Are all religions "cults?"

February 26, 2012

“Do you think we’ll ever elect a Mormon president?” a friend asked the other day, as she navigated her car through the streets of San Jose.

“I don’t support Romney, but I don’t see why we wouldn’t,” I said, glancing down at the directions to the event we were attending.

“I think Mormonism is a cult,” she said. Now that got my attention.

I’d never thought about it that way. I mentioned it to my husband.

“What religion isn’t a cult? he pointed out. “Take our own for example. The Virgin Birth? Resurrection? Equally cult-like.”

I know that I have the world’s most silent readers, but I also know that some of you have strong religious beliefs. I’m interested in your thoughts on this.

Some definitions of cult from


1.a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3.the object of such devotion.
4.a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5.Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a setof rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6.a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
8 comments on “Are all religions "cults?"
  1. Anonymous says:

    Before you make your decision on the Mormons, do some research. It should at the least make you very, very wary. A VERY xenophopic group with more liquid cash then probably any religion in the world. Just two topics I might suggest: Mountain Meadow Massacre and the Hoffman Salt Lake City bombings. There is more but that will get you started.

  2. Peggy Strack says:

    Hi Carol ~ From the definition, all religions are cults. However, it seems that society has turned the term into something meaning a religion with a powerful, charismatic leader who takes all of your possessions and makes you do crazy things. Maybe the dictionary needs to be revised.
    You’ve created a thought provoking blog. Great writing. ~ Peggy Strack

  3. Every religion is fake to other religions as only theirs can be the right, real and true one. Therefore all religions are cults.It’s certainly true that religion has probably caused the killing of more people through the years than any other since the day we first allowed someone else to do our thinking for us.
    You have a thoughtful yet fun site.

  4. Eden says:

    Hmmm, from the definitions you’ve posted, it certainly looks like all religions are cults. I think the last one is the generally accepted one.

  5. “Cult” is such a loaded word, isn’t it? But the definitions don’t all pay that off.

  6. Gary Presley says:

    “Cult” = “Jim Jones” Or, I don’t religions become a cult until a member is forbidden to leave. Scientology seems to meet that criteria, doesn’t it? But even strict religions (Mormon, Amish, Catholic) generally do no more than excommunicate (take away membership) or shun.

    “All religions are flawed, imperfect, a clumsy human attempt to interpret the infinite complexity of creation and our part in it.”

    I’ll go with that.

  7. Love the discussion, thank you all for a thoughtful set of comments thus far.

  8. Talon says:

    Hey, what is a religions? It’s a belief, right? Every one things theirs is the right one. I am Christian and i do blief Jesus is the son of God. And there is only one God, there can be only one God. If there were more than one, where would we go? The Earth, HE ahd criated, would split, Or?

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