Thunder from the Right: Ezra Taft Benson in Mormonism and Politics

Thunder from the Right: Ezra Taft Benson in Mormonism and Politics

by Matthew L Harris (Editor)

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Ezra Taft Benson's ultra-conservative vision made him one of the most polarizing leaders in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His willingness to mix religion with extreme right-wing politics troubled many. Yet his fierce defense of the traditional family, unabashed love of country, and deep knowledge of the faith endeared him to millions. In Thunder from the Right, a group of veteran Mormon scholars probe aspects of Benson's extraordinary life. Topics include: how Benson's views influenced his actions as Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower Administration; his dedication to the conservative movement, from alliances with Barry Goldwater and the John Birch Society to his condemnation of the civil rights movement as a communist front; how his concept of the principal of free agency became central to Mormon theology; his advocacy of traditional gender roles as a counterbalance to liberalism; and the events and implications of Benson's term as Church president. Contributors: Gary James Bergera, Matthew Bowman, Newell G. Bringhurst, Brian Q. Cannon, Robert A. Goldberg, Matthew L. Harris, J. B. Haws, and Andrea G. Radke-Moss

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252084010
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 03/02/2019
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 260
Sales rank: 985,768
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Matthew L. Harris is a professor of history at Colorado State University-Pueblo. He is the author of The Founding Fathers and the Debate over Religion in Revolutionary America.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Breaching the Wall: Ezra Taft Benson on Church and State Matthew L. Harris 1

Part I Politics and Cold War Anxieties

1 Ezra Taft Benson and the Family Farm Brian Q. Cannon 23

2 Ezra Taft Benson Meets Nikita Khrushchev, 1959: Memory Embellished Gary James Bergera 53

3 From New Deal to New Right Robert A. Goldberg 68

4 Potomac Fever: Continuing Quest for the U.S. Presidency Newell G. Bringhurst 97

5 Martin Luther King, Civil Rights, and Perceptions of a "Communist Conspiracy" Matthew L. Harris 124

Part II Theology

6 The Cold War and the Invention of Free Agency Matthew Bowman 159

7 Women and Gender Andrea G. Radke-Moss 178

8 LDS Church Presidency Years, 1985-1994 J. B. Haws 208

Contributors 239

Index 243

Photographs follow page 156

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