Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

Official Answer

One definition listed for ‘cult’ in Webster’s Dictionary is “a religion regarded as unorthodox.” Since the roots of Mormonism are not a break off from the Catholic or Protestant churches, it is seen by some as “unorthodox.” For example, the LDS definition of the Godhead differs from the Nicene Creed accepted by most Catholic or Protestant churches. The “cult” label is usually applied by Church opponents attempting to criticize or discredit the Church. However, sometimes it’s simply a matter of characterization that has grown up over time by the lack of understanding. Such misunderstandings often vanish when people begin to realize the commonality of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really teaches and believes. That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world whom we love and worship. When people begin to see and recognize these things about Mormons, then their opinion of the Church usually changes, and old beliefs are replaced with new understanding.

  • Mostly because of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about the Church. It's easier for people to believe what they hear from other people (who heard it from someone else, who heard it from another person that read it on the Internet...) instead of making an effort to find out from the source. In addition, there are small, secretive groups that are not part of our Church that use a modified form of the name of the Church for their own group, and have practices that are similar to our worship services and practices. These groups may be involved in illegal activities, especially polygamy, and when the media reports on them, they do not make an effort to distinguish between these groups and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Show more

  • Because we believe in continuing revelation through Prophets as in the days of old, i.e. Moses, Abraham, this is uncomfortable for some people because media has made our Prophets seem like evil men leading people astray, when they are just trying to teach us correct principles so that one day we all may return to live with our Father in Heaven. Another reason is because we believe in the sacred nature of temples, meaning only worthy members may enter the Temple so people think that evil rituals are performed. However, in reality the nature of the temple is uplifting and beautiful and gives us clarity to what the purpose of life is, the plan of salvation, and other topics such as life, death, and the atonement of Christ. The temple is not "secret, but it is sacred. However, we encourage all to live so that they may one day enter the temple. http// Show more

  • Across America and in foreign lands I have met people who have been told and believe (because they do not know otherwise) that Mormons are part of a cult. That opinion has always changed when they actually met a Mormon and were willing to listen to what we believe and and what we are trying to be. The good people I have met did not originated the "cult" label but had accepted it from someone else. The motives of the "someone else" I cannot judge. But I do know that the "cult" label did not survive when the person listened and was willing to feel the Spirit. Show more

  • Perhaps because they see how close-knit we are as a community, and it can be somewhat hard to understand this support network if you have never been part of something quite like it. Sometimes we hear that some others may perceive or presume that members are 'brainwashed' with information and forced to conform to some standard. To those I would say that is exactly the opposite of what actually occurs under the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You see, Satan's way is to force people to conform. Study the life of Christ and you'll understand that He never forces, but instead always invites. Freedom to choose is something that we believe is one of God's greatest gifts to mankind, and is fundamental to our faith. All people (Church member or not) are always free to choose what to believe and how to act (we call this agency) and are encouraged to seek understanding of the reasons for any invitation that Christ or the living Prophet extends to them. Show more

  • I suppose that new and different things have always been a challenge for some. It seems possible that the New Testament Christians might also have been called a cult: they were few in number, taught new, or at least different, doctrines and were lead by strong, charismatic leaders (a study of the early apostles like Peter or Paul bears this out). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the Mormon church) follows the teachings of Jesus Christ as contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We do not worship our founding prophet (Joseph Smith) or our current prophet (Thomas S. Monson). We teach that men are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrice on the cross and that as we strive to follow Him and keep His commandments, that redemption becomes personal. If others persist in defining the Church as a cult, in spite of our rather obvious Christian beliefs and doctrines, then we will simply have to agree to disagree. Show more

  • It's funny, I used to call the Mormon Church a cult too. I just didn't understand it. Mormonism isn't weird or strange. Its members don't perform satanic rituals or brainwash teenage boys into walking around from door to door in suits and name tags (nor is anyone forced to -- everyone who chooses to serve a mission does so out of their own free will and choice). I used to call Mormonism a cult because it seemed foreign and unfamiliar, which I deemed scary. The same thing happened to Jesus' first followers as well: they were accused of cult worship too! Others who understood little of what Mormons truly believe told me lies about so-called "practices" in the church which, in reality, were just made-up stories and falsehoods intended to give the church a bad name. When it comes down to it, a lot of people just don't understand this church, and lies about it spread like wildfire. Mormons believe that Jesus is the Christ. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world, plain and simple. Is that so weird or cultish? Today, there are close to fourteen million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide, and more live outside of the United States than inside. That doesn't seem very cult-like to me! Show more

  • One of the definitions of a cult is a group of inviduals who have a set of beliefs that are based solely on the teachings and understanding of one charismatic leader, who is often worshiped in this group. There are some who don't know much about the church that believe that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints worship Joseph Smith, or if they really don't much about it, they believe that we worship Mormon. If this was this case than I would have to agree that it is a cult by that definition. But this is not the case. We worship solely the Godhead, namely God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Joseph Smith was merely a prophet of God, who we give respect as we should respect all prophets of God, who Abraham, Noah, and Moses would be included in that list. Our teachings and understanding of who we are and who God is, is based on the teachings of all the prophets and apostles since the world began. There is a lot of misunderstanding about our religion and what we really believe, and when this misunderstanding is perpetuated by those who misunderstand, then lots of misconceptions will occur, the idea of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints being a cult is one of those. Show more

  • I grew up thinking, at one point, Mormonism was cult. I made this assertion based on nothing but hearsay, and didn't actually know any tenets of the LDS faith. Now, as a person who has thoroughly investigated the sincerity and divine truthfulness of this Church, I can resoundingly say that the Church of Jesus Christ is by no means a cult. I find that the major reason why people think Mormonism is a cult is simply due to a lack of understanding of the Church. For instance, not many people really know that Mormons believe in and strive to be closer to Jesus Christ we believe Him to be our personal savior and redeemer of the world. We read the Bible and know it to be the word of God. We take communion. We have an unpaid clergy. We live to serve others as Christ would have done. When people take the time to understand what Mormonism is really all about, like I did, they will understand that Mormons are normal people with normal problems, and each of us relies on God to be a better, more Christlike person. Show more

  • I just saw news footage where a minister called the Mormon Church a ‘cult’ and the news commentator turned around and said it wasn’t. The news commentator was right. One definition listed for ‘cult’ in Webster’s Dictionary is “a religion regarded as unorthodox.” ‘Unorthodox’ according to whom? Catholicism and over 2000 churches who broke off of the Catholic Church or the original teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ? We believe some of the original doctrines contained in the original Church of Jesus Christ fell into apostasy and were changed by men. One example is the definition of the Godhead as laid out in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds that are widely accepted by most Catholic and Protestant churches today. We believe the Godhead is made up of three separate and distinct individuals that are one in purpose not in body. When I read about the atonement in Matthew 26:39 (KJV), “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” I believe God the Father, Jesus Christ, Peter and the other Apostles would find the teaching that ‘Jesus Christ was praying to himself’ as quite ‘unorthodox’. I choose to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, not the teachings of men…regardless of the names they choose to call us. Show more

  • Some call Mormonism a cult because it is not a "traditional" Christian church. The primary complaint of the "traditionalists" (generally Protestant Churches) is that we do not believe in the doctrine of the trinity as it relates to the nature of the Godhead. The doctrine of the trinity was codified in the Nicene Creed in 325 AD, many years after the death of Christ and the Apostles. It basically says that the Godhead, The Father, Son and Holy Ghost, are one being in "substance." Since Mormonism does not accept this doctrine, they say we believe in a different Christ than they do and therefore are a cult. It is curious that this "trinitarian" doctrine is not taught anywhere in the Bible. Mormons believe the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible (and the early church established by Jesus and His Apostles) teaches that the Godhead indeed consists of The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. But, it teaches that they are: 1) three distinct individuals as expressed in Acts 7:54-60 where Stephen is being stoned. "He being filled with the Holy Ghost looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God." And it teaches 2) they are one in purpose, not in substance (John 17 where Jesus offers his intercessory prayer, particularly verses 20-23.) This is what Mormons believe. It is noteworthy that the early Christians were called the "sect of the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5) and were considered a cult by the Sadducees and Pharisees, the predominant religions of the day. Show more

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