Critics of Mormonism (properly called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) sometimes like to tell people about the “Mormon cult” and all the awful things it is and does. The word “cult” is the kind of word that frightens people away from the Mormon Church before they know anything about it.And what is a “cult?” In many dictionaries, cult simply means a religious organization, but this isn’t the meaning anti-Mormons are using. They, of course, mean cult in its most negative connotation – a dangerous religion with a strong personality at its center.
Mind, early Christianity was persecuted as a “sect” and a “cult,” and most of the definitions anti-Mormons apply to “cult” when they give that name to the Mormon Church would also fit Christ, His followers, and the early Christian Church. Why would the early Christians have suffered such profound persecution if people hadn’t thought the Church dangerous? It would be a mistake to decide that anyone who opposed the Church was simply evil – many thought they were serving God by trying to hasten the destruction of the Christian faith. Paul himself persecuted the Church ferociously before he joined it.
A good number of anti-Mormon organizations operate today, in the United States and elsewhere. The 1987 Directory of Cult Research Organizations lists more than a hundred anti-Mormon groups. These groups pass out anti-Mormon literature, give public lectures that attack the Church, and proselyte Mormons in an attempt to save their souls from what, most of these groups feel, is a dangerous cult.
These groups will often assert that Mormons aren’t Christian. They’ll often use, as justification, one of the differences between Mormon belief and most other Christian belief. Mormons do not believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity – instead, they believe that God, the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate beings with one purpose, rather than just one being. The anti-Mormon groups will claim Mormons worship a “different Jesus” and that that uniquely Mormon book of scripture, the Book of Mormon, is contrary to the Bible. The opposite is true. The Book of Mormon validates and upholds the Bible.
Another distortion of Mormon beliefs comes from cofounder of Ex-Mormons for Jesus and excommunicated Mormon Edward Decker. While simultaneously claiming to love the members of the Church, he attacks the Mormon religion incessantly. The Godmakers is the title of both his film and his book, and they are both gross misrepresentations of what Mormons believe, especially in relation to temple ordinances.
But Mormons are never encouraged to counter-attack, but rather to keep their responses “in the form of a positive explanation of the doctrines and practices of the Church” (Church News, Dec. 18, 1983, p. 2).
And why are all these people so set on attacking the Mormon Church? Again, doubtless, many people wholly and completely believe that they are protecting potential and current members of the Church. Many people believe that they are saving souls. But some may be motivated by contempt or anger and their purposes in attacking the Church may be less pure.
Regardless, Mormons believe that all people have freedom of choice to make their own decisions and believe what they may. They invite everyone to examine the Book of Mormon for themselves and put it to the test, as explained by Moroni at the end of the book:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:4-5).