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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. Steven Schick-Morris

    What irony, back in the days of the empire of Rome, being a Christian made you a offical "cult" member. That view lasted for over two hundred years.

    October 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  2. Ophile

    My LDS friends, I remember the day when Catholics weren't considered Christians either. Raised by a Catholic father and a Protestant mother (who told me Catholics weren't really Christians) prior to Vatican II, the things we wore and the way we practiced were often viewed as "different" (scapulars worn under clothing, carrying rosaries with us, veils worn in church, etc) My husband's family took Catholic prejudice to a new level, viewing it as completely foreign – the nearest Catholic church and there was only one, was five miles away. They never approved of Catholics and wouldn't even allow me or mine into their Methodist church. This kind of bias is not new, it is borne of ignorance. I personally don't care what religion our candidates follow – it's their private business and that's the way it should stay.

    October 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Lucky Day

      Ophile:
      Thank you for your understanding, wisdom and tolerance. Best Wishes.

      October 20, 2011 at 12:49 am |
  3. Bri

    No, we are not a cult. The word cult has a negative connotation, bringing to mind the practice of brainwashing, mass suicide, and other horrific things. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does none of these things. We are all free to choose where we worship, what we beleive, and how we act upon our faith. Agency is given to every man. Negative rhetoric does not help anyone, it only wounds.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • renecultbuster

      TRUTH HURTS>

      October 31, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  4. Scruomondo

    The most fundamental theological difference between Christians and Mormons, as I understand their beliefs, is that Christians believe in one God (the complex doctrine of the Trinity notwithstanding) while Mormons believe that any male, given the right set of cirumstances in life can, upon death, be elevated to the status of "God" of his own universe–meaning not only that Mormons are not, strictly speaking, monotheistic as Christians are, but that of course the "God" mentioned in the Bible would then not be unique.

    October 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • renecultbuster

      The fundamental way to know a cult is ONE god OR many GODS.ONEis christian Manyisnot.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  5. To JDJ

    When Joseph Smith first began his quest for the 'correct' church...he attended many different churches and studied many denominations. He was also very young and very ridiculed for his beliefs. Can you really say you'd had been emotionally stronger in his situation? He was heavily harassed and threatened by people when he was trying to start the church.

    October 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  6. CEW

    Mormonism is no more a cult than any other religion.

    October 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • renecultbuster

      TRUE, every religion is a CULT,by definition, my objection is that they say that they are THE church of JUESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS. CHRIST WOULD NOT APPROVE OF THEIR MANY GODS THEORY. OR THAT THEY CAN BECOME GODS.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:15 am |
  7. Lucky Day

    Bill, I know how the Book of Mormon was written. Your post implies that the method by which the Bible was written is of greater validity. So again, how was the Bible written? I certainly believe in it's teachings, but I would ask if you hold the same standard to the text you profess as you seem to apply to the Book of Mormon? By the way, it is a very spiritually enlightening book. I would invite you to read it sometime. Best wishes.

    October 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  8. bill

    Yes. Mormonism wants to claim themselves as mainstream Christians, but they are different. They believe on different Jesus. So it is a cult. Read their own Joseph Smith's book (very bizzare revelation, ask them how he wrote the book about a century ago) and compare to the Bible, they won't compare. Do it and find out for yourself, instead of asking uninformed people in the street "do you think Mormon is a cult"? That's not a fair question.

    October 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Lucky Day

      How was the Bible written Bill? Prophets who were moved upon by the spirit? How did they do it?

      October 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • bill

      Case in point, see http://www.equip.org/articles/the-basics-of-mormonism read for youself, and find out the truth. Thanks.

      October 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Ophile

      So as I understand you, Bill, the only way to be a Christian is to follow the Bible? There are no other sources of Christian belief? What about the Nag Hammadi Libraries? And what about the Book of Mormon? It's a narrow focus to declare that only a BIble focused religion can be called Christian. I'm not LDS but I defend their right to worship in whatever fashion they choose.

      October 19, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  9. Faye

    I studied world religions at my university a few months ago. A cult within any religion is a branch of belief that shares similarities but does not adhere to the same core beliefs. A sect shares core values but may vary in their other beliefs or practices. Therefore, Mormonism is a cult in that sense within Christianity. Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and that God originally was in the flesh, for example. They also believe that humans have the potential to become Gods themselves. These beliefs are a distinct departure from other churches within the Christian faith.

    October 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Lucky Day

      Faye,
      I thought that the atonement of Jesus Christ was the core belief of Christianity. This is precisely what I, and millions of Latter-Saints believe in. I have also studied world religions and find the belief difficult to believe that an all knowing God would be surprised by the rebellion of any of his creations. Is believing that a knowing God made a wayward Satan any more palatable than believing that we are all sons and daughters of God and one rebelled? It was Paul who explained that we are God's offspring. (Acts 17:28-29). LDS do not honor Satan in his relationship to Jesus any more than your faith honors him by making him the creation of an all knowing God. And his origin is certainly far from the core doctrine that we are redeemed from sin and death through Jesus Christ. Yes, we do believe that God is our Father and that through the atonement of his Beloved Son that the possibility exists, "that when he shall appear, we shall be like him." (1 John 3:2 – also see Psalms 82:6 and compare to the conversation of Jesus with his accusers in John 10:32-36). Your teachers have assumed authority that they do not have by claiming that I am not Christian. I am grateful that it is to Jesus to whom I must turn for that judgment, for he is no respecter of persons. Best wishes.

      October 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  10. Tony

    Mormonism is a cult. Then again, so is Apple Inc and every every religous organization, network marketing organization or group of people who follow a particular leader or set of principles or values. To be called a cult in and of itself is not the problem. However, to be aprart of the "occult" is a different story, as it is the belief in satanic rituals. Therefore, mormonism hardly falls into this category. In short, do not let talking heads shape your opinion about things you know very little. Take the time to do your own research, and always consider the source of your information.

    October 18, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  11. M

    We lash out in love!

    October 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  12. Lucky Day

    Faith is an interesting thing. There are those who have faith in God, those
    who have faith in their own wisdom, and those who have faith in nothing. I
    have faith in Jesus Christ. I want to follow his example. He taught
    tolerance and love while denouncing hypocrisy. He prayed to his Father in
    Heaven, not himself. He was baptized in water by John the Baptist and his
    Father's voice was heard from heaven. (Matt. 3). Stephen saw him standing on
    the right hand of God, (Act 7). He prayed that his disciples would be one
    has he and his father are one. (John 17). (By the way I do not think he
    meant that they become one person, but rather that they be united as he and
    the Father were united in purpose.) Those who are true scholars of the Bible
    recognize the separate nature of the Father and the Son in early
    Christianity. The term Christian was first used at Antioch in Syria. (Acts
    11) They were people who believed in Baptism, Repentance, and the Gift of
    the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands. (Acts 8:17) They cared for their own
    and dedicated what they had to their faith (Acts 4:37). They believed in
    prophets. They believed in Apostles, they even replaced Judas so that there
    would be a quorum of 12 of them (Acts 1:25-26). And I could go on. I am a
    member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I recognize and
    worship Jesus Christ the son of Mary as the Son of God and my Savior and
    Redeemer. I love the Bible because I believe that it teaches me of Him. I
    love the LDS Church because I believe that it teaches me of Eternal Life.
    Jesus said while praying to his Father, "And this is life eternal, that they
    might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
    (John 17:3).

    What exactly is it about me that makes me a non-Christian? I confess that I
    do not believe in the creeds. But neither did those at Antioch in Syria. The
    creeds had yet to be written. Who are those who profess Christianity who
    have the authority to declare that I am not qualified to be saved by His
    grace? We may disagree in our interpretation of Christ's words, but in that
    disagreement authority has not been given to condemn me or my beliefs. The
    arrogance of professing Christians in this regard is appalling.

    Lastly, there are those who will question the origins of my faith. So do I!!
    But I choose to ask God about those origins instead of some minister who is
    padding his pockets with my money. I give to my Church as did the early
    Christians, but I look to God for truth. I have found truth in my faith. I
    pray that each of you will find it in yours.

    October 18, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  13. Frank Whitaker

    ABSOLUTELY!

    If words and definitions mean anything anymore, then YES, MORONISM IS A CULT; but that has never stopped the mormon or the theological liberal from embracing false doctrine.

    APOSTLE PAUL said these were CURSED PEOPLE!!! Listen to his inspired words...

    Gal 1:8 (KJV) 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. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    MOROMONS PROUDLY state that their gospel is another gospel.

    USE YOUR EARS to HEAR>>>LISTEN TO GOD!!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Kev

      Actually, Latter-Day-Saints never claimed that our gospel was different than Paul's. In fact, the name of the church itself "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day-Saints" simply implies that it is the same church and the same gospel as in Paul's day; the same church that was set up by Jesus Christ himself during his ministry.

      Latter-Day-Saints are called Latter-Day-Saints as opposed to the early church members who were also called Saints (Ephesians 2: 19 – 20). We believe that Jesus Christ established this same church in modern times, through the prophet Joseph Smith and that Jesus Christ has continued to call upon other prophets through today.

      October 18, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • M

      Um, sounds like someone doesn't know much about Mormonism.

      October 18, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  14. Brian

    Mormonism is a cult.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  15. Nathan King

    I do not think the worlds problems come from Mormons being or not being Christian, Muslims having a god that is the same as a Christian or non Christian God, or radical evangelicals thinking they are or are not the only real faith. The problem comes from the very word Religion, when you place people into a category that they must identify with and defend you bring out all that is wrong with the human soul. Pride, jealously, mistrust, need for control. Each religious faction is based on a premise that they are right and without that premise being held to be absolute the people in these groups are left questioning their choices and when the people have spent a large portion of their lives being convinced or convincing themselves that what they believe is it. The investment risk is to high not to be a defender of their religions. I personal struggle trying to understand the world I live in, in terms of faith or believe is there or is there not a higher power. One this is certain that no power that created (if that be the case) a world full of people of such diverse back grounds would ever condone such actions that would see those creations destroyed no creator would single out one person over another.
    The fact is that Religion in all its forms is wrong it is a secular tool that mankind has invented to control the boarders of countries it is a tool that has been used to kill innocent people in the name of a cause. Religion is by far the most evil and most destructive weapon known to man.
    If someone wishes to believe in something other than themselves and the people around them, let them and let them believe in what ever way they want, as long as they keep it to themselves and that all their actions do no harm to their fellow man. As soon as they harm someone they as individuals not as a group are responsible to answer to the masses. If we all just got out of our boxes or religion and allowed all to believe what they wished then the crimes we deal with would be that of evil people. This will never happen in my life time the world has been to damaged by religion for it to change. It makes me sad for my Daughter 3 years old she will see this evil as she grows and the horrors of war and religious discourse will be all she will know. I think if I was a God that created this world I would have abandoned it along time ago because no one seems to have got the picture. Alfred Lord Tennyson had it right when he said " there is more faith in honest doubt, believe me than in all the creeds" . If we all stop and say "I believe in what I believe but I truly do not know the truth I just choose to believe then we could be more open to allowing others to believe what they do. "just do no harm"

    October 17, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  16. FReligion

    Does anyone remember what year the blacks were finally allowed into the mormon church? 1980-ish? Coincidently the same time the US Government was looking at cracking down on the racist mormons! I asked a mormon coworker about this and with a straight face he said "the black race was not allowed in until our prophets said they were ready to accept the gospel". I asked about half black mixed race and light skin versus dark skin blacks, if some were ready earlier than others, and he had no answer.

    October 17, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  17. FReligion

    I'm curious, do any other *ahem* religions baptize dead people,who obviously have no say in the matter, into their religion? Or is it just the mormons?

    October 17, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Brian

      @FReligion
      I do not know about everything you say, but I do really like the comment about the magic underwear. It is a funny point well made. Thanks!

      October 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • todd in DC

      Christians eat dead people. Is that better than baptising them?

      October 18, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • FreedomToChoose

      Baptisms for the dead only provides them the choice to accept the baptism. It is not forced upon them.

      October 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Erica

      Baptism for the dead is only allowing a person who has passed on to have the chance to be baptized. Mormons believe that if your family is baptized they will be together for eternity after life. Baptism of the dead is not looked at as being forced in any way.

      October 18, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  18. FReligion

    Absolutely a cult and it absolutely matters. Do you really want the president of your country wearing magic underwear to keep him safe?

    October 17, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • todd in DC

      Only if it's puce.

      October 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Erica

      It's not magic. And it wouldn't be worn in the White House. If you're going to make fun of the religion, at least know your facts. So many people judge the LDS church without really knowing a thing about it. Educate yourself, and then debate.

      October 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  19. Suzy Fivecoat

    Joseph Smith did not "set himself up at the prophet of the Latter days" but rather was given that calling specifically after he saw a vision of our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ who answered his question when he read James 1:5 (in the King James version of the Bible) that his prayer would be answered. He desperately wanted to know which church was the right one to join. They told him none was the true church as it had been taken from the earth and he was to play a major role in bringing it back again. I suggest before you set forth your own ideas about another religion, you do some research by speaking to an active member of the LDS Church or the local missionaries in your area.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • JDJ

      An interesting fact is that Joseph Smith joined a Methodist church after his vision, but he left after he encountered opposition to his seer stone methods.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  20. ruby35

    Yes. Next question?

    October 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
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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.