Monday, June 21, 2010

Is the Mormon Church a Cult? ("Lord, Is It I?")

I saw a very generic question a while ago that I have seen over and over and over again in my life: "Is the Mormon Church a cult?"

My response was immediate and almost thoughtless, since I have had years to construct a simple answer:

No, the LDS Church is not a cult - except when "cult" is defined very broadly. When that is done, EVERY religious denomination is a cult.

It really is that simple.

Someone I respect greatly took issue with my answer. He was correct, and his response is the best answer I've ever read as to the question of whether the LDS Church is a cult:

While mainstream journalists and news sources don't tend to refer to the Mormon Church as a cult, I am not comfortable that we try to close the discussion with a clear "no" (about any religion). That disenfranchises some sincere people with real grievances (in their individual experiences).

I think "cult" is personal and local. Your LDS experience may be "culty". Mine may not be. Or vice versa.

As with most things, I feel it's best to leave the question open-ended, and perhaps unanswered.

"What is culty about my religion?"

"What can I do better (not to contribute to an atmosphere of cultiness)?"

"Lord, is it I?"

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