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Is Mormonism A Cult?

Updated on November 30, 2013
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Kathryn Skaggs is the founder of Latter-day Saint Women Stand, a community of over 50K faithful Latter-day Saint women who love their faith!

Salt Lake Temple - I shot this on a beautiful August evening this past summer.  I love photography, although an amateur.
Salt Lake Temple - I shot this on a beautiful August evening this past summer. I love photography, although an amateur.

Here is what J. Gordon Melton has to say on the subject of cults...

"Cults are claimed to be deceitful. They are claimed to be harmful to their members. They are claimed to be undermining American values. Cults are claimed to be just about every bad thing in the book these days, and with the pervasive images of Manson and Jim Jones hanging over us, any group that is called a cult is immediately associated with those two people."

I remember growing up and hearing about Patty Hearst who was kidnapped by the SLA. That is when I learned what a cult was, or so I thought? Remember how she was apparently brainwashed? In this scenario, she could be freed from being accountable for her actions, which ended up becoming quite negative. Her family wer shocked and horrified! Therefore, the cult surely was to blame.... had to be. But if you recall, the courts did not buy it and she was convicted.

Cult: The Unauthorized Definition

The word cult has many new definitions that have come into play in recent years. For some reason, there are those that would like to re-interpret this word beyond its original meaning. In the end of all this confusion that is swirling about, as to what is a cult, here is what the site for religious tolerance says, in conclusion...

"We have seen cult used to refer to Evangelical denominations, the Roman Catholic Church, Unification Church, Church of Scientology, United Church of Christ, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Wiccans, other Neopagans and many other faith groups. The term is essentially meaningless."


As you might figure, of course I agree with this conclusion, as I too have studied the definition and the meaning of the word cult.

These new and unauthorized definitions of the word cult -- are bottom line, a sect or organization that produces individuals that are followers to that which brings about dependence and no accountability of the individual and ulitimately their actions.

In essence, they are then giving up their individual agency for an alliance to that which then chooses their thoughts and actions for them. We then refer to this result of joining a cult -- as brainwashing.

Thus, the negating of ones self of responsibility for the course of their own life. Why, I have even heard this process described as... lost sheep now finding their shepherd. Apparently these sheep are no longer required to think for themselves, let alone are they capable of doing so. And those, from the outside looking at and observing these flocks, are wont to figure out what in the heck is going on?

What We Don't Understand We Love to Speculate About...

But this is a false assumption for any one of us to make. Every thinking person who walks this planet has the agency to pick and choose whom and what they will align themselves to or with. Regardless of the physical freedom, or not, of that environment in which one lives.

Therefore, to label that which produces the potential negative results in the lives of those that join such a group, is merely using this newly re-defined definition of the word cult -- to then become the scapegoat, and not the actions of individual(s) that have made a choice and joined themselves to such groups, good or bad.

Speaking of what is good or bad for a person... Breaking the law is bad. Self-destructive behavior is bad. Hurting others in bad. But what about the good that many of these groups and sects do produce, which have been assigned this new definiton of the word cult?

How is it that some have taken it upon themselves to judge others that are not like them, as bad? Who are they? Maybe they should convert a few of these lost sheep to their cause, and teach them to think like them. What do you think?

What the SLA did was wrong. The cause was clearly bad. It was horrible that they kidnapped a young woman and submitted her to such awful treatment and influence. Most likely, we can all agree. We may never know all the facts in that case. Some believe that Patty Hearst was in on the entire scheme.

In the objectivity of the law, which is required, they had to determine her as accountable for her choice, to align herself with this group or cult as many had determined -- to have independently, acted criminally. Regardless of all that surrounded the incident, and may very well have influenced her misguided choices.

Nonetheless, guilty.

Why Do People Say Mormonism is a Cult?

A little education: What is a Cult?

What then, IS the original definition of the word - cult

a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object : the cult of St. Olaf.

• a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister : a network of Satan-worshiping cults.

• a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing : a cult of personality surrounding the leaders.

• [usu. as adj. ] a person or thing that is popular or fashionable, esp. among a particular section of society : a cult film.

In searching the internet, this was a consistent definition of the word cult.

Should Mormonism Be Considered A Cult?

Frankly, if the definition were simply that a cult is a group of people who align themselves to each other, and worship an individual because of what that person has done for them; and follow that persons teachings to become alike, and which also then causes them to be better people in this life... If Mormons fall into this definition of the word cult -- then yes, by all means, please consider the Mormons a cult!

The current, negative definition and interpretations as to what a cult is, does not describe the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accurately. Those who would place this label on the LDS people, do not have a proper understanding of what we believe, based on a true understanding of how and why we believe. For these reasons, unfortunately, they go about to distort the teachings of the LDS Church.

Myths of the Mormon Faith: Christian or Cult?

Cult: A group that you just don't like

J. Gordon Melton -

"My working definition of a cult is a group that you don't like, and I say that somewhat facetiously, but at the same time, in fact, that is my working definition of a cult. It is a group that somebody doesn't like. It is a derogatory term, and I have never seen it redeemed from the derogatory connotations that it picked up in the sociological literature in the 1930s."

For more information on cults, please visit the website for religious tolerance. I have learned much from browsing around this website. They strive to be objective in their information and are considered a fairly credible source. Read about skunk words when you are over there...

I address this topic because of the attempt to place The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints, a.k.a. Mormons, and many other good organizations, etc... into a category that has no validity as to what a cult actually entails, per the proper definition.

For this reason, I must say emphatically, that the LDS Church is NOT a cult, as interpreted and defined by today's voices -- which are a voice of fear, misunderstanding, divisiveness and ultimately a deterrent to truth.

It continues to be my hope, that those who are curious to know about the Mormons, will allow those that are members, tell you about themselves. I believe that in this way, you will be the best person to determine what you think.

Thank you for visiting my Hub, and allowing me to share my thoughts on this somewhat controversial topic.


Kathryn Skaggs

I would also enjoy hearing any respectful comments that you might have on this topic...


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