Home > Apologetics > Tricia Erikson’s Post misrepresents the LDS Faith

Tricia Erikson’s Post misrepresents the LDS Faith


The recent post by CNN writer Tricia Erikson is a gross misrepresentation of the LDS faith and an obvious attempt to smear Mitt Romney. It’s worth looking at to see just how bigoted some people are. It’s amazing CNN let’s her write such drivel for them. The following is my response to her post.

First, I must say I have doubts about the truthfulness of Ms. Erikson’s claims and there are many holes in her arguments. First, she states that she did not believe the truth of the LDS church from the age of nine. Later she states she was married in the temple and that she left the Church as an adult because it is false religion.

For an LDS member to enter the temple requires significant commitment to church teachings and practices. It is the most advanced form of worship within the LDS church. Mind you, all of the requirements to enter the temple are voluntary. No one is forced to go through the temple by the church organization. So, at one point either Ms. Erikson was a devout member of the LDS faith or she lied to go through the temple. You see, Ms. Erikson cannot have it both ways. She cannot be both devout and never believed it from an early age. Well, which was it? Was she always a non-believer or is she a disaffected member? That is an answer only she could provide for us.

Next, Ms. Erikson claims the Church brainwashes people. The dictionary defines brainwashing as “Make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure” (Google Dictionary). In the context of her post, brainwashing is nothing more than a pejorative term. This is because she provides no proof that the LDS church brainwashes people, only conjecture. It reveals Ms. Erikson’s feelings for the Church. What we know is she most certainly dislikes the LDS church.

While Ms. Erikson offers no proof that anyone has ever been brainwashed into believing LDS doctrine, anyone can read personal testimony at mormon.org of numerous Latter-day Saints who attest that they love the LDS faith and are happily living it. Mormon.org is a social media site where people voluntarily post their thoughts and feelings about their membership. While Ms. Erikson provides no proof of brainwashing, there is ample proof of voluntary practice within the LDS faith.

Nevertheless, I am not denying that individual families might put extreme pressure on other family members to adopt LDS beliefs. Such social pressure, however, is common in many facets of life. For instance, I have a friend whose family loves football. I would go so far as to say he is indoctrinating his sons to love and play the game. If one of his five sons does not like football, he is going to feel tremendous pressure to join with the rest of the group. But would anyone call that brainwashing? If so, we’d could argue the following.

Texans love football. In fact, many young Texans feel tremendous pressure to play the sport. Because Texans pressure young men to play football, they are brainwashing them. Certainly, the conclusion is just plain wrong. So also is Ms. Erikson’s claim that the LDS church brainwashes people into believing its doctrine. My question is “was there someone in Ms. Erikson’s life who pressured her to go through the temple?” If so, such a case reflects the individual choices of people, not the organization’s practices. It is not LDS church doctrine to force people to comply. (Click here to read more about LDS doctrine concerning choice).

There are other assertions Ms. Erikson makes that she cannot substantiate. She claims senior members of the LDS church use tithing for investments in non-church organizations and that the profits from the investments are used for non-church purposes. While she might claim this is true, Ms. Erikson offers no facts supporting her claim. Furthermore, since the disposition of tithes is not public knowledge, how would Ms. Erikson know what is done with tithing money? The answer, her point is speculative. Furthermore, the LDS church is clear that there is a segregation between tithing funds and other church investment accounts (Click here to read a related article).

Ms. Erikson’s most egregious error is her false claim that no Mormon ever could serve effectively as a president of the United States. Her argument might be stated like this: Mormons covenant to consecrate or dedicate every aspect of their lives to Jesus Christ. To fulfill this covenant, while serving as president it would require that Mitt Romney be a missionary. Being a missionary would require Mr. Romney to preach the gospel to the American people. This argument, however, is an oversimplification of consecration and missionary work and shows Ms. Erikson’s lack of understanding of LDS doctrine.

Being a missionary for the LDS church means many things. People outside of the LDS faith might equate missionary work with young men and young women proselyting door-to-door. However, the fundamental principle of missionary work is serving others in Christlike ways. Christlike service is to give of oneself for the good of someone else. Being president of the United States is an act of Christlike service. Hence, for any Latter-day Saint, serving in government in a moral, upright way that seeks to improve the lives of others is fulfilling the promise to dedicate one’s life to Christ.

Furthermore, being a missionary does not always mean preaching the gospel. There is a time for preaching and a time for serving and loving. In other words, missionary work can mean serving, loving, befriending, and encouraging others. Owing to current interpretation of the separation of church and state, it would be a conflict of interests for any president to preach his religion dogmatically to the American people. However, what any president says in private about his religion would be a matter of personal choice. In essence, for Mitt Romney to be a missionary as president of the United States would mean he would engage is Christlike living. Because being a missionary means being a representative of Christ, if Ms. Erikson still wishes to make her argument, she would likewise have to exclude any other faithful Christian from serving as president. You can’t have it both ways Tricia.

Ms. Erikson implies that somehow the religious faith of a Latter-day Saint makes serving as president impossible. Would she say her argument also applies to serving in other important government roles? If so, her argument fails to agree with the facts. There is ample evidence of Latter-day Saints effectively serving in important government positions without obnoxiously using their position as a missionary tool. For instance, the list of LDS US senators and presidential cabinet members is extensive. The list includes:

Bob Bennett, Terrel Bell, Ezra Benson, Rob Bishop, Angela Buchanan, Berkeley Bunker, Chris Cannon, Howard Cannon, Rueben Clark, Mike Crapo, John Doolittle, Larry Echohawk, Jeff Flake, Jake Garn, Jim Gibbons, Jim Hansen, Orrin Hatch, Ralph Harding, Wally Herger, Jon Huntsman, Jr., Ernest Istook, David Kennedy, David King, William King, Michael Leavitt, Buck McKeon, Gregory Newell, Howard Nielson, Dan Marriott, Jim Matheson, Ron Packard, Ivy Priest, Harry Reid, George Romney, Mike Simpson, Reed Smoot, Duncan Thomas, Stewart Udall, and Tom Udall. (Source: Famous Mormons in Politics).

Clearly, serving as a US senator represents a high position of government leadership. Where is the public outcry because Mormon political officials are incapable of serving in office without obnoxiously preaching their faith? It just is not happening the way she describes it. Her argument is designed to create fear rather than portray facts. Is the real concern that Ms. Erikson simply does not want a Mormon in office because she dislikes the LDS church? If so, that makes her statements merely opinion, rather than fact, and a bigoted opinion at that.

In summary, the tone of Ms. Erikson’s post appeals to sensationalism and hysteria. She relies on brainwashing as a pejorative term to sensationalize her writing and create an alarmist reaction, she fails to offer facts to support wild claims, contradicts her own account of why she left the LDS church, demonstrates a lack of LDS doctrinal understanding of consecration and missionary work, and generally shows disdain for and bigotry toward the LDS faith.

In fact, Ms. Erikson’s post reminds me of a neighbor hissing through her teeth for our attention to gossip over the backyard fence about the “new people” who just moved in. “Oh, can you believe those Mormons! Did you know they wear funny underwear! And that temple, you’ll never believe what goes on inside there…”

I would recommend if anyone reads this post who truly wants to know more about the LDS faith, that he or she visit Mormon.org or LDS.org and read one of the enlightening posts or articles written there. As for Tricia Erikson’s post on CNN, it just is not factually accurate, nor is it a complete telling of the truth.

Categories: Apologetics Tags:
  1. Dorothy Holbrook
    July 10, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Thanks for writing this Mark. It is articulated much better than what Icould have done. I just wanted to claw her eyes out! That certainly isn’t the answer.

  2. July 10, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Dorothy, I know how you feel. Her post was so vitriolic, yet she just kept saying, “I’m doing this out of love.” Hmm. The love is just not coming through. Her comments reminded me of Joseph Smith’s statement about apostates not being able to leave the Church alone. They feel the need to attack it. She certainly falls in line with Joseph’s comments.

  3. July 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Turns out Tricia Erikson may have quite a past. Apparently she was caught in a former business deal scamming clients. http://mormonism-unveiled.blogspot.com/2011/07/anti-mormon-bigot-tricia-erickson-outed.html

    • enoughalready
      October 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      Your reply is a GREAT example of Mormonism. The slander, insults, attempts to gaslight and destroy someone else.. Bravo! Your loving church must be very proud of you. By the way you’re not one of the seminary teachers that was convicted of sexual abuse of a student, are you?

  4. Jenny
    July 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    So our point is ……she is worse than us ? As a member of The LDS church for over 10 years I feel these personal attacks on indidviduals only serves to make us look bad .
    Lets arque the conrtents of the book . Never forget we should not be engaing in the very same hate speach others use in a failed attempt to make us look better …Its doesnt !!!!!!

    Concerned Jenny H

    • July 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm

      Jenny, I agree. I approach the subject of Tricia Erikson’s past with some healthy skepticism. I tried to convey that in my language. It’s tough to do. I used words like “may have” and “apparently” to convey that I’m not 100% certain on what is going on with her past business ventures.

      Nevertheless, the fact remains that Ms. Erikson was barred from practicing in her past field owing to a decision by the FTC. Something bad did happen. Bad enough that she cannot ever work in that field again and it apparently centered around her scamming people out of money. I’d like to know the whole story. However, what these facts do present for us is a character sketch of Ms. Erikson’s past. It’s more difficult to accept her credibility with events like these in her recent past. We are after all talking about decisions she made as an adult business woman, not something she did when she was 15 years old. Right now her credibility for being honest is what I am questioning. Already, her post on CNN shows she is willing to be dishonest. These new events are yet more evidence of her dishonesty.

  5. Stephen Smoot
    July 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Some very good points, Mark. Thank you for taking time to formulate your thoughts on this matter.

    • July 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Likewise for your comments on FAIR. The LDS blogging response to Ms. Erikson’s post has been remarkable. I thoroughly enjoyed what you wrote on your site and look forward to continuing to read your blog.

  6. Athena Blakely
    August 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Of course there is also the 12th article of faith thing too. The Prophet is subject to the articles of faith and the 12th makes it very clear how we are to behave with regards the laws of our respective countries. it is also the reason that countries that severely limit what religions can practice within their borders have opened their doors to us.

    Just for those that do not know this, the 12th Article of Faith states:
    We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

  7. enoughalready
    October 13, 2011 at 11:59 am

    You are so wrong and so brainwashed. “Serving others in Christ like ways”? Give me a break!!!! The only way you serve others is on a platter when it suits you. Lived with Mormons in SLC for 65 years and witnessed their all encompassing need for total control over everything and everybody, their disgust with non-mormons, their evil and indeed almost demonic actions against non-mormons, even small children. My family members ran for public office and the church told their members who to vote for in each case. They believe they own you and your children and often inflict severe consequences if you don’t do as they wish. Grow a brain or open your eyes and see what is going on, for your own sake as well as everyone else. Your article attacking Ms. Erikson; trying to interfere with her employment, etc. shows what you people are about very clearly. Too bad you are a Mormon first and not an American and able to recognize the right to “free speech” and an individual’s right to have a non-mormon opinion, make their own decisions, etc. This is my well founded, educated opinion and God help us if one of you gets control of this country.

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