Religion – What defines a cult?

I just read the article from the BBC “Park Romney: Why he turned against the Mormon Church“.

If you read this blog with any frequency then you know I like to talk about religion.  I like to talk about the historical aspects, the origins, customs and ceremonies etc.  Religion has impacted humanity more than any other institution and will continue to do so.  Given the enormity of organized religion and its profound influence, perhaps these are reasons organized religion is my favorite subject to attack.  Seems a little like David and Goliath.  Here I am armed with my experience, learning, travels and studies.  Goliath being the billions of believers, the 2000 years of history, the institutions which have been built up throughout the world and traditions which have been ingrained in almost every society.  I stand in front of all this and call it false.  I attack.

I know a little something about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aka. Mormons.  I should start off by saying that they really are pleasant people and the town is very clean and orderly.  I used to call on them for work, always enjoyed my visits and really enjoyed the hospitality.  They also have a sense of humor as I saw “Mormon chicks are hot” t-shirts in the mall.

What they are not humorous about however is the beer.  Apparently it is 3/2 beer and you have to order food if you drink more than two.  I learned this at an Applebees near my hotel.

Regarding the religion, I was invited to take a tour while walking back to my car from the main headquarters.  The main headquarters I should tell you is the most enormous building in all of SLC and thus just goes to show the importance of The Church in that town.

Before I go on, I should probably explain why Mormonism is so important in Salt Lake City.  From what I understand it is because Mormons founded it.  You will notice that Utah is pretty much a wild wasteland.  Can’t even drink the water in the lake since it is salty, thus, SALT LAKE CITY!  The Mormons were persecuted from state to state until they ended up in Utah and there really were not many people there.  Thus, they decided to stay and settle so as not to be persecuted anymore.

Well, enough of the history lesson, let’s get to the important parts of this article.

1.  Freedom of Religion

“There’s compelling evidence that the Mormon Church leaders knowingly and wilfully misrepresent the historical truth of their origins and of the Church for the purpose of deceiving their members into a state of mind that renders them exploitable,” says Park.

Such accusations are rarely heard in the US, a nation founded on the principle of freedom of religion.

“It’s not something you’re supposed to talk about,” says Prof Robert Putnam of Harvard Kennedy School.

I for one do not see why we’re not supposed to talk about it but Prof Putnam is correct.  There is an old saying “Don’t discuss politics or religion,” and this saying used to hold pretty true here in the USA.

However, the Right Wing threw the first part about not discussing politics right out the window.  According to them you are now supposed to not only discuss but to continually/consistently attack any idea, rule or person on the Left.  If you listen to their talk shows it is your duty as an Amurican to verbally accost any and all people who seem like Liberals.

The second part of that statement, the one about religion, pretty much holds true here in the USA.  We’re just not supposed to discuss it with others unless they are of the exact same faith as us.

Well, now that I think about it, the Right has pretty much broken that rule too.  But all in I would say that religious remarks remain very few, even including Limbaugh and his ilk.  Statistically,,, probably 97.9% politics vs. 2.0% religious remarks.  I’ve saved .1% for the times they say something intelligent.  🙂

I’ve gotten a little “off track” as the Right likes to say about America.  But before I go back on the “right track” …….
*****Does the Right use this analogy so often because you cannot be on the “Right Track” without using the word ‘Right‘???   :O ************
Before I get back on the ____ track let me just say that I’ve made another error.  For the sake of simplicity and that I’ve confused myself already with my sidebars, let me just state the rules.

Cannot Criticize
1.  Jewish Faith  (Never.  Very bad if you do)
2. Christianity  (Mostly never.  Some evil liberals do though *for which they will go to hell for all of eternity*)

Can Criticize
1. Muslim faith (always always always, please make a sign, put it in your yard, always)
2. Mormons (Most of the time.  People are still confused about it though, not sure exactly how to criticize since Mormons never do anything bad……. except sometimes have more than one wife)

So Prof Putnam, in the end I disagree.  You can criticize religion, it just depends which religion you are talking about and how powerful the individual in question is.

2.  Religion – Weird?

“But a certain function of reminding voters who might have some predisposed notion about Mormonism that maybe it is strange, maybe it’s weird.”

I think I’m just going to cut to the chase here.  People might believe Mormonism is a bit strange simply due to the fact that it is………..  a bit strange.  Let’s just lift a small paragraph from Wikipedia about it.

Joseph Smith Jr. said that when he was seventeen years of age an angel of God, named Moroni, appeared to him,[10] and said that a collection of ancient writings, engraved on golden plates by ancient prophets, was buried in a nearby hill in Wayne County, New York. The writings described a people whom God had led from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere 600 years before Jesus’ birth. According to the narrative, Moroni was the last prophet among these people and had buried the record, which God had promised to bring forth in the latter days. Smith stated that he was instructed by Moroni to meet at the hill annually each September 22 to receive further instructions and that four years after the initial visit, in 1827, he was allowed to take the plates and was directed to translate them into English.

I could ramble on about how it is a bit improbable that people came from Jerusalem to the American continent 600 years before the birth of Jesus.  I could discuss the plates, the seer stone and Egypt but I don’t want to do that.

What I do want to point out is how weird all religions are!  To be brief, I’ll just use my personal favorite, the one I know the best and consequently the one that is most popular in the USA.  Let’s have a round of applause for CHRISTIANITY!!

For a person like me, the above statement seems a little like the pot calling the kettle black.  You see, most people do not understand their own faith.  They only follow it because it is what they were taught to do, it is what their neighbors and friends do, it is a tradition in their family and so on.  It seems that perhaps 90% never inspect the various aspects and really analyze why they do the things they do in religion!

Let me just point out a few “weird” aspects of Christianity (specifically Catholicism since it is the KING of all those other offshoots)

1.  Communion
Belief – The bread and wine physically become “flesh and blood.”  That is to say all those nicely dressed people are eating skin and hemoglobin, or at least they believe they are.
Why? –  Sacrifices have been common since ancient times.  Christianity just follows this tradition to a degree.  In the modern day sacrificing a goat would get messy and the congregation would probably be appalled.  So, over the last 2000 the sacrifices became watered down and easier to perform.  Yes, yes they say that it is what Jesus tells them to do, but the reality is that the books and what Jesus actually said has also been changed, revised, deleted and so on throughout the millennia.

There also might be a link with old beliefs in that you gain the powers of an animal/person/plant/whatever by eating it.  I’m not too familiar with this tradition but am sure it comes from the dawn of humanity until we as a species finally understood that it was just plain gross. ……..  But now that I think about it, you can pick up some pretty gross foods in Asia that are supposed to give you special powers.

Skull in chain mail, Medieval relic in Visby´s museum Fornsal, Visby, Gotland, Sweden

2. Relics

Many people may not know, but there is an actual dead person’s (Saint) bone in the alter.  Seems pretty harmless now but back in the Middle Ages it would not be uncommon to have an entire skull placed where people could see.  They did/do this just to show reverence to the Saint (or martyr) who died.  Ideally you want to have a bone chip of the actual saint for which the church is named after.

3. What makes a Cult?

I had an idea of what constitutes a cult but it was nothing more than that; just an idea cobbled together from various people calling various religions “cults.”

So I looked it up.

1.  A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
2. A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.  

Well, isn’t that interesting.  Given these definitions every religion in the world could be considered a cult.  I just pointed out above that the most popular here in the USA does some pretty strange things but I don’t hear many people in the US calling Christianity a cult!  (Well except in those hippy enclaves up in Berkeley maybe)

So getting back to the BBC article we have one of the Elders saying the following.

“The allegation that the Church is a cult, made by Park Romney and other ex-Mormons, is denied by Elder Holland.
“If that is what they believe, it’s probably a good thing they leave, because we’re not a cult.”  

Sorry Elder Holland, a good amount of people find Mormonism pretty darn strange and by the definition of “cult” it looks like Mormonism fits the bill.


Every other religion fits that bill too.  Therefore, it would be prudent to redefine the world cult as it is currently being used today.

1. A religious institution or group whose practices the majority of people in a given area find strange/sinister regardless of their own religious practices also being quite strange/sinister to majorities outside their defined area.  *#
*Majority rule on what is defined as strange regarding religion
#The jester calling the clown silly.  

So what is the point of this post?

NO POINT, but I’d rather have Park Romney running for President than his brother Mitt.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! (^.^)/