cult

By: shenpa warrior
June 8, 2011

This is not a neutral word.

What use does it serve?

Here are some definitions:

  1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. (There you have it, “cult” is everywhere, in every religion.)
  2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult. (In a different definition, it’s still everywhere. Apple. Jesus. Reason.)
  3. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols. (All of religion again.)
  4. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader. (The first part of this definition depends on viewpoint – who is doing the considering? “Charismatic leader” could definitely be applied to Mormonism… and every other religion that has a semi-interesting leader.)
  5. adjective: of, for, or attracting a small group of devotees: a cult movie. (I liked Donnie Darko. What’s your favorite cult film?)

When I hear people use the word today I have a hard time deciphering anything other than “BAD” or “EVIL” (which I don’t mind, actually… better that one’s prejudices are overt). What does interest me is the use of the word to put people in an outgroup.

Saying, in effect, “I’m not like you. I’m better because I’m (Atheist, Christian, ExMormon, Free-Thinking, ‘Not one of them‘).”

This got me thinking though… what pejorative terms are Latter-day Saints guilty of? I know I’ve put fellow human beings in the outgroup before.

This isn’t about being “PC.” It’s about kindness. Patience. Meekness. Charity. Those things.

21 Responses to cult

  1. hm on June 8, 2011 at 6:59 AM

    i don’t think we use broad pejoratives, i think we break down individual groups:

    Born-agains are stupid because they think they can be saved without works!

    Exmormons are stupid because they were deceived offended and lazy.

    Scientologists are weird and creepy! etc

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  2. Matthew Chapman on June 8, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    Gentile.

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  3. gibson on June 8, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    “apostate” is a pejorative used by some in the LDS and CofC

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  4. Mike S on June 8, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    There are people who decide that perhaps the LDS Church isn’t for them and that their relationship with God is better facilitated in a different denomination. This doesn’t work with the “one true church” teaching, so these people are called: Apostate.

    “Intellectual” is used as a pejorative by many in the Church.

    There is an underlying attitude in the Church that it doesn’t really matter what denomination someone belongs to if it’s not ours. Ultimately, NONE of them are “good enough”. I don’t know of a specific word, but the undercurrent is there.

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  5. BeansDude on June 8, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    In a more subtle way, I’d say that the terms ‘less-active’ and ‘in-active’ can be used as a pejorative.

    You could also throw ‘Liberal’ into the mix, but thats not LDS specific.

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  6. Richard on June 8, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    When I was serving my mission, white South Africans had a term to describe everyone else: “Non-white”. For me, it brought home the perversity of describing people by what they aren’t, rather than what they are.

    With that in mind, I submit ‘non-member’ as the most widely-accepted pejorative within mormon culture. Especially here in the corridor, it is the dividing line between us and them.

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  7. Douglas on June 8, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    “Gentile” is an archaic term, we now use NON-member. For some of we LDS, it implies “lesser” or “unclean”…an unfortunate attitude.

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  8. shenpa warrior on June 8, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Thanks for the comments… it is inspiring me to watch how I refer to people. For sure, some of these terms are “accurate” (e.g. Ex Mormon, TBM) and sometimes those groups even take ownership of the label (which is sad, I think), but it is a shame and prevents us from seeing WHOLE people when we use the one label to describe them. “He’s a non-member.” “She’s an atheist.” “He’s one of those TBMs.” All serve to divide us, to gratify our pride.

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  9. DavidC on June 8, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Totally agree with these two mentioned above:

    (A) Intellectual: defined as someone thinking about the gospel/Church in non-traditional ways. If someone raises a question about a point of policy or doctrine, they’re accused of “intellectualizing the gospel.”

    (B) Apostate: defined as someone who is out of line with contemporary church teachings. Even if what they’re doing isn’t against the scriptures (but against Church teachings), they’re viewed as an apostate.

    I’d also add that “temple recommend holder” is gaining traction where I am to further differentiate between the actives and non-actives. And, especially with the actives, it’s being used as a barometer for who can/can’t accept even the most mundane [i.e. less visible] callings. It seems you aren’t active “enough” if you don’t likewise have the temple recommend.

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  10. shenpa warrior on June 8, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    DavidC – Good add with the temple recommend “holder.” I’m not saying that one anymore either. I’m FINE with talking about holding a recommend, or not, (I/he/she do/has/does not have a recommend) but LABELING someone as if that defines who they are is the problem, I think.

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  11. Jacob M on June 8, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    U-tards springs to my mind. It describes the Mormons born and raised in the Utah “bubble”. It means that they are ignorant, usually of many things.

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  12. shenpa on June 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Jacob I haven’t heard that one…. Yikes it’s bad, in multiple ways. I feel sorry for those who use it. May they be free from suffering.

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  13. Latter-day Guy on June 8, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    It’s trotted out a bit less of late, but “so-called [insert noun here]” used to be pretty popular.

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  14. hawkgrrrl on June 8, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    LDG got the one I was thinking – and I would add whenever we put “quotation marks” around something that’s another one.

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  15. el oso on June 8, 2011 at 9:07 PM

    From the bible belt: Pretend Christians.

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  16. Chino Blanco on June 8, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    “… what pejorative terms are Latter-day Saints guilty of?”

    This latest from J. Stapley over at BCC cracked me up:

    “I’m definitely not hip on the apostasy porn that prances about as inclusive Mormonism.”

    What use does that line serve? As far as I can tell, it’s the same tired old bloggernacle boundary maintenance. And it’s the kind of line that’s often followed by a bunch of famously belligerent bloggernaclers giving themselves virtual high fives for being the best Mormons around.

    I’d leave this comment over there at BCC, but I’d hate to spoil their pep rally. By the way, speaking of commenting, looks like BCC got a new system, so I’m guessing all those who’ve been banned can probably comment there again.

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  17. shenpa warrior on June 8, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    Yeah, I wonder what that is supposed to mean. I don’t get it.

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  18. Chino Blanco on June 9, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    No such luck. Still banned from BCC. Anyways… Go figure, my favorite comment got deleted. It went something like this: “I’m definitely not hip on the conformity porn that prances about as Mormon rectitude.”

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  19. shenpa warrior on June 9, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    What’s wrong with that quote? “Witty” is a problem? Dry humor?

    “Conformity porn” – That phrase needs a Niblet nom.

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  20. Nobody. on June 9, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Chino:

    I posted the comment there under my name. Maybe you can just log in under a different name.

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  21. Roger on June 11, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    A big one at the Y 35+ years ago was “Babylon”.

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