50 years ago today - Apr 9, 1970

The newspaper published by Mormon members of the Birch Society was significant for what lay between the lines of its report of April 1970 conference. The Utah Independent began with the comment that church members will remember this general conference "for decades to come" and noted: "Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, no violence took place at the conference. No opposition was manifest by Church members when the names of general authorities were presented for sustaining." Of Lee's talk two days before this vote, the Utah Independent observed: "Special interest has centered around the talk given by President Harold B. Lee at the Saturday evening general priesthood session," and quoted excerpts. However, this Mormon-Birch newspaper made no reference to the part of Lee's talk which referred to the ultra-conservative proposal to vote against "the First Presidency with its social-democrat thinking," and to substitute Benson as new church president.

Not long afterward, the author of this article lost his job in the LDS Publications Department. His supervisor had told him that it was "inappropriate" for him to be a member of the John Birch Society and an editor of the ultra-conservative Utah Independent. When informed of this incident by the state coordinator of the Birch Society, Apostle Benson said he could do nothing to remedy it.

[Byron Cannon Anderson, "LDS General Conference Sustains Pres. Smith," Utah Independent, 9 Apr. 1970, 1, 4. Mormon Birchers had edited this newspaper since its founding in 1970; Byron Cannon Anderson interview, 18 Jan. 1993. From D. Michael Quinn, Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:2 (Summer 1992), also in Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power Salt Lake City (Signature Books, 1994), Chapter 3.]

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