60 years ago today - Nov 29, 1960

Immediately after his official trip with [a] Birch council member in [November] 1960, Ezra Taft Benson proposed to Brigham Young University's president that his son Reed Benson be used for "espionage" on the church school campus. To Apostle Harold B. Lee, Reed explained that as a BYU faculty member, "he could soon find out who the orthodox teachers were and report to his father." After resisting Apostle Benson's proposal for Reed's employment, Ernest Wilkinson countered that "neither Brother Lee nor I want espionage of that character."

Apostle Benson's call in November 1960 for "espionage" at Brigham Young University reflected two dimensions of the national leadership of the John Birch Society. First, their long-time preoccupation with university professors as Communist- sympathizers ("Comsymps"). Second, the Birch program for covert "infiltration" of various groups. Apostle Benson's encouragement for espionage at BYU would be implemented periodically during the 1960s and 1970s by members and advocates of the John Birch Society.

Wilkinson's diary indicated that Ezra Taft Benson first made the proposal which Reed later outlined to Harold B. Lee.

[Wilkinson diary, 29 Nov. 1960. Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis, Brigham Young University: A House of Faith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 203, mention Reed Benson's offer but not his father's support of the "espionage" proposal. 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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