Latter-day Saint Life

3 Prophets Who Have Been on "Time" + What Was Said About Them


From Albert Einstein to John Wayne to Steve Jobs, Time magazine has featured some of the most influential people in American history—including a few prophets.

Since 1930, three Latter-day Saint prophets have been on the cover of the news magazine for various reasons. From the centennial celebration of the Church to delving deeper into their fascinating lives, here's what this nationally recognized news magazine had to say about these latter-day prophets. 

President Heber J. Grant

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On April 7, 1930, President Heber J. Grant became the first prophet ever to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. Though publications had written articles about Latter-day Saints before, there existed a general curiosity, especially with the passing of polygamy, about what members believed.

Commemorating the centennial mark in the Church's history, Time's April 7, 1930, edition delved deeper into this "exotic" religion. Noting the Church's centennial mark, the article also highlighted the Church's leaders, including the then-prophet President Heber J. Grant.

Praising his success in business, the article noted that many prominent men at the time were on boards of successful businesses in Utah "but none more often than that of Heber Jedediah Grant."

And, of course, the article also described President Grant's role as the leader of the Church, noting he was, "Tall, bewhiskered, graced with patriarchal kindness and authority, he [Heber J. Grant] is, as divinely authorized President, Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Latter-day Saints, responsible to no one for his administration of L. D. S. affairs."

President George Albert Smith

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Marking another centennial mark in Church history, President George Albert Smith was featured on the cover of the July 21, 1947, cover of Time magazine. 

The issue celebrated the 100-year mark of the Latter-day Saint pioneers' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley and covered the Church's history from the time Joseph Smith received the Golden Plates to President George Albert Smith's time as the prophet.

Though referring to Latter-day Saint religious artifacts like the Urim and Thummim as "magic" and saying the Church "sprang from the mind" of Joseph Smith, the article nodded to the Latter-day Saint pioneers' hard work and innovation, noting, "Their desert has indeed blossomed like the rose" due to the pioneers' sacrifices. 

When discussing George Albert Smith, the article highlighted both his character and his role as the leader of the Church, noting he was a "polite, lively, deeply religious old man with an awareness of history and consummate faith in the truth," and, "Somehow, in sum, he is impressive. In his quiet and earnest way Smith is a great salesman and public-relations man and one who serves the needs of the church well in 1947. People who watch him in his office—slyly popping bonbons into his mouth while he works—know that they are dealing with a force."

President Ezra Taft Benson

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As a Latter-day Saint prophet and former Secretary of Agriculture, President Ezra Taft Benson was an intriguing figure. In fact, people were so interested in this prophet that he made it on the cover of Time magazine twice.

On April 13, 1953, and then again on May 7, 1956, President Benson, then an apostle, appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

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Though the articles highlighted his position as Secretary of Agriculture, they were not laced with job-envy. With increased food production following World War II, the government was still trying to regulate prices on crops in a way that would appease the economy and make farming a feasible occupation—which was no easy task. 

However, the articles praise President Benson for his hard work in the face of scathing opposition and adversity comparable to the then-Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, as the article notes. "Benson endures violent criticism with the demeanor of a Boy Scout leader (which he is) in a den of noisy cubs. He also turns the other cheek: last Christmas, he took pains to send a card to one of his most vitriolic critics, Columnist Drew Pearson, whom he studiously skips in reading the newspaper," the 1956 article praises.

But the demands of his work did not compromise his devotion to his faith. Quoting an associate, the 1956 article notes President Benson "spends as much time on his knees as he does on his feet." No doubt, President Benson maintained his devotion to prayer and hard work as he later became a prophet of the Church in 1985.

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In the Company of Prophets provides an inside look at the lives and personalities of seven presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, and Ezra Taft Benson, from the perspective of D. Arthur Haycock, who worked with them all.

Brother Haycock says of these leaders, "I've laughed with them, I've cried with them, I've prayed with them, I've traveled with them, I've worked at their side. I have great love and admiration for these men of God."


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