Saying that “the time is now,” Mormon Church President Ezra Taft Benson challenged members to flood the world with the message of the faith’s most cherished scripture. Benson echoed warnings issued by other church officials on the escalating dangers posed by smoking and drug and alcohol abuse in his address before the opening session of the church’s 158th Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City. The 89-year-old “prophet, seer and revelator” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraged stronger participation by all members in promulgating the teachings in the Book of Mormon. Considered the “keystone” of the Mormon faith, the 531-page volume was published in 1830 by church founder Joseph Smith. The church’s 6.5 million members believe the book is a history of ancient peoples who came to the Americas from the Middle East and were visited by a resurrected Jesus Christ shortly after his crucifixion.