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Your take: Is Mormonism a cult?
The Rev. Robert Jeffress, who supports Texas Gov. Rick Perry, stirred a hornet's nest by saying he believes Mormonism is a cult.
October 11th, 2011
12:08 PM ET

Your take: Is Mormonism a cult?

(CNN) - We ran a column Monday from Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school in Pasadena, California, called "My Take: This evangelical says Mormonism isn’t a cult."

Mouw followed up on comments that the Rev. Robert Jeffress made at the Values Voter Summit, where he introduced and endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry.  After Perry spoke, Jeffress told reporters in the hallway and in subsequent interviews that he thought Mormonism is a cult and that evangelicals should not vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney because of his faith and a host of other reasons.

Mouw countered he did not think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormonism, was a cult. He also said he was not ready to say it fit in with orthodox Christianity but noted there was dialogue between evangelicals and Mormons on a broad range of issues.

The piece drew out the passions of readers on all sides of the issue and racked up 11,000 Facebook likes and 2,500 comments.

Here's a nonscientific collection of your thoughts on the matter:

There were a number of comments from Mormons who appreciated the article and shared their thanks.

Tanner

As a Mormon, I appreciate your fair synopsis in defense of my religion, Mr. Mouw.

Mynamesmiketoo

Being a Mormon myself, I can testify that our religion is not a cult and Joseph Smith is not our head. Jesus Christ is the leader and he is the cornerstone of His church "built on a foundation of prophets and apostles." I also know it is through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. Romney is (definitely) a Christian. We are "the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"; we are just nicknamed "Mormon" because of another testament we hold sacred and true. I ask you visit mormon.org for more info.

There were also a number of comments from Christians who said the Church of Jesus Christ of  Latter-day Saints fell outside the bounds of historical Christianity.

Jeff

To a Christian who believes in the historical Jesus and His church, the Mormon church is by definition a cult. It is in no manner offensive to say that to a true believer of Mormonism, for he/she understands the essentials of their belief system and how they differ. Mainstream Christianity shares in the beliefs about the essentials of our faith - who God is, the three persons within the godhead and their roles, what we are called to, and how one must be saved and live their life. None of this takes away the earthly redeemable qualities of Mormonism such as their commitment to taking care of each other, purity in worship, the role of the church in all matters, etc. But it is not the historical Christianity we know. And btw, many large and small denominations that purport to be part of mainstream Christianity have also distorted the historical belief system of the church.

ThsIsNotReal22

Mormonism may not be a cult, but it is a major heresy.

And as always there was a hearty amount of feedback from atheists and nonbelievers about how all religions were cults by definition.

Nodack

All religions are cults. Sorry.

Because this issue was raised in a political spectrum, it got a lot of people thinking about the intersections between religion and politics.

TheTraveler

Don't even care. Every election year we get the same stupid side-tracking non-issues. ...

Don

It is really a non-issue. We can have a Mormon president as long as he puts the nation first and acts responsibly. We can have a Muslim president as long as he puts the nation first and acts responsibly. We can have a Jewish president as long as he puts the nation first and acts responsibly. Christians have no exclusive lock on love for country or responsible behavior. That should be obvious. I look forward (to) the day when our list of U.S. presidents is as diverse as our citizens. When we get to that point we will have been true to the promise of America that all men were created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights and among these are the right to run for political office and be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their religious beliefs.

David M.

Speaking as a Christian, I'm not concerned about Romney being a Mormon. Nor am I concerned that the next president has to be an evangelical Christian. Jimmy Carter is a devout Christian, but I disagreed with a lot of his politics. I don't vote for someone just because they are a Christian, or not vote for someone because they are not a Christian. I'm concerned about their political positions.

The evangelical church in America thinks if we just get the "right" people in office, then all will be well. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is very clear in Scripture, calling out His people to turn from their wicked ways, call on His name, humble themselves and pray, then He will hear from Heaven and heal their land. It's clearly in the lap of the church, not the lap of the president. Speaking again as a Christian, we in the church have failed miserably, and God will hold us to account.

You can read more from the CNN Belief Blog here and keep the conversation going.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Mitt Romney • Politics

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soundoff (693 Responses)
  1. Savannah

    Living in Gilbert, Arizona all my life, I have been raised around mormons. They are some of the sweetest people ever. I don't believe mormonism is a cult. However, being an atheist, I tend to disagree with many religions on many different points. I am fine with religion and have even gone to church a few times with friends. I hate it however when people try to shove religion down my throat. Obviously I'm not going to hell if it doesn't exist. I don't think that politics should be based in religious beliefs; it has no place there. Lets just let our religion be our religion without trying to force it on other people or letting it dictate our entire lives. Its called freedom of choice.

    October 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  2. Amiciyahi Uhriy

    Hello there! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    July 17, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  3. hate stems from ignorance

    Christians are all that believe in Christ accept him as their savior and follow his teachings. In the times of Christ he and his followers were ridiculed and assumed to be blasphemous and cultlike. Who are we to say who is and is not christian? Christianity is about personal salvation and a person has the God-given right to claim it if they so please. At the end of the day those who judge shall be judged by the same rule they measure by. The key is to respect others and love thy neighbor instead of persecuting and discriminating. If so called "true christians" lived by this Christ-given law they would just accept that there are different ways of being a christian not just the way they grew up with.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  4. Natalie Arndt

    Religion is a fiction you have created in your mind. Silly stories that even 7 years old can not beleive and the God took all of the animals in two's and place them on the boat. Yes and the lion would eat the chicken.
    Hello! Anyone out there!

    April 16, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  5. rey

    i LOATHE Robert Jefress ... he was the preacher at the biggest baptist churchin Wichita Falls, TX for years ... he had strong pull with the city leaders and kept lots of money making things (for the city) from happeneing like concerts and such.
    yes i have personally met him and think he's a horse's rear. as far mormonism being a cult, who cares? they are not bothering me and every religion out there has extremist or pedophiiles that make the whole religion look bad.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  6. Ted Patrick

    Of course it is a cult. Their belief system is absurd on the very face of it. Their founder was a scam artist who used to try to convince people they had buried treasure in their yard.

    November 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  7. Pedro

    I believe anyone claiming to speak for god is either full of it or mentally ill.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • dennis

      You feel like that Pedro, because you have no knowledge of God, nor do have you experienced the power of God,so to you God is not real. There is a God, and for those who seek him, he reveals himself. Don't forget, many people who are Christians, at one time did not believe, were convinced that the Lord is who he says he is. Seek God, and he will seek you.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  8. John

    I heard a wise minister define the word."A cult is somesles deeply held beliefs

    November 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  9. Hayley

    All religion is a cult.
    Especially Christianity.
    If God wanted us to know about religion wouldn't we be born with a knowledge of religion?
    Why did God only let people in one part of the world know about Jesus?
    None of it makes sense people, wake up. I know it might hurt to realize something you have grown up with is wrong, but please try to look past all the bs. It's flawed. None of it makes sense, sure it has some good morals to teach, but you don't need to believe in God to be a good person with good morals. Overall I think religion is really bad for people. It dictates their lives too much, they aren't really free, they live in fear of hell. It's sickening.

    November 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • dennis

      As I mentioned to Pedro, Hayley, you have no knowledge of God. You cannot explain where life came from, and you live it everyday. How can you offer an opinion that there is no God, when you can't even explain your own existence. Just say you don't believe, but obviously, those who have sought the Lord feel different than you. your belief is no more legitimate than those who believe in God, so what you believe is not valid, just because you believe it. You and others need to read the Holy Bible, accept Jesus , and the Holy Spirit, and then you will understand and see that God is true. You will not be able to see God, until you seek him, and do those things I mentioned. Now to the topic, this is what the Mormons do not do. The Mormons go by another doctrine. They do not follow the doctrine of Holy Bible completely. This is why people who belie follow the Bible consider them a cult. The Catholic Church also has given itself authority to over rule what the Holy Bible says.

      November 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  10. JWC

    I am a Christian in a American majority faith, Baptist. But I don't believe Mormonism is any more a cult than religion could be considered a cult. This is just semantics. Mormon's have strong values they hold to and their church leadership dictates they hold to them. How is this any different then more "mainstream" American religious groups?. Both believe in God just they take different paths on the some historical matters. Do I agree with Mormanism? I like some of the values but I don't agree with the historical backing. But I don't see why it is so demonized by mainstream groups? I think it is more of mainstream groups saying this is what a majority of American's feel so we are justified in labeling your smaller group. It doesn't make it right or valid. That is the problem with organized religious groups, they demonized anything they don't stand for. It doesn't mean they are right!

    November 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • dennis

      JWC, you say you are a christian. The Bible says my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. You are absolutely wrong. Mormons do not believe the Bible you say you believe in completely. Yes they call themselves the latter day saints, but they reject biblical doctrine. Paul said if anyone rejects the doctrine they preached, they are to be accursed.
      2 John 1:9 says
      Whosoever transgresseth , and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. You sound like you believe in Jesus, but you not study the Bible. If you study the Bible, you will see false doctrine when it contradicts what the written word says. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
      Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
      Galatians 1:8 says
      But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Mormonism preaches another doctrine.

      November 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  11. Eve

    Btw, where in the Bible does it say what a Christian is? As I recall it, Christians were mockingly called Christians because they believed in Christ, but there is no verse of scripture that says "A Christian is someone who..."
    Christian is Greek for "follower of Christ."
    I believe in Christ. I follow his example, and I want to be like him.
    Therefore, I'm a Christian.
    Please, no more of these contrived definitions of Christianity, like I'm not Christian because I don't believe God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are the same person. Doesn't that strike anyone as weird, anyway? Or I'm not Christian because I believe in additional books of scripture. Christianity would probably not exist unless Christians initially believed in additional books of scripture, because the New Testament is a set of books added to the Old Testament. Or that I'm not Christian, because I believe in modern apostles and prophets. I would hope that prophecy didn't end with the Old or New Testament.
    Anyways, not trying to be upset or anything, but I kind of am. I don't like it when people try to tell me what I believe or whether I'm a Christian or not. It's frustrating and somewhat offensive to me. Again, feel free to disagree.

    November 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • dennis

      EVE, Jesus and the Holy Spirit or not the same person. Do you read your Bible?This is what the Lord Jesus said,John 14:26 KJV
      But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance , whatsoever I have said unto you.

      John 15:26
      But when the Comforter is come , whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. Hosea 4:6 KJV
      My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 2 Timothy 2:15
      Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Here's the answer to your question.
      Acts 11:26
      And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass , that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

      November 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Brother Jeremy, CSJW

      Matthew 25 does a pretty good job.

      September 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  12. Ben Neb

    Many of these comments are nonsense, probably to make Mormons seem weird. What is "Holy Oceanic Sea of Nothingness?" I don't know and I'm a Mormon. I think a good synopsis of our beliefs can be found at: http://lds.org/topic/mormon/ and http://www.mormon.org

    I believe Christ atoned for my sins and I know that God lives and loves us. I am forever grateful to them. I do believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon contain the word of God as revealed to prophets.

    November 3, 2011 at 3:14 am |
  13. julian

    every religion started with a single person – so you call one a cult – they are all cults. Mormonism is no more a cult than Protestantism or Catholicism.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Common Sense

      BRAVO!!

      November 2, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • Eric

      On that same note pretty much all religions ARE cults. Some just have better candy coating than others...

      November 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Ryan

      Cult:

      1.
      a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.

      2.
      an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.

      3.
      the object of such devotion.

      4.
      a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.

      5.
      Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

      Done...

      November 8, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • dennis

      Julian, do you know what a cult is?
      Definition of CULT
      1: formal religious veneration : worship
      2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
      3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
      4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
      5a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : the object of such devotion c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

      if we read these definitions, Christianity can be considered a cult, however the discussion is whether Mormonism, is Christianity, and it is not. Mormonism does not follow Bible doctrine completely, so it is a different doctrine than true Christian doctrine. Galatians 1:8
      But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

      November 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  14. Michael Swanson

    I'll say the same I said on another post:

    One guy talking to god = lunatic.
    One lunatic with a hundred followers = cult.
    One lunatic-authored book with a million followers = religion.

    God-talking lunacy = cult = religion, it's just a matter of degree and of which faiths cultures will define as "normal."

    November 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  15. Jan

    who cares? I would vote for the mmost qualified person.

    November 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  16. Brendan

    Being a cult is easy to tell. Can you freely leave the religion without fear of reprisal.

    November 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  17. Adam

    The word "cult" is an insult slung freely by those belonging to popular social systems organized around the profession of ludicrous beliefs towards those professing other ludicrous beliefs but whose particular social system is not populated enough to afford it the free pass from conversation and reason that the former has been granted.

    November 2, 2011 at 11:57 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.