting president installed to administer the affairs of the Church in a situation when the sitting president was unable to perform his duties, Hinckely and Monson had legal authority to run the Mormon empire transferred directly to them by the highly unusual method of employing my grandfather's autopen signature machine on Church incorporation documents (see an account of this episode in Quinn's Extensions of Power).

It's rotten, folks--to the core.


Subject: It just proves that the Church is guided by the hand of God in every way.
Date: Oct 04 04:19
Author: Shake Me
Mail Address:

We all know that God wouldn't let anyone use the autopen signature machine unless it was God's will that the users thereof be the defacto leaders of God's Church. And we know that God kills off as many apostles as it takes to ensure that his specially chosen apostle will take over by seniority. (That's the type of reasoning I was taught in the Morg.)

Gordon B. Hinckley has been validated by God on both accounts--direct access to the autopen and outliving the apostles who were in the way. Isn't it amazing? Isn't it marvelous? Let's hear it for the profit! "We thank thee, O, God, for a Hinckley to guide the autopen in these latter days..." Everyone, all together now...

Subject: Seems like there's an underlying criminal consiracy
Date: Oct 04 07:13
Author: HamMan

The use of the auto-pen to sign a power of attorney may or may not be illegal, but any power of attorney is usualy required to be notarized (affirmed). The notary's job is to ensure and testify that the person personally appeared and freely gave their signature, or perhaps in this case, the use of the autopen (although I'd think even a scrawl would be legally preferrable). So either Hinckley, Monson and the Notary were all in a criminal conspiracy to wrest legal control away from ETB, or ETB approved of the action. Be tough to prove one way or another, but a legal investigation by Federal authorities would sure shake the tree. It'd be interesting to see what kind of fruit fell out of that tree!

Subject: Autopens and Other Benson -Related Deceptions That May Be of Interest
Date: Oct 04 07:41
Author: steve benson

I try to be as accurate and honest as I can but do make unintentional mistakes as I stumble along, so I think it best to review and revise as needed and do so as quickly as possible.

I would appreciate it if you would rely on this latest effort, and chuck the first draft.

Rest assured, however, that unlike the Book of Mormon,it does not contain thousands of changes in words or meaning.


A side note on the use of the "inspired" ETB autopen signature machine and other matters:

The device was not only employed by my grandfather's First Presidency counselors to sign away his powers of attorney for running the Mormon corporate empire, it was also used regularly by my grandfather's office staff when composing and dispatching letters supposedly written and/or dictated by him to members of his own family.

I regarded the practice as an attempted deception of ETB's own kin by his appointed and anointed handlers, who thought they were doing God's work--dishonest as it was.

For instance, Benson family members were provided gift copies of my grandfather's biography, written by Sheri Dew and sanitized for public consumption by faith-promoting censors occupying the Benson inner circle.

Enclosed with each book to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren was a letter supposedly personally written and signed by my grandfather.

All the signatures--not to mention the wording of the letters--were exactly the same.

Likewise, we received fairly lengthy letters of several paragraphs containing long, complex sentences and thought patterns--again, allegedly written and signed by my grandfather.

Unfortunately, they were supposedly written by him at a time when his deteriorating mental and physical state was becoming quite apparent to family members who had actually had the occasion to visit him up close and personal.

(Not all family members, however, were willing to admit that Ezra Taft Benson was steadily slipping away. To this day, some--particularly among certain Benson women who, curiously and inexplicably enough, were among my strongest family critics when I left the Chuch--continue to exhibit profound denial that Ezra Taft Benson was significantly incapacitated in his role as "prophet").

Nonetheless, my grandfather, in reality, could not talk to us in those face-to-face encounters like he could supposedly write to us in those ghost-authored letters.

Moreover, the signatures on the letters matched exactly signatures from other letters. Compared side by side, they were obviously artifically penned.

Typically, below each "signature" would be my grandfather's typewritten name. Unfortunately, sometimes the autopenned name and the typed name on the same letter were not exactly the same. One might, for instance, say "ETB" while the other would say "Ezra Taft Benson," or some other obvious variant mismatch.

It was clear that the autopenned hand didn't always know what the typewritten hand was doing.

I also observed other deliberate efforts to misrepresent my grandfather's state of health, to both members of the Church at large and members of his own family.

For example, I saw my father, Mark, and my grandfather's personal secretary, Gary Gillespie, congratulating each other on a Church News cover photograph take of my grandfather.

It showed my grandfather, pleasantly smiling, seated in a chair, dressed in a nice Sunday suit.

It was a carefully posed, prop and crop shot.

The smile was that of a man in the twilight haze of creeping mental enfeeblement.

Efforts to manipulate my grandfather's appearance extended even to private family gatherings.

I recall, for instance, being in my grandfather's apartment one afternoon, where I asked if I could get a photograph with him and other members of the family in front of a large, idealized painting of the Benson clan commissioned while ETB was Secretary of Agriculture.

(The artist had painted a cat on the lap of my young aunt Beth, although she did not actually pose with a cat. Ironically, that approach to creating an artificial reality was to unfold as I attempted to get a family photograph in front of that very painting).

My grandfather was confined, by this time in his life, to a wheelchair, in which he sat silently and stoop-shouldered.

I was puzzled by how my father kept repositioning my grandfather's wheelchair after I had already situated him for the photograph.

I'd angle the wheelchair one way for what I though was the best lighting and composition, only to see my father, without comment, move in to abruptly change the setup.

After this had happened a couple of times and I was becoming somewhat frustrated, I realized what my dad was doing.

He was trying to keep the camera from capturing the breathing tube inserted up my grandfather's nostril.

It's a sad metaphor, really.

The Mormon Church has been, since its fanciful inception, desperately attempting to rearrange its elements, its history, its doctrine, its image and its leaders--all in a vain attempt to hide the truth from those in and out of the flock.

Only if one insists on keeping one's eyes squeezed shut can the deception be missed.

When I finally went public about the Church's relentless efforts to misrepresent my grandfather's health, I received a call from my father.

He told me that I must not talk to the press about my grandfather because, he declared, the press was an enemy of the Church.

I reminded him that I was a member of the press.

My father responded by telling me that if I ever in the future spoke to the media about my grandfather's health, he would see to it that I would never again be allowed to see my grandfather.

I was stunned.

My father sternly reminded me that it was his duty to protect his father and the Lord's prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, to look after the interests of the Kingdom and to uphold the faith.

He further reminded me that he had been specifically asked by Ezra Taft Benson to move back to Utah from Texas so that he could perform those duties, as commanded by his prophet-father.

This, for me, was a final straw among the final straws. (I had already determined that the temple ritual was a Masonic rip-off, that the Book of Mormon was a plagiarized 19th century fairy tale and that Mormon prophets weren't good at prophesying or at understanding the real world. Now, I was faced with a family showing me the exit if I didn't keep my mouth shut).

I said to my dad, "Do you realize what you are saying? In the name of protecting the Church and the prophet, you are threatening to break up this family. If that's the kind of Church this is, I want out."

It was an emotional and agonizing moment, but a defining and liberating one, as well.

My father--perhaps taken aback by my instinctive revulsion at his conditions for family unity--agreed to reconsider his threat and a few days later implored me to remain in the ranks, but by then I had seen all the light I needed to find my way to the escape hatch.

Within weeks, my wife and I had left the Church.

Subject: Thank you for your story
Date: Oct 04 08:16
Author: J.

you wrote: Likewise, we received fairly lengthy letters of several
paragraphs containing long, complex sentences and thought
patterns--again, allegedly written and signed by my grandfather.

i would imagine you wouldn't care to hazard a guess as to who
_was_ the author of the lengthy letters you mentioned?
in those letters, did it appear to be apparent the author knew the
recipients very well?

Subject: Re: Thank you for your story
Date: Oct 04 08:53
Author: steve benson

My grandfather had two chief office assistants--Betty MacDonald, his personal secretary, and Gary Gillespie, his general office manager.

MacDonald wrote up a lot of ETB's correspondence, including during times when he was seriously ill, taking bed rest and/or not giving dictation.

Gillespie ran the overall office operation and I am sure was deeply involved with certain Benson family members in cutting, pasting and sometimes writing from scratch addresses for ETB which he was, later in life, incapable of composing or delivering himself.

During some of the times when my grandfather was infirmed and/or incapacitated, we family members received correspondence from ETB's office, written over his name.

At least some of it I am certain he did not compose himself.

I believe this is where at least Secretary MacDonald jumped in and did a lot of the writing.

Other correspondence could have been put together by her, in conjunction with other office staff, as circumstances required.

The correspondence that I believe was manufactured under the guise of ETB's creation was not noted in its content for personalized references to the individuals who received it.

Rather, it was "stock," generic in content--general instructions and admonitions with no singular hook to the particular lives and circumstances of the people to whom it was sent.

In short, cookie cutter material for members of the Benson family.

This is not to say that the correspondence did not contain information relating to the Benson family matters. It did, but much of it could have been easily obtained by office staff from family sources who were helping direct the affairs of my my grandfather's office (like my dad, Mark, and my uncle, Reed).

Subject: How extraordinary
Date: Oct 04 09:02
Author: J.

one last question if you have time and inclination: are you the only
member of your family to speak out publicly against what was
done to your grandfather?
is everyone else in the benson family solidly TBM except for you?

Subject: Re: How extraordinary
Date: Oct 04 09:11
Author: steve benson

At the present time, I'm the lone wolf doing most, if not all, of the howling.

Everyone else in the family either presents a united, faithful front or in some cases where there is personal turmoil, doubt or questioning of faith and authority in the Church (and I know of some), they simply remain quiet and/or play the appearance-of-devotion game.

It's sad, but the pressures are enormous on my family, both within and without, to conform.

Subject: my commiserations to you
Date: Oct 04 09:15
Author: J.

i hope you won't always be the lone wolf.
regards, J.

Subject: Re: Thank you for your story. additional info on ETB office management
Date: Oct 04 09:07
Author: steve benson

Also influential in the management of ETB and his affairs during his recovery after illness or accident was his daughter, Beth Burton, and her husband, David.

They provided a rehabilitation retreat for ETB at their own home in Sandy, Utah.

I recall that correspondence going out to the Benson family directed us not to inform others where ETB was recuperating, unless given permission to do so. These orders were being issued in his behalf, and not by him. He was either too drugged, too sick or too weak to be involved in the nitty-gritty of daily office correspondece and intra-family networking.

Subject: Re: Thank you for your story
Date: Oct 04 09:13
Author: Jeff Cohen
Mail Address:

Steve, thanks for posting your story.

Just incredible how the "brethren" masqueraded your grandpa's health from the multitudes. Amazing how they even got to your dad. I stand all amazed at how they are so good at sugar coating everything.

The area that drove me over the cliff to asking to have my name removed was their investments. What do you know about them? They toot they are not paid, but the benefits they look to receive far exceed salaries.

Can you shed some light on that? I would be grateful.

Jeff Cohen

Subject: Re: Thank you for your story,, GA riches
Date: Oct 04 09:32
Author: steve benson

I am not an expert on this subject.

Take a peek at D. Michael Quinn's books, Origins of Power and Extensions of Power, plus Mormon America, by Richard and Joan Ostling.

I heard recently (others would know more about this than I) that Gordon Hinckley ordered all GAs off corporate boards, a directive that was reportedly not received well in some quarters of Mormon high command.

As far as my grandfather's finacial situation, he was very well cared for by the Church. His living accomodations were very comfortable; he didn't worry about being fed well or flown anywhere; his popular books musts have earned him some tidy royalties.

That said, I do not believe he died a particualrly rich man.

(In fact, I am told he lost tens of thousands of dollars in personal wealth in a scam that forced him to divest the Benson family cabin up Mill Creek Canyon in Salt Lake. Damn, that was a great place. Grandpa and I used to go there when I was a kid, walk the trails, trap mice in the rooms--although I didn't particularly enjoy it when he would throw them alive into the fireplace--and share some good times together. I wonder if Mark Hofman was somehow involved in it all going bye-bye.

At any rate, if my grandfather did pass on without passing on much of anything to me, I'm wondering why the hell not.

Since I'm damned to this terrestial world and not the next, I certainly think I deserve all the worldly goods I can get.

Subject: Did Uncle Reed, Aunt May or your parents get much inheritance?
Date: Oct 04 09:42
Author: alex
Mail Address:

In terms of worldly goods did Uncle Reed, Aunt May or your parents get much inheritance from your grandfather? Is it correct that the answer is NO?

It's been my opinion that the glory/power that comes to the GAs comes in the form of perks and their sincere beliefs that they are super-special in the eyes of God and headed to the Celestial Kingdom where they will be considered super-special in the eyes of all their fellow gods and godesses in the Celestial Kingdom who also preside over their worlds without number.

I guess with perks like that (if you believe them) surely must make up for the multitudes of millions and billions of dollars. Just a little US Senate seat as a Jr. Senator from some state where you get lots of hate mail and a salary under $200K costs some people tens of millions of dollars. Just look at John Corzine (NJ), Peter Fitzgerald (IL) or John Kerry (MA) who've spent millions of their own wealth on winning Senate seats. It just shows that power/glory can compensate just as well as wagonloads of gold plates (which Brigham Young taught remain unexcavated at Hill Cumorah).

Subject: Re: Did Uncle Reed, Aunt May or your parents get much inheritance?
Date: Oct 04 09:58
Author: steve benson

If Reed, May, Mom and Dad got financial spin-offs from my grandfather's estate, I have not seen much evidence of it.

Subject: Yes. In 1996 they stepped down off of boards,
Date: Oct 04 09:54
Author: Jeff Cohen
Mail Address:

probably due to the accessibility of the internet to everyone. You can search so many investment transactions now.

It's all about money and power. If the truth got out about ETB when he was ill, the members would then question all this God selecting a prophet jargon and ahhhh....mutiny.

All this trying to get that piece of land in Wyoming by the church now sure has me hoping that doesn't happen. There's probably more at stake there than dead bodies from a pioneer catastrophe. That would set a bad a precedent for them getting their way with the government.

Thanks for posting here. It's inexcusable the tearing apart of your family that occured because of your truth in ETB's health. My hat is off to you for being who you are.

If it can happen to a prophet's grandson, it can happen to anyone. I remember for years when ever your name was brought up in Sunday School, Priesthood, etc., it was always that you apostatized from the church and turned on your own grandpa and how disappointed ETB must have been to lose a grandson. It used to make me puke when I would hear that. How easy the members believe the spin that is put on actuality. I always wondered when they would say in General Conference that ETB was watching from his apartment and why he had not written or dictated a message from him to the masses.....Now, thanks to you, I know why!

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

Jeff Cohen

Subject: Re: Thank you for your story,, GA riches
Date: Oct 04 09:56
Author: steve benson

I am not an expert on GA riches.

Take a look at Quinn's books, Origins of Power and Extensions of Power and Mormon America, by the Ostlings.

I heard recently (others would know more about this than I) that Gordon Hinckley ordered all GAs off corporate boards when he became prophet (although I know from impeccable sources that GBH likes tailored, custom British shirts and has a source for them.

Be that as it may, Hinckley's order to dump out of corporate board positions was reportedly not well received in some quarters of the Mormon high command.

As far as my grandfather's financial situation, he was very well cared for by the Church (i.e., your tithes and offerings).

His living accomodations were very comfortable; he didn't have to worry about being fed well or flown anywhere on Moroni Airlines; his popular books must have earned him some tidy royalties.

That said, I do not believe he died a particularly wealthy man.

(In fact, I am told he lost tens of thousands of dollars in personal wealth in a scam that forced him to divest of the Benson family cabin up Mill Creek Canyon in SLC. Damn, that was a great place. Grandpa and I used to go there when I was a kid, walk the trails, trap mice in the rooms--although I didn't particularly enjoy it when he would throw them alive into the fireplace--and share some good, quiet times together. I wonder if Mark Hofman was somehow involved in it all going bye-bye).

At any rate, if my grandfather did pass on without passing on much of anything to me (besides--I kid you not--a copy of the Arizona gubenatorial inauguration program for the eventually impeached Mormon midget, Evan Mecham), I'm wondering why the hell not.

Since I'm damned to this terrestrial sphere and not the next, I certainly think I deserve to enjoy my eternal misery in worldly style.

Subject: Re: Is this or could this be posted to the biography/story board? (girl in the box)
Date: Oct 04 09:49
Author: J.

Dunno — but i'd love to see girl in the box archive it if it doesn't go
on the biog board.
it's unique in that one doesn't get a relative of a prophet telling the
bald-faced truth every day.

steve, thank you for answering my questions to date and if you're
still reading this with so many questions coming at you, do your
family tell the members that you're a) a victim of satan or b) you're
quite crazy?

Subject: Re: Steve Benson, Satan, and other bioboards
Date: Oct 04 10:04
Author: steve benson
Mail Address:

Actually, I'm in a bowling league with Satan.
which explains how he dragged me down into the gutter

Subject: Steve, not to pry, but ......
Date: Oct 04 09:43
Author: Reader
Mail Address:

what is the relationship today with your father and extended family? Were you ostrasized for coming out with the truth about your grandfather (and subsequent leaving the Church)?

BTW, I believe the autopen machine has been in use for some time now. When I received my mission call in 1982, the call was signed by SWK in blue ink, but at a time when he utterly incapacitated.

Subject: Re: Steve, not to pry, but ......
Date: Oct 04 10:16
Author: steve benson

I have a cordial, but distant relationship with most of my immediate and extended family.

They are up to their puffy white temple hats in the Church, and we don't have a whole lot to talk about since I no longer do green Jello, Priesthood Session or Book of Mormon reading time.

I do occasionally attend family functions or drop in for visits when behind the Zion Curtain (but not often because, frankly, there is way too much Mormonism that entangles and obstructs honest relationships, all of which I find annoying and which bring up old hurts and anger that will never completely dissipate).

I am in the process of processing and hope to come to some comfort level with them. I have a couple of sibs with whom I am quite close; the others are friendly, but we aren't drinking buddies--yet (heh, heh).

The Mormon Church is the neutron bomb of religion.

It destroys the inner workings of families, leaving people hollow, devastated and incomplete--with the outward appearance of structure.

Having been poisoned by it, I try staying away from it as much as possible.

I am much happier outside its epicenter.

Subject: Autopen alive and well in 1977
Date: Oct 04 10:29
Author: Axe Hero
Mail Address:

I don't know when they started, but I do know the autopen was in use already in 1997. That's when I got my mission call from SWK. Loved that letter. Carried it with me always. Called to serve by the Prophet of God himself!

About a year into my mission, I was housed with another missionary who came into the field a full year after I did but who loved his mission call letter as much as I did.

We got to talking and then got out our respective letters. I think we wanted to see if the text had changed in a year.

Nope. Same text. But then we noticed the good old SWK's signature was pretty steady too. Same blue ink. Same size. Same wiggles.

Hmmm. How could and old guy like that keep the same flair of the pen from one year to the next?

This really piqued our curiosity. So we held them up to the light. The signatures weren't similar. They were the same! Our precious mission calls had been signed by a machine!!

Well, that was a little disappointing. One minute I had been called by God. The next minute I had been called by a machine.

I rationalized it away. Said to myself, "Of course. The prophet can't spend all his time signing mission calls! He's got lots of other things to do ... like issuing prophecies! So a committee gets the missionary applications, looks at their needs, prays, and then matches people with places by the power of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet clears it and the machine signs it. Doesn't mean I wasn't called of God."

Then again, doesn't mean I was either. The more I learn, like from Steve Benson's letters above, the more I realize the Church is just a corporation trying to keep up a squeaky clean image so they can sell more soap. Pretty sorry excuse for a religion, though.


Subject: One question...
Date: Oct 04 09:48
Author: Pretend TBM

steve benson wrote:
> Within weeks, my wife and I had left the Church.

Again, thanks for taking the time to write on this board where a wannabe exmo like miself can see it.

My question is this: How did your wife handle leaving the church? I mean, did she resist the idea? What did you do that got her to go along with you, if anything? I assume she was a TBM, but I may be way off on that.

Subject: Re: One question...
Date: Oct 04 10:23
Author: steve benson

The best thing I can say about my wife, Mary Ann, is that she IS the best.

For our story, I believe you can go somewhere on this site and read what we wrote when we made our successful prison break.

She was strong, practical, vulnerable, incredible, human and honest.

Subject: links to the Benson's stories
Date: Oct 04 10:47
Author: blabber
Mail Address:


Subject: Incredible, Steve
Date: Oct 04 09:39
Author: Robert
Mail Address:

I have to say you are one of the most courageous people I've ever heard of. You also have more integrity than any person I can think of, to take on the powerful Mormon church. Many Mormons are aware of the obvous "flaws" but don't want to rock the boat. It's my observation that the Mormons are something out of "The Stepford Wives" so intent on portraying a dishonest facade.

It is my hope that one day I get to show the courage you have, and to tell my entire family what I truly think of the Mormon church.

BTW, do you really believe that the Mormon church is in trouble? I've noticed they haven't been getting the kind of converts they want, and baptisms are off from the mid-nineties. I was also curious if they are seeing tithing revenue down, becuase the church is pushier than ever about paying tithing.

Thanks for dropping by Steve.

Subject: Re: Incredible, Steve, and Is the Mormon Church in Trouble?
Date: Oct 04 10:25
Author: steve benson
Mail Address:

If the Mormon church is, in fact, in trouble, then perhaps there is a God after all.

I don't know if it is. LDS auditors won't tell me.