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. amy jo p

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I can assure you that we are not a cult. I believe that lack of information as well as misinformation leads to this erroneous conclusion. The author's experience was an example of the understanding that comes from open dialogue. Through Church Humanitarian efforts to assist in times of need or the efforts of local wards (congregations) in reaching out to those in need, people are coming to know and understand us. We are followers of Jesus Christ and seek to live our lives the way He instructed. If you have questions about us just ask and we will be glad to explain our beliefs to you, and that does not mean that we will attempt to convert you. 🙂

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

      We are Atheists and we had Mormons come to our door. We were polite, invited them in and had a good discussion with them. They did not try to convert us. They listened to what we had to say, left us a Book of Mormon and offered to help if they could. We don't believe they are a cult. We may not follow religion or a spiritual path of any form but we attempt to treat others the way we wish to be treated...with dignity and respect.
      We of course dismiss what is taught in the Mormon faith but we dismiss the teachings of all other faiths also.
      Anyone on here saying you belong to a cult have never sat down and took any interest in who you are or what you stand for.

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

      By technicality, all religions/ belief systems are a cult, and yes your church does all the good things the other churches do (Humanitarian efforts, outreach programs, charities etc...), what is odd about Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) are the words written within the Book of Mormon, or claimed by Joseph Smith. I'll list off a few...oddities
      1.)God is on the planet "Kolum"
      2.)if you followed all the teaching correctly you can become a god of your own world/ planet/something
      3.)Joseph Smith read from golden tablets by using a "Scrying Stone". The whole process that no one else was witness too.
      4.)Joseph Smith was a criminal, his rap-sheet included that he was a con artist by attempting to start a few religions (Mormonism was successful because it was his first attempt in which he himself was not "GOD"), and murderer, yes he killed several people around the time of his prison incarceration.
      There are more oddities, these are just a few large ones, yes the overall idea is a good message (live as Jesus did)...but goes about it in a very strange way.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • CMC

      Josh, sadly, you don't know what your talking about and it's too bad you throw out such ridiculous information as facts. I guess it shouldn't be so surprising to still hear such false rhetoric about Joseph Smith since every prophet in history was abused in the same manner. Don't you think a murderer of "several people" would have been more commonly reported as such by now? The only real proof that can be produced about Joseph Smith is that he left the world a much better place because of his Christlike life and work. Please, stop thowing out such nonsense and false propoganda.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Josh

      Woah there nelly, after more extensive research, the deaths of the 3 people shot by Smith while the mob ( the one that killed him and his brother) was attacking the jail is inconclusive, and deaths are not known(depends on who you talk/listen to)...so they could have died, they could have lived, but hey were shot at by Joseph Smith while he was trying to escape jail, is taht Christlike?....and of all the oddities i mentioned THAT is the one you call "false propaganda"...get off your high horse and do your own research.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • KB

      Josh, come on, if we're gonna have a discussion we should do our best to get all the facts right. It seems you've done some research but here are a few corrections to your list of "oddities" about the LDS Church, the Mormons. (By the way, I'm an active member).

      1. Kolob is the planet closest to where God resides. According to the writings in the Pearl of Great Price.
      2. What a meaningful and uplifting purpose for life. I can't think of something that would transcend the challenges and joys of life better than this. Not sure if you believe in Christ, but if you do, why do you think He suffered through the atonement? We believe it was to pay the price for us to come back to our Heavenly Father (aka God).
      3. Joseph used seer stones to translate. Just because you've never heard of them or didn't see them doesn't mean they didn't or don't exist. Seer stones are also called Urim and Thummim, see Exodus 28:30, apparently Aaron saw them.
      4. That's a pretty obvious ad hominem. First and foremost, what you claim about Joseph Smith is false and has no sound base. There're a lot of stories out there about him, but by their fruits ye shall know them. See the works that Joseph brought to pass, like a stone cut from the mountain without hands that keeps rolling forth. Time will prove the truth, Joseph was a prophet of God, like Moses, Abraham and Jacob before him.

      Yes, there are oddities in the history of the Church, but that's true with many religions. I also find it somewhat ironic that people will accept oddities in the Bible, parting the sea, burning bush, talking donkey, etc., but when miracles and "oddities" happen in this day and age, it's weird and there's no way it can be true.

      Josh, if you want to know the truth, ask. Every member of the Church and every missionary will tell you the same thing, ask God, the burden is on Him to prove the truth. If you have questions, go to the source, the Church offers many resources to answer your questions. Likely you know someone who is a member of the Church, take some time, have them buy you lunch and then answer your questions. We all lose when the discussion becomes an act of throwing barbs and attacking each other, civility must be part of the process.

      Good luck!

      October 10, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Josh

      Bash me all you want, I'm just saying those are very odd things, unknown planets (sounds like Scientology), becoming a God (sure why not..if that's what you want, that's what you get). The gold tablets and seer stones are widely mocked/ joked about among many. And his criminal record is easily researched, since it happened relatively not too long ago. I honestly don't care what the reasons are or who believes in them, i can tell people oddities in all belief systems..they all have them. From the outside Mormonism is a very strange belief, that's all I'm saying.

      October 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Josh

      Oh, and one of my best friends and his family is Mormon, i understand many of the rules and practices, i have attended Mormon baptisms and services...by no means am i attacking the faith, or the good people that follow it....All that i was pointing out, is that it has inconsistencies/ oddities that make a lot of people look away at the mention of it.

      October 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  2. jessy

    Question: Why is religious so important in the presidential election? I'd rather have an intelligent atheist in the White House than an evangelical, close-minded person. We need open-mindedness in the White House; someone that can interact with all of their charges, not someone that alienates certain people because of their Christian vs. Non-Christian beliefs. I am an independent and i and voting democrat next year because my religious beliefs will be parked out of the voting booth. Vote with you brains people!!!

    October 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Because a true Christian will look out for the good of all people, even when they don't know what is good for them. A true Christian will love them and make Godly decision to benefit the people. A true Christian knows that without God man is nothing, man can do nothing, man knows nothing, man can not feed themselves or draw their next breath without God. Only through God will this nation prosper just as the nations of the Bible. If we turn from God then we are doomed. If is recorded in the pages of history.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • PRISM1234

      "I am an independent and i and voting democrat next year because my religious beliefs will be parked out of the voting booth. Vote with you brains people!!!"
      Not exactly so, Jessy...because as the person THINKS IN HIS HEART, so IS HE, because out of it spring the issues of life... . You can not separate yourself, i.e. your mind from the things that are in your heart! That's where those self-proclaimed intelectuals stumble, trip and fall!

      October 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  3. Sircuts

    well the more people google The Book Of Mormon the more they will see what it is

    October 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Chad

      google the truth....hahahahaha!!

      October 10, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  4. Jordan

    I don't mind the hate and disgust directed toward us Latter Day Saints. It's a testimony to me of the truthfulness of what I believe. Weren't Christ, his apostles, and the early Christian saints persecuted for their religion and beliefs? You didn't see Paul, John, or the other apostles respond back with biting comments and snide remarks. Real followers of Christ live their religion despite ridicule, treat others with respect regardless of differing lifestyles and beliefs, and do their best to lift others through love (not through cutting them down). To assume you can change another's mind or heart through anything other than an extended hand and warm smile is ignorant and poisonous. To all of you who belong to other religions and schools of thought: We don't hate you. If you want to hate us, fine, but just know we don't hold it against you.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Enough Said

      We come to you with love, if we did not we would not waste our time. We know the truth and pray that you will come to know the truth too. Paul and John did not preach the gospel that the Book of Mormon preaches. You see our words as snide remarks because they go against your beliefs, just as in the Bible days when Jesus was crucified and told he was blasphemous and spoke lies. We are not the angry ones.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  5. James

    Are Mormon's Christians?

    October 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • JB

      This is why there is so much misunderstanding. People who proclaim to have studied the LDS church, but tie in weird irrelevant principles that have such a small connection, and then proclaim to have debunked the religion. I would love to see a response from Elder Holland, but alias, when you wrestle with a pig you are bound to get muddy yourself.
      Oh by the way, believe what you want, this guy, the mormon church or anyone else, salvation is personal.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Unbiased

      Being an unbiased participant on this comment board, I would like to point out that this video is so interesting that I couldn't help but comment. This gentleman uses Apostle Holand's words to aid his argument but I think it might have backfired because for me Apostle Holand's message was full of Christlike light and love. Whenever this gentleman spoke I felt guarded and vulnerable but when Apostle Holand spoke I felt peace and security. I challenge everyone to watch and see if they felt the same....then ask yourselves if you are "Christian."

      October 10, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  6. Tanner

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

    October 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  7. Chad

    Enough said says: "They teach you can be a god and that is no where in the Bible and is a lie."

    Jesus says: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one." (John 17:21-22)

    So the teaching that God wants His children to grow up to become like their Father in Heaven most certainly is in the Bible. Can your child grow up to become a father? Yes! Are we not children of God? We are! How is it we cannot become like Him if we are His children, created in His very image? We can!

    October 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      @ Chad, et al,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,

      Only by 'dying' a real yet natural death can one follow the Lord, Christ Jesus to one's new heaven and new earth. For, the whole world has sin and cannot be absolved of its' spiritual desecrations.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Sounds like the same reasoning that got Satan kicked out of Heaven to me!

      October 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Isaiah 46:9 — For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.
      I could quote you about 28 more that contradict what you say, but if you really want truth, one is enough.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Chad

      True Richard.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      Rom 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Chad

      This is a non-issue. Mormons agree with you. None of us will be like God or be a God in this life. There is only one God of this world, just as you say. But the scripture I quoted remains: If after this life we receive eternal life and we are always progressing, then it only stand to reason that we could only become so much more than we are now. So God wants us to become like Him, given an endless amount of time to work with us, but first we will have to be saved from our sins through Him in order to be clean enough to even return to Him. Let's focus on returning to Him before you worry about what God has for us after that in context of forever.

      Why do you insist on talking about something neither of us could possibly comprehend...the eternities? Give it a rest! Or take harp lessons, to suit the other common belief of other religions, that angels just sit around playing harps all day.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Satan was not in this world when he decided to be like God. He was already in Heaven and it most obviously was not okay with God.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Chad

      Good point, except Satan didn't want to be like God, he wanted to (overtake) be the God of this world. He had a whole different plan in mind.

      God's plan is for us to become like Him, not to be Him. Satan also didn't want us to have free agency over choice, because he claimed he could just make us choose good and then save us all from ourselves, which would destroy the whole point of this life–for us to learn by our own experience. Jesus offered himself as part of God's plan to save those who freely choose good over evil and therefore those who return to good through repentance and faith in the atonement. Ironically, those who rebelled and didn't want freedom of choice, were freely allowed to chose to be cast out of Heaven and they gave up the opportunity to gain a mortal body. Our mortal bodies give us an opportunity to prepare for immortal bodies.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Enough Said

      The Bible says we were created for God's glory, not our own. You will never achieve equality with your creator. The Bible says that saints will be in Heaven worshiping God. Why would you worship a God that you can attain equality to? That makes not sense and it is not found in the Bible anywhere. It is a trick of Satan to deceive you and cheat you from your heavenly reward. Just as he deceived Eve in the Garden telling her that the forbidden fruit would make her like God.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • So

      "Just as he deceived Eve in the Garden telling her that the forbidden fruit would make her like God."

      Eve never existed, there was no temptation. Unless you can prove it.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      @ Chad et al,,,,,, ,,,,,, ,, ,

      The 'only' immortal thing is the soul/spirit. Bodies are of the material. Even when one gets to their heaven of the heavens in Heaven, our souls/spirits are integrated into a matetial workmenship of Being, established by God of GOD.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      @ So et al,,,,,, ,,,,,, ,, , "Unless you can prove it."

      What 'So' can you disprove? For that matter, can you prove that all material things are made of 'atoms'? Prove such to me 'So', for I do not believe in 'atomic theologies' theorized by the likes of psuedo scientific theologians.

      Truth be measured though, I do believe in the atomic relativities of cosmologies. I was just trying to show you how repugnent one's refutable stands are.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      @ Chad & So and Enough Said et al,,,,,, ,,,,,, ,, ,

      The 'only' immortal thing is the soul/spirit. Bodies are of the material. Even when one gets to their heaven of the heavens in Heaven, our souls/spirits are integrated into a material workmanship of a physical Being, established by a God of GOD. Once we are re-manifested into a physical/material body and placed in the heaven of heavens’ Heaven, we are still subject to death and disease and decay. Only one’s spirit/soul is immortal and cannot be destroyed.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • So

      "Only one’s spirit/soul is immortal and cannot be destroyed."

      What proof do you have of souls?

      October 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Chad

      Enough Said: Don't tell me, tell God. Yes, Jesus gave all the glory to His father, but also became one with His father. If God doesn't want us to become one with Him than He shouldn't have said He wanted that. Again I refer you back to the scripture I quoted. Not surprisingly you aren't referencing any scripture for your claim that God doesn't want us to become one with him. But still, this is a non-issue as none of us are going to reach that glory in this life. Since we both care about each other's salvation I wouldn't be a Christian if I didn't help you realize something about your words: "faith without works is dead." (See James 2:14, 26).

      October 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  8. ProudtobeLDS

    I truly can't understand how anyone can think there is no free thinking in the Mormon church. The whole point of every church meeting I've ever been to has been all about thinking, feeling and praying for YOURSELF. Nothing within the church is forced at all. If I decided to just stop going, I could. I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. I chose to live a fully active LDS life because when I chose not to, I'm not as happy. Living the standards of the LDS faith makes me happy, period.

    All these posts and comments make me so sad. With all the problems of the world today people are spending their time sitting around tearing down moral people's faith. Sad, sad, sad

    October 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Morality won't get you into heaven, only the truth of God's word will. If we worry about offending our brother by speaking truth then we sit by and watch them perish and don't reach forth a hand to save them. i prefer your insults of my speaking out to knowing you perished and I didn't say a word to lead you to truth. God's love does that, that is why Jesus was crucified because he taught the truth and it offended others opinions.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • caid

      Read the book of mormon you must follow and obey or you will be cursed like the lamanites

      October 10, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • ProudtobeLDS

      Hating Mormons, calling us a racist, ignorant, brainwashing, non-Christian cult is not speaking truth, just hatred. How is someone telling me I'm in a cult going to "save" me?? Thanks for the tip, I'll get right on that!

      October 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Enough Said

      I don't hate mormons. I have a lot of family and friends who are mormons. If no one ever tells you for fear of stepping on toes and offending you then how will you ever know? They are good people but they have been deceived about God and Jesus Christ.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  9. KaLy

    The problem I have with Rev. Jefress' comments is that he claimed Mormonism is a cult because it was established by a man, and not by God. How does this differ from any other Christian sect? Every Christian sect derives its authority from a man, from all of the great Reformers, clear back to the Nicean council of 325 AD. The boldness of the Mormon religion is that it in fact DOES claim divine authority- that God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ came down from heaven and appeared to Joseph Smith and revealed to him the fulness of the gospel. And they also claim that subsequent prophets have and still do receive continuing revelation from God. The Evangelicals claim that the Bible is a closed canon and that revelation is dead. Mormons believe the heavens are still open and revelation continues today.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • caid

      The book of mormon can and will always be factually false. For starters the sword of laban was made out of steel and steel was not invented for four hundred years later. Mormons follow a false prophet thus they are a cult.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  10. Lisa

    FYI - According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cult it seems any group with a similar belief, religious or not, can be technically considered a "cult".

    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
    5 a : 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.

    It's all in how you look at it - open to interpretation, just like the Bible, Book of Mormon, or any other written or spoken declaration. Let's get beyond the verbage and realize that when it comes up religiously it's just a more politically correct way to discriminate and show hatred towards a particular group of people for their beliefs. That's the unfortunate part.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • caid

      the truth will never change and the book of mormon is not true. Do you know where the city of moroni is? It is in the coromos islands where captain kidd buried his treasure. Joe smith was his biggest fan.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • KaLy

      Christianity is not a fad.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  11. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” – Dr. Seuss

    October 10, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Enough Said

      We're not promised tomorrow. Make it right today!

      October 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • DF

      You are funny. I like you.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Yooks and Zooks

      "Then my grandfather said,
      "It's high time that you knew
      of the terribly horrible thing that Zooks do.
      In every Zook house and in every Zook town
      every Zook eats his bread
      with the butter side down!"

      "But we Yooks, as you know,
      when we breakfast or sup,
      spread our bread," Grandpa said,
      "with the butter side up.
      That's the right, honest way!"
      Grandpa gritted his teeth.
      "So you can't trust a Zook who spreads bread underneath!
      Every Zook must be watched!
      He has kinks in his soul!" - Dr. Seuss

      October 10, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  12. Lisa

    One of the 13 articles of faith practiced by members of the LDS church states:

    We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    "People worship God in many different ways. Not everyone is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But we are all children of Heavenly Father and He loves each one of us. He wants us to love one another, be kind to one another, and show respect for others’ beliefs." - Oct 2011, The Friend Magazine (LDS publication)

    Regardless of our differences, fighting about who is wrong does not make the world a better place to live. Conversation is a wonderful thing that allows each of us to grow towards increased enlightenment and happiness. Let each man decide what speaks to his/her heart and allow others to do the same. The important thing is that we each have the freedom and agency to follow whatever spirit or belief that motivates us to do good and treat each other with respect and love in their quest to do the same.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Sircuts

      OK we know you have a major university committed to churning out dribble like this but the fact is it is built on the teachings of a child molester who claims to be a prophet of god.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Lisa

      Just a quick clarification Sircuts, the articles of faith existed before BYU was even founded. I can find the humor in your statement though as I didn't attend that university and still believe the truth of the principal based on how I feel when I practice the teaching; furthermore, when others respect my freedom things seems to work out pretty well for everyone. Thanks for your opinion...hope your beliefs bring peace and contentment to your life and the lives of those around you as well.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Trent

      Another quick clarification: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has absolutely nothing to do with the FLDS church (the church that you are seeing in the news associated with polygamy and claimed child molestation). Here is a link to a great talk given by Elder M. Russell Ballard, one of the Lord's living twelve apostles. Enjoy!


      October 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  13. Nodack

    All religions are cults. Sorry.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      Cultivating the cultural are with cultivations thru the cultures of cults.


      October 10, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  14. Mandy

    Great article! Please visit mormon.org to learn what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  15. Brian

    I'm a member of the LDS Church. Not going to mess with the cult topic bounced around. The one thing I would say is to the christians who keep throwing out that LDS are not christians, is a bit odd. A Christrian is a believer/follower of Christ and his principles. It is very clear that not all denomonations in Christianity agree on doctrinal points. Part of that is why they are different churches. But to stake claim on who are christian is a bit out there. Would you as a christian want as many as possible to declare Jesus as their Savior and come follow him? that is how we LDS/Mormons feel about it. That is why we extend an invitation to so many through missionary services. I disagree with many of the different christian sects view the scriptures but i don't discredit them as followers of christ. Pleas realize LDS love our savior and turn to him in all our matters. No person and I mean no person means more to us than he does.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Nigel

      you can not make up you're own definition – a Christian is one who has put their trust and faith in Jesus as lord and savior over their life – there are four steps, believe, confess, repent and be baptized. The issue with anything other than that is the "additional" burdens placed by some "Christian" denominations and indeed those by the Mormon church.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Rache

      I too am LDS, but have had this discussion with many Christians to figure out why they do not consider us Christian. It is not that we are centered on Christ, they feel we most certainly are centered on Christ, but the definition of being a Christian comes from the Nicene Creed. Also there is a list of 10 attributes of a Christian that I have seen in multiple "new member" packets for different churches. In discussing these things I can see how they would not see the LDS religion as Christian, according to these parameters that man has placed. In our minds we are Christians because we believe in and are centered around Christ. At least from my discussions that is what I have found. Just thought I would share what I had learned.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • wcovenant

      Explain to us how the LDS’s book of Mormon is relevant to the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, maybe then we will be able to determine if this is a cult or not.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Chad

      When Jesus was resurrected he said that he had "other sheep which are not of this fold, them too (he) must also visit." The 12 tribes of Israel were scattered throughout the world. Jesus visited them and those visits are not recorded in the Bible. Surely those who believe in Jesus Christ would be interested in the books where the rest of Jesus Christ of Nazareth's dealings with mankind are recorded. The Book of Mormon is one of these records. It is another testament of Jesus Christ.

      If the Bible alone could unite us all into one faith it already would have, and if it were maintained in its original form it might have, but as it is God has more than one witness of scripture to verify the first (or the Bible) and bring us into one belief. For a house that is divided will fall. I worry for Christianity with how divided it is. There is one God and one faith. God lives and has restored His faith one last time before His second coming. The same Spirit that testifies of the truth of the Bible will testify of the truth of where God's words lie now. I thank God for all of His words and testaments of His prophets!

      October 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Rache

      Read the book and then you will see. The same doctrine that is taught in the New Testament is also taught in the Book of Mormon. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I practice abstinence, go to church every Sunday, volunteer in the community, help those who may need help, I have recieved my PhD from BYU and consider myself to be very well educated, I will share my beliefs with those who ask, but will never push them onto someone. I believe in Christ who is my Savior and Redeemer, Heavenly Father is my God to whom I pray, and that the Holy Ghost is present in my life and the lives of those around me. I believe in a church that has Jesus Christ as the head, and a prophet as a mouth piece, just as in the Old and New Testament times. The Church was restored by Christ himself, through the prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph did not start the church, or found it, he was Christ's hands in restoring it. Joseph Smith is not worshiped in any way, although he is revered and respected for helping the Lord reestablish His Church. The LDS church today is actually set up just as it was right after Christ died. If you research the structure that Christ put in place, you would find that same structure today in the LDS church.

      So I pose these questions, does that make me a bad person? And how does that define Mormonism as a cult? Why would the LDS faith be a cult? I think that many people say that because it is different and unknown to them, but if they take the time and get to know what the LDS faith is about then they find that many of their preconcieved notions and rumors that they have heard and believed are actually false. I am not sure how each individual is defining a cult, but I would venture to say that many people who would see a culture where there is a very tight knit community, people wear certain items of clothing that dumbfound others, have funny sayings (even their own lingo at times), are overly happy, willing to help a hand, seem extremely too good to be true (especially in this day and age), and where the people tend to set themselves aside from the rest of the world, how those outside of that culture or community could think that there has to be something wrong with those people, so they must be a cult.

      I am not sure if my rambling there at the end made sense, but just try and go with it 🙂

      October 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  16. JDJ

    Two of the greatest arguments for the veracity of the Bible are historical confirmation and character treatment.

    Dig after dig has confirmed that the rulers/kingdoms/places chronicled in the Bible are true. The Smithsonian concluded that there is no confirmation of the historical "facts" claimed in the Book of Mormon.

    If the Bible is made up, why did God allow for negative things to be written about some of his greatest followers? For example, God refers to David as a man after His own heart, but the Bible shows David, warts and all, as an adulterer and a murderer. It would appear that someone could have done a better sales job if they were making it up as they went.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Bergen

      I am not sure what you mean when you talk about the Bible being made up. Are you eluding to the fact that Mormons don't believe the bible to be historically correct?

      Mormons do believe the Bible to be historically correct. I am a mormon and if scholars or teachers claimed the bible not to be historically correct I would still believe it. I believe there is a lot of indirect evidences on the Book of Mormon. However, it is difficult to know historically because we don't know exactly where events in the book of mormon took place. We do know that great and advanced civilizations existed during the time of the book of mormon. Written records of these people simply don't exist in the same way nor do we have an understanding of the languages of that time. When Cortez arrived he had many of these records burned or melted down for their precious metals. That would tell me that they were probably written on gold. I have also read that the reason they were burned is because they talked about Christ but the doctrine was different then the common doctrine of that day. They claimed that devils came before them and gave them a perverted form of Christianity. There is so much more that if you were to investigate a little on the subject you would find much written on the subject. (for and against)

      This is all fun trivia and does nothing to promote a testimony of Christ in my heart. It is through the spirit that I know that the Book of Mormon is true. My love for my savior is increase because of the Book of Mormon. I know that anyone who reads it with the pure intent to know if it is true and they pray to know that they will receive an answer from God.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Trash-man

      I'm so grateful that these discussions are being addressed by believers/voters. I think 'Christians' here have forgotten Jesus' primary enemies during his ministry were the religious elite. Yes, by all means demonstrate the love of Christ when discussing Mormon doctrine, but let truth set the captives free. My favorite Jesus quote was made to professed believers – "Depart from me, I know you not!" This is a harsh statement made explicitly to the 'priesthood'. I see it as a call to examine your own heart(belief).

      Personally, I do not accept that God would author doctrine that is historically and archeologically accepted, as found in the Bible, then introduce "..a lot of indirect evidences in the Book of Mormon that is difficult to know historically.. "
      I would encourage you to vigorously question God on this matter. Apparently you have received teachings that all the written evidence for support of LDS doctrine was on gold and stolen by Cortez!?!? I don't think an advanced civilization would use such material to capture God's word to man. God's humility calls for papyrus 😉

      Closing w/ authoritative source: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
      1John 4:1

      October 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  17. Nigel

    Mormonism is technically a "cult" – however, the discussion on whether it is or not, is irrelevant. Whilst someones moral compass may be a valid factor in deciding how they arrive at decisions it is not the entire basis for selecting whether someone is suitable for the office of President.

    What should be asked is, does any nominee show integrity, strength and respect for others that the office of the President demands.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • saopaco

      Christianity is 'technically a cult'.
      Cult (oxforddictionaries dot com):
      a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object

      Christ being the particular figure.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  18. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    “I do not like green eggs and ham I do not like them sam I am.” – Dr. Seuss

    October 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • DF

      Could you would you in the rain? Could you would you on a train?

      October 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Would you like them in a box? Would you like them with a fox?

      October 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Would you like green eggs and ham while we're eating at the marriage supper of the lamb? Hope to see you there. 🙂

      October 10, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  19. kmac

    Many claim Jesus, follow Jesus, even worship Jesus without truly knowing Jesus. Mormons are not Christians because they do not have the same God or the same Jesus as Biblical Christianity. There is only ONE God (anywhere – not just for this earth) and He has always been GOD. He did not start as a man and work his way to become God. Same with Jesus – eternally God in nature. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He set aside His diety to come to earth to redeem His people – he did not come to earth to earn godship. For Mouw to miss this makes me seriously question both him and Fuller. These are fundamental Truths of Christianity and that alone is enough to distinguish Mormons and Christians – although there are many other things in their ever-changing doctrines/revelations. Not long ago, Mormons were LOATHE to refer to themselves as Christians. Why are we so eager to allow them to do so now? Christians are buying into the lies, that they believe. Shameful.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Jay

      You must be confused about the God we believe in. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I believe in the God that created both the Heavens and the Earth. The God who sent his SON to earth to atone for the sins of man; Jesus Christ. The God whose children we are and who wants us to return to his presence, so much so that he sent his SON to live a perfect life, to make the ultimate sacrifice. Only a perfect atonement could break the bonds of death and provide deliverance from sin so that we could return to our Heavenly Father (the aforementioned God) We worship God, we love our Savior, Jesus Christ. You, my friend, are creating hate from bigotry, it is unnecessary and more "un-christian" than anything you claim to be false or different in our doctrine.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  20. Central Scrutinizer

    My fellow Americans! Take up the cause. Phoock the mormons and christians and Islam, etc. Let truth guide you! We are running out of time. The country and the world is falling apart!! It is up to US!!

    Until such time as an Atheist, an Agnostic, an openly ho-mose-xual person, or any other minority can be seriously considered for political office, particularly the presidency, then I hang my head in shame as an American. Sure, Obama is half black and that is a step. But where are the Asians, Africans, Mexicans, Gays, Atheists, Agnostics and all other minorities? Scr-ew the Christians! Let some intelligent folks move the country forward for a change. The Christian Right are liars, cheats, thieves and charlatans. The Dems just lie to fit in. Americans, let’s take back our country! The time is now! Call out the politicians on their lies. Call out the banks on their thievery. Take Wall Street money away from the politicians. Smart people in Congress, that should be our mantra, Carry on with common sense or we are doo-med. It is up to us to remove them!

    October 10, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      Central (Observatory) Scrutinizer,,,,,, ,,,,,, ,, ,

      "Americans" as in upcoming generations, these children of the 'maize' the one's whose shoulders men have thusly hung their burdens upon will somehow have to fix that which their fathers have broken. Not my problem and not my children's problem. I have no child born here to carry the loads of your father's fruitioning ways of guilty and shameless wantonness and financial deniabilities. What therefore are the options of the children to be? More deniabilities? More of the same ol' same ol'?

      October 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
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About this blog

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.