Ezra Taft Benson, president of the Mormon Church, told his followers that their degree of righteousness would help determine the survival of constitutional government in America. In his opening sermon at the 157th semiannual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Benson said: "I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by (church founder) Joseph Smith. . . . " Benson, 88, cited Smith's 147-year-old prophesy that the U.S. government and the 200-year-old Constitution, which Mormons consider to be divinely inspired, would be threatened with destruction and would be saved by righteous Mormons.