106: Who is Cleon Skousen?

Clay leads a conversation with Heather and Mithryn about Cleon Skousen.

Play

References:

Cleon Skousen’s Wikipedia page
Cleon Skousen’s FBI File
McKeever, Bill – W. Cleon Skousen – The Man Behind Glenn Beck
Wilentz, Sean – Confounding Fathers
Zaitchik, Alexander – Meet the man who changed Glenn Beck’s life

Links:
Round Table Review of The Naked Capitalist published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society by Cleon Skousen – written in 1963
George Wythe University
National Center for Constitutional Studies

7 Comments

  1. Irene West

    Loved this episode, but it might have been helpful to have someone my age–who actually lived during this period of time. J Bracken Lee was a Non-mormon who became Gov. of Utah. Skousen spoke at AF high and told us of his FBI exploits–and the communists threat. Real scary stuff. Irene West

    Reply Apr 04, 2016 @ 15:48:56
  2. Jonny W.

    Thank you for your podcasts. I officially left the church last year. My journey to leave the church was about 5 years ago. I am the born in the church, graduated seminary, went on a mission, got married quickly, and kids soon after story.

    Today I completed listening to everyone of your podcasts. I want to personally thank everyone who has contributed to this site. I stumbled upon the site through YouTube. The first episodes I listened to were the Salamander Letters which were awesome. The site to some may just be “church bashing”. I found it to much more than just talking about church history and Joseph Smith. The stories of everyone’s struggles help you go from a stage of anger, to acceptance, to peace and freedom. This site is true therapy when you feel lost. I am finding it takes the support and stories of others to be able to remove yourself from a life long indoctrination. Thank you again and I cannot wait for more episodes. Where would you recommend I go next for my new ex mormon podcast addiction? Lol

    Reply May 06, 2016 @ 14:42:25
    • Heather

      Have you discovered Infants on Thrones yet?

      Reply May 20, 2016 @ 06:08:02
  3. Will

    Just listened to the Cleon Skousen podcast. Much of it is assumption and small quotes taken out of context. I do understand that it is difficult to go into depth with such a small time frame. Just one example is the idea that Skousen was so willing to kill innocent people….. That is an assumption based on his position to show the USSR that we were willing to be strong. Many people from Reagan and Kennedy used that strategy, heck Reagan even made them believe that he was a bit crazy to make them think twice. Point being… you painted him as some guy lusting for murder. Then you go on to the fear tactic that every Republican delegate was being indoctrinated with that lunacy by getting a copy of the 5000 year leap? I’ve read that book many times and no where have I ever seen it advocate nuking Russia. Anyways, I found most of this podcast done in a similar fashion. IMO.

    Reply Jun 15, 2016 @ 09:51:05
  4. Kenneth

    Will,

    Thank you for listening!

    You wrote: ” Just one example is the idea that Skousen was so willing to kill innocent people….. That is an assumption based on his position to show the USSR that we were willing to be strong.”

    However, I have two sources I was going off of for my claim. First was his 1963 statement of Communist goals (http://www.uhuh.com/nwo/communism/comgoals.htm) under which he states:

    >U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.

    >U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.

    This is not worded as you suggest “to show the USSR we were willing to be strong” but that any coexistence was intolerable and that Atomic war was preferable. The second source was someone who attended his Constitution courses in which he explained that the nuclear option would usher in the second coming. My father was quite opposed to the concept he was putting forward. That’s a /touch/ different than “Show Russia Strength” because it’s hoping for the end of the world via nuclear death.

    >Point being… you painted him as some guy lusting for murder

    That was not my intention. I did mean to paint him in contrast to my father who actually worked with the Nuclear Missile program. I have been in a site where they had the keys that you turn to launch missiles. I saw my father stay up nights pacing the house as he thought of ways people could overcome the security and to try and prevent it. I was there when he sat in board meetings discussing how to assure mutual destruction. I noticed that our house was a outside the radius of a nuclear blast radius if Russia targeted Hill Air Force Base. He thought about how to prevent nuclear war day in and day out; but more over how to secure the lives of as many people as he could if it came to that.

    That’s a stark contrast to gambling with rhetoric about “Being strong” or “Seeming crazy”. That contrast of playing loose and fast rhetoric to sell books or to appeal to the LDS mindset or to “Seem strong” vs the day-to-day reality of a doomsday scenario. That was my intent.

    By the way, my father was a faithful LDS individual his whole life.

    >Then you go on to the fear tactic that every Republican delegate was being indoctrinated with that lunacy by getting a copy of the 5000 year leap? I’ve read that book many times and no where have I ever seen it advocate nuking Russia.

    You’re absolutely correct that no where in the 5000 year leap does it advocate nuking Russia. However his ideals are codified in the 5000 year leap such as Natural Law, that a free country must be founded on religion, That the Constitution was built on Franklin’s 5 Laws (Doesn’t mention Franklin was an Atheist at age 18, and a Deist to suit his electorate later in life), the ninth principle that rights come from God’s divine law.. .all of which has no real source to speak of in the book.

    So while you’re right that 5000 year leap doesn’t contain the principle “Nuke Russia” as a basic, it does state that freedom and atheism don’t mix; and back in 1981 (When the book was published) there was nothing as completely representing that than “Godless Communism” in the USSR. I’m not so sure that the book wouldn’t have been seen as an excuse to Nuke Russia if had received as wide a distribution back then as it does now.

    Please admit that his books are rhetoric meant to stir people up to faith and to mix politics and faith, something that Screwtape, in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, would be amply happy to exacerbate to steer people away from “The Enemy [Christ/God]”

    Again, thank you for listening I’m always happy to delve into source, provide more details or respond to issues with my claims. If wrong, I’m happy to publish updates and apologies as you can see on multiple pages on my blog ExploringMormonism.com

    Kenneth

    Reply Jun 15, 2016 @ 10:45:37
    • Will

      Thanks for the quick reply. I will be sure to look at your sources. Fair response, and I can see your perspective better, but I still disagree with Skousens motivation and the 5000 year leap. And I hope that I didn’t seem too negative, I thought your history of Skousens was balanced. I’ll be sure to stay tuned.

      Reply Jun 15, 2016 @ 11:00:11
      • Kenneth

        No worries and I can totally understand disagreeing with my view. My views on Hugh Nibley and Skousen can be a bit… nuanced by my and my family’s interactions with them.

        It’s one thing to read his books and study his published works. It’s another to watch a video of his side-comments to people that aren’t part of the official class and realize that he really wanted a nuclear war and was anxiously awaiting the button being pressed. That he drafted notes to Ezra Benson saying as much, and that Ezra passed that on to Eisenhower and BYU talks:

        http://scriptures.byu.edu/gettalk.php?ID=1165

        As well as in Conference:

        “When a survey was recently made among students asking which they would prefer, nuclear war or surrender to the communists, those campuses scored highest for surrender who had been most permeated by these cowardly teachings of false economic principles, atheism, and amorality. On one very liberal college campus over 90 percent favored surrender. Other surveys on moral standards are equally alarming.”

        We discuss the connection between Benson and Skousen in the episode as well.

        But it’s hard to see the level of private crazy when one only has the public face to go off of.

        Best wishes, and thanks for letting me spout off more. Again, happy to provide more upon request.

        Reply Jun 15, 2016 @ 11:20:37

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