Edward L. Kimball reports on the concern Spencer W. Kimball had for Ezra Taft Benson's February 1980 Talk, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet."

Edward L. Kimball

Edward L. Kimball, Working Draft, Digital Media, rep. Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005), ch. 16, 13

Deseret Book
Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Edward L. Kimball
Reading Public

In February 1980 Elder Benson gave a talk at BYU titled "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" that emphasized the precedence of the living prophet's statements over that of earlier prophets and asserted, "Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government." Some perceived his remarks as laying the groundwork for himself, as likely successor to President Kimball, to make his personal political views the standard for faithfulness.

Spencer felt concern about the talk, wanting to protect the Church against being misunderstood as espousing ultraconservative politics or an unthinking "follow the leader" mentality. The First Presidency again called Elder Benson in to discuss what he had said and asked him to make explanation to the full Quorum of the Twelve and other General Authorities. Elder Benson told them that he meant only to "underscore President Kimball's prophetic call." A First Presidency spokesman Don LeFevre reiterated to the press the day after the speech that it is "simply not true" that the Church President's "word is law on all issues—including politics." The uproar continued, however, and a week later the First Presidency spoke to "reaffirm that we take no partisan stand as to candidates or political parties, and exercise no constraint on the freedom of individuals to make their own choices in these matters." Members should not expect narrow political guidance from the Church leadership.

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
Copyright © B. H. Roberts Foundation
The B. H. Roberts Foundation is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.