Is Mormonism a Cult?

A lot of people say that Mormons belong to a cult. Is that true? First, it depends on what your definition of a cult is. Here are a few definitions culled from the web. If you have others feel free to add them.

1. Followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices.

2. Followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.

3. A religion or sect that is generally considered to be unorthodox, extremist, or false; “it was a satanic cult”.

4. A system of religious beliefs and rituals.

Do Mormons fit any of these definitions? Certainly Mormons are followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices, but so is everyone else who belongs to a religion, so by this definition of the word “cult” all other Christians would also belong to a cult.

Are Mormons followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader? Mormons certainly do not live outside of conventional society by any stretch, but it could be argued that Mormon beliefs are unorthodox, extremist, and false, and that we have charismatic leaders. But then again, the Jews accused Christ of all those same things. From their viewpoint he was teaching a false religion, and he was certainly unorthodox and extremist, at least from their perspective. Of course he was teaching the same truth the Jews had been taught for millennia by the prophets, but they misunderstood the gospel and therefore didn’t recognize Christ as the Messiah when he came.

Finally, here’s Webster’s definition: A system of religious belief and worship.

So you can smile, yes, Mormons are a cult, and when confronted with this evidence, even Mormons won’t be able to deny it. Of course by this definition Baptists, evangelicals, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and anyone else who belongs to any religion of any sort also belongs to a cult.

Comments

  1. Hello Joshua,

    I don't know if this site is actually maintained since I haven't found any replies to your questions.

    Anyway, before I can reply to your questions about anti-Mormons, I would like to understand what you mean by the term anti-Mormon. Is an anti-Mormon anyone who questions the faith either as a member or non-member? In regards to people's opinions about Latter-Day Saints, are there only Mormons and anti-Mormons or are there people who fit an in between category?

    If there is an in between category, can you define it for me?

    You have an interesting site and I appreciate how well-written it is.

    Thank You
    Alex

    • The site is maintained, but it's a new site and only gets about 200 visitors per month, most of whom don't comment on anything. If we were getting 10,000-20,000 visitors per month then you might see more activity on the site, and hopefully it will get there someday.

      But to answer your question, there could be multiple definitions of "anti-Mormon" that would work for me. Historically there were people who wanted to wipe the LDS Church from the earth and kill all the members. They would obviously qualify as anti-Mormons, but this wouldn't be the definition I would use today for obvious reasons. Even though the Prop 8 protesters in Los Angeles were violent and hate-filled, I wouldn't even classify them as anti-Mormons because I see that as a temporary movement based on a single hot political issue. For me, the most meaningful definition of anti-Mormon is someone who has committed a substantial portion of their time to defame, slander, or criticize the LDS Church, and who takes satisfaction in seeing people leave the LDS Church regardless of what they do afterwards. That is, their intent is not to convert Mormons to their own religion, but simply to convince Mormons that Mormonism is false. This could be contrasted with the efforts of LDS missionaries, whose intent is not to tear down the religions and beliefs of other people, but to add to it. Mormon missionaries take no satisfaction in seeing other people leave their faiths, but rather in seeing them join the LDS Church.

      Someone who questions the Mormon faith, harbors ill feelings towards Mormons, or is even highly critical of Mormons would not qualify, in my mind, as an anti-Mormon, unless they're pro actively involved in their criticism of the church. That is, if I meet a guy at a party and we start talking about Mormons and he goes off for an hour about how horrible the LDS Church is and how Mormons are evil people and members of a false religion but that's the extent of what he does to criticize the church, then that's not an anti-Mormon. But if he goes home and spends an hour a day blogging about how bad Mormons are, or publishes pamphlets that are critical of the church, or pickets Mormon churches every Sunday, then I'd say that guy is an anti-Mormon.

      So there are Mormons (around 13 million), anti-Mormons (probably a few thousand, at the most), and everyone else (several billion).

      Does that answer your question?

  2. The very word 'cult' conjures up images of kidnappers and brainwashers who are out to get us. The word 'cult' has unfortunately become a pejorative term that sometime reflects more on the speaker's attitude than on the subject being spoken about, and it is a word that is of questionable value in studying religious groups. …

    What is a cult? A cult is someone else's religious group that does not agree with mine. That may be a light-hearted definition, but it does have a ring of truth to it. Because religion is so personalized it is often difficult to objectively sort out what is true and what is false.

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