Is Mormonism a cult?

I promise this is not “Church Chat with Pat,” but, as you know, lots of the public policy debates end up getting tied into religion. Part of this is a deliberate effort to embarrass political enemies and make them shut up. That’s a dirty trick. Period. It is what some desperate (are they all desperate?) Republican candidates are trying to do with Mitt Romney. It is despicable.

But, is Mormonism a cult? Beats the daylights out of me. The language is descriptive of somebody walking down the street, minding their own business, when out of nowhere comes a bunch of chanting zombies in white robes seizing the unsuspecting person and stuffing him in the trunk of a car. “Cult” conjures up images of jungles, Kool-Aid, and machine guns. The word “cult” may not have an entirely precise definition, but most people sense that it is not very positive.

A better way to look at this might be to look at the boundaries of “orthodox” belief: the so-called “ecumenical creeds,” the decrees of the first four Ecumenical Councils,the Chalcedonian Definition of the Trinity (the Tome of Leo). I have heard Moron theologians say they believe Jesus to be co-equal and co-existent with the Father. I have also heard Moron theologians turn a little mush on the creeds. I have a lot of questions about Mormon beliefs and my judgment would hardly be helpful. I am just trying to give the ordinary reader some idea that there are actual standards and limitations. This is a religious test, and while government is not asking the questions, it is still the kind of thing our Constitution explicitly forbids (Article VI, paragraph 3).

Now, what is really curious about this (and I am NOT saying that everybody who has raised questions about Mitt Romney is guilty) is that some of the critics have no real idea of what they believe about the Trinity or the person and work of Jesus Christ. Not only that, but I suspect that if you caught some in an unguarded moment, they might say that it really does not matter what anybody believes. In that respect, those individuals are no more “mainstream” or “orthodox” than Mr. Romney.

It may be just a small point, but back in jolly old England in the 17th. century, there were plenty of Church of England bishops who thought (maybe rightly) that the Puritans were a bunch of outrageous malcontents and trouble makers; in other words, a cult. The whiners and complainers got on a ship called the Mayflower and came to a place called America so they could worship in peace without being pestered by an official state funded church.

The Mormons I have known are great people and I say leave every one of them alone, including Mitt Romney.


About patlynch
I am a broadcaster in Arkansas, a former freelance writer and political columnist in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Writing Coach. Speaker. Director of the Christian Foundations for Ministry program, and presently enrolled in the Anglican School of Ministry Master of Ministry program.

One Response to Is Mormonism a cult?

  1. Thank you Pat…I have followed you for years…even though I left Ark. many years ago I’m a Latter Day Saint and I appreciate what I just read an open mind is all we ask. and ask if you have questions we like to share…

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