by Bil Aulenbach

Religions and Cults

One Sunday morning, in an adult education class, I was talking with someone about one of my recent blog posts that stated that Mormonism is a cult. One man, a Mormon who attends my church, denied this vehemently.

I believe that religions like Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, and fundamentalism continue to fan the flames of anti-LGBTQUI hostility. Without that deep-seated bigotry, I suspect most people in our country wouldn’t care much about sexual orientation. Modern research shows that human sexuality is a spectrum with endless variations—similar to how our DNA is capable of great variation and how sex chromosomes don’t always get handed out neatly.

Quite honestly, I don’t care what your sexuality is. I care much more about how people show agape.

However, that topic got me thinking about all the different “religions” in the world. Many are secular. For example, an addict’s “religion” is their drug(s). Addicts live and die (literally and figuratively) for their drugs. We can say the same about money, power, sex, cars, hobbies, boats, travel, or children. Many people center their lives around their religion.

My contention is that, especially for religion addicts, religion can very quickly become a cult. For example, Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith (a rather strange man) using Christian ideals. Then he wrote the Book of Mormon and that religion became a cult.

The Episcopal Church has The Book of Common Prayer, which changes the message of Jesus into a long and involved instruction manual for how to do and say everything in the church service. The rubrics (rules) in this book have become much more important than Jesus. Episcopalianism is a cult no longer directed by Jesus but by petty rules.

I suspect this cult would turn Jesus off. He wants us to love people, not books and rules.

The Roman Catholics are notorious for their many diversionary cults. Mary is the biggest offender, but their statuary, missal, rules, saints, and exclusionary directives make them a multicult religion.

My wife and I attend the Irvine United Congregational Church. Our church does have a cross on their simple altar but no creeds, statuary, missals, established order of worship, or long lists of rules. This church’s religion allows me to understand Jesus and his message of agape very easily and then put his words into action.

Here’s my bottom line: Most religions and churches quickly become cults. Why? I can only answer as a so-called Christian. I know that developing cults within religious institutions is so much easier than practicing unconditional love, forgiveness of self and others, or caring for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40).

What’s your take?

 

Image courtesy of jon collier (CC BY-SA 2.0)

3 Responses to Religions and Cults

  • Next time, tell us how you really feel.

  • Cults try to control their adherents. Mormonism is a good example of that. My church began as a part of the Mormon movement and that lasted 14 years, A group who could not buy into the strange doctrines Joseph Smith was teaching, including spiritual wifery (otherwise known as Polygamy) dropped out of the movement and in 1860 formed their own movement and later changed their name to Community of Christ. We t4each the message of Jesus…love, God’s realm and acceptance of everyone just as Jesus taught. It is one of the earliest modern day churches to accept everyone regardless of religion, race, or orientation.

  • The word cult is not necessarily pejorative. But when the word is used in the negative sense, as you have consistently here, you put a value on it. technically you belong to the cult of Jesus Christ. Is a religion a cult only if they don’t adhere to what you believe in.

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