A Reply to Ms. Erickson

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CNN has published an interview with a woman named Tricia Erickson, who has spoken out on why Mitt Romney is not qualified to be president of the United States. Instead of criticizing Romney for his political platforms, which is what one would expect in a discussion surrounding a political election, she instead has focused on (surprise!) his religion. She has made some rather pernicious swipes at Mormonism that are true to form amongst zealous Evangelical counter-cultists.

I intended to publish some remarks on the comments section of the CNN webpage, but my verbosity got the better of me and my reply was too long. Thankfully I have another avenues in which I can express my thoughts. What follows are my thoughts as they were intended on being published on the CNN webpage, with minor changes in formatting.

I usually don’t comment on blogs or websites such as this, but I feel compelled to relate some of my thoughts regarding Ms. Erickson’s unfortunate remarks directed against Mormonism.

For full disclosure I am a faithful Latter-day Saint. I was born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and made a conscious commitment to my religion as a young teenager when I began to seriously investigate not only my faith but other religions. I recently returned from my LDS mission in New England, where happily most people are not as unpleasant towards my faith as Ms. Erickson is. I have participated in the ordinances of the temple repeatedly. I attend my Church services weekly. And I have extensively studied not only the history and doctrine of my faith from both Mormon and non-Mormon perspectives but also other religious traditions such as Judaism and Islam. I am a student at Brigham Young University and am majoring in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, with an emphasis in Hebrew and the Old Testament. I thought I would get all of this out of the way so that nobody wonders about my background.

First, despite her denial to the contrary, Ms. Erickson’s attitude towards Mormonism is thoroughly anti-Mormon. She is egregiously twisting many tenets of Mormon doctrine, most noticeably the Mormon doctrine of deification (which, incidentally, finds remarkable harmony with the early Christian doctrine of theosis) to suit her polemical agenda. Her description of the ordinances of the temple is not only disrespectful towards Mormons, who hold these ordinances in the highest sanctity, but also is saturated with lurid sensationalism that is only appropriate for yellow journalism or a trashy tabloid. As Professor Bushman noted in his response, Ms. Erickson has stripped the Mormon temple ceremony out of its sacred context and warped it into a frightful, but inaccurate, caricature.

Second, her citing of Ed Decker as an authority on Mormonism is quite astonishing. It is not an exaggeration to say that her citing Decker to explain Mormonism is just as misguided as going to a neo-Nazi to seek out reliable information on Judaism or a member of the KKK to get an objective portrayal of blacks. In fact, Ed Decker’s outrageous distortion of Mormonism is so repellent that nobody less than career anti-Mormons Jerald and Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministry (certainly no friends of the Mormon Church) condemned Decker for his irresponsibility and unfounded, repugnant, and salacious attacks against the LDS Church. Decker has zero credibility, and his pseudo-scholarly miasmal book “The God Makers” has been debunked by Mormon apologists. For Ms. Erickson to rely on Decker as an authority on Mormonism is shocking, not to mention unfortunate, and betrays her anti-Mormon tendencies.

Third, Ms. Erickson’s disdain for other American religious minorities, particularly Muslims, is rank with bigotry.

Fourth, her continual spewing of words such as “cult”, “indoctrinate”, “dogma”, and characterizing Mormonism as “a complete lie” compromises her objectivity and her qualification to be a commentator on religious matters.

Someone else here has drawn attention to Dr. Hugh Nibley’s wonderful essay “How to Write an Anti-Mormon Book (A Handbook for Beginners)”. Those curious to see whether Ms. Erickson’s denial of being an anti-Mormon is legitimate should compare her remarks here with what Dr. Nibley has written. You can read it online for free here:

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=77&chapid=973

Finally, may I express a word to the editors of CNN? Please be more selective with whom you decide to give airtime on your otherwise wonderful and informative website. Ms. Erickson, I am afraid, has no real contribution to the discussion of the relationship between religion and politics in our modern society. Her polemical ranting is below CNN’s standards of journalism.

20 thoughts on “A Reply to Ms. Erickson

  1. naomi

    You took the words right out of my mouth, matured them a little, and I thank you for that. I stopped regarding CNN as news after they introduced holographs during the last election. Kind of hard to take it seriously when they’re all Star Trek up in my face.

  2. Tyler Andersen

    It is important to remember that Erickson relies almost exclusively on violently hostile books about Mormonism, most notably Rocky Hulse’s polemic published in 2007 (during the height of Romney’s first campaign) entitled “When Salt Lake City Calls.” Hulse writes what is quite possibly one of the worst books published on Mormonism to date. See my review of Hulse’s book here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/176190409

    Not long ago the Hulse’s gloated on their hate group’s website about that fact that Rocky’s book was quoted so many times by Erickson. While this is certainly true, it also exposes Erickson as a fraudulent liar desperate to produce anything in order to keep a Mormon out of public office.

  3. Rich

    Wow! If you want to tell me how much you love and hurt for my poor deluded and lost soul, at least get the elements of the religion correct. I guess you have to totally beat someone into submission to get them to “see the light?” And since these people are “insiders” they know. People here in Utah always comment on how the church runs the state. I’ve come to the point where I call them on it and I don’t find any facts to back up the assertions. Are Mormons in leadership positions? Of coarse, but they don’t take orders from salt lake on how to vote and how to run the state. By default they vote according to their belief system but so does everyone else. It has become old and exhausting but sometimes you just have to speak out. I am old enough to remember the temple ceremony they are talking about but it is different then they portray it. As for giving you life and fortune to something you believe in being crazy. I’m just glad the founding fathers didn’t feel it was crazy.

  4. Jon-Michael DeShazer

    Here’s what I sent to Ms. Erickson:

    It’s a shame that in 2011, people can attempt to profit from bigotry. Your statements vastly underestimate several million people who call themselves Mormons and consider their decision to be a practicing Mormon a good choice; not because they were “brainwashed,” but because the living of the gospel as they see it has brought them happiness and peace, which you did not find as a Mormon. Your blanket statements declare all Mormon’s live in this oppressed “Orwellian” type of society who are unable to think for themselves. My diatribe against your biased viewpoint could not convince you otherwise unfortunately.

    Your gross generalizations and ‘factual’ assumptions show your antagonistic attitude against the LDS church from which an outsider could never get an objective opinion. If you are truly a disciple of Christ, show it by being loving to all people regardless of race, creed, religion or sexual orientation. Your declaration as well as many other evangelicals declaration of Mormon’s not practicing “New Testament Christianity” sounds very similar to the Pharisees who accused Christ of not following what they perceived to be True Religion.

    Whether Jesus Christ is a Jew, A Mormon, a Catholic, or made up (I believe in him by the way) shouldn’t matter as much as how we live our lives to be like Him. He is the judge and ruler of us all, not you. Worry about your own relationship with Him and leave the spewing of anti-Mormon sentiment alone.

  5. Willem

    Well ok guys get a life,remember that us non lds find the details of
    Mormonism too weird to be true, just think about this,warehouse full of gold plates translated by dude smith with a stone in a hat,this dude had many wives and some girls as young as 14 he screwed around with and who knows perhaps afew boys?
    Now lets move forward with prop h8te where the church and its membet
    Screwed up the lives of millions of gay and lesbian americans, next dude smith gets 9 awards on broadway with a sold out play which will be shown worldwide to ridicule so lets be honest inthe end you guys get what you deserve! Oh i forgot about the dna and the indian tribes! Lol
    Williamkraal@mac.com

  6. Stephen Smoot Post author

    Willem -

    Unfortunately your comments are not only exceedingly dubious but also hideously libelous. Joseph Smith “screwing around with… perhaps a few boys”? Really? Seriously? I suggest you very carefully research Mormon history before you even think to suggest such nonsense.

    You are more than welcome to participate on this blog, but your comments and thoughts must be constructive, genuine, substantive, and worth reading/discussing. We don’t want anything more like what you have posted above. If you wish to continue to libel Joseph Smith or other Mormon leaders or just laugh at how stupid Mormons are for believing in their crazy BS religion, there are plenty of other websites for such. But this is not one of them.

  7. willem

    oh jezus pleeze Mr Stephen let me ask you just one question ok? and pleeze give me an honest answer.just this one svp.
    where can i inspect one of those gold plates??
    and how do you know that dude joseph didnt fool around with a few boys (look at all the priest and bishops right now in the catholic church) remember he was in jail a few times for for various reasons, who do you think those guys have sex with when 14 year old girls are hard to find when you are locked up.
    once again to a non -mormon so much hokus/pokus so many fairy tales enough to give the book of mormon 9 of the highest broadway awards, tickets to that show are sold out for almost a year that should tell you something.
    now start thinking for yourself disneyland is not a real world!

  8. willem

    dear mr Smoot you did not answer my one (just 1 ) question. what is this strike two stuff are we in a bowling alley??

  9. Stephen Smoot Post author

    Willem -

    In answer to your first comment, I wrote:

    “You are more than welcome to participate on this blog, but your comments and thoughts must be constructive, genuine, substantive, and worth reading/discussing. We don’t want anything more like what you have posted above. If you wish to continue to libel Joseph Smith or other Mormon leaders or just laugh at how stupid Mormons are for believing in their crazy BS religion, there are plenty of other websites for such. But this is not one of them.”

    To which you replied:

    “oh jezus pleeze Mr Stephen let me ask you just one question ok? and pleeze give me an honest answer.just this one svp.
    where can i inspect one of those gold plates??
    and how do you know that dude joseph didnt fool around with a few boys (look at all the priest and bishops right now in the catholic church) remember he was in jail a few times for for various reasons, who do you think those guys have sex with when 14 year old girls are hard to find when you are locked up.
    once again to a non -mormon so much hokus/pokus so many fairy tales enough to give the book of mormon 9 of the highest broadway awards, tickets to that show are sold out for almost a year that should tell you something.
    now start thinking for yourself disneyland is not a real world!”

    I will give you some time for reflection to see if you can tell why I would give you a second warning. If you cannot ascertain the problem, and continue to post your despicable calumny against the Prophet Joseph Smith, I will be compelled, for the sake of the other readers of the FAIR Blog, to delete your subsequent comments.

    Alles klar?

  10. Stephen Smoot Post author

    To All Readers -

    Willem posted another comment, but it was the wrong answer. He has left the building and won’t be returning anytime soon. Since he may be reading this: Willem, you are more than welcome to take your trash talk of the Church to RfM or CARM. But don’t come back here until you have matured a bit. Your posts are going to be monitored and if they don’t pass muster they will be deleted.

    Cheers.

  11. Stephen Smoot Post author

    Mark:

    Thank you for directing me to your blog. I will be sure to look over it.

  12. christian marriage advice

    The following time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I imply, I know it was my option to read, but I truly thought youd have one thing attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you may fix in case you werent too busy in search of attention.

  13. Stephen Smoot Post author

    @ Christian Marriage Advice -

    I am not sure what you are getting at. Your sentences were garbled and confusing. Are you saying that I am “attention-grabbing” and “whining” with this response to Ms. Erickson? Some clarification would be appreciated. Thanks.

  14. Rickenrota

    I wonder if CNN put Tricia out there just to have her look the fool. Her ranting vs. addressing the question should dicredit anything she expresses via pen or voice or video. Most Mormons and non-mormons felt that CNN scooped her of a SLC street corner where she’d been peddling her book.

  15. Pingback: Ms. Erickson and CNN Redux. | FAIR Blog

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