The Editing of an Apostle

In the April of 1972 General Conference, then Elder, Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk that still causes controversy and raises questions to this day,  about what was actually meant. He recommended that all members of the Church read The John Birch Society book, None Dare Call it Conspiracy.   He said, “There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon—it is a conspiracy fact. And along this line I would highly recommend to you a new book entitled, ‘None Dare Call It Conspiracy’.” However, this recommendation did not make it into the official version of the conference report, and remains edited out to this day.

Before the advent of the internet and sites like YouTube, it was extremely difficult to determine with certainty what had actually been said.  As we can see in the video here, the quote above is accurate.  Therefore we know that this wasn’t a case of misunderstanding, or an imagined quote.  So was Elder Benson reprimanded and forced to change the text of his talk – as some have suggested?

The change in the official record of this talk and what was “really behind it” has been the subject of much and speculation, and has been of concern to many people ever since the official record of the talk was released by the Church.  Some even wrote to Elder Benson asking him what happened.  Thankfully, some of those people saved the response they received from Elder Benson, (which can be read here) and the reason isn’t nearly as sinister as some have claimed.  No, he wasn’t reprimanded and forced to change his talk; and no, there weren’t some “dark-forces” at the Church office building trying to silence the words of an Apostle.

In one of the letters he wrote concerning the subject, he said, “When I learned that we had representatives from behind the Iron Curtain at our conference, where we have over 5,000 members, I made a few minor changes in my talk of my own volition…  Our Ensign magazine has worldwide distribution and it seemed the part of wisdom to make a very limited number of minor changes.  I continue to encourage people to read NONE DARE CALL IT CONSPIRACY.”

There are those that seek to discredit the words of the leaders of the Church – like Ezra Taft Benson, because they don’t like the fact that their views are the antithesis of The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so they do whatever they can to discredit those Church leaders that speak boldly.  Then there are others that try to create suspicion of other Church leaders.  No matter the motive behind such efforts, let us not be fooled by hearsay or circumstantial evidence – but stick to the facts and let them lead you to the truth.  As the Savior said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

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11 Responses to The Editing of an Apostle

  1. accountablemormon says:

    very well done–

    thank you

  2. Jared says:

    Thanks for posting this.

    I’ve heard on various occasions that Elder Benson was told to tone down his political statements. As evidence I am to look at the lack of political speeches later in his life. Seems the root of this rumor is addressed above.

    … On another level, do we not know that there is conspiracy anyway? Whether the actors are willing co-conspirators or ignorant pawns the root of the conspiracy is still the Adversary and has existed long before America came onto the scene. The battle remains the same — not against people but false principles.

    I’m sure that what we can easily ‘see’ is the tip of the iceberg… I think the founding fathers would agree that it would be wise to view ‘tip’ with suspicion vice blind acceptance.

  3. G. Michael Craig says:

    Many LDS see the history of the Church as segmented into two major time periods: BETB and AETB(Before Ezra Taft Benson and After Ezra Taft Benson). This is reasonable inasmuch as the Church took a hard turn to the left after the administration of Pres. Benson. He and other general authorities had warned about this, about increasing numbers of “ravening wolves” getting baptized and then called into leadership positions in the Church at the ward, stake, and even the general level. The evidence of this fact is overwhelming. I know of three brethren, two High Priests and a Seventy, who were immediately released from all callings after quoting Pres. Benson over the pulpit on the subject of our responsibility to defend the Constitution. Conservatives are no longer

  4. G. Michael Craig says:

    welcomed in the Church. Very sad.

  5. Dave says:

    G. Michael Craig, are you claiming that the church has been infiltrated by a left-wing conspiracy? I thought church leaders were selected by inspiration. Please elaborate.

    • Jared says:

      When I’ve discussed this sort of topic with friends we’ve wondered whether the Lord is not emphasizing the ETB-like urgency any more because the church membership failed to take action.

      Surely the problem has not been eradicated.

      If we don’t receive the light offered then we will have it taken away. Non members established this country and its Constitution under His guidance. Surely He can sustain it that way was well. This is sad to say, since we have more instruction from the Lord on the subject than any other people.

      (It seems at times we seem to have a culture of non-commitment to and suspicion of non-prescribed action.)

      …But all men are sufficiently instructed in the Law, and the Spirit of Liberty is fundamental to all men I think as part of the Law

      • Sean Borzea says:

        I’ve given this some thought as well. When secret combinations (aka conspiracy) were getting entrenched in government, we had many warnings about it. The government has passed the tipping point and the church’s focus is on it’s central mission: eternal life through Christ. Anything that detracts or restricts that mission is not a part of the message. I ask, what is the best approach to calling out the sheep/ wheat? By calling out entrenched combinations around the world (remember, we’re world-wide now), or developing relationships to open doors and hearts to the Gospel? I personally think JFK was killed by secret combinations in ’63 because he stopped listening to them (advisors). The best path to liberty, and weapon against secret combinations, is a testimony.

  6. MuchoBrento says:

    I have a copy of None Dare Call It A Conspiracy. It is a great read! The interesting thing about it is that, even though it was written decades ago, it now reads like a history book. It was incredibly accurate in it’s predictions on what would happen here in America due to conspiring groups within our own government.

  7. Erik says:

    So, who is the “Ezra Taft Benson” of current church leadership???

  8. Michael W Tindall says:

    I believe that the Lord counseled him to edit the published talk because we had not progressed enough to understand the message. Look at it. Here we are today talking about conspiracies and such. He, the Lord, that is, has done this before. Look at the Ten Commandments. So who has read the book?

  9. Ann says:

    I don’t think that the church has changed its stance, rather it has been FORCED to change its methods, thanks to the US Gov’t’s change in churches tax status as 501c3 organizations. Before that time there was NOT a freedom of speech gag order on the clergy/churches. Now there is. I have a great admiration to the “Black Robe Regiment” which consists of Churches and clergy who are not complying with the gag order.

    There is also wisdom in making the message acceptable in the instances where there foreign Gov’ts that would question our motives for being in their countries….. steps towards freedom in those instances requires first a change in heart of the people and eventually its leaders.

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