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Is Mormonism a Cult?

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Kevin Prince

Source Expert

Kevin Prince serves as the Source Authority at Mormonism Explained. Mr. Prince is a religious scholar as well as a technology industry CEO and entrepreneur.

Updated July 3, 2024

Mormonism is often defined as a cult by some Protestants. Many ask, “Is Mormonism a Cult?” because of this. Walter R. Martin, a defrocked minister wrote a book called The Kingdom of the Cults in 1965. In this book, Martin listed various religions as cults including, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormon Church. Martin defines a cult as a group of people organized around a specific person–or a specific person’s misinterpretation of the Bible. This book gained wide appeal among Evangelical Christians and for some, is a reason why Mormons are not Christians.

According to Martin’s definition of a cult, Jesus, himself, could be defined as a cult leader. He was a charismatic person, who amassed a following around His interpretation of scripture. An interpretation that many of the Jews of Jesus’ day would have classified as a misinterpretation. The Protestant movement formed in the same manner. Martin Luther interpreted scripture to mean that some of the Roman Catholic Church’s practices were wrong. The Christian authority of the day was the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church believed Luther’s interpretation to be a misinterpretation of scripture. However, Luther formed an entire religious movement around his interpretation of the Bible. Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith, who believed he was called by God to be a prophet and restorer of Biblical Christianity. Smith revealed and translated more scripture and reinterpreted many doctrines of the Bible. Mormons believe that the answer to the question is Mormonism Christian is an emphatic, yes. 

A more general definition of a cult from Webster’s Dictionary says that a cult is a group with unorthodox beliefs. However, today, a cult is often associated with much more nefarious motives and outcomes. In the mid-twentieth century, cults began to be associated with movements that required their followers to isolate themselves from their family and friends. They were often formed by leaders who claim to have some special understanding of the world, or even consider themselves to be Messiah figures. In the most extreme examples, cult members, at the urging of their cult leaders, committed murders, pedophilia, or mass suicide. Mormons do not fit this modern interpretation of a cult.

  • References
    1. Walter R. Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1965).
    2. The Roman Catholic response to Martin Luther’s criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church, urged a formal response called the Council of Trent. “Council of Trent,” New Advent, accessed January 31, 2024,
    3. Elisha Fieldstadt, Jessica Learish, “The most terrifying cults in history,” CBS News, June 30, 2021, accessed March 7, 2024,