70 years ago today - Jan 23, 1953

Ezra Taft Benson sent President Eisenhower a letter urging that all cabinet meetings thereafter "be opened with a word of prayer." Eisenhower did not act immediately, looking instead for a practice that would be acceptable to everyone. Then, on the second Friday morning cabinet meeting after Benson's letter, Eisenhower announced that, barring any objections, he would like to start with a moment of silence. "And that's the way it was . . . from that time on." (Benson made certain that his own departmental staff meetings always began with a vocal invocation — a "custom," he termed it.)

One of Benson's assistants later quipped: "At the first [Cabinet meeting] Ike had Ezra do the praying, but I am informed that after the first one he decided that he'd have silent prayer because Ezra took too darn much time to pray."

[Gary James Bergera, '"Rising above Principle": Ezra Taft Benson as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, 1953-61, Part 1', Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Fall 2008, v 41)]

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