By Mette Ivie Harrison
When I was at graduate school in Princeton from 1990-1995, I worked summers as a temporary secretary at various big local businesses. In one of those situations, I talked to a coworker about my religion. She was a Baptist, and had some pretty strong opinions about Mormons. To be specific, she called Mormonism a cult and when I tried to talk her out of it, she dug in and insisted. I asked her for the reasons she thought Mormonism was a cult and tried to suggest that lots of religions she thought of as real religions rather than cults had similar traits. For instance, her argument that Mormons didn’t believe in grace over works seemed similar to me to Catholicism.
I was pretty prickly about Mormons being called a cult at the time, but 25 later, I have begun to wonder if it might not be useful for Mormons to understand more clearly why so many people think of Mormonism as a cult. Are these reasons that are true and are things we embrace? Are they true and things we might want to change? Are they simply not true and things we need to correct people about?
- A Charismatic Leader
- Denial of Essential Christian Teachings (Trinity, Christ’s Reality, the Second Coming)
- Brainwashing/Systematic Programs of Indoctrinization
- Psychological Abuse/Intimidation
- Mass Suicide/Doomsday Expectations
- Authoritarian Mind Control
- Communal and Totalistic Organization
- Aggressive Proselytizing
- Social Humiliation and Punishment
- Limitation of Information to Membership or Outright Deception