Q. “Aren’t you Mormons part of a cult?”
A. “Sure we are, just like you Lutherans/Catholics/Baptists/etc.”
Given that a standard dictionary definition of a cult is “a system or community of religious worship and ritual,” yeah, I figure my fellow Baptists qualify. Of course, there are other dictionary definitions, such as “a religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false.” Since a majority of the world is likely to disagree with my Lutheran friends (and with all of us Christians, as a matter of fact), I guess they’re in, too.
Of course, those who use the word “cult” aren’t trying to inform others that we are a religious organization. Informing has nothing to do with their ends – it’s all about spooking people with the eerie nuances of the word. And those in the battle against “cults” work hard to come up with special definitions of the word to nail their targets, be they Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Roman Catholics, or martial arts fans. According to these special definitions, for examples, cults may be any group with one or more features like claiming to have inspired leaders, teaching new ways and laws that are not already accepted in current society, asking sacrifices of money and time from their people, claiming to have new revelations or scripture, etc. What I find so interesting about nearly all of these special definitions aimed at labeling Mormons as “cultists” is that these definitions also condemn Jesus Christ and the early Christians. They were generally viewed as false and extremist, claimed to have an inspired leader and new revelations, taught new ways, demanded much of their members, introduced new scripture – you name, those early Christians and their leader were cultists to the max, just like members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. OK, so I admit it: I belong to a cult. But it’s nice to be in such good company!
So, what cult do you belong to? Interested in a restored one? We have openings!
I discuss the issue of cults in more detail on my Mormon Answers page about cults and Mormonism.