Is Mormonism a Cult?

How do you describe a "cult" - that will determine whether or not you call Mormonism a cult.

The secular media usually defines a cult as a group whose followers are denied basic freedoms by their leadership. Mormonism is not a cult according to this definition.

But evangelical Christians have typically defined a cult as a group that does not believe the essential Biblical doctrines. And a cult which mixes biblical truths with biblical contradictions (i.e. lies) is often called a “Christian cult.” 

During the 2012 Presidential election when Romney (a Mormon) was a candidate, some Christians backed away from calling the LDS Church a “Christian cult,” not wanting to create a divide between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity. And more recently, Dallas Jenkins, creator of The Chosen miniseries, has made public statements claiming that the Mormons he's working with worship the same Jesus as Christians. For Jenkin's specific quotes, see Using Discernment When Watching the Chosen, the section titled “In Brotherhood with Mormons.

I'm not sure why Christians are so willing to defend Mormonism because Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, claimed God told him that all churches except the LDS church were of the devil, “their creeds were an abomination” and those who professed faith in these churches were corrupt.”(1)

One of many modern examples:

I recently came across a popular Mormon blog written by an female LDS theologian (and former LDS seminary professor). Her blog encouraged Mormon mothers to teach their children that the view of the Trinity accepted by all Catholic and Protestant denominations is in error. She confirmed Smith's teaching that “after the Apostles had all been killed, the Church as an organization remained, but the Gospel of Christ – including the Priesthood Authority – was no longer part of that Church.(2)

She explained that when Christians accepted their “wrong” view of God, it was “a good day for the Devil and his associates.” And she claimed that only Mormons can understand what it means to be made in the image of God and call God their Father

Her statements accurately transmit the doctrine of the LDS church.

A kind Mormon friend explained to me that Mormons no longer use such harsh words as those Smith used, wanting to focus on our similarities, not our differences. But our differences are more significant than our similarities. And when the LDS beliefs are transmitted accurately, they harshly and arrogantly condemn Christianity.

We should treat Mormons with kindness, but we shouldn't mislead ourselves or others by ignoring our important doctrinal differences. Instead of seeking to accept or legitimize their beliefs, we should be seeking to share the true gospel with them. 
(1)This is from official LDS Documents: Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 5-6 and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 270. 
(2) Source

Other Resources:  
What is a Religious Cult by Hank Hanegraaff
Quick Comparison of Mormonism and Christianity by Matt Slick
Archive of 1-minute devotions on Mormonism  

How do you describe a "cult" - that will determine whether or not you call Mormonism a cult.

Is Mormonism (the LDS church) a cult? The answer is No and Yes. This short devotion explains and offers additional resources.


  1. As a Mormon, I was nervous to click on this one, but I did it anyway.
    Please understand I don't mean to cause a debate or argument by commenting, I simply want to share my perspective.

    Mormons readily admit that there are many differences between mainstream Protestant Christianity and our own doctrines. However, we seek to be united through our common faith in salvation through Jesus Christ. It is okay to respectfully acknowledge differences, but we should refrain from contention and name-calling. When Mormons and Evangelical Christians unite, we can be a major force for good in the world. Divided, we are missing out on an incredible opportunity and discouraging others from following Christ.

    We reject the 'cult' title because of the connotation. I understand that you don't intend on the common meaning, but when people see the word cult, they automatically assume I live on some communal secret compound where everyone dresses in robes and we are preparing a spaceship for the coming of some mysterious alien god. When people hear that Mormons are a 'cult' they don't realize that I am just a normal person and that I have many of the same beliefs and practices that they do. They automatically think I'm a brainwashed robot out to kidnap their children instead of a free thinking individual who respects everyone's ability to choose their faith.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my perspective. If you'd like to contact me for any reason, you can through my blog. I am always happy to share my thoughts.

    1. Hi Kourtney, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment, especially because it was very kind.

      I appreciate you confirming the fact that Mormons are free and not entrapped in some kind of controlling group. I think this is an important distinction, and I want to confirm it too. Perhaps we should have another term than "cult," but it has been used so long and I'm not sure we'd be very successful in changing it now.

      I believe many Christians do not fully understand the differences between LDS teachings and evangelical Christianity, and perhaps there are Mormons who do not understand our differences. But the differences are significant.

      Our views of Jesus might sound similar if we use a sentence or two to describe Him. But Mormons and Christians use similar words with different meanings when talking about Jesus. And when we carefully study the full doctrines of Mormonism, we discover that evangelical Christians and Mormons are not worshiping the same Jesus. I wish we shared "a common faith in salvation through Jesus" but we don't.

      And your founder made this clear when he called all non-Mormon churches corrupt and inspired by Satan. I'm a bit confused why Mormons would want to be aligned with evangelical Christians considering the claims of Joseph Smith.

      But I'm grateful you visited my post and I pray with all my heart that you will come to believe in the Jesus of the Bible.

      I invite you to read all of my posts on Mormonism and let me know if any of the doctrine I explain is inaccurate. My desire is to explain your beliefs accurately, and I will be using Mormon sources for my posts.

  2. WOW. I was raised LDS and my family is still LDS. NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE I HEARD that mormons worship or look at Christ differently than Christians. I know that they believe that Christ is their Savior and that is what Christians view. I am so SHOCKED by this post, SHOCKED! It seems as if you are attacking this faith, why??? I feel like as a christian you are not being a christian by putting down LDS people. My mother is mormon, my little brother is mormon, most of my family is mormon and i talk to them about Christ just as i do the people i sit next to in my nondenominational church. As christians we are called to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. In your post you are stating that we don't love one another, that we turn away from mormons. That is not the christian way. We are to love one another as Christ has loved.

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      The Father of Mormonism called all non-Mormon churches "of the devil" and "corrupt," with creeds (doctrines) that are "abominations."

      I'm not sure why you didn't mention this in your comment.

      I'm not always as good a Christian as I would like to be, nor am I always loving. But my desire in writing this post is to help Christian and Mormon alike understand the Truth that sets men free.

      I've studied Mormonism and Biblical Christianity enough to know our differences are significant and important.

      If you attend a Bible-believing church, I encourage you to ask your pastor or another mature Christian to help you study the claims of Mormonism and compare them to Biblical Christianity. Or check out the sites I link at the bottom of this post.

      I'm praying for you.

  3. What's the point in covering the Mormon Faith? Why not focus on the positive in your own faith than waste energy on trying to expose another faith in a not so positive way..
    Where is the love?

    I don't see the point in this..You have a great website, focus on your own stuff than other religion..

    1. Hi Jo,
      I'm sorry if I didn't make my purpose very clear for writing this and other posts about Mormonism.

      I've noticed lately that Mormons are either unwilling to share our significant differences or they are uninformed about the faith they are trusting to save them.

      And I've noticed that Christians are also uninformed or unwilling to speak the truth in love to their Mormon friends.

      The LDS Church teaches a doctrine that is not Biblical even though they use similar terms. This is not simply my opinion, but the opinion of Bible Scholars and Ex-Mormons far more intelligent and informed than me.

      I received an email this week from an ex-Mormon thanking me for making the truth clear and asking me to pray for her Mormon family members.

      You ask "Where is the love?"
      I suppose it's how we define love. If we define love as making everyone comfortable, then there is no love in my post. If love is defined as sharing Christ with a lost world, then I think my post is loving.

      If I were talking about non-essential doctrinal differences like those between Presbyterians and Baptists, I'd be the first to agree there was no purpose in writing these posts. But I'm talking about the difference between eternal death and eternal life.

      I am hurt by negative comments as much as anyone, and I always hate getting a comment that infers I'm not loving. I would love to have everyone like me, and that's why I must constantly fight the desire to write only things that please people. But I feel like I'm doing what God wants me to do, and if one Mormon is saved because of it, or one Christian speaks the truth in love to a Mormon friend, then it's worth the negative feedback.

  4. Gail,

    Thanks for this post. My husband was saved out of an LDS church when he was 15 or so. I'm am SO thankful for the youth pastor that shared the truth with him!!! For those of you who are offended by this post I encourage you to really investigate the Mormon church and the beliefs held and then weigh them against what the Bible says. All you have to do is compare and contrast the Mormon belief in who Jesus is to the Christian belief. It is stark. There is also MANY issues of the historicity of Mormonism. Why was the BOM translated into King James English? What about all the false prophecies of Joseph Smith (He prophesied people who were 9' tall on the moon...little did he know that we would one day step foot on the moon).

    I know that you only post this out of love. What if Mormonism truly is not the way of salvation, but a lie? Wouldn't this post be motivated only to show others the truth? The truth is by its very nature exclusive.

    Thanks Gail!

    1. Thanks, Shara. I really appreciate the understanding. It means a lot to me. Bless you.

  5. I think your post is very brave. I once was also naive about mormonism & had no idea how starkly their beliefs contradict Biblical truth. Many years ago I very briefly considered joining their church. I'm so glad God protected me from that. I see the meaning of your post. Not to hate others but to inform Christians of what Mormonism really is & encourage them to speak the truth with the greatest love possible to their mormon friends & families.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Ashley. I appreciate your understanding and experiences. Bless you.

  6. Maybe I missed it, but, how about stating the actually differences in Mormonism and Christianity. The Mormon church teaches that Jesus and Satan were brothers. It teaches that Mormons will become gods of their own planets so, many gods. The founder, the "prophet" Joseph Smith made seven prophecies that never came true, thus, he was a false prophet. And the differences go on and on.

    1. Hi Karenay,
      No, I didn't offer a complete explanation of Mormonism in this 1-minute devotion, but I do have an archive of other articles on Mormonism. I've linked it at the bottom.

      And did you notice the link at the bottom of the devotion that offers a "Quick Comparison of Mormonism and Christianity."

      But, Karenay, if you think it's important that every article on Mormonism contain a full list of differences, I encourage you to write that full list and leave it here in a comment here.

  7. Dear Gail, I am late (by many years) to come to your defense. I pray that the previous posters have used the years since their original comments (2012) to understand that when a Christian points out sin or false teachings it is to lead us to salvation. It is not love to stand by and let Satan lead us to hell. This is a hard concept for many people now.... the world relies on feelings instead of scripture to guide them. I am so thankful you have not gotten discouraged by negative comments. You are doing a beautiful job of spreading God's word. Thank you!