Excerpts of Is Mormonism a Cult, and Does It Matter in 2012? by Dr. James Emery White, Pastor, Ranked Adjunctive Professor of Theology and Culture Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
The answer is both "yes" and "no," and understanding why is an important discussion.
The answer is obviously "no" from a popular perspective, and this is what has created a bit of a firestorm.
Mention "cult" and most people think of Jim Jones or David Koresh. Or even worse, Charles Manson. They think poisoned Kool-Aid and Waco, mind-control and isolation.
None of which would be true of Mormonism, and would be wrong to insinuate.
But in theological terms, if you were to define cult as a religious group that denies the biblical nature of God, the full divinity of Jesus Christ, and that we are only saved through His atoning death on the cross through grace, then yes, it is.
This is not news; it has been the position of mainstream Christian faith since Joseph Smith came on the scene with his extra-biblical revelations. In a LifeWay Research survey of 1,000 American Protestant pastors, 75% rejected the idea that Mormons were Christians.
Not because of bigotry, but because of theology.
But because of the cultural overtones, we're better off calling them a religion that borrows heavily from Christianity but stands outside of mainstream orthodoxy. They themselves would agree, maintaining that they have something different to offer than traditional Christian faith.
If Romney's Mormonism becomes a liability, it will hurt the GOP's chances in 2012 if indeed he proves to be their candidate for president. According to the Pew Research Center, 34% of white evangelicals report themselves "less likely" to vote for a Mormon for president.