55 years ago today - Oct 24, 1968

The First Presidency announced they were assigning Benson to preside over the church's European mission in December. The media immediately described this as a "reprisal" or "exile" for Benson's virtual endorsement of the Birch Society at general conference.

[Meeting Minutes:] Reference was made to questions that have been raised by presidents of stakes and mission presidents in Germany, the British Isles, etc., and also by the [Improvement] Era, regarding talks that have been given in conference by the brethren of the Authorities such as the one given by Brother Benson at the recent General Conference regarding the responsibilities we have to oppose socialism, etc. ... He explains that over half of the members of his stake in England vote socialist and that members of the stake presidency, high council and bishoprics support that cause, that there is therefore some confusion in regard to how they should accept these statements.

... President Tanner mentioned that during the past three years we have had questions and complaints about talks given in General Conference that seem to be offensive to the German people or the British people, or whoever it may be, by just building up the United States of America and referring to things that are going on here...

[Summarized in David O. McKay Papers; verbatim report in Clare Middlemiss, Minutes of a Meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, "Notes" 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); "Elder Benson To Direct Europe Mission," Deseret News, 24 Oct. 1963, A-l; Improvement Era 66 (Dec. 1963): 1065; "Mormons To Send Benson Overseas," New York Times, 25 Oct. 1963,18; "Apostle Benson Denies Being Sent Into 'Exile' for Political Views," Ogden Standard-Examiner, 29 Oct. 1963, A-7; "Mormon Church Sends Benson to Europe," U.S. News and World Report 55 (Nov. 1963): 12; "Mormon Church Is Gaining in Strength Despite Tensions," New York Times, 27 Dec. 1965,18. 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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