What LDS fail to understand is that if we Christians can't claim Mormonism is a "cult," then we don't have a short-hand way of saying that Mormonism isn't a legitimate expression of Christianity. Mormonism's intense reaction against this is simply an attempt to regulate the way we think and talk. Sorry, but we aren't Mormons & we don't view them as legitimate Christianity. Why? See http://www.MormonInfo.org/.
Growing up in Salt Lake, it always bothered me a bit that we called Mormonism a cult. The only cults I knew about were these guys in Texas who all got killed and these guys who thought a comet was a spaceship and killed themselves. That didn't seem to be like the Mormons I knew. After reading the Oxford definition and the article in Wiki, I have to step in and agree with the Mormons on this one (a rather odd position to find myself in). "Cult" does not seem to accurately describe what the LDS church is, and it's pejorative connotation can be very offensive. Perhaps you should find another, more accurate short hand.
Why must all cults be ones that would kill themselves? They aren't a world religion (numbers are too small). They aren't a liberal denomination, let alone a denomination when they claim to be the "only true Church" (D&C 1:30). That's why every evangelical textbook on the cults has Mormonism in it. Of course it's pejorative and offensive, but that's how Christians view Mormonism--a counterfeit of genuine Christianity--even if they probably won't all kill themselves on command of their prophet. Some cults are more sociologically dangerous than others, but they're all still cults claiming to be the only legitimate expression of the truth.
You never considered Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, The Unification Church (the Moonies), the Worldwide Church of God (with Armstrong), or Scientology, etc. "cults"? These never killed themselves either, but they are all found in standard textbooks on the cults. Common denominator--they all claimed to be the true and only expression of Christianity. But of course, as Christians, we know what they really are... counterfeit examples of Christianity or "cults."
So, I think you misunderstood me. I was pointing out what I knew at the time. Like I said, I read the Oxford definition of the word (I consider a fairly reliable source for defining such things) and the Wiki article on "cults"( admittedly less reliable, but probably mainly OK for browsing purposes; which is what I was doing) and don't see Mormonism as fitting the definition in either source.
Now, if you are defining the word to mean," any religion that claims to be Christian but is not accepted by mainstream Christianity as such," then Mormonism fits that definition. But, according to the sources I looked at, that's not what the word means. So, if you are going to call Mormonism a cult, you must put a little asterisks next to the word and footnote your comments to make it clear that you are defining non-colloquial terminology.
The problem with using these dictionaries is they often aren't precise enough for theological purposes. Oxford isn't taking into account this definition of "cult" that is utilized by major denominations of the Christian Faith.
Here's another example: "Trinity." http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/trinity?region=us. Theologians find that fine prima facie, but it doesn't help when sorting through all the specific definitions that other groups have on this matter. According to this definition, Mormons hold to the Trinity. According to the last 2 definitions, Jehovah's Witnesses would hold to the Trinity. But obviously these groups have distorted what Christians have always meant by the term. This is why attempting to answer the precise theological question is better suited by going to theological dictionaries. For example, see http://carm.org/dictionary-trinity.
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cult?region=us. #2 would prima facie work with what we're trying to describe with Mormons, JWs, Moonies, etc.
(I wrote quite a bit here. The summaries at the end if you want to just skip to that.)
Let me address the first post. I agree that dictionary tend to be imprecise when defining technical terms. That's why we have things like medical dictionary, law dictionary, etc. that define these terms in precise terms for their given fields.
However, if you are going to have a discussion with a layperson, it is not helpful to the conversation to use technical terms, particularly technical terms that have colloquial usage.
For example, I'm a physics. In physics, we use the word "work" to mean a technical manner to describe an exchange of energy. So, let's say you see me walking up a hill with a ball in my hand. You want to start a conversation and come up to me and ask, "Geoff, what are you doing?"
I answer, "Oh, I'm doing work."
You are a bit confused and ask, "Um.. who are you working for."
I respond by saying, "Oh, I'm not working for anyone. I'm doing work on the ball."
You look at the ball. It looks just fine to you, but you think I'm probably not crazy, so you ask, "Is there something wrong with the ball. Is that why your working on it."
"No," I respond. "The ball is fine. I just want to take it up this hill, so I'm doing work on it."
Now, at this point, your probably a bit frustrated. The reason you might be frustrated is because the word "work" is not used this way in normal conversation. In fact, you might rightly think that I'm being rather round-about and annoying.
(Parenthetically, I'd like to point out that although non-standard, the Physics definition of "work" is in the Oxford dictionary, although not as precisely as physicists would define it.)
My point is that when you are speaking to people in a non-technical setting, it does not good to use words with their technical meaning. There may very well be a theological text (which you have yet to source) somewhere that says something like:
"A cult is
followed by a list of attributes that the Mormon church fits perfectly, but that is not how laypeople use the word. I contend, that if your going to have a meaningful conversation with laypeople, you should use terminology that they can understand.
(Of course, if you are not actually interested in a conversation and are more interested in the use of the word as pejorative, the above argument is not particularly relevant, but I'll get to that later.)
Let me know address your second post about the definition #2. I assume you mean the one that says: "a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister."
OK, fine... except for the "relatively small group" bit. It is true that "relatively small" is a (probably) purposely imprecise description, but it is hard to imagine what scale you are working on to consider Mormons relatively small.
The source I looked at (on the Web so of course subject to some unreliability) grouped Mormons in with other Christian domination, and they were in the top ten largest groups in America. They're on the same order of magnitude as Lutherans, Presbyterians, Pentecostal, Episcopalian, so they don't seem to be small by that measure. (http://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html)
What if we instead take all Protestants as a measure of comparison. By that measure, Mormons are small, but so are Jews, and they unarguably have strange ideas about religion when compared to the Christian belief system. However, I'm not aware of anyone advocating calling American Judaism a cult. One can say the same about American Muslims and American Atheism. That being the case, we are either inconsistent in our application of the definition, or we don't truly believe these groups are small.
What if we take a world wide perspective. Then, yes, Mormonism is small compared to all other Christian groups, but it is still bigger than world religion like Shinto (the major religion of the area I live in). Shinto definitely would have strange and perhaps sinister ideas in the eyes of Christians, but I've not heard the term "cult" applied to this religion. In fact, if you did, you would be calling an entire country cultists. Again, we are left with a case inconsistently applying our terminology. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations)
So, to sum up, I reject the notion that Mormons fall under the second definition in the Oxford dictionary based on the size of the group. Either we must accept that they are a sizable group of people, or we must start calling a bunch of other groups cults.
Finally, I want to return to something I hinted at early, and that is using the word "cult" simply as a pejorative disregarding what the word actually means. If that really is your intent (which you sort of hinted at in your first post when you said, "Of course it's pejorative and offensive, but that's how Christians view Mormonism," but maybe I misunderstood your intent. But anyway, if it is your intent to be offensive), I have to ask why? What do you hope to gain by being offensive to Mormons? Do you really feel that this might be a good tactic to persuade them to your side of the argument.
Let's see how starting a conversation with an offensive comment might go by switching the roles. Let's say I'm your friend and I think you're a real jerk. You learned this behavior from your other friends and family... it's just what you grew up with. It's how you learned to socialize.
Now, I come up to you and say, "Rob, your an a**hole. Your father was an a**hole, and all your friends are a**holes too. But its OK. I'm here to help you."
Are you going to listen to anything I say after that. I'm going to guess you aren't because I've started the conversation by deriding you, your father, and all your friends. In fact, I would not be surprised at all if you had a strong desire to punch me in the face. That would be a very natural reaction.
Now, pretend you don't know me. We've never met before. I've not only started our conversation by insulting your life, but I've started our relationship by insulting your life. Why would you have any reason or desire to listen to anything I say after that? You probably would not want to ever talk to me again after that.
I contend that by calling Mormons "cultists," you are playing out exactly the above scenario.
To sum up everything, I don't believe calling Mormonism is accurate or helpful. There has been no definition of the word that I've found or that has been otherwise sourced that accurately describes what Mormonism is today without resorting to inconsistent use of the term. If there does exist a technical definition of the word used in theological circles, it is at very least not helpful in conversation with laypeople and at worst it is hurtful to the point of stifling conversation and relationship. Without conversation and relationship, one has no hope of persuading Mormons that some of their beliefs are incorrect relative to the Christian perspective, an implicit goal of Christians.
By the by, here is a link to the wiki article I looked at on cults: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult
Thoughtful points Geoff. I typically wouldn't use the term in normal conversation right off the bat with LDS. There are certain things you don't say on the 1st date, if dating is the goal. ;>P Nonetheless, if people ask, for example, why evangelical textbooks on cults have Mormonism listed in them, then that would be an appropriate time to discuss it with them. People off the street typically want to engage me in whether LDS are Christian or not, and usually I simply say it's not genuine Christianity. That's offensive too, but if truth is the goal, then sometimes truth offends, no matter how loving I am in the presentation of it. So if they're going to be offended on this level, then it's not going to be any more offensive to give the short-hand version of this idea to them. If I'm talking to Evangelical lay people, though, I have no problem telling them the term is used to refer to groups that are not legitimate expressions of Christianity. Why? Because of the major doctrines we disagree with them on.
I was thinking of relatively small numbers worldwide since they are only 14 million. Sure that's bigger than some denominations, but not even LDS think of themselves as a denomination. They think of themselves as "the only true Church" (talk about "offensive").
As for Shinto, just calling it a world religion isn't precise enough. It's a branch or form of the world religion--Buddhism. Mormonism isn't a branch or form of Christianity any more than Islam is. Sure both believe in Jesus, but both have radically different understandings of Him, and both different significantly from traditional Christianity. The latter and Mormonism can't both be true. Mormonism teaches there are only 2 churches--one of the Lamb and one of the devil (1 Ne. 14:10--again, talk about "offensive"). So in order to get LDS to see the gravity of the situation, sometimes I'll tell them I agree with 1 Ne. 14:10 and then claim that I obviously don't think we belong to the church of the devil. That entails Mormonism is part of the church of the devil. So perhaps in some circles it would be better to refer to LDS as currently in the nascent stages of a new world religion.
Carl Mosser, in "The New Mormon Challenge," echoed many of your points. He said, "Controversy rages about how to define the term *cult.* Some advocate purely sociological definitions, while others propose theological definitions. Many times movements classified as cults according to a purely theological definition, like Mormonism, would not be classified as such according to most sociological models. Another problem with the word *cult,* whether defined theologically or sociologically, is that it tends to be closely associated in the minds of many with the occult and with dangerous apocalyptic doomsday predictions, which are not usually defining characteristics of cults according to either type of definition. Furthermore, in some popular discourse, *cult* is little more than a four-letter word--and not just in the literal sense. Some writers, though purportedly using the term in some technically defined manner, have a tendency (possibly subconscious) to use the word's "excess baggage" to rhetorical effect. Because of this semantic confusion and because of how easily it can be exploited, it seems to me that it would best not to use the word but to develop alternative vocabularies, especially with respect to the word's use as a precise theological term. In much of the evangelical community, however, *cult* (defined theologically) is the only word used at present to refer to religious movements that claim to be Christian but deviate from Christian orthodoxy. In this chapter I will use the term *New Religious Movement,* though I am not sure that is an entirely satisfactory term either" (410-11). It's not "an entirely satisfactory term," simply because it's too neutral. When we're getting at the truth of our textbook definitions, we need something that is pejorative and offensive, simply because we view Mormonism as not a legitimate expression of Christianity.
BTW, here is a theological dictionary definition of "cult:" http://carm.org/dictionary-cult.
BTW, Geoff, I like the opening Wiki statement: "The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre." That would sure fit Mormonism given our Western Worldview that most people have today. You start telling them accurately what Mormonism is really all about and you'll get some pretty weird looks, because most people just don't take the time to look beyond the surface of Mormonism.
Rob, great dating/girlfriend analogy! Good summary quote by Mosser, too
Thank you for providing a reasonable definition (although I was a bit disappointed. I know what they mean but they didn't say it well. The best statement might be rephrasing the first two sentences to say something like: "From a Christian theological perspective, a cult is a religious group following a particular religious system derived from Christianity but has distorted the doctrines of salvation to the extent as to cause it to be unattainable." That would be an acceptable definition.)
Thank you also for the Mosser quote. He expresses what I was attempting to express with much more eloquence. "Cult" has, over time, developed all manner of unsavory associated imagery to the point where its use as a precise theological classification is marred by thoughts of "Temple of Doom" style dogma and practices.
It further gives ammunition to people to simply wish to incite hatred and animosity by giving them permission to use the word "cult" in popular (not technical settings). Someone can take a sign that says: "Mormonism is not a religion, but a dangerous cult" and parade outside temple square with confidence that his/her statements are backed by the theological community. After all, according to the textbooks, Mormonism is a cult. So the protester can march with the sign held high, likely pushing most Mormons away from his/her message and the message of Christianity; all the while maintaining a close link to theological circles because that is the terminology that is used.
So, I agree with Mosser that alternative terminologies need to be explored for classification purposes and that his proposed new term, "New Religious Movement" is not satisfactory. But look, this is a very solvable problem. We are American English speakers. Our culture makes up or steals words as easily and naturally as a rock falls from some great height. One can simply go back to some dead and\or disused language, extract a word with an appropriate meaning and use it. One could even choose a word that was a pejorative (although I wouldn't recommend this) because as a disused word being inserted into a modern language, most if not all previous associations will be gone. We get a fresh word, free the debate of what the word means, whether it should be applied sociologically or theologically, etc., and appropriately disassociate ourselves from people who's goal is to deride Mormons and other groups currently classified as "cult."
Ya, I agree that the term "cult" has so many bad connotations. The problem I think is that any term we come up with is going to fall into disrepute, because 1) we're in a society that doesn't think precisely when it comes to theology, and 2) we're in a society that tends to think of almost all religions as on equals and simply a matter of faith, without reason to legitimize one over others. So, for example, instead of "cult," we can use "xyxer." OK, what does that mean? I mean it to be the same thing as what evangelicals mean by the term "cult." Now confusion and hard feelings will set in over this new term. No one will like to be labeled with "xyxer," since that means they aren't a legitimate expression of Christianity and it lumps them in with all sorts of crazy faiths, some of which have even practiced group suicide.
The way I use the term "cult" makes me have no problem with Jews considering Christianity one as well as a false world religion. And as a Christian, I also have no problem thinking of Islam as a cult as well as a false world religion. So to be consistent, I think of Mormonism as a cult as well as a nascent false world religion. Truth to the exclusion of its opposites is the real issue here, and people these days get irate when this gets applied to one's own faith. But if I'm going to follow our Lord, then that's exactly what He told us to expect. And if that's never happening, then I'm certainly doing something wrong.
So, the objection to coming up with a new word is that maybe someday it will have the same baggage as the word "cult" does today. Well, I agree. Maybe someday it will. But the timescale might be very long, and in the interim we've got a usable technical term without baggage.
That, however, is less important than what you bring up in your second paragraph: this is about telling the truth. Absolutely! The truth is a great thing and at every opportunity should be told. So do it!
It seems, based on you initial post and the course of this conversation that by "cult" you mean "not a true expression of Christianity." Why not just say that. Sure, it's a little more wordy, but do you regularly encounter situations where you need to be that concise? I can think of only two, and in both cases would want to sacrifice conciseness for clarity.
The first might be on a sign. I can imagine space is important there. But if you write, "Mormonism is a cult."on a sign, people are going to think you mean "Mormonism is a group of Satan worshippers bent on stealing and sacrificing your children, brainwashing into a virtual catatonic state, and ultimately bring about the destruction of the world through their nefarious plots." If instead you write, "Mormonism is not Christianity," then there's no confusion. It's what you mean. Sure, people might still be offended, but at least now they are offended for the right reasons rather than a miscommunication.
The other situation might be if your using twitter, and you would still want to be clear there for the same reasons.
In a conversation or lecture, the 3-4 seconds you gain by using the word "cult" instead of "not Christian" cannot possibly be that significant. If it is, talk faster.
To sum up, yes, tell people the truth, but don't let that truth get marred by miscommunication brought on by using a colloquially imprecise term. Calling Mormonism a cult does not communicate truth. It communicates hatred. To communicate truth, tell people what you mean and don't fall onto trite, imprecise, politically charged terms.
So it sounds like you agree with me that Mormonism is a cult, but you just don't like the syntax of the term given its bad connotations. But the bad connotations I have heard have never concerned hatred. Every time the subject has come up, it's always been a disagreement over whether LDS fit the bill or not. That would happen no matter term you use, since again, the issue isn't really syntax; it's semantics. LDS strongly disagree that they are any term you want to insert which conveys the idea that they are false Christianity or heretical. They are the truest of Christians, since they are the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints.
As such, I don't have any problem using the term Evangelicals have always used, so long as there is a context which defines it. "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'"
Let me be brief because this little discussion is starting to take a bit too much time (yes, I know I started it).
First, my thoughts on Mormonism...
I was hoping not to be dragged into that aspect of things. I'm still not sure I think Mormonism is a "cult," because I've not really thought too much about the definition you presented a few posts back. What I can say is that looking at Mormonism and the rest of Christianity (i.e. Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists, etc.), the differences in the fundamental beliefs are significant enough that they cannot be categorized under the same heading. What does that mean in terms of the technical nomenclature? I have no idea. I'm not a theologian or a sociologist.
And maybe that's the point. It seems to me that using most technical nomenclature with a general audience is just ill advised. For example, in your previous post, you said something about Mormons being somewhat put out if it is suggested they are a "false Christianity." I've got to admit, I don't really know what you mean by that. The phrase suggests that they are Christian in some sense of the word, but false as a modifier could mean a few things. Do you mean they are disingenuous or insincere Christians? Do you mean they're wrong Christians? Do you mean that you don't think it is Christianity at all?
The problem with using short-hand and lingo is that unless everyone agrees on the meaning, real communication doesn't happen and there is an inclination towards miscommunication. Now, of course that's true of any conversation. Language is an imperfect medium to convey thoughts and ideas, but muddying things with technical terminology compounds the issue.
Christians in general seem particularly notorious at this. How often have I heard, "I'm born again," or "I'm washed in the blood." These are short-hand phrases that are used so frequently and with so little background preparation that its not clear to me that the people who are saying them know what they mean.
So, I have a challenge for you. Next time you have a chat with a Mormon (because I know you will, its what you do), don't be technical. Talk plainly. Leave the lingo at home. If they start using some technical gobly-gok, don't assume you know what their talking about and ask them to explain further about what they really mean by what they are saying. It's possible that they don't really understand some of the terminology they are using means, so it is useful to find out what they really think by challenging them to rephrase what they mean in non-technical terms. In short, communicate. Don't lecture.
By the way, I've got to admit I didn't carefully read your Humpy Dumpty quote. Cute but...
Is the "I'll use whatever words I please. Damn them if they don't understand." attitude really effective for communicating truth?
Again, Geoff, that's why context is critical. So I have no problem saying that we don't consider LDS to be Christianity. At best, it's false Christianity. It's heretical, since it teaches a false Christ that Jesus warned would come in the last days (Mt. 24:24). It's heretical because of all those reasons I listed on my Home page chart of differences on MormonInfo.org. It's not a denomination, not even a liberal one. It's not a "full-fledged" world religion, although it may be in the nascent stages of one. But even if it is a nascent world religion, the point is that it's a false one since it contradicts the Bible. So the LDS individual is already either in strong disagreement with me at this point or he or she is giving me a fair shake to understand my views on the matter (mostly it's the former). So given that context I've established with them, I *can,* if I feel the situation is warranted, tell them the other term (besides heretical) that we evangelicals use to refer to them.
So it's not a damn them if they just don't get the term I'm using type of thing. There is a context in attempting to help them understand the gravity of the situation. And after that, if they still don't get it, then there is a time to "shake the dust off your feet" as Jesus taught, or just blow them off as Jesus Himself did in Mat. 15:12-14.
And again, I like the initial Wiki definition: "The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre." Mormonism is truly abnormal or bizarre. No question about it!
Based on the definition of "abnormal or bizarre", many Evangelical married couples may qualify as cultic re their sex lives (depending on who's judging and whether or not the judges have sex hang-ups).
Many evangelicals seem abnormal and bizarre to many non-evangelicals.
The "abnormal and bizarre" standard seems subjective at best. It seems arbitrary and capricious. Yes, some cults (Jim Jones) definitely seem "abnormal and bizarre," but it seems inadvisable to use that as the starting point in defining a cult. It seems circular to do so without a stronger grounding.
While cults may seem "abnormal and bizarre", not all "abnormal and bizarre" practices constitute cultic behavior. It could just be the constitution of a kinky married couple, no?
Good point Steve. That's why I set a context to talk about beliefs of the organization itself. So when Christianity is presented and defended, and it's shown to be the basic worldview that we usually imbibe here in the Western World, then when an organization like Mormonism is presented, it becomes obvious how abnormal and bizarre it is. So ya, I wouldn't take the Wiki definition simply by itself, but prima facie I don't see why it can't be incorporated for a definition of the term cult, especially since according to Wiki, this is what is used in popular circles. And keep in mind, this is a definition that Geoff offered.
Still, it seems a stretch to refer to Mormonism as "abnormal and bizarre" because "abnormal and bizarre" conjures up images of loony suicidal cults.
Granted, Mormon theology has a bit of a "Magical Mystery Tour" element to it ... but when I think of "abnormal and bizarre", I usually think of loonies who sacrifice their children on behalf of their beliefs as opposed to, say, guys in white shirts riding bicycles.
Here's what I said before: "You start telling them [people off the street] accurately what Mormonism is really all about and you'll get some pretty weird looks, because most people just don't take the time to look beyond the surface of Mormonism." You know just as well as I how abnormal and bizarre Mormonism is. I'm not talking simply practices, but more so simply beliefs.
Maybe I've just been spending too much time at those "abnormal and bizarre" clubs in Hollywood so now my bizarrometer needs to be re-calibrated ;o) ... I like the music in those clubs but, man, those Hollyfolk can make ANYONE seem normal by comparison.
Steve--did you ever see the South Park episodes on Mormonism and Scientology? If not, I hope you can see them sometime. They do a great job at capturing the "abnormal or bizarre." Then again, secularists think all religions are cultists. So I grant the subjectivity here, and again, that's why I'm insisting that context is critical.
So, I'm afraid I still don't understand your justification. You can't assume they've visited your website, so the context is established when you have a conversation. Let say this starts because of one of your signs. This is what I imagine.
LDS guy walks up to Rob
LDS: So, you think we're not Christian. You know Christ is in the name of our church?
Rob: Well, yes, but...
LDS: But according to the Book of Mormon...
Rob interrupting: But I don't believe the Book of Mormon. If you look at just the Bible...
More discussion ensues.
Near end of discussion.
LDS: Well, I disagree. I guess you just haven't seen the light yet.
Rob: Well, the real problem is that you are heretical cultists.
LDS guy, stunned and angry, walks off.
So, yes, you *can* call them a cult, but how is it helpful? What have you accomplished by it? It seems to me at that point, your just engaging in name calling.
That's quite a caricature Geoff. I guess if that's all that happens, then all that's going to be accomplished is that the LDS will think I believe he is a cultist and heretical. That's not really productive on my view.
However, if theological points are clearly presented and defended, which happens in many of my conversations, then I don't have any problem in saying on the basis of this, LDS are cultists or heretical. And guess what. Many times LDS aren't as offended as you think they'd always would be. They may disagree, but at least they and I have [hopefully] engaged in a rational, well-mannered conversation, and understand a lot better where the other is coming from.
Finally, no one comes up to me and says, "So, you think we're not Christian." They have no idea I don't think they're false Christians. My sign simply says, "MormonInfo.org and JosephLied.com." They just know I'm not in favor of Mormonism. So many times, they say, "What did Joseph lie about?" That leads into how Joseph contradicted what God's always said in the Bible, among other things. That leads to LDS believe a false Jesus, and that means... they are false Christians. And that means... they're heretical or cultists.
Here's my pastor Bryan Hurlbutt's article in the Salt Lake Tribune on the subject.
With Robert Kirby's critique and Hurlbutt's rejoinder.
Mormon Media Observer: A look at the media's use of 'cult' in LDS coverage (10-22-12)
LDS bloggers tilt at 'cult' label, Mormon misperceptions (10-22-12)
Christians and Mormons: I don't agree with what the Grahams did, but just because they removed a specific reference to Mormons as a cult doesn't entail that the Grahams no longer think Mormonism is a cult. Of course they still do. They also took out specific references to Moonies, JW's, and Scientology. Do you really expect me to think that the Grahams no longer think these groups are cults as well? Please! They obviously did this to not make waves with a potential Romney presidency. End of story.
Franklin Graham: Mormonism Will Never Be Labeled a ‘Cult’ Again (11-18-12)
Heaven forbid if we follow our Lord and call a false prophet a "false prophet," an unbeliever an "unbeliever," or even a "child of the devil." This really strikes me as hypocritical when not too long ago on the O'Reily Factor, Franklin called Rob Bell a "false teacher!" And you wonder why missionaries in the "counter-cult" movement have such a hard time raising their support?
It strikes me that using the term "cult" is a relative one similar to the term "old." Perhaps impolite for my daughter to tell Daddy I'm old, but it does express some truth from her point of view. Others, like my parents, would say I'm not old, but young!