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October 9th, 2011
07:42 PM ET

My Take: This evangelical says Mormonism isn’t a cult

Editor’s note: Richard J. Mouw is President of Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school in Pasadena, California.

By Richard J. Mouw, Special to CNN

Some prominent evangelical pastors have been telling their constituents not to support Mitt Romney’s bid for the presidential nomination. Because Romney is Mormon, they say, to cast a vote for him is to promote the cause of a cult.

I beg to differ.

For the past dozen years, I’ve been co-chairing, with Professor Robert Millet of Brigham Young University – the respected Mormon school - a behind-closed-doors dialogue between about a dozen evangelicals and an equal number of our Mormon counterparts.

We have talked for many hours about key theological issues: the authority of the Bible, the person and work of Christ, the Trinity, “continuing revelations” and the career of Joseph Smith, the 19th century founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), better known as the Mormon Church.

We evangelicals and our Mormon counterparts disagree about some important theological questions. But we have also found that on some matters we are not as far apart as we thought we were.

I know cults. I have studied them and taught about them for a long time. It’s worth noting that people have wondered whether I belong to a cult, with a reporter once asking me: “Evangelicalism, is that like Scientology and Hare Krishna?”

Religious cults are very much us-versus-them. Their adherents are taught to think that they are the only ones who benefit from divine approval. They don’t like to engage in serious, respectful give-and-take dialogue with people with whom they disagree.

Nor do they promote the kind of scholarship that works alongside others in pursuing the truth. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, haven’t established a university. They don’t sponsor a law school or offer graduate-level courses in world religions. The same goes for Christian Science. If you want to call those groups cults I will not argue with you.

But Brigham Young University is a world-class educational institution, with professors who’ve earned doctorates from some of the best universities in the world. Several of the top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have PhDs from Ivy League schools.

These folks talk admiringly of the evangelical Billy Graham and the Catholic Mother Teresa, and they enjoy reading the evangelical C.S. Lewis and Father Henri Nouwen, a Catholic. That is not the kind of thing you run into in anti-Christian cults.

So are Mormons Christians? For me, that’s a complicated question.

My Mormon friends and I disagree on enough subjects that I am not prepared to say that their theology falls within the scope of historic Christian teaching. But the important thing is that we continue to talk about these things, and with increasing candor and mutual openness to correction.

No one has shown any impulse to walk away from the table of dialogue. We do all of this with the blessing of many leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some of whom have become good friends.

While I am not prepared to reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology, I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior.

I find Mormons to be more Christ-centered than they have been in the past. I recently showed a video to my evangelical Fuller Seminary students of Mormon Elder Jeffrey Holland, one of the Twelve Apostles who help lead the LDS church. The video captures Holland speaking to thousands of Mormons about Christ’s death on the cross.

Several of my students remarked that if they had not known that he was a Mormon leader they would have guessed that he was an evangelical preacher.

The current criticisms of Mitt Romney’s religious affiliation recall for many of us the challenges John Kennedy faced when he was campaigning for the presidency in 1960.

Some well-known Protestant preachers (including Norman Vincent Peale) warned against putting a Catholic in the White House. Kennedy’s famous speech to Houston pastors clarifying his religious beliefs as they related to his political leadership helped his cause quite a bit.

But the real changes in popular attitudes toward Catholicism happened more slowly, as Catholic Church leaders and scholars engaged in a new kind of dialogue with each other and representatives of other faith groups, most dramatically at the Second Vatican Council during the early years of the 1960s.

Cults do not engage in those kinds of self-examining conversations. If they do, they do not remain cults.

Those of us who have made the effort to engage Mormons in friendly and sustained give-and-take conversations have come to see them as good citizens whose life of faith often exhibits qualities that are worthy of the Christian label, even as we continue to engage in friendly arguments with them about crucial theological issues.

Mitt Romney deserves what every politician running for office deserves: a careful examination of his views on policy and his philosophy of government. But he does not deserve to be labeled a cultist.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Richard J. Mouw.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Cults • Mitt Romney • Politics • Rick Perry

soundoff (2,721 Responses)
  1. petemg

    As been said before we do not need to divide religions. Just as there are good Christians there are bad. Take David Karesh and Jim Jones and....you know what I mean. And nobody asked Obama what religion he was before he ran. Oh that is right he declared himself a Christian and then turned around and swore in on the Koran. Many people can wear different disguises but their works can speak differently.

    October 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • Sean

      First you're angry with the preacher at his church, because he preaches a form of Black exceptionalism. Then he's back to being a Muslim, though he and his kids were Baptized by Rev. Wright. Then his birth certificate isn't long enough, and the governor of Hawaii was friends with both his parents in college and there was a newspaper with his birth announcement. Then he's a communist because of know professor Bill Ayers at Un. of Chicago. This wreaks of the same GOP stories of the Clinton's killing Vince Foster and how Kerry was swift boated! We know your MO already! Enough!

      October 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Nancy

      Wait... WHAT? You're actually trying to tell people that Obama swore his oath of office on a Quran?? You mean, you didn't watch that part, where the dude was holding a BIBLE... and see the words on it? You either need your eyes examined, or your head, but stop trying to push that particular piece of stupidity off on the American public.

      October 9, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  2. Paul

    all religion are cults .. and so it the tea party and the GOP

    October 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Lindsey

      Why does CNN draw so many atheists to its comment section?

      October 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Jeff

      Rediculous ignorant comment. I want my 10 seconds back!

      October 9, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • puresmokey

      Why does CNN attract so many atheists? I think you find them in plenty of forums.
      There are more atheists out there than you think. They walk among you, but are living in a so called "Christian" nation, which looks down it's nose on non-believers. They are becoming more outspoken however.
      Thank God. (pun intended).

      October 10, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • Msmith

      Your comment does not say much for your intellect. You might want to just read these articles and leave commenting to those that can make an intelligent comment.

      October 24, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  3. Tim

    Mormonism is not Christianity, they do not believe in a Crucified Christ who is God (Son of Go) and was raised from dead and now lives and reigns with Father the God, part of God but still separate. That is the (BIG) difference, which means it is like Jewish or Muslim religions. True Christianity is not a religiion but living with God. Jesus says I am the Way, Truth and Life. It is trivial to debate about the naming ... cult, doesn't matter. Ask a presidential candidate what they mean by being a Christian.

    October 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • ctrdeby

      Tim,
      Really? This is just about the funniest post on here. Where DO you get your information? As a convert at the age of 28, I studied with MANY churches. We do believe in the Savior Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins. We believe in the Atonement of Christ. Hence the name "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints". My friends are of all creeds, races and religions, my children are not active members and we are very close. Both my daughter in law and son in law are not members and I love them both dearly. You are silly. @Dan.....so I am an offshoot Muslim? Whew! I didn't knowThank you so much for putting my life into perspective!

      BTW....My husband just asked me when I could start being obedient......it would reallymake his life nice........and he is also wonder what in the heck is all my education for????

      October 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Todd

      You are 100% wrong. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon, and I believe that the Crucified Christ who is God (Son of God) was raised from dead and now lives and reigns with Father the God, part of God but still separate. In fact, that's exactly what I and all Mormons believe. So are we Christians now?

      October 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • John Buchanan

      I agree with you Tim,the premise of the article leads one to believe that because LDS has a big accredited university with deep theological minds and some leader of a big Christian seminary,again a deep theological mind,head knowledge not heart knowledge,that Mormonism should be recognized as a stream of Christianity.How Mormons differ is how they relate to Christ and the Holy Spirit.Only people who have encountered Jesus and thus a changed life,can be called an evangelical.Mormnism is man made religion.The Holy Spirit always points people to Jesus,not another man-Joseph Smith.Great moral people,who do lots of good and build beautiful tabernacles,but then again the Pharisees did too.

      October 9, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Sean

      Maybe ya'll forgot, Jesus was a Jew. Why bother using a redacted version of the Hebrew bible as your Old Testament, to prove that Jesus was who he said he was. How many Gospels were conveniently dropped when the King James was thrown together?
      Why can't the LDS be right too? No one knows. it was all written long after Jesus and his disciples were dead!

      October 9, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Bob in UTah

      You are somewhat correct in your analysis; the main difference being that Mormons do not believe in the Holy Trinity, which is the basis for Christianity. With all due respect to the previous two, no Trinity, no Christianity. Sorry guys, that's the difference between the two, and its a stark reality. Doesn't mean Mormons are bad people or immoral, just that their beliefs are not those of other Christians. Just because the savior's name is in your church's name, does equate to being Christians. You are Mormons, and quite separate and different from Protestants and Catholics. Not better or worse but not of the same or similar beliefs.

      No Protestant or Catholic would have the slightest idea what the planet Kolob represents, would they?

      October 9, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • impmyhydemf

      Joe Smith found some tablets in the woods and went out west and created a religion/cult which hs lots of followers, read the book of Mormon sometime and you'll realize how wacko they are. As far as Christianity (another cult) goes, their version is a wild tale of intrigue and betrayal. The big Kahuna (God) in the air, (look you in an upward direction) created a clay-man and from that man's rib created a woman for the man. The rib woman met a talking snake who talked her into eating fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which was verboten, and long story short they got booted and lived a hard life after that, and this was many years ago, maybe about 6000, sometime after the dinosaurs and after the ice age. Anyway, the Kahuna's son Jesus was born over 2000 years ago to a woman who was a virgin. He became a man and walked the earth as a Jew and did some really kick azz things like walking on water, and raising the dead. He was eventually killed by the Italians (Pontius Pilate's soldiers) after being betrayed his own set, (the Jews) but after 3 days he rose up and went on a walkabout and talked to some of his homies and afte that went to where his father is, up there in the sky, (look upwards). And he will supposedly be back to judge the quick and the dead, unless you are of the Jewish faith/cult, who believe that Jesus never walked the earth but is yet to come, no immaculate conception, no virgin birth. Read about the Dharma sometime, it may change your life, unless you believe the world will end in 2012 witht the end of the Mayan calender.

      October 9, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • StandFast

      Thank you Bob in Utah. Belief in the Trinity is the crux of the religious difference.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Larry Smith

      Regarding the Trinity, there are several scriptures that would indicate that Jesus and God are separate beings. I.e. Christ praying to His Father. The Father saying he was pleased with the Son and the voice coming from Heaven. Stephen while dying seeing the Son on the right hand of the Father. (This one would indicate that God was standing on his on hand if you didn't believe in two individuals). Anyway, the meat of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that Christ atoned for all of our sins and that we will all live again because of His suffering for our sins. Do we have to label each other as heretics over differences of beliefs other than Christ as our Savior? Also, for those who don't know, most Christians believed God was separate from Christ in body until the Council of Nicea several hundred years after Christ's death. I believe this council was politically charged and made many incorrect changes to Christian beliefs.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Felicia

      Um....I am a Mormon and we DO believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he did atone for our sins on the cross. We also believe that he was resurrected and will return again to the earth. Anyone on this site who says otherwise is seriously misinformed.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • MJ

      The new American Christian Doctrine....Facts! We don't need no stinking facts! Ignore these people, they get their information from Fox news.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • StandFast

      Larry Smith,
      I understand that Mormons see God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as different beings. And equally there are bible passages which see the unity (I refer you to John 8:58 and John 10:38-39). Mormons do not believe in Trinitarianism and Bob from Utah explained that quite nicely. I think its essential to explain these differences so people can see what they are discussing and this is a pretty basic bit of Christian doctrine! Your equally quick dismissal of the Nicene Creed neglects to inform the casual reader that it is essential doctrine in the Catholic Church and in most Protestant denominations (e.g. Episcopal, Lutheran).

      No one has labeled anyone else a heretic because of their beliefs. But why are you so dismissive of the differences? There needs to be transparency, and as much understanding as possible, in what is being discussed.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Kris

      I'm a member of the LDS church and I believe all the things you just describe as does every other "mormon" I have ever met.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • cfristoe

      I agree with ctrdeby....geez Tim, where DO you get your information? I joined the church when I was 22 after visiting and investigating many religions, Christian and non-Christian alike. If you really want to know what LDS believe (we prefer Latter-day Saints to Mormons), go to lds.org and check out the truth about our religion. Stop getting incorrect information from non-LDS sources. We do believe in Jesus Christ, His atonement, His resurrection, that He is God and rules and reigns on the right hand of His Father. The only thing that the Christian community has a problem with in defining our religion as Christian is a question of historicity. We trace our authority to the restoration that took place after hundreds of years of apostasy following the death of the apostles in Christ's time. If you research the apostasy in the teachings of Christ in the Old and New Testaments, you will see that there was a total falling away and restoration prophesied of from the times of Isaiah through Christ's ministry. That restoration took place in 1820.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • StandFast

      To the question of whether Mormonism is a Christian religion, many posters here (cfristoe, Kris, Felicia, Larry SMith, ctrdeby, Todd) have responded "but I am Mormon and believe Christ is my saviour". The problem is that other Christian religions (from Roman Catholic to Protestants) believe in some fundamental theology that Mormons do not. And before you say "well, all that is essential is following Christ" clearly Joseph Smith felt these differences were so essential - so fundamental - that he did not become a Methodist or a Baptist or join any other Christian religion but created his own. So we are NOT alike according to your founder. Let's get on the table why and do that in a transparent, open way. And cfristoe, that means we can look at all information, not just LDS liiterature.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Liz

      But StandFast, the problem with that argument is... Christ is our founder. Not Joseph Smith. Do some homework – in fact, read a book of Mormon, pray about it, then come argue 🙂

      October 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Kirk

      Tim,
      Where do you get your information? You are completely incorrect. Mormons believe that Christ is the Son of God and that he died on the cross for our sins. They also believe that He was resurrected and that only through the atonement of Jesus Christ may we receive salvation. If you think they don't believe these things, you have been misinformed.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • blox

      I'm a mormon, stop telling us what we believe. We know what we believe, and we know it to be true. Maybe spend some time pondering your own religion. if you really want to know more about us, go to lds.org for the truth.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • KB

      That's entirely incorrect.

      October 11, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • Scott

      I won't go into similarities, because others have gone into that very well. Standfast has pointed out that we indeed have deep differences with mainstream Christianity. We usually aren't arrogant enough to say so, but by the same logic that is used to say that we aren't Christians, we could just as easily say that the rest of Christianity isn't. (Because they follow, in our opinion, a corrupted and apostate version of Christ.) Fortunately, we don't usually take that approach to sharing our beliefs. Because it is arrogant and offensive, which is exactly what our detractors usually engage in. If you would like to read a book by a Latter-Day Saint that focuses on the DIFFERENCES (and they are many), look up Coke Newell's book "Latter Days." It does a great job of showing how we have huge differences with the rest of Christianity. We have the same roots, but I certainly would not say that the Trinity is the same God that I pray to, nor is the Jesus the Son of God who died for my sins and saved mankind, the exact same being as God the Father. They are two separate beings, and that is an essential difference that should not be glossed over.

      October 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Msmith

      Tim,
      I am a Mormon and I and we do believe in God the Eternal Father and in his son, Jesus Christ. The same Jesus Christ that took upon himself the sins of the world in Gethsemane and was crucified. The same Jesus Christ that we read about in the Bible that walked with the apostles and taught the gospel and healed the sick. Please do not tell people what I believe and what those of my faith believe as you just do not know. If you want to know what a Baptist believes, ask a baptist. If you want to know what a Mormon believes ask one or go to Mormon.org to learn more.

      October 24, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  4. darntootin

    except for the polygamy, racism, closed (cultish) nature,..., I don't have a problem w/ them!

    October 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Andra

      LOL–are you kidding–if Mormonism were "closed," why would we have missionaries out and about. Come visit us some time. Start with mormon.org.

      October 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Jeff

      Why do Mormons think that Black people are inferior? Why do they think that Jesus and satan are spirit brothers?

      October 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Sam

      Andra, can I go to temple with you? No? There you go.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Cole

      @ Jeff, so...I think that Black People are inferior...really??? That's news to me. Why don't you see what other religions thought of Black people before 1970...don't forget all of the other Christian Faiths...you would really be surprised.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:23 am |
    • Kris

      At last count I thought there were like 50,000 missionaries teaching all who will listen about our church. Not exactly closed.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • cfristoe

      Latter-day Saints don't currently practice polygamy, that stopped in the 19th century, so you can stop bringing that one up.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Agkcrbs

      Be honest, Sam. Of course you can go to the temple, as soon as you believe in the legitimacy of the temple, and live cleanly. Don't say something's closed to you when you don't even knock.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • rokdrum

      Andra, not closed? Why was I NOT allowed into the temple when I attended a Mormon friend's wedding. Us Non Mormons had to sit in the lobby during the whole ceremony.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • rokdrum

      Agkcbs – All are welcome in God's house. You do not even have to be Christian to walk into any church (Baptist, Protestant, Catholic, etc). Heck, a non worshiper can even go to a Synagogue or Mosque if they wish. But to go into a Mormon temple, I would have to convert to Mormonism. Why is that? Again, we had to sit in the lobby during my friends wedding. NOT allowed into the temple because we were not Mormon. So, YES, CLOSED!!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Agkcrbs

      Rokdrum, you can walk into any LDS church too, with not even a requirement of belief. And if you could go approach their holiest chambers (or administratively highest, if they have no such holy places), you would find yourself excluded (again by your own refusal to accept their validity, and whatever additional qualifications they demanded) from certain locations of each of the religions you mentioned. If your friend decided it was good to invite a bunch of people to sit in a temple lobby instead of having another ceremony in a church, well, I hope you could at least appreciate their good intention of sharing their joyous occasion with you.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • rokdrum

      Agkcrbs – OK. So what would I have to do to go into an LDS Temple? I know I can go into the church, but to go into a Temple? I would have to convert to the LDS, wouldn't I? And as far as my friends wedding, It was a joyous occassion but I and my friends were totally caught off guard and bewildered that we were not allowed into the Temple where the ceremony took place and could not witness the actual wedding. What do you mean by "Accept the Validity"?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • sgray

      @Rokdrum: The other person that was trying to explain that you need to accept the "validity" simply means this, There are some things that all religions hold sacred. You may attend a temple wedding when you have made and kept sacred covenants in order to be worthy to go to them. I was married in the temple and my younger sisters were not able to join us either. To someone who thinks that out religion is crazy from the get go, of course you would take offense. However, if you understood how sacred it is to be sealed to your spouse for time and all eternity and not just until you die, you might be a little bit more understanding. If you have any questions, please feel free to visit mormon.org. They go into more depth on the subject.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • rokdrum

      @Sgray. I don't need to go to mormon.org. I've noticed all LDS members saying to go to that website. The church told you all to say to go there didn't they? I am just saying that if I am to enter a Temple, I have to convert to LDS. I'm already saved and a member of a church (christian). There are no "sacred" areas of our church that people have to show their "credentials" to enter. "All are welcome" in God's house is what I was raised with. So what exactly does "When you have made and kept sacred covenants in order to be worthy to go to them", mean? I will not convert to LDS.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Josh

      @Rokdrum- I understand the annoyance that can come from not being able to see the wedding ceremony but I also understand why... I'm Mormon but I wasn't worthy to enter into the temple (ie. God's Holy House) because of sins or transgressions I had committed. If you read the bible the only time Jesus gets angry is when people are making a mockery in the temple. It's the same thing, we believe that you must "make covenants" such as baptism and abstaining from certain things as Jesus taught. I'm more than willing to talk to you about this and whatever other questions you have. Don't worry I won't be trying to convert you to Mormonism, I just want to enlighten you on what we believe and why things are as they are.

      October 11, 2011 at 4:16 am |
    • Sam...

      @rocdrum, If Mormons are "closed" because they consider the temple sacred and holy, then I guess you consider the Bible "closed" because not everyone could enter the temple/tabernacle then!

      October 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • rokdrum

      @Sam. No I don't consider the Bible closed. Frankly, there are some fundemental issues with LDS vs "traditional" christian faiths. One for instance, that there are 3 tiers to heaven, not just Heaven. Another being baptism for the dead, which is morally just wrong. Why do that to someone who has already made their choices during life regarding faith?

      October 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Josh

      @rokdrum In 1st Corinthians it actually talks about both of your "concerns." It talks about there being 3 glories to the body, hence the three "heavens" we believe in, Paul also talks about baptisms for the dead in chapter 15. Understandably there is a lot of argument as to what Paul is actually referring to and there is a lot of debate between each religion on the topic. Which is why we also believe in the Book of Mormon because it clears a lot of the topics up. Again obviously you would have to believe in the Book of Mormon being from God to be a help mate to the Bible to trust us on the matter. The reason for baptisms for the dead is simple, we believe you have to have the proper authority to be baptized which we believe we have , therefore we baptize the dead so all may be "saved." I can see your point though as to it being "morally wrong." However, I disagree as it pertains differently to each individual. As to the three heavens, Joseph Smith has stated that even the lowest degree of glory is better than this life/world. God is loving and even if you don't accept what we consider to be the truth you will still be in one of the 2 heavens depending on your works in this life.

      October 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  5. frealson

    mormonism came from masonry and if masonry isn't a cult then i don't know what is. why don't you look up mountain meadows massacre or joseph smith's jupiter talisman lol mormonism is not only a cult but retarded one as hell

    October 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • MSG

      Please refer to http://www.stupid&ignorant.com for all of "FREALSON"'s facts...

      Do some real research and stop spreading stupid...all my Mormon friends are respectable hard working people.

      October 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  6. Daniel

    No... Mormonism isn't a cult. Since the "Book of Mormon" is mostly just a plagiarized, cliff-notes version of selected passages from the Koran, this actually makes them a weird offshoot sect of Islam...

    October 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • hippypoet

      your a moron...if every religion is a cult and moromism is a brach off islam then its a cult by default! again, you are a moron!

      October 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • thebro

      mormons are secret muslims

      October 9, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Cole

      Daniel...do you have any proof of this??? I didn't think so. Although the Koran has more in common with the Bible than you would care to know.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • Kris

      LOLZ!!! What??? This post just made me giggle.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:47 am |
    • Melissa

      Try plagarized sections of Matthew, and you'd be right. 3rd Nephi is lifted word for word in some sections, including the translation errors in the King James Bible.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  7. Buckeroo

    Sheesh. I thought that a cult was any faith that denied the deity of Jesus Christ. Ask a Mormon if faith alone in Jesus Christ is sufficient for eternal salvation. If they agree that faith alone in Jesus Christ is sufficient for eternal salvation then tell them that they are either divergent from stated Mormon precepts or that they don't really understand what they're "supposed" to believe.

    October 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • PeaceOut

      I do believe that it says in the Book of James that faith without works is dead.

      October 9, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Jeff

      Mormons believe in many gods, not just one. Their god was a man from a different planet that brought his wife to earth and birthed satan and Jesus as spirit brothers. They believe in faith with good works through the mormon church. They believe in a different, man-made, twisted form of Jesus. They think African Americans are inferior and have levels in their church that 'allow' only certain members to visit "certain" areas of their temples. There is no cross on any mormon "spike" or "temple"

      October 9, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Cole

      @ Jeff...You really have no idea what we believe and your ignorance shines forth.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • heidi

      I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly called the Mormon Church. I believe Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer and His (God's) only begotton son. I believe the Bible to be the word of God and I also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. Our church was NOT built by man but by Heavenly Father/God through direct revelation to Joseph Smith. I believe Joseph Smith did not build a new gospel but RESTORED the gospel back to the earth through God's guidance and direction. I believe in modern revelation and that a living prophet lives today, Thomas S. Monson. I believe in three separate beings of the godhead, God the Eternal Father, His son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. I believe we are ALL children of God and he loves us. I believe and follow the teachings of Christ and I believe in the saving power of the atonement. Through Him ALL mankind may be saved. No exclusions. 🙂 I believe that if I live according to Christ's teachings that I can live with my family for eternity after death. These are the basics. And I AM a Christian. 🙂 All I ask is to take the time to get educated before accusations are made.
      LDS.org or Mormon.org

      October 10, 2011 at 3:45 am |
    • StandFast

      Heidi, thank you for your outline of what you believe. We live in a free country so you can call yourself a Christian or whatever you want. You will note the author of the article could not make such a statement. What you or I feel is irrelevant, really, but it is important for voters to know that your understanding of "Christianity" is NOT the same that of the mainstream Christian churches (e.g. Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, Presbyterian, Eastern Orthodox). It is so fundamentally different that Joseph Smith felt the need to estabilsh a separate church.

      Voters have a right to have full and open disclosure of what Mitt Romney believes so they can determine if they want to vote for him. Sweepingly using the word "Christian" to describe his beliefs is not helpful in clarifying things for voters because your understanding of the word is not universally shared.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • AP

      Heidi, thanks for clarifying it. Directly explained by a Mormon, indeed Mormonism is a cult. They need the true Gospel clearly. My advice to you Heidi is, for some time, be like those who were saved before the Book of Mormon was written, before Joseph Smith was born. How did they receive the grace of salvation. If you can figure that out, I really wonder why we need the rest of what has been added to your religious practices. Try to read the book of Galatians in that light.
      But the issue here too is if Romney is a valid candidate for Presidency. I think we need to separate our personal faith from our patriotism. Even cults can be paretic enough to become an excellent president. Even a good evangelical can be the worst president you can ever have. Check your history.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • AP

      Sorry, not paretic but good. I hate my iPad. It always second guesses me. If I don't watch it, it prints what I did not type but what it suggested. All along I thought I wrote the right word. Much like some religion. You thought you got it right but all along something else crept in and made you disqualified from the race.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Sam

      Standfast, neither is your meaning of the word Christian universally shared.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  8. Paul

    All religions are cult ... the prove is with the Mormons .. these guy believe Christ's promised land is in the US, what a bunch of selfish individuals. In itself the Mormons prove that all religion are cults, not better than the Davidians.

    If any one of you truly believe what written in the Bible, then you should have no problem believing that all the various Gods in reality were Aliens landed on planet earth and who did take the locals for a fantasy ride that has yet to finish... think how much fun they must have been having all these years .. watching us taking them seriously while they were pulling a prank on us all this time !!! Too funny

    October 9, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • PeaceOut

      Not better than the Davidians? Ouch! Do the extensive humanitarian works of the church count for nothing?

      October 9, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  9. us1776

    All "Invisible Being" religions are cults whose purpose is extortion and control.

    .

    October 9, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  10. hippypoet

    every religion is a cult and it can't be argued. try and lose, but by all means try!

    October 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  11. martin isenburg

    religions or cults are a usually adopted because people seek a deeper meaning for their unhappiness with the present. religions or cults present them an easy solution that does not require them to change the status-quo because it offers rewards after death. how convenient.

    October 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  12. MrGary2U

    My dictionary says:
    cult
    noun
    1 a religious cult: sect, denomination, group, movement, church, persuasion, body, faction.
    2 the cult of eternal youth in Hollywood: obsession with, fixation on, mania for, passion for, idolization of, devotion to, worship of, veneration of.

    I say a cult is what one person calls another's religion that he/she doesn't like.

    October 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Sean

      You don’t need a weatherman
      To know which way the wind blows

      October 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  13. K3Citizen

    A cult is defined as a spiritual alternative that is not accepted by the current spiritual houses.

    October 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  14. Richard Hode

    "Several of my students remarked that if they had not known that he was a Mormon leader they would have guessed that he was an evangelical preacher."

    That just shows how cunning they are. Beware, Christians, of the wolf in sheep's clothing, ready to lead the lambs astray to perdition and the flames of Hell. With Romney as president, our precious youths' immortal souls will be in danger.

    October 9, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Jason

      You are a sad ignorant person. Wow. I am sure you enjoyed the Jim Crow laws as well.

      October 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • MSG

      Because of "you", Obama is in office.

      October 9, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • VDM

      Okay Richard, and how exactly is Mitt Romney going to destroy the youth of the country as you claim? Require a Book of Mormon to be in each post office? Replace the Pledge of Allegiance with a Pledge to Mormonism? Start a new Department of Religion to indoctrinate the youth? Your claim is a perfect example of fear-mongering and bigotry put on open display.

      October 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • jtp

      Richard – Wow! unbelievably unintelligent statement! Seriously, when has any U.S. President been able to lead the mass of youth in this country any direction. I am amazed at so many uninformed evangelicals who use fear, hasty generalizations, and yes flat out lies to try and scare others! Wake up! Will your God seriously tolerate the use of partial truths and fear mongering. I believe your religion teaches clearly who is the "father of all lies." It would be quite a shame to use "lies" to accomplish your purposes...

      October 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Richard Hode

      You religious people are unimaginative, humorless, and incredibly easy to troll. A little pseudo-religious verbiage and you jump frantically up and down, waving your arms . You behave like marionettes that had their strings pulled. Thanks for providing a good snicker.

      October 10, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  15. jonthes

    All religions are cults and have NO PLACE in the politics of the US. 'Faith-based' voters, who pull the lever mindlessly for candidates who have lead very unChristian lives, W. Bush and Perry among them, need to either divorce their faith from their political decisions or for the good of the country refrain from voting altogether. They have done horrible harm to this republic.

    October 9, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • Calvin

      Religion has every right to be in politics. Uh, if you believe in God that HAS to inform your politics. It does mine and I disrespect any candidate who would agree with you.

      October 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Jason

      One Nation, under God.

      October 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  16. SCOTO

    My take: It's all crackpot stuff!

    October 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  17. hippypoet

    if this definition fits your beliefs and the way you practice then you may be part of a cult.

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

    enjoy!

    MAY THE ALMIGHTY SUN SHINE UPON ALL CULTS.
    most cult-like is christianity, everything done in life is done thru a ceremonies!

    October 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  18. Matt

    The English language has many words that differ in meaning and interpretation depending on a colloquial or professional nature. We are arguing semantics. Is this what American politics as stooped to?

    October 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  19. common sense

    This is the definition of the word "cult" in the online Webster dictionary.
    1: formal religious veneration
    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
    Every religion is a cult. If you want to use the third religion in the derogratory sense, every religion is "unorthodox" relative to a different religion.

    October 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Chris Collino

      When it comes to real scholarly understanding of religious issues and differences, Webster's definitions fall way short of any real relevant discussion. It is just too simplistic.

      October 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  20. SL

    Wait, so Jehovah's Witness is a cult, but Mormons are not? As far a I am concerned all religions are cults, but the mental gymnastics this writer does to discern the difference is pretty amazing!

    October 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Chris Collino

      Unfortunately, your comments smack of religious bigotry and ignorance. The most agnostic religious scholars would call your comments a gross oversimplification. Your comment puts the Episcopalians in with Heaven's Gate and Jim Jones. Is this the same way you approach minorities? Judgment with no discernment or evaluation?

      October 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • SL

      Yea, I am a religous bigot. I would be more tolerent, but my understanding of history and society demonstrates that people who live their lives by stone age fairytales are screwing up the present as well.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Eric

      This is a horrible written article. A cult needs a singular figure as a leader who people look up to. Therefore catholics with their Pope are far more of a cult than Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) (they have to known leadership figures to their arganization)....unless you consider Jesus/God that leadership figure. They also have ZERO rituals, unlike Catholics that recite the rosery and lords proyer word for word over and over again...not so for the JWs. The author should be ashamed of thmeselves for such a horribly written article. What a moron.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:26 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.