What is a cult? Is the Mormon Church a Cult?

What is a cult? Is the Mormon Church a Cult?

The following exchange took place on Eric’s ex-Mormon mailing list.

22 Characteristics of a Cult….

1. They have a persecution complex.
2. They claim to be the only true church.
3. They claim to have the only true prophets on the earth.
4. They challenge the infallibility of the Bible.
5. Some cults claim to be the true Israel.
6. They defy man, man is God or will become one.
7. They humanize God. They limit God to a body.
8. They all have a procedure by which they attack the deity of Jesus Christ.
9. They claim to have divine books. (Esoteric doctrines to be understood by them only in addition to or in place of the Bible).
10. They have unswerving loyalty to their leaders, one never questions leadership.
11. They have an elite society, they create a racist system, they may always have earthly temples where only a select few may go.
12. They have or have had abnormal sex practices. (celibacy, free sex, sex with their leader only, or polygamy).
13. They have good works as a means to gain salvation.
14. They claim that salvation and exaltation comes only through their organization.
15. They encourage their members not to read materials of the opposing views, materials that are not faith promoting.
16. Each cult is a financial empire and the myth must be promoted at all costs to keep the ninety % at the bottom from realizing they support the ten % at the top. They have doctrines of surrendering all worldly goods and lands to the organization. And/or they have a strong tithing law toward this end.
17. A subtle doctrine of the cults is the church state, their own, instituted some day in America. Millions of dollars are spent toward that goal, such as propaganda, lands, banks, t.v. stations, radio stations and other businesses.
18. They excommunicate or ban dissidents in order to keep and maintain control of doctrine, through patterns and requirements of the other followers.
19. They use deception in recruiting and fund raising.
20. They us secretiveness and vagueness regarding activites and beliefs.
21. They seperate recruits from family, friends and society. A change in personality or values is seen and substitution of the cult as the new family takes place. They call each other brother and sister.
22. They promote the goals of the group over the individual and approve unethical behavior while claiming goodness.

The above received the following response:
This list, or one very similar, was posted several months ago and drew a lot of objection, and, I think, rightly so. It is obviously a tailor-made list to make Mormonism out to be a cult, written by a Christian. (See esp. #6, 7, 11, 17). The list that was posted before had originated with an ex-mormon who became a devout Christian. The Christian bias of this list is apparent (esp. #3, 4, 13).

It weakens one’s argument, IMHO, to use such a specific list. It is like Mormons who, when asked how to recognize the true church, would argue that “It must have a living prophet at its head, it must have been restored by a visitation from God himself, it must have the name of Jesus Christ, etc….” with no objective reason for those requirements except that they support one’s argument.

Mormonism is a cult, but this test would not identify any group other than Mormonism as a cult.

A much better checklist, and one which can identify many other cults besides Mormonism, is here. It is based on extensive examination of many cults, not just Mormonism, and thus is much more valuable.

Richard Packham