Ezra Taft Benson (August 4, 1899 – May 30, 1994) was an American farmer, government official, and religious leader who served as the 15th United States Secretary of Agriculture during both presidential terms of Dwight D. Eisenhower and as the thirteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1985 until his death in 1994.
Benson’s interest in politics could be seen in the subjects he chose for his biannual addresses at General Conference. In 1967, for example, he asked David O. McKay for permission to speak on “how the Communists are using the Negros to … foment trouble in the United States”.
Benson was an outspoken opponent of communism and socialism, and a supporter, but not a member, of the John Birch Society, which he praised as “the most effective non-church organization in our fight against creeping socialism and Godless Communism.” He published a 1966 pamphlet entitled “Civil Rights, Tool of Communist Deception”. In a similar vein, during a 1972 general conference of the LDS Church, Benson recommended that all members of the church read Gary Allen’s New World Order tract “None Dare Call it A Conspiracy”