I have been asked many times if the Mormon Church is a cult. Well, first we need to know what a cult is. I would recommend that you thoroughly research any group you are about to join and not just believe what you hear from the group; check outside sources and if you are told by the group that the outside sources cannot be trusted, or are evil, then I would think twice about joining. If the group you are considering claims to be the only organization with the “truth”, or there is no other way to be “saved”; then this should also throw up some red flags. When I was a practicing Mormon and people would tell me that I belonged to a cult, it would ruffle my feathers a little. Then I learned to be more understanding and had the attitude of “if they only knew the things I knew” they would see it the way I did and would know it was true. This was also an area of pride for me because "I had the truth" and others just did not have the ability to see it. I learned to overlook things and believe what the leaders said. It wasn’t until I was on the outside that I could see how deceived I was. Because of that, I am very careful about any group that I join. I think that it is important to research and ask questions to any leader of a group that you are thinking about. A few years ago I had the opportunity to have a meeting with a pastor of a large church in our town. I told him that I grew up in the Mormon Church and that I question everything; to my surprise his response was that he wished more people would question everything and not just be followers. He also challenged me that if I ever heard him say anything that was questionable to call him on it.
Because I’m not the expert on what a good definition of a cult is, I took some information from a site called How Cults Work. I hope you find this helpful in answering the question of if the Mormon Church is a cult.
A cult will have a slick well-rehearsed Public Relations front which hides what the group is really like. You will hear how they help the poor, or support research, or peace, or the environment. They will tell you how happy you will be in their group (and everyone in the cult will always seem very happy and enthusiastic, mainly because they have been told to act happy and will get in trouble if they don't). But you will not be told what life is really like in the group, nor what they really believe. These things will be introduced to you slowly, one at a time, so you will not notice the gradual change, until eventually you are practicing and believing things which at the start would have caused you to run a mile. A normal religious organization would not have any trouble with you moving to another similar organization as long as you stayed in that same religion. Because it is the belief system that matters, not membership in an organization. For example if you were a Christian then you could move from one church to anther and still be a Christian. However cult leaders will tell you can only be "saved" (or can only be successful) in their organization alone. No other organization has the truth, all others miss the mark. So it is not the belief system that decides your future, but it the belief system AND your membership with that particular group.
Be very suspicious of any group that claims to be better than all the others. A religious group may say that other groups following the same religion are OK, but they are the ones who have a better grasp of the truth and they are superior to the rest. This is often just a subtle version of exclusivism.
Cult leadership is feared. To disagree with leadership is the same as disagreeing with God. The cult leaders will claim to have direct authority from God to control almost all aspects of your life. If the cult is not a religious group then questioning the leaders or program will still be seen as a sign of rebellion and stupidity.
When you first go to a cult they will practice "love bombing", where they arrange instant friends for you. It will seem wonderful, how could such a loving group be wrong! But you soon learn that if you ever disagree with them, or ever leave the cult then you will lose all your new "friends". This unspoken threat influences your actions in the cult. Things that normally would have made you complain will pass by silently because you don't want to be ostracized. Like in an unhealthy relationship love is turned on and off to control.
Only information supplied by the cult is true. One cult labels any information against it as "persecution" or "spiritual pornography", another cult calls it "apostate literature" and will expel you from the group if you are caught with it. Cults train their members to instantly destroy any critical information given to them, and to not even entertain the thought that the information could be true. Common sense tells us that a person who does not consider all information may make an unbalanced decision. Filtering the information available or trying to discredit it not on the basis of how true it is, but rather on the basis of how it supports the party line, is a common control method used throughout history.
Mind control cults keep their members so busy with meetings and activities that they become too busy and too tired to think about their involvement.
Time control also helps the cult keep their members immersed in the manufactured cult environment and time control helps keep cult members away from family and friends.
They tell you they are not a cult.
This is a preemptive strike against the warnings from friends and family members which they know will come. In fact some cults go as far to tell you that Satan will try and dissuade you by sending family members and friends to tell you it is a cult. When this tactic is used then often a warped form of logic occurs in the recruits' mind, the "agents of Satan" do come and tell them that it is a cult. So since the group predicted that would happen, the group therefore must be true! Basically if any group tells you that they are not a cult, or that some people call them a cult, then for goodness sake find out why!
Some cults travel door to door during times when women are home alone. They, and this is rather sexist, think that women are easier to recruit and once they have the woman then it will be easier to snare the husband or partner.
In short here is a list of things to look out for… (as taken from “How Cults Work”)
· Single charismatic leader.
· People always seeming constantly happy and enthusiastic. Especially if you discover that they have been told to act that way for the potential new recruits.
· Instant friends.
· You are told who you can or cannot talk to or associate with.
· They hide what they teach.
· Say they are the only true group, or the best so why go anywhere else.
· Hyped meetings get you to meetings rather than share with you.
· Experiential rather than logical.
· Asking for money for the next level.