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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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. tldixon

    ALL religions are cults

    November 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  2. Otaner

    Christianity is a sham anyway, made up of old pagan holidays, sun worship and an amalgamation of pagan symbology. Old gods were perverted into demons, the ankh became the cross and Mythra's birthday became Christmas. Some myths repeat themselves on many old world religions just to pop up with different characters in Christianity. The problem is more Christians are too lazy to research were their religion came from, and afraid to find the truth. Once someone figures out the prototypical religion we'll find the truth, until then I say we're all listening to fairy tales.

    November 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  3. Ben Neb

    Not a cult. Rev. Jeffress said as Mormons we are a cult because we weren't formed by Christ. But I read that in Christ's time there was one church formed by Christ. Does that mean all churches but one are a cult? We believe God's church was led by apostles and prophets and that they were martyred one by one. After time God called a new prophet to restore much of what had been lost. Thus we do believe we were formed by Christ.

    All temples beore they are dedicated are open to the public for a time. This is after the construction is finished. Millions have entered the temples and testify that they are a place of beauty. http://lds.org/church/temples?lang=eng

    Concerning one belief mentioned... The bible says “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

    “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Cor. 8:4–6.)

    We believe to us there is one God and His Son Jesus Christ. I know this is true.

    @renecultbuster: I haven't read all but your posts seem a little ridiculous. Seems a little hard for 14 million Mormons to vote for any candidate since less than half live in the United States, even if all were Republican. But from what you say you understand our church better than we do, so maybe I don't get it fully.

    November 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • The commenter


      November 1, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  4. If I had a penny for every stupid Republican I'd be rich!

    Of course it is a cult. That is the plain fact.

    November 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  5. Dirty Harry

    Of course a cult when first founded. Just like the Branch Dividians. Joseph Smith was a nut job. Today, if Mormons tried what the founders did back then, the FBI and the ATF, etc would have been very interested. The Mormon's have gone mainstream, sanitized their past. So mainstream that being born into the modern day Mormon household is no different than a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any other major religion. Unfortunately many religions think their way is the only way. So Mormonism is just as much an oddity as other religions on the surface. But if you have faith in whatever you believe in, that is fine because there is no reason it can’t be real. Believe hard enough in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, they become real too.

    October 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Bubba

      I found your comments very interesting... It is interesting how the Jews had the same thoughts and opinions of Christ's followers when he was on the Earth. Certainly the Pharisee, Publicans, and Sadducees felt the same way and see how that turned out for those that followed them instead of Christ. May be a good idea to be more opened minded.

      November 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  6. Rosanne

    Mormonism isn't a cult and who cares! I'd rather vote for a devout atheist than a right wing conservative Christian, or other religious extremist who is going to force his religious views on the rest of us. We do not have a religion test for president. We have freedom of and from religion.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  7. Brain

    ALL religions are cults...

    October 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  8. DJ

    As a FORMER TEMPLE MORMON, I can tell you what goes on in the temple is NOT Christian. So many things that they say are 'sacred' are plain Satanic. Freemason symbols are everywhere including the 'special garments' we are to wear all our lives. 3 different symbols on the underwear. One on the underwear at the knee and on the top there are 2. Couldn't wait to get out of that place.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • pmmarion

      Yeah, right... Tell us what temple you belonged to and who your bishop was and THEN, MAYBE we'll believe you.

      November 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Bubba

      I've never met a member of the LDS church refer to themselves as a TEMPLE MORMON before.

      Are you against other Christian religions also such as the Protestants, etc that also separated from the Catholic church because they believed that the leaders where flawed in their teachings?

      November 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  9. renecultbuster


    October 31, 2011 at 3:47 am |
    • Bubba

      What is the scripture that says "IN SECRET I HAVE SAID NOTHING"? References are appreciated since I can't find it in the King James version of the Bible.

      November 1, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  10. Joel2012

    Are Mormons Christians? What do Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe in? The core tenets of their faith are summarized below:

    13 Articles of Faith

    1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.

    3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

    4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

    6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

    7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

    8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

    9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

    10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    11. 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.

    12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul – We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

    Are Mormons Christian? Recognizing that many will ignore the wisdom of these faith-based tenets and instead launch false and misleading tirades as to why the information above is incorrect, I invite those who are sincerely looking for the truth to visit he following websites:


    Come Unto Christ:

    'Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.'

    'And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.'

    Moroni 10: 32, 33
    The Book of Mormon

    October 31, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • renecultbuster


      October 31, 2011 at 4:17 am |
  11. Vanka

    Should US citizens really entrust the highest office in the land to a man who has made secret, sacred oaths to consecrate everything he has or is (time, talents, etc.) to build up the LDS Church, and to sacrifice everything he owns, including his own life, for that Church?

    How can a person who has taken such oaths be trusted to keep the oath of office of the Presidency of the United States of America?

    Add to this the fact that Mormons (and Mitt) honestly believe that Jesus is soon coming to destroy all those who do not believe in him, and he is going to "put all nations under his feet" (or "bring an end to all nations", and take the top position of the LDS Church as the ONLY political and religious authority on the face of the earth!

    The LDS Church's doctrine is fundamentally totalitarian and fascist, pointed toward a definite theocracy. In my opinion, there is no Mormon who can be trusted in high office in this country.

    October 30, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  12. Vanka

    Mitt also made a secret, sacred oath to obey "The Law of Sacrifice":

    Quoting from the Temple Endowment:

    "The posterity of Adam down to Moses, and from Moses to Jesus Christ offered up the first fruits of the field, and the firstlings of the flock, which continued until the death of Jesus Christ, which ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood. And as Jesus Christ has laid down his life for the redemption of mankind, so we should covenant to sacrifice all that we possess, even our own lives if necessary, in sustaining and defending the Kingdom of God. All arise. Each of you bring your right arm to the square. You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this alter that you will observe and keep the Law of Sacrifice..."

    Of course, by "Kingdom of God", Mormons mean the LDS Church, the leaders of which Mitt believes are the ONLY men with authority to speak for God on the face of the earth.

    October 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  13. Vanka

    The concern I have with Mitt's Mormonism centers around the secret covenants he made in the LDS Temple. He made solemn oaths.

    The Law of Consecration:

    "Each of you bring your right arm to the square. You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar, that you do accept the law of consecration as contained in this, the book of Doctrine and Covenants [he displays the book], in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion."

    So will Mitt Romney dedicate the Presidency of the United States to the building up of the LDS Church? It sounds like that is what he promised to do!

    October 30, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • BradT

      I don't think being elected president gives anyone possession of the United States.

      November 1, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • Bubba

      What kind of Christian would be willing to dedicate their lives 100% to follow Jesus Christ? That's crazy talk!

      November 1, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  14. A in Pa

    Cult - Self proclaimed Prophet, to whom the membership displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment Joseph Smith regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
    Cult clothing - Garments, under clothing, Black suit, white shirt for men
    Rituals- can you say Mormon Temple practices
    Elitist–Mormons consider The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the only "True" Church on the face of the earth today. Only they have a living Prophet who speaks for God and only they have the Restored Priesthood authority. They are the only duly appointed representatives of God here on earth, all the rest are fakes.
    Preoccupied with bringing in New Members and members are expected to devote an inordinate amount of time to the group. Do you know any Mormons in good standing who's whole life doesn't revolve around the Church.

    Sunday, Church and other misc meetings, Monday, family home evening, Tuesday, women’s relief society meetings, Weds day, Youth meetings, Thru -visiting teaching must be done, Friday spouse date night (everyone exhausted) Saturday, the day you get ready for Sunday. Ward primary activity. If you aren't attending one of these functions your are preparing a lesson for Sunday or for your young men’s or young women’s lessons or you're reading the scriptures and praying. Now fit in taking care of family, laundry, household tasks and work.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  15. HijodeElElyon


    October 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Herf

      How soon?

      I hope you're better at predicting than Harold Camping is. 🙂

      October 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  16. Ugh

    ALL religions are cults

    October 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Duke Divinity 1994

      Kennedy was elected president because he obviously did not take most of the Catholic faith seriously. (A minority of Catholics believe everyone else is going to hell, as the pope still contends). Kennedy was obviously a rational person who knew that many religious claims are "horse do-do."

      Ditto for Jimmy Carter, who clearly believed in following Jesus the great teacher, but did not worry about saving people's souls. He was also a rational human being and apparently knew that much of religion is made up by people who are no more inspired by god than every other person.

      Ergo...if Romney truly believes the absurdities put out by his church (which are no more fantastic than those of so-called orthodox Christianity) then he is not a rational person and should not be president.

      October 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Ted H

      I was going to say the same thing, but you beat me to it ! People need to round out their study of religion by studying it inside and out. And by outside I mean, for instance, the books of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Dan Barker, et al, at least to get a different perspective.

      October 30, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  17. eric calderone

    The LDS Church's teaching of the Nature of the Godhead is so fundamentally different from Christianity, that it should be considered another religion, not a heresy.. When the LDS Church talks about the Father, they mean that God is the biological father of Jesus. When they say that Jesus was a man, they mean he was born only a man, and only became Divine by following the ordinances of his biological father. Similarly, through their teaching of eternal progression, the LDS Church teaches that an obedient person will one day be rewarded with his own planet where spirit bodies worship him as God. Therefore, they believe there are many gods.

    The LDS Church teaches that Jesus was born near a Star, called Kolob. Lucifer was his biological brother. Jesus and Lucifer differed on the Plan of Salvation for man, and in the disagreement, 2/3 of the angels sided with Jesus, and 1/3 with Lucifer.

    Mormonism believes that before physical life, there is spiritual life. We are spirit bodies, who worship our God. If we are obedient we are physically born with a fair skin. If we are not so obedient, we will have a darker skin (mark of Cain).

    The LDS Church believes that Jesus came to America, and taught Hebrews who had emigrated from the Holy Land around 600BC. They had an advanced civilization here but it disappeared because they strayed from the true religion.

    To say that these beliefs fall outside of orthodox Christianity is as much of an understatement as saying Hitler was not an orthodox Jew.

    October 25, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • jm

      You've got many things right, but I'll just point out a few mistakes here. We believe that before Jesus was born physically, He was already divine. He was the creator of this Earth and spoke to the prophets even before He was born. Lucifer was Jesus's brother in spirit only, just as we are all brothers and sisters in spirit. They are not biological brothers. Skin color being a result of pre-Earth life obedience is not an official church doctrine, though some people have suggested it. Most members have rejected this idea.

      October 27, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • renecultbuster

      It matters not how well they act , or what good acts they do , if they believe that they are going to become GODS, then they are not christian, this is sufficient to exclude them from consideration as christians. The avarage person with no theological knowledge knows this . They do not nock at the door and say, "Hello mam we are from the church of latter day saints and we are going around talking to people about our church,and if you join our church you can become a goddess and your husband can become a GOD. Right about then people will frown and tell you "well you might succeed with me but my husband , I dont know, can you just get him to be human? I will settle for that? Other people will say , you are too late, I read Sherly Mclaen book and I already am a Goddess. God said that he is the only GOD and He knows no others. The others are FALSE. A vote for ROMNEY IS avote for the godmakers.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • Ben Neb

      We believe Christ was born in Bethlehem. We believe God lives on a planet. Where else would he live? I believe Christ atoned for the sins of all men if they repent so I would like to be considered Christian. It is Christ that I worship. A lot of our beliefs are different from others' though. @renecultbuster: If you are a Christian then what is the first and most important commandment?

      November 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  18. gianna

    All religions are cults. Isn't a cult just taking something and making it new or twisting it to serve a new purpose?..something that has followers. Christianity is a branch of Paganism and Judaism. It is a "new" religion in the regard that it has been around for less than 2000 years. Mormonism is a branch of Christianity that gained popularity and followers. To say Mormonism is a cult, you have to recognize that all religions are cults and that it doesn't necessarily make it good or bad..just a fact.

    October 23, 2011 at 7:07 am |
  19. yw

    ALL religions are cults. It is just a word bigger ones like to use about smaller ones, to make them feel they are the chosen ones.

    October 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Adam R


      "ALL religions are cults. It is just a word bigger ones like to use about smaller ones, to make them feel they are the chosen ones."

      If you are attempting to make the argument that mainstream Christianity is "bigger" than the LDS I would have to argue that you are wrong. The LDS is a rapidly expanding organization and is in fact the richest religious organization in the world. The wield an immense amount of power and influence. They are by no means small.

      October 25, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  20. Mormonman88

    As a member of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints, I would sincerely like to thank Mr Mouw for his remarks. That my friends is a true display of integrity even in the face of unpopularity. Thank you.

    The great thing about being a Mormon in these last days is that we have been told all along that we would suffer persecution, we would be unpopular in the eyes of the world because of our belief system. I see the issues and problems people have with the Mormon church. We come off as ultra conservative in a world of lessening conservative values, the contrast will only grow sharper. We follow a modern day prophet who guides us in very general matters of principal and spirituality. You may compare that to an evangelical sitting at the feet of a pastor who is passionately explaining and expounding on important truths taught in scripture. We read additional scripture which will always be ridiculed and belittled, but thats okay. We try our best to lead virtuous lives abstaining from harmful substances and living chaste fighting to keep sacred what we believe the most important things in life are; our relationship with God, and our families. I get all of the fuss about us, we are different, we are Latter-Day Saints. While on this Earth, all we yearn for is a peaceable walk with the children of men. But we know by prophecy old and new, that there will be wars, rumors of wars, calamities, and all sorts of conflict. We expect this, we are preparing diligently to fortify our hearts to stand on our beliefs even if it costs us our very lives, and it will. It already has in the case of Joseph Smith and many others. We are not fanatical or radical, but rather the world and popular thinking would like to use that as an excuse for our unwavering commitment to our values. We will not change who we are or what we think. I know Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. He lived, atoned for our sins, died and was resurrected on the 3rd day. He lives today and has restored his church to the earth in his name. The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day saints. We are a little less than 1% of the world's population, but we will remain firm and steadfast in our faith. Just for educational purposes, those who would like to know more about us should visit the church's official websites lds.org and Mormon.org.

    October 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • renecultbuster

      Do the mormons still own pepsi cola, and 40% of the L.A . TIMES? 80% of the beet industry of california and god knows what else? Do you know if all the 14million of them will vote for Romney or Cain who is also a republican. Can Black people become GODS? And don't say that I'm hateful and mean or mormonphobic, I am a real christian ,not like the the Master's college turncoats. They don't know their theology.

      October 31, 2011 at 2:18 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.