55 years ago today - Sep 24, 1963

[Senator Ralph Harding] I was on the House floor when that report [of Ezra Taft Benson's L.A. Speech] came in over the wires, the Associated Press and UPI. I was upset, and I stayed up there all night, taking that report and the information I had, and I wrote a speech criticizing Brother Benson for using his Church position to promote the [ultra-right] John Birch Society. Then I called Milan Smith, who was a staunch Republican and my stake president then. [Smith had been Benson's chief of staff during his eight years in the Department of Agriculture.] I told him I would appreciate it if he would come up to my office, that there was something that I needed to discuss with him. He did. I let him take the speech, and he went through it. He was crossing out things here and writing more there, and he toughened it up! He made it even tougher than I had. He, [former stake] President J. Willard Marriott and most of the leaders of the Church back here were very, very upset about Brother Benson's actions. Then I called President [Hugh B.] Brown. We didn't have faxes, so we sat right there in my office, with Milan Smith on an extension, and I read the speech to President Brown. After I finished he said, "Well, Brother Harding, can you stand the brickbats?" I said, "I think so, President Brown." But he said, "No, I mean can you really stand the brickbats?" I said, "I think so." He said, "You know this speech will probably defeat you." I said, "I realize there is a chance of that." He said, "Well, if you are willing to take that chance, and you are wide [sic] aware of the brickbats that are going to come your way, you can do the Church a real service by going ahead and delivering that speech." I said, "That's all I wanted to know, President Brown." So I gave it the next day. It broke loose, especially in Utah and Idaho!

[Source: Ralph R. Harding interview, October 24, 2000 as referenced in Gregory A. Prince and Wm. Robert Write, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press (2005)]

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