Why do some call Mormonism a cult?
One definition listed for ‘cult’ in Webster’s Dictionary is “a religion regarded as unorthodox.” Since the roots of Mormonism are not a break off from the Catholic or Protestant churches, it is seen by some as “unorthodox.” For example, the LDS definition of the Godhead differs from the Nicene Creed accepted by most Catholic or Protestant churches. The “cult” label is usually applied by Church opponents attempting to criticize or discredit the Church. However, sometimes it’s simply a matter of characterization that has grown up over time by the lack of understanding. Such misunderstandings often vanish when people begin to realize the commonality of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really teaches and believes. That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world whom we love and worship. When people begin to see and recognize these things about Mormons, then their opinion of the Church usually changes, and old beliefs are replaced with new understanding.
Read other answers contributed by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Answers are the sole responsibility of the members.
- Lynn answered…
Some call Mormonism a cult because it is not a “traditional” Christian church. The primary complaint of the “traditionalists” (generally Protestant Churches) is that we do not believe in the doctrine of the trinity as it relates to the nature of the Godhead. The doctrine of the trinity was codified in the Nicene Creed in 325 AD, many years after the death of Christ and the Apostles. It basically says that the Godhead, The Father, Son and Holy Ghost, are one being in “substance.” Since Mormonism does not accept this doctrine, they say we believe in a different Christ than they do and therefore are a cult. It is curious that this “trinitarian” doctrine is not taught anywhere in the Bible.
Mormons believe the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible (and the early church established by Jesus and His Apostles) teaches that the Godhead indeed consists of The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. But, it teaches that they are: 1) three distinct individuals as expressed in Acts 7:54-60 where Stephen is being stoned. “He being filled with the Holy Ghost looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” And it teaches 2) they are one in purpose, not in substance (John 17 where Jesus offers his intercessory prayer, particularly verses 20-23.) This is what Mormons believe.
It is noteworthy that the early Christians were called the “sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5) and were considered a cult by the Sadducees and Pharisees, the predominant religions of the day.
- Garth answered…
I just saw news footage where a minister called the Mormon Church a ‘cult’ and the news commentator turned around and said it wasn’t. The news commentator was right. One definition listed for ‘cult’ in Webster’s Dictionary is “a religion regarded as unorthodox.” ‘Unorthodox’ according to whom? Catholicism and over 2000 churches who broke off of the Catholic Church or the original teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ? We believe some of the original doctrines contained in … Show more
- Jeff answered…
I think some call Mormonism a cult mainly because they don’t understand what it’s about. Before I was a Mormon, I used to believe that Mormons did not believe in the Bible, in Jesus Christ and a good deal of other things. I didn’t realize how incorrect I was. There have been some pretty amazing things that have happened in conjunction with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and if you don’t get the whole picture, then some of the stuff can sound pretty odd, and … Show more
- Dan answered…
I grew up thinking, at one point, Mormonism was cult. I made this assertion based on nothing but hearsay, and didn’t actually know any tenets of the LDS faith. Now, as a person who has thoroughly investigated the sincerity and divine truthfulness of this Church, I can resoundingly say that the Church of Jesus Christ is by no means a cult. I find that the major reason why people think Mormonism is a cult is simply due to a lack of understanding of the Church. For instance, not …Show more
- Michael Johnston answered…
Because we believe in continuing revelation through Prophets as in the days of old, i.e. Moses, Abraham, this is uncomfortable for some people because media has made our Prophets seem like evil men leading people astray, when they are just trying to teach us correct principles so that one day we all may return to live with our Father in Heaven.Another reason is because we believe in the sacred nature of temples, meaning only worthy members may enter the Temple so people think … Show more
- Stephen Call answered…
In my opinion the real reason people say the Mormon Church is a cult because they don’t understand. saying that it is a cult is an easy way to excuse themselves from learn more about it. Its like saying “sushi is slimy raw dead fish” or “computers are of the devil” its easy not to try / learn about stuff if you pair it with a negative word like “devil” or ” slimy raw dead fish”
- Suzanne answered…
I don’t know. Quite honestly when labels are used I think this comes from someone’s desire to quickly explain away something that they don’t understand. If they really took a hard look at the church it would be easy to tell that Mormons do not blindly follow any human being. I think maybe someone who might use that label could look at the level of commitment and obedience found among the members of this church and casually explain this away as blind obedience. They certainly do not see the personal struggles and the effort that maintaining a personal relationship with God requires. Like most Mormons I think, I do what I do out of devotion and love. It may start out as duty and habit, but as I have come to know God and His mercy and love (the big picture) I can’t help but want to keep the commandments. I don’t follow a person, I follow God and His Son and they help me every step of the way.
- Kevin answered…
I suppose that new and different things have always been a challenge for some. It seems possible that the New Testament Christians might also have been called a cult: they were few in number, taught new, or at least different, doctrines and were lead by strong, charismatic leaders (a study of the early apostles like Peter or Paul bears this out).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the Mormon church) follows the teachings of Jesus Christ as contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We do not worship our founding prophet (Joseph Smith) or our current prophet (Thomas S. Monson). We teach that men are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrice on the cross and that as we strive to follow Him and keep His commandments, that redemption becomes personal.
If others persist in defining the Church as a cult, in spite of our rather obvious Christian beliefs and doctrines, then we will simply have to agree to disagree.
- Terry answered…
Mostly because of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about the Church. It’s easier for people to believe what they hear from other people (who heard it from someone else, who heard it from another person that read it on the Internet…) instead of making an effort to find out from the source.
In addition, there are small, secretive groups that are not part of our Church that use a modified form of the name of the Church for their own group, and have practices that are similar to our worship services and practices. These groups may be involved in illegal activities, especially polygamy, and when the media reports on them, they do not make an effort to distinguish between these groups and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Elizabeth answered…
It’s funny, I used to call the Mormon Church a cult too. I just didn’t understand it.
Mormonism isn’t weird or strange. Its members don’t perform satanic rituals or brainwash teenage boys into walking around from door to door in suits and name tags (nor is anyone forced to — everyone who chooses to serve a mission does so out of their own free will and choice).
I used to call Mormonism a cult because it seemed foreign and unfamiliar, which I deemed scary. The same thing happened to Jesus’ first followers as well: they were accused of cult worship too! Others who understood little of what Mormons truly believe told me lies about so-called “practices” in the church which, in reality, were just made-up stories and falsehoods intended to give the church a bad name.
When it comes down to it, a lot of people just don’t understand this church, and lies about it spread like wildfire. Mormons believe that Jesus is the Christ. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world, plain and simple.
Is that so weird or cultish?
Today, there are close to fourteen million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide, and more live outside of the United States than inside. That doesn’t seem very cult-like to me!
Here’s a very incomplete list of organizations or people self-censoring, or hiring bodyguards, or going into hiding, or taking other precautions, and sometimes getting killed or wounded after receiving death threats and violence from Muslims following the example of Muhammad, who said there would be no punishment for murdering someone who had insulted him.
Audience in Lecture Hall, Queen Mary College, London (man goes to front of hall, films audience, announces he will track down anyone who says a negative word of Muhammad. The lecture — on Islamic law — is canceled.)
Monty Python comedian (self-censors in fear of Muslims)
Yale University Press (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats);
Metropolitan Museum of Art (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats);
National Archives of Canada (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats);
French newspaper (after being firebombed for printing a cartoon of Muhammad, the next day the paper prints that cartoon again, and more! Bravo!)
Hollywood (self-censors by canceling a movie project about Jews in Malmo, Sweden, after learning of frequent Muslim threats and acts of violence against Jews in Malmo);
Talk-show host David Letterman (At Al Qaeda website a frequent commenter calls on Muslims to cut out Letterman’s tongue and kill him.)
Paris Dipersico, author (beaten by two Muslim men for writing things “against Islam,” such as “Islam is a religion of ‘peace’, and Muslims will kill you to prove it.”)
Director of the museum in the Hague, Wim van Krimpen (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats);
UK religious studies teacher Gary Smith (Muslims hit him over the head with an iron bar, fracturing his skull, hemmorhaging his brain, breaking his jaw, and slashing his face, for not teaching Islam as they deem appropriate)
Norwegian politicians (Iraqi-born cleric Mullah Krekar threatens politicians with death if he’s deported from Norway).
State Senator Greg Ball (receives suspicious package with greeting “Asa Lamu Laikum Dead Man Walking,” (the first part of which is Arabic for “peace be upon you”) ;
2010 Tennessee candidate for Congress Lou Ann Zelenik (death threats from Muslims);
Barrister Tom Zreika (seeks police protection after non-stop phone threats from Muslims);
Japanese translator of Rushdie, Hitoshi Igarashi (murdered);
French singer Veronique Sanson (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats);
Artist Molly Norris (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats, changed name, went into hiding);
The producers of South Park (self-censor in response to Muslim death threats);
Journalist Lawrence O’Donnell (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats);
Cartoonist Lars Vilks (house firebombed);
Philosopher Robert Redeker (in hiding, under government protection);
Filmmaker Theo Van Gogh (murdered);
Author and former member of Dutch parliament Hirsi Ali (full-time bodyguards);
Author Salman Rushdie (in hiding, under UK govt. protection);
Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten (bodyguards hired);
And again Jyllands Posten (five jihadists discovered planning to shoot as many people as possible);
Atheist Sabri Husibi (death threats from Muslims);
Lyricist Javed Akhtar (death threats from Muslims);
Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard (almost killed by a Muslim with an axe);
Director of the film 2012; the comedian Penn Jillette; the British potter Grayson Perry (all three self-censor in response to Muslim death threats);
Lawyer Majed Moughni (death threat from Muslim);
Author Taslima Nasreen (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats);
Disc jockey/musician Jakub Rene Kosik (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats);
Coptic Orthodox priest Zakaria Botros (Al Qaeda bounty of $60 million on his head);
Pop star Deeyah (hires extra bodyguards);
Actor Omar Sharif (Muslims call for his murder);
Artist Sooreh Hera (self-censors in response to Muslim threats and forced into hiding);
Artist Sarah Maple (gallery workers threatened, gallery window smashed, 24-hour police protection);
Beatle Paul McCartney (death threats from Muslims);
150 Austrian Coptic Christians (Austrian interior ministry found jihadist list targeting each of them for violent attack);
100+ Canadian-Arab Christians (each one targeted on an Al Qaeda website);
Volvo and Ikea (threatened by terrorist group);
UK Muslim scientist Usama Hasan (self-censors in response to Muslim death threats);
Robert Spencer continues to speak out, but countless others are self-censoring in response to the climate of intimidation. The lights are going out. The growth of Islam means the death of civil liberties. It’s time to resist.
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