Continued Conversation on “Cult” in Idaho Falls

A.J. Moffat’s opinion is published in today’s local paper:

One definition of a cult is: “A system of religious or spiritual beliefs regarded by ‘others’ as misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false.”  What qualifies these “others” to use the word cult to describe another religion?

I’m sure the Baptist minister (a Rick Perry supporter) knows a great deal about the Baptist religion.  But how much does he really know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

To Judaism, early Christianity was considered a cult.  To many Catholics, Protestantism was considered a cult.  Many Christians consider Mormonism to be a cult.  To atheists, Christianity is a cult.  To many Christians, atheism is another type of cult.  Are there not also some nonreligious forms of cultism in politics, and yes, even in our universities?  I hate to admit this, but, there is some cultism in science also.

Who, if anyone, does not belong to a cult as defined by some other (often unqualified) person.  Truth should, but does not always prevail.  But, when truth prevails, cultism and bigotry fails.

Interesting links on the “Is Mormonism a Cult?” issue:

  1. The infamous (LDS) Mormon Cult website . . . you can tell the author has heard this a plenty in his day.  *Bonus question – Do you know the name of this author?  He certainly stays active in bloggernacle.
  2. Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill over in Seattle jumped into the conversation with his article this week,  Is Mormonism a Cult?  But my question for Mark is this:  where is the Acts 29 network in the S.E. Idaho/Utah I-15 Corridor?  Who is going to contextualize the gospel in this neck of the woods?
  3. Nathan Black over at the University of Utah seeks to put in his two cents for why Mormonism is a cult.
  4. (LDS) Kim Siever explores the question, “Is Mormonism a Cult?”  I am sure the guys at FAIR yawn over the question, except maybe if President Obama poses the question.
  5. Over in Southwestern Idaho, you all have probably heard Matt Slick of CARM in his continual internet publishing.  Is Mormonism a cult.  Yes, Mormonism is a cult.
  6. Over at Slate, Christopher Hitchens just gets downright nasty with LDS.
  7. The CNN Belief blog pops the question – Is Mormonism a Cult?
  8. With all his dialogue with LDS professors, you know what Richard Mouw is going to say.  No.
  9. But Denny Burk is going to defend Robert Jeffress.  But that is no surprise.  You all know  the stance of conservative SBC preachers.
  10. At Mormons Believe, the author defends that it is not a cult, but they are the restoration of the church.
  11. RedBlue Christian does not like the term, cult.
  12. Dr. James Emory White gives a yes and no answer to the big question of the week in our country.
  13. Dan Burrell says the label of cult for Mormonism is “point on correct“.
  14. Wintery Knight starts with the God as Creator issue.  Very good.
  15. Asbury Seminary President:  Timothy Tennent – Mormonism is not a Christian movement.
  16. Truth in Action Ministries (formerly Coral Ridge Ministries) – Mormonism is a cult.
  17. Time Magazine.  “What is Mormonism, A Baptist Answer
  18. So what are they saying in Susquehanna County?  By the way, about 15 years ago, I took my wife there to see the historical LDS sites.
  19. Sharper Iron gets into the conversation.  Doug Kutilek calls Mormonism a cult.
  20. Kevin T. Bauder rightly connects concern over Mormonism’s view of the Trinity with T.D. Jakes’ view on the Trinity.
  21. Joni Hudson-Reynolds, an African American mom, wants to know what you think?
  22. Do you know the answer given by a Strict and Particular Calvinist minister?  It’s there on the internet.
  23. Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, decides not to get deep into the issue.
  24. Michael LaBossiere doesn’t think Mormonism is a cult.
  25. Mormonism 101: from the Kevin Deyoung’s point of view at the Gospel Coalition
  26. Al Mohler on Mormonism.
  27. Get Religion:  Mormonism 101
  28. The Wall Street Journal:  Pinpointing Romney’s Mormon Challenge
  29. Tim:  What Do You Mean by “Apostasy”?
  30. Sharon Lindbloom at Mormon Coffee:  “Who Thinks Mormonism is a Christian Religion?”

With Mitt Romney on top, this issue is not going to go away in America.


  1. The problem with this discussion is that it conflates the sociological and Christian theological meaningx of the word “cult”, the latter being basically a way of describing the former with heretical beliefs, although it is often used in the latter sense to describe any group espousing heresy. However, the sociological meaning never really goes away.

    I think that while at its founding, the LDS Church was probably a “cult” sociologically speaking (as, for example, the FLDS certainly is at this time), it would not be so considered today.

    Morrnonism is, however, without a doubt heretical from any orthodox or traditional Christian perspective.

    However, this does not disqualify Mitt from being President, any more than it would disqualify Harry Reid or Jon Huntsman. I would not vote for Mitt, but not because he is a Mormon. I would certainly vote for Harry Reid, and, in some hypothetical election after 2012, if the Dem were someone I did not want to vote for, I might be persuaded to vote for Huntsman if he were once again running (although I would probably vote for the candidate of a third party situated to the left of the Democrats).

  2. Yep, I would say that the word, “cult”, is unhelpful in Idaho Falls discussions. My whole North Caribou Scouting District consists of all LDS friends, and I don’t vocalize that I am in the middle of a cult. When our S.E. Idaho culture thinks of the word, it would be easily used in reference to something like the “Holy Ghost Cult” that made its way up here for a little spell from Utah. To label this a cult is a no brainer.

    Yet I do consider the contemporary sociological stress and scars that some ex-Mormons have faced and why they throw out the word, “cult”. But hey, to be fair, you can even surf the internet and see all those survivors of pockets of an Independent Baptist Cult. Definitely, some who lead with the name Baptist are only prideful, selfish, deceptive people. If you get sucked in with these types of people, you have been ensnared in a sociological horror – a cult.

  3. Though the first Mormon cult website claimed to be unbiased, I beg to disagree.

    once in an LDS church building, I was turning off the lights on a big light panel with all sorts of labels. I found the switch I needed to flick. I was labeled “Cult Hall” and that made me laugh.

    I was alone in the building save my one friend whom I was with. He asked why I was laughing, and he is not LDS, nor was he very fluent in English. that made it hard to explain.

    I later learned that they call that room the cultural hall, hence, cult for short, but I did not get it at the time.

  4. While Mr. Hitchens is volatile to all religion, I agreed with much he said, and thought this was a good point:

    “I merely make the point that the Mormon Church has a distinctly politicized record, and is in a weak position to complain when its leaders are asked political questions that arise directly from their membership.”

  5. Indeed, Todd. That raises the issue of cultural and economic dominance. This is related to the question of cult status, but it is not the same thing. I think a fundamental characteristic of a “cult”, if the term is to have real meaning at all, is the notion that when one enters a cult, one is largely cut off from outside contacts and influences for the long term, and one may also be deprived of any direct means of financial support apart from the group. I don’t think ANY religious tradition (and several traditions of a secular, ideological nature), is completely immune from such groups developing within their soil.

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