I was loaded for bear when I heard a clip (on the radio) of Chris Matthews saying, what sounded to me, that Catholics and Mormons were “cultists.” However, as I examined the clip further on my own, and heard it in context, I discovered that his comment, while still bigoted, had to be understood differently.
In effect Mr. Matthews was saying that southern Evangelicals consider Catholics and Mormons to be cultists and, despite that, they are willing to hold their nose and vote for “cultists” since they dislike President Obama even more. Thus Mr. Matthews did in fact make a bigoted comment, but he directed it against Evangelicals, whose views he simplifies, demonizes and caricatures. The video below contains his comments. And here are some brief written excerpts of what he said. Remember, he is saying what he thinks are the views of Southern Evangelicals:
They’re [i.e. Evangelicals] not going to vote for President Obama. So who [are] they going get to beat him? That seems to be on their minds now, not who they like. They are willing to outsource it to a Mormon. …It’s almost like calling up India, or somewhere in the third-world to get your computer fixed. You don’t care who is fixing it, just fix the damn computer. They have…two RCs — Roman Catholics, running and a Mormon, so they’re three cultists running. I have to pick one of the three cultists, as they see them. This isn’t as funny as I’m making it, but it’s ridiculous to pick a guy they really think is the heretic…[so] they pick the guy they don’t like to pick [i.e. beat] a guy they hate worse,“
It’s a bit garbled but to summarize, Mr. Matthews is saying, in effect, that the hopelessly bigoted Republican Evangelicals in the South are obviously prejudiced against both Mormons and Catholics, but they’re willing to put aside their concerns, for the moment, just to ensure that the candidate they chose is most likely to defeat President Obama.
It is clear that this is a prejudicial rant, it is uncalled for and simplistic. Evangelicals, where ever they live are more diverse and sophisticated than Mr. Matthews presumes. However I do have a couple of questions to pose about his claims, especially about how you think Evangelicals regard Catholics and Mormons.
First, I wonder if there has not been a great easing of tensions at many levels between Catholics and Evangelicals. What do you think?
I recall, as a youngster, that Evangelicals, (we often called them “Fundamentalists in those days), would quite publicly vilify Catholicism with terms such as popery, whore of Babylon, cult, Mary worshipers, etc. It would be almost unthinkable in those days (60s and 70s) for Catholics and Evangelicals to meet on common ground, except perhaps to debate the “errors” of Catholicism.
But I think there is a lot less of this today. To be sure, we still have very significant theological differences, and these do still cause some tension. However, I think the dialogue today is much more respectful between Catholics and Evangelicals. Our commonalities on Abortion and the moral issues have a lot to do with this. We have learned to work together and have grown in mutual respect.
I have personally come to appreciate the zeal for faith that many Evangelicals I have known have. Further, they have a fine tradition of good biblical preaching and a love for Scripture that is admirable. Differences in interpretation of Scripture are not minimal, but ultimately there is a lot of common ground on the premise that Scripture is the inspired and infallible Word of God in matters of faith and morals, and that it cannot be set aside for any purpose.
The steady stream of converts to Catholicism also shows greater openness and respect from the Evangelical side. They too have come to know, trust and respect us based on our work together in pro-life action and a shared vision on the moral issues of our day. We, as the Church are enriched by the gifts they bring with them from their Evangelical roots.
At least this is how I see it. While not not denying that some anti-Catholic bigotry still exists in pockets of the Evangelical community, I don’t see it as strong and widespread as Chris Matthews does. What do you think, do most Evangelicals see us as “cultists” or not?
Second, regarding Mormons the situation is less serene. I do hear a lot of strongly negative things said of Mormons by both Catholics and Evangelicals. And the word “cult” is often used.
Frankly I have concerns about using the word “cult” in reference to Mormons. First of all “cult,” as used in American English, does not really express the Catholic understanding. When the word “cult” is used in official Church documents, it is usually meant in a positive manner, (e.g. the “cult of the Saints”). “Cult” or cultus in the Catholic lexicon refers to religious devotion of some sort. The modern use of the word “cult” among Americans is strongly pejorative and not particularly helpful, especially where Mormonism is concerned.
To be clear, I do think that Mormonism is a false religion, or at least a heretical offshoot of Christianity, which has departed so far from the Christian faith as to no longer be considered Christian. However the use of the word cult may not help advance trust or engender a true or fair consideration of Mormons.
I want to say that I am no expert on Mormonism, but I have come to discover that neither are many of the critics I have heard. I have a Catholic acquaintance who is a former Mormon, and I often run some of the crazier things I hear past him. And though he is a clear critic of the Mormonism he left, for theological reasons, he often smiles at some of the wilder things. As for Mormons getting their own planet, he thinks this is blown out of proportion since it is not an official teaching of theirs, but a speculation of certain Mormons of how to interpret Jesus’ words In my Father’s House there are many mansions – Jn 14:2. According to him, most Mormons would simply conclude they don’t know what this means exactly, perhaps a house, a planet, but most just say they don’t know, except that somehow they will one day reign with Christ. As to the claim that they think they will become gods, here too, though a critic of Mormon theology on the Trinity and many other things, he thinks this claim is unfair, and a caricature of their belief that they will share one day in the divine nature. But this is a standard Christian belief too, (e.g. 2 Peter 1:4).
Now I can hear some of you now, “Boy, Msgr. Pope really has the wool pulled over his eyes and doesn’t seem to know that this is a dangerous cult.” Again let me say, I don’t really know much about Mormonism. But what I am saying is that if we are going to criticize it, let’s make sure we are fair and accurate.
As Catholics we know how many have distorted notions of our beliefs and practices, whether now or in the past. No matter how many times we say we don’t worship Mary, some still think we do, etc. Lets just be careful not to engage in the same things toward Mormons and lets be careful that we are critiquing real Mormonism, not just a straw man.
Back to Chris Matthew’s point. Is he right that Evangelicals (and many Catholics for that matter) see Mormons as cultists? If they vote for Mitt Romney, do they see themselves as having to hold their nose and vote for a devout member of a cult?
Frankly, while I disagree with Mr. Matthews on most Evangelicals seeing Catholics as cultist, I think he may be right on their attitudes toward Mormons. And, I would add that I think most Catholics see them that way too.
For the reasons stated, I would like to see us avoid the use of the word cult in reference to Mormons. Candid discussion of our theological differences is essential, and will become more so if Mr. Romney gets the nomination. Faithful Catholics will need clear teaching on the errors of Mormonism. But it will also be true that many on the political left will distort and exaggerate Mormon beliefs for their own political reasons. I hope we will be careful to avoid spreading false and exaggerated claims. Lets critique true Mormonism, not the secular and political left’s notions of it.
Chris Matthews cartoonishly says that Evangelicals consider Mormons (and us) to be cultists. I would like to think he is wrong on both counts and is in fact himself the bigot. And yet I cannot wholly say that the world “cult” is not often used by both Protestants and Catholics in discussions of Mormonism.
What do you think? Do Evangelicals still widely consider us a cult? Do you think Mormons are a cult? Or do you think we should find other ways of describing our differences. Is Chris Matthews right about southern Evangelicals? Or is he bigoted and wrong?
85 Replies to “Chris Matthews Says Evangelicals See Catholics (and Mormons) as Cultists. Is He Right or Wrong?”
I am totally disgusted with Chris Matthews and his bigoted comments on religion! The guy has no idea what he is talking about!!! A religious scholar he is NOT!!! He comes across as an idiot with a bee in his bonnet! I find it had to listen to him because he just rambles with nothing factual to back up his rants. They are obviously just bigoted personal opinions! NO RESPECT FOR HIM!
Yeah, he is a talking head and if you look at the video, he’s kind of searching for words. TO really to him is to be utterly puzzled. He is making it up as he goes along.
He’s always puzzled haha
Msgr, every “Christian” bookstore down in South Carolina has a cult section and in it is the only place in the whole store where you’ll find Catholic books. Sad but true.
Sad. My experience is more open, more mutually respectful.
You might want to consider it is the more tolerant element of Evangelicals who interact with a Catholic priest.
The hatred and bigotry towards The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and the Roman Catholic Church (Catholics) by the Evangelical (formally know as Fundamentalist) sect within the Protestant Church is not new. According to the Evangelical doctrine’s, they are all going to heaven and everybody else is going to hell. Mathews did a horrible job explaining the bigotry; He insulted the Southern voters evoking bigotry of the Mormons and the Catholics.
I’m a little puzzled as to your point. Are you saying they are bigoted or not?
Matthews insulted the Southern voters evoking bigotry of the Mormons and the Catholics.
Yes, but do you think that Evangelicals and Catholics do in fact think of Mormonism as a cult?
Matthews said Evangelicals believe that Catholics are a cult and Mormons are a cult. I find his comments disgusting, but not false. What is the motive behind Matthews bringing up the Bigotry the Evangelicals have towards these two Christian religions; they both teach that Jesus is the Son of God, and our Savior? Is he trying to divide the conservatives? It is silly since the Evangelical and Mormon people are very conservative.
Being a born again follower of Christ i guess could be considered a cult of personality. But the personage is God. Catholicism IS a cult of personality, first of Mary then of the Pope. Catholicism is not christianity by the way. Christians dont worship Mary or bow to graven images.
When I was studying cults in my graduate studies, and this is a while ago, the criterion for a cult in the sociological sense is that a certain amount of psychological coercion is involved in attracting members and keeping them: Jim Jones and David Koresh are the extreme, fringe examples of this practice. Mormons are obviously not in that group. However, I have first hand knowledge of a person who felt they had to leave Utah to leave Mormonism because they would be somehow ostracized by the community. Also, because this person worked at a ski resort where alcohol was served, they were subjected to a kind of forced exorcism by the elders. This is anecdotal evidence which I have not verified elsewhere. But if true, it’s the kind of practice that could possibly elicit a judgment of cult, and one that many could believe. The beliefs of Evangelicals are not monolithic, and neither are Catholics, as you have indicated, Monsignor. It’s impossible to accurately answer your question without a scientific survey. However, I bet that most Catholics think Mormons are Christians because they are ignorant of the facts and don’t give it much thought. The majority of Catholics do not know what Mormons believe, any more than they know what the Catholic Church actually teaches.
I don’t know about that…the mandatory tithing in order to obtain and keep a temple recommend is pretty coercive. The inability to carry out temple ordinances (do temple work) is pretty important to them in their overall scheme of things.
It’s true about the shunning and ostracizing that happens – especially in small towns.
You folks should read sometime about the beginnings of the LDS faith. It’s utterly unbelievable and amazing that it has evolved as far as it has without collapsing…yet.
Two worthy books on the topic from a former Mormon, and convert to Catholicism.
And an informative podcast on the topic of Mormonism from another Catholic convert from Mormonism:
Yes, I am still a little puzzled though. I wonder if Mormonism is plagued by what we have, doctrinaire vs avant garde interpretation of their faith. I hear so many different versions and explanations of their faith. Which is right? Will the real Mormonism please step forward! Or again, who authentically speaks for them?
There are so many variants of Mormonism. It’s like shooting a moving target. There is the big Salt Lake City estabished LDS. And, then there is a variant form for practicall every town and state in America.
It is my understanding there is about 184 different varieties at the moment, covering the whole spectrum.
In this case, we might only consider the mainstream Salt Lake City LDS (bear in mind even Salt Lake City has more than one well-established different type of Mormonism). Living in small-town Utah, it is something like this: Those guys down there are billionaires and make up rules and we want nothing to do with it because that’s not what it means to be in the Ch. of J.C. of LDS. The folks continue to pay the membership fees, but they are generally incredulous about issues like abortion and contraception (which although formally allowed according to the higher-ups) the rank and file do not generally practice.
No. They are not a cult (in the negative sense) and neither are they a cult (in the postitive sense). Individually, there are people who hope in Christ among them. These are generally the less involved and less catechised. The more involved folks rail against prayer to Jesus. So, it’s a mix. I have come to understand it like when you find a Hindu sitting quietly in front of the tabernacle. My experience at that particular event has been they’re acknowledgement that the Creator of the Universe is right there, but they can’t explain it beyond that. In the same way, most of your non-totally involved got-no-free-time away from going to meeting Mormons, know the truth in their hearts because it hasn’t been completely obfuscated. Even LDS regular-going folks are leery about Temple Recognition and the Quorums and the Presidents. I have found that many have brought in their cultural understandings. The folks who used to be Quakers have entirely different views than the old Puritans who came in originally. The apostate Catholics have entirely different understandings than the former sabbitarians.
It is only out of charity that I do not discuss much of the mistaken-ness of Mormonism with my peers. The route is to emphasise what they already know that is indeed true. When discussing and fostering a truly Christian Faith in a Mormon, one must take the position of the deacon’s voice in the wilderness, “Munda cor meum!” And, then subtly and distinctly proclaim the Gospel. You can never go toe to toe with a Mormon. That is a greivous mistake. Stand beside him instead and whisper into his ear.
No they are not a cult but they do have parallel hierarchy. This is perhaps why some claim they are cultish. Notice it is the same label placed on Catholics for the very same reason. We have a hierarchy. We know the the difference where the Catholic hierachy is Peter’s and the other belong’s to Arius and the Manichees. But, that is only because we are steeped in the Catholic soup. From the outside and without tasting soup is soup is soup. Whether it is Mormon or Catholic. This is why it is important not to go toe to toe and remain distinct while proclaiming the ancient voice. The parallel hierarchy of Arianism and the Manichees (and even the Nestorians) was only wiped out thanks to the blessings of Islam. God allows things like that for a greater good.
There is hope on the horizon. This week I did another hallal sacrifice slaughter, as I am butcher, for the local Muslims who have begun to have a certain presence here in small-town Utah. Don’t fret. I said grace before their meal, “Benedic Domine nos et haec Tua dona….” and asked Mary not to close merciful Her eyes at their prayers.
Interesting, we tend to think of Mormonism as a monolith, but as you say here, it would seem they are not.
Matthews merely hates people who vote conservatively. It is routine to depict conservatives as bigots and morons in the liberal press, and suggesting that voters in Alabama and Mississippi think Catholics are cultists is absurd, but the kind of thing that they do over at MSNBC all the time. It further confirms that MSNBC is not a serious news organization. They are the propaganda wing of the left.
Evangelicals and Serious Catholics find in each other, allies and share common foes in the culture wars, especially the pro-life movement. At times I find I am often closer to the theological beliefs of my Evangelical Brethren than I am to some liberal Catholics. It is not uncommon for some liberal Catholics of my acquaintance to deny the literal resurrection of Jesus from the dead, or to assert that the virgin birth is a fiction.. Not all left wing Catholics do this but some do. There have been significant efforts at better understanding between Catholics and Evangelical through the work of people like the Late Fr John Neuhaus and Chuck Colson and documents like “Catholics and Evangelicals together published in “First Things” , the publication Fr. Neuhaus edited. Even more interesting is the movement among some Evangelicals to reject contraception. ( quiverfull movement) I am not saying there are not significant differences still, but I think the “Jack Chick” kind of bigotry among Evangelicals is pretty much gone. I have been warmly invited to Evangelical services, and pro-life events, and my impression is that they see Catholics at this point as “another denomination”. Of course I don’t think orthodox Catholics can see ourselves this way… but this may improve with time. It often seems as Evangelical Christians study more history they tend to be “more Catholic”. In the meantime maybe some of their zeal will rub off on us. It is fascinating to me how readily and un self consciously Evangelicals can talk about God, Jesus, and the Bible. In the hospital it is much more common to see Evangelicals pray with Ill family members and friends, especially among African American Evangelicals, than it is to see Catholics doing this. Catholics can certainly learn from this unashamed expression of faith. Finally it is fascinating, although perhaps depressing that Rick Santorum with his unabashed Catholicism is winning the Evangelical vote handily and yet losing inexplicably the Catholic vote. We could learn a thing or two here from our evangelical brethren as well. Its pretty clear who is serious about reforming the declining culture and who is not. I am baffled as to why Santorum is not cleaning up the Catholic vote!
Mormon while farther removed from us than Evangelicals theologically are not seen as a cult. By and large Catholics do not classify “false religions” as “cults”. In fact in most circles Catholics do not classify religions as false. I think the pinnacle of this kind of logic was at one of my boys Confirmation prep classes when it was hard for the instructor to admit the idea that being an atheist put one at a spiritual disadvantage… after all Atheists can be good people too… Its pretty hard to imagine the average Catholic having a problem with a Mormon, or a Wiccan or whatever… Most Catholics no longer take theology that seriously. The few who do generally will see Mormonism as the the final expression of what potentially happens to Christianity with no theological teaching authority… you can wander very far off into left field. but Cult… no.. and again Romney after all if winning the Catholic vote…….
Yes, I largely think that what you have spoken here is correct.
Mormons, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists and similar groups, were certainly cultists in their origins. Joseph Smith and his successor Brigham Young tried to maintain complete control over their followers, not unlike John Calvin in his Geneva. There are still many offshoots of mainstream Mormonism that should be classified as cults based on the level of control the leaders exercise over their followers.
Ironically (considering this discussion), all Mormons (unless they are simply nominal, non-practicing Mormons), consider all Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox to be apostates. In their twisted view, we all fell away from the TRUE faith around the time of Constantine. This is similar to the Trail of Blood view held by many Fundamentalist Protestants who teach that the TRUE church went underground at this time (only to reappear, conveniently enough, at the Reformation.)
Chris Matthews is a fallen away Catholic and a useful idiot/hatchet man for the Government run media. He uses the straw man [i.e. the evangelical] to take another shot at the faith he loves to hate, orthodox Roman Catholicism. All you have to do is watch the interview while Chris Matthews is foaming at the mouth, while calling Bishop Thomas Tobin , “Your Excellency”. Matthews tries to take the Bishop apart like the butchering scalpel of an abortionist surgeon. Abortion is murder, not just immmoral as Matthews devilshly puts it. Pray for Chris, he needs it. Christi Fidelis
I agree Chris is a largely dissenting Catholic and does not fall in line with Catholic Teaching. In calling him fallen away however you imply he has left the Church. Has he formally done so? I suspect he like so many who have not formally renounced the faith but have practically walked far afield. I wonder who his pastor is and if that pastor has ever tried to draw him back?
I watch “Hardball” every day, and Chris Matthew is certainly NOT “fallen away.” My impression is that he attends Mass every Sunday, though I could be wrong. Despite whatever disagreements or complaints many here may have about him, I’d encourage people to consider that quite often he speaks very positively of Catholicism — after all, he identifies himeslf as a Catholic, a practicing Catholic, etc. To put it another way, some people in the Church may not like Chris Matthews, but Chris Matthews likes the Church, he likes Catholicism, and he makes that known.
As a person brought up in the Baptist Church in the 70’s we were taught that both Mormon’s and Catholics were cults. My family later became members of a Methodist Church and they accept just about anything. I have since come into full communion with the Church. Most of my family members on my mothers side are very fundamental Baptists, several are pastors. Their views of the Catholic Church have softened but to be honest a lot of that may be because many parishioners and pastors in the Church have become more Protestant in there teachings and in the order of the mass. Many of the changes in the mass by Bishops since Vatican II have brought it closer to a Methodist Liturgy than what was a traditional Latin mass. Since coming into full communion with the Church 14 yrs. ago I have after much study and pray gradually moved to the mass used prior to Vatican II. I did this mainly because the theology and practices of my local parish seamed to be trending more towards a Protestant practice and theology. I once in a conversation with my priest about changes in posture during mass and reception of our Lord, that were directed by our local Bishop, told him if I wanted to worship our Lord in this fashion I could have stayed a Protestant. In my parents Methodist Church they expressed more reverence to a piece of bread and a shot of grape juice than our Bishop was asking use to do to honor the true presence of our Lord. I would get into discussions with administrators and lay leaders in the Church and many interpreted scripture much like my Protestant family members. It was very bizarre for a convert on fire for the Catholic Church and its teachings to be having these apologetic conflicts with members inside the Catholic Church. What is even more strange is that I felt like a Protestant, hopping from church to church trying to find a Catholic Church parish that actually taught Catholic doctrine. The Lord has blessed my wife and I with 6 children that He expects us to raise to love, honor and serve Him so it is essential to have them catechized not only at home but in a parish that teaches these truths. But so is the state of the Church in 2012, seams like we are reliving something similar to the times of the Renaissance with a big serving of 3rd and 4th century heresies that caused great divisions in the Church. We have Catholics leaving the Church in droves because they don’t understand their faith and many Protestants coming into the Church that have been seeking the Truth and find it in the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Then the Truth that they have discovered in the readings of the early Church Fathers they can not find in their local parish. Truly strange times we live in. Always enjoy reading your articles Father, you always encourage people to think about what they do and what they believe.
Rick, I too am a former Baptist and know exactly how you feel.
Im a former baptist too. But i just follow the Lamb
It is unfortunate that some people in the media (i.e., Chris Matthews a.k.a Mr. Bigot) abuse their power by uttering things that are false and personally biased opinions. In this day and age of evidence-based practice (in medicine and nursing) I believe that the media people should not be uttering personal opinions and false information. The words that come out of their mouth need to be based on correct and honest truth and is based on evidence. If you would like to know about Mormonism, do not ask someone who used to be one (because their information is not 100% honest truth and objective). I used to be Catholic and has been converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormon). The LDS church is as Christian as it can be. We pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. What makes us different is that we are practicing true Christianity in its purest form (the church Christ organized with all its ordinances and doctrines). We do not believe in choosing just those Christian ordinances that are easy and convenient. All ordinances we perform and how we carry out the doctrines of Christ through our actions can be mislabeled as “cults” by those who don’t understand. Our church has a website with objective, true information about what we believe. Please go to http://www.mormon.org
Mormons teach that Jesus came from the planet Kolob. Did i spell that correctly?
Father, my wife and family are Evangelicals, my adult son is an elder in an Evangelical mega-church (which is unusual in that the pastor wears an Armani suit (true-red slk lining, nice goods!)). There is a constant undercurrent of anti-Catholic bias throughout the community, many of whom are ex-Catholics.
In the pastoral ranks there is a definite “Catholicism is a cult” bias. About 18 years ago my wife had us go to pastoral “Christian counseling”, the point of which was to counsel me out of the Church. The “counselor” was an Evangelical seminary student, habving made a ton of money as a class action plaintiff’s attorney he turned to the Lord to serve. The sessions did not go well for him, but I remember them fondly. They proved to me, once and for all, just where you and I stand with these folks and I don’t think they consider us very far at all from Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses.
Matthews is generally beyond contempt but I’m not so sure he’s entirely wrong here.
I am a convert of less than a year. I came from an upbringing in the Church of Christ and ended up Southern Baptist prior to my conversion to the Catholic Church. And I’m also a native of Northeast Florida- which may as well be South Georgia culturally, so I’m very, very Southern. While I obviously cannot speak for every Evangelical, I *can* say that from my own experience Evangelical sentiment is that Mormons and Catholics are non-Christian cults or sects, what ever term you prefer. But I wouldn’t necessarily call it bigotry, as I don’t know any Evangelical- and I still know and associate with a bunch of them, my own family included- that would ever mistreat a Mormon or a Catholic because of those differences and *most* of them are well past any of those theological sentiments skewing their vote. I will note that there is a more negative sentiment towards Mormons than Catholics among the Evangelicals I know, and I think that is mainly due to Mormonism being a more recent off-shoot of what they would consider traditional Christianity. Regardless of whether or not they agree with many Catholic doctrines, I don’t know any Evangelical who would deny that Catholicism is ancient- basically, they think we corrupted Christian teaching a very long time ago- and so I think we get a it more respect because of that and because of the very undeniable contribution Catholicism has had in regards to the development of Western civilization.
So, in a nutshell, yes the Evangelicals I know consider us a non-Christian cult- and yes, they do still think of and refer to us on occasion as idolaters and Mary worshipers, and have great disdain for the notion that your works have anything at all to do with salvation, etc and so on- however at this point it is mainly a theological dispute and does not spill over into the arena of personal animosity. Other folks may have different experiences, but from my own experiences growing up and being so steeped in that culture I do not consider them bigoted against us or Mormons from that matter.
My experience (also in Florida) mirrors yours, Mandy. It’s not so much a “burn the cultists at the stake” philosophy as it is “can those poor idolatrous Catholics ever turn from their ways and be saved?”
I actually agree with Matthews. I have thought about this myself. The enthusiastic support that Santorum has gotten from Evangelicals is very interesting. Because of that support Santorum sometimes has to say things geared towards them and that sometimes sounds very un-Catholic. For example this issue about creationism in school. Catholics are not fundamentalists and I doubt most agree with the Southern Baptist Convention’s stance on creationism. I agree that Catholics and Evangelicals have formed some important alliances in recent decades, especially when it comes to life issues, but Evangelicals still view Catholics with suspicion. A common enemy, zealous secularism, has brought us together but at the end of the day Evangelicals still proselytize Catholics at an alarming rate. Hispanics will soon be mostly Evangelical (of those practicing, perhaps nominal Catholics will still be a majority for a while). As a Hispanic I do not trust Evangelicals very much and am dismayed by how anti-Catholic Hispanic Evangelicals tend to be. Anglos are too trusting of Evangelicals. However nice and helpful they may be in our fight against abortion and secularism, they are not really our friends. I promise! Go to your local Hispanic Evangelical church and find out for yourselves what they REALLY think about people like Santorum and GIngrich (especially Gingrich since he is an “apostate”).
Thank you for your faithfulness in publishing each day incisive, inspiring and thought-provoking messages. Yours is one of the first websites I visit each morning.
One observation I would share is that Evangelicals are some of the most likely folks to swim the Tiber!! They love to read and analyze the Bible. When I get my Evangelical friends to read some of the early Church Fathers or the Didache and see the Church and the Sacraments from the perspective of 15 centuries prior to Martin Luther, it is a delight to watch their faces light up! The most frequently heard comment: “I had no idea!”
I am not qualified to lead a discussion on apologetics, but if Roman Catholics would meet Evangelicals (or any non-Catholic Christian) where they “live” (i.e., in the Bible) and explain just how, and more importantly, WHO, chose the books of the Bible (i.e., the Church!!), especially the New Testament, and share the writings of the early Church fathers who were disciples of the actual Apostles who walked with Jesus, I think that would be a very fruitful dialogue. I have found that if I can explain the Sacraments from the Bible, especially the words of Jesus Christ Himself, Evangelicals really come alive and come around!
I think the observations and distinctions you are making about Mormons is correct, and I appreciate your desire to avoid the use of harsh language. I taught a 4-week course on Mormonism. I have some very nice friends who are Mormons and I would not want to hurt their feelings, but if one looks at the life and work of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young; how the so-called Book of Abraham was really a translation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead; the Kinderhook Plates; and other early teachings of Mormonism, one must genuinely fear for their salvation. In the past century since Utah struggled to overcome the Mormonism issue to become a State, the Mormon Church has conscientiously tried to position itself to become a “mainstream” Christian Church. At some point, they wil need to address their roots and confront certain problems.
In the meantime, great post, Father!!
The Mormon church is based on the “visions” and writings of a known and convicted grifter and con-man. Mormon doctrine also has been changed repeatedly over its short history to align with law (the abolition of poligamy, orginally a fundamental requirement for the higher levels of heaven, and later the politically correct back-pedaling on the damnation and inferiority of black people). Doctrines that have been proven false by science (Native Americans being desended from Jews) are just quietly whisked away.
But you are correct that most Mormons are nice people who lead healthy lives and want the same cultural and political goals as Christians do.
I’m not really sure what the definition of cult is in this context. I don’t know if I consider Mormons to be in a cult. I know that I don’t consider them Christians. Is that bigoted? Not sure. I hope it’s just factual.
It is a fact. Mormons use the name of Jesus Christ but do not worship Him as the only Son of God, but as one among many gods and as a brother to Satan. Sorry, not Christian, just semantic word-play.
By his conduct, Mr. Matthews is not qualified. He is ignorant on this topic. His positions are without merit. He speaks to entertain, to build consenses on unresearched hearsay, and to build himself up as having the answers when he certainly does not. He fills air time with empty air mixed with vocal noise. A serious person who is looking for serious journalism should avoid Mr. Matthew’s shows altogether.
I started out with the fundamentalist street preachers and after a long journey through mainline Protestantism converted to the Catholic church. It is hard to characterize Fundamentalist belief because it is not centrally organized. I have attended prayer meetings where 10 different people had 10 different takes on different theological or moral questions. We did agree that Jesus is Lord, that he arose, bodily, from the dead and that the Bible is God’s Word. That was it. So Matthew’s statement is bigoted. In my circles, my impression was that people though the Catholic Church was wrong but not necessarily a “cult’ in the creepy sense of the word. Mormon’s did not enter our radar. We really didn’t consider a man’s religion either as to whether we would vote for them – the Christian coalition only encompassed a portion of the fundie/evangelical world.
I would definitely consider Mormonism a cult. Most of my experience with the LDS is not based on anything other than Scouting. There are some amazing people in the LDS, however, their “church” seems to control entirely too much of them to be healthy. For example: all boys MUST participate in Boy Scouts, Monday is “Family Day” (to the extent that the rest of us lose a day of summer camp every year), adults required to “volunteer” for 3 years in Boy Scouts, and this doesn’t even include the lack of coffee! Now, *I* have required that my boys earn their Eagle, as their parent. But if my parish priest said it was a requirement, I would ask him what days are good for him to be the Scoutmaster?
As far as Evangelicals go, I think that may depend on who you are talking to. My in-laws seems to think it is, and for the same reasons I feel the LDS is. The Church tells us we can’t eat (2 days out 365 day), what we can eat (fish Fridays really bug them), and we are supposed to go to daily Mass (just because they called while I as at daily Mass) I’ve met others who just start asking history questions.
Why does anyone take Matthews seriously? The man is a ####### on political as well as theological matters, period.
Msgr. M. Francis Mannion, (who lives in the heart of Mormonism, incidentally) writing in Our Sunday Visitor said that he doesn’t consider Mormons a cult, based on the commonly understood definition of cult. That’s good enough for me…I think some people consider them a cult because of the secretiveness of their temple ceremonies, which aren’t really secret anymore thanks to the internet.
In addition, while I know Mormons consider themselves to be Christian, they indeed invented (under the guise of a restored true church) their own Christianity. While Jesus might be the savior, it seems it was kind of random that He, above all His heavenly brothers and sisters was chosen by His heavenly father and mother to be sacrificed. While they do pray every prayer ending in “In Jesus’ Name” I don’t have the sense that they consider Him to be “special,” He’s still just an exalted man.
Mormons have the idea that the bible is only true in-so-far as it is translated properly, i.e., according to their translations. They also admit to the belief that not everything in the bible is true, and you have to be smart enough to know what is true and what isn’t.
Both Mormons and Evangelicals believe they are able to translate accurately what the bible says, as individuals.
I have both Evangelical and temple-recommend-holding Mormons in my immediate family. The biggest difference between them and we Catholics? We believe ultimately that God is merciful, that He is not bound by man, and in the end, knowing every man’s heart, He will do as he sees fit with regard to who gets into heaven. Mormons believe Catholics go to the lowest level of heaven, which I have heard from some is actually hell. Evangelicals just believe we are lost.
I will say this for the Mormons – most have Christian ethics nailed. They are helpful and considerate when it comes to their neighbor’s temporal needs, and they do take care of their own.
So, why are we not praying for discernment and for our brother’s and sisters? Pray for their conversion is where we need to be spending our energy as to this. I am talking of the blogging not the article. Thank you Msgr. Pope! You are truly a man of faith! I still from time to time listen on Youtube your funeral sermon. It is a game changer and very well spoken of complete truth!
Chris Mathews, a Catholic, and cults aside, we as Catholics continue to get drawn into this kind of stuff largely because we are ignorant of or ignore the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church. We are not, as a group, forming our consciences according to our Church’s teaching. Instead we follow the commercial media to our own and out country’s detriment. Ever hear Chris talk about Catholic Social Doctrine?
A famous political consultant James Carville, a Catholic, coined the phrase “its the economy stupid”. Well yes that’s important but in past elections we listened. Is there more to life and voting than the economy?
As Catholics we are more hung up on the labels Conservative, Liberal Progressive, Republican, Democrat than we are the doctrines of our own church. Most parishes are 50/50 “liberal”/conservative with various flavors of apathy thrown in. We are a mixed up bunch.
Try looking at both political parties and compare them with the platforms (or fake-platforms) of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, then try to justify personally identifying with either one based on the Social Doctrine of the Church. This Social Doctrine which the Church lays out so well is far from a blueprint for politics in the Untied States or any other country. The reason it is there is so that we can learn it and form our consciences by it, then vote and interact in the public square, accordingly.
So why don’t we as a Church avail ourselves of the wonderful treasure? In my parish my pastor is spooked because by mentioning the Social Doctrine of the Church, many of the folks get mad and want to stomp out because the term “social justice” brings to mind stuff that they don’t agree with. The social doctrines of our church just don’t get taught on a wide enough scale.
Thus we have the bizarre HHS mandate being pushed by the Democratic President and the Republican Candidates minus one hollering that “we can win this war in Afghanistan” Or let’s do a preemptive attack on Iran. ( Heck, the Iranians are willing to give up some of their freedom to a fundamentalist government so that our filthy commercial culture doesn’t slop over into theirs). What a mess.
We have all of the spiritual goods we need in our own Church. Help us Jesus, Mary and Joseph to realize it!
My best understanding is that Mormonism is a pagan religion. The don’t believe that God is unlimitied being, that being-and only being-whose essence is His existence. They, as I understand, believe that when they become a god they will be a god fully equal and distinct from the Father. Also, their understanding of heaven is more akin to Islam–not the beautific vision, but an eternity of carnal delights. The men in Mormonism can have many ‘spirit wives’, whereas the women can have only one ‘spirit husband’. This is akin to the many virgins that Muslim suicide bombers are promised in the after-life. Mormons also have strange historical teachings, such as that the Garden of Eden is located somewhere in Missouri.
in 2008 during the run up to the nominaitons i was watching one of the evening news programs. they were doing a “man on the street” interview discussing whether a Mormon could be elected President. a woman responded–i would never vote for a Mormon, or a Catholic for that matter. Neither one is Christian. they are cults.” so for one person, Matthews’ statement has at least a bit of merit, though i agree to its bigoted nature.
If you read enough Protestant websites, the kind where they are actively trying to convert the sinners, you will see that Catholics and Mormons are indeed considered cults by them. I grew up in Texas, and while the prejudice may be more sugar-coated in person than it is on the web, that doesn’t mean it’s not alive and well.
Totally agree! It’s sugar-coated but it’s still there!
I wonder if your ex-Mormon friend was a dissenting Mormon who didn’t hold the LDS Church’s views on man becoming a god to rule over a planet or if Mormons that do hold those views are dissenting from official LDS teaching. Anyone know?
Official teaching – as close as you can pin that down in Mormonism – is that God was once a Man and man can be exalted to become a god of their own Universe. The famous couplet is “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.”
I am also former LDS and I was taught this at BYU, in LDS Sunday School, by my LDS friends, in official LDS publications and given scriptural ‘proof texts’ to support the doctrine.
Well, apparently my reply was erased, so I’m trying again! 🙁
Why would anyone pay attention to Matthews? He is definitely a moron on political as well as theological opinions.
I think Matthews is painting with a broad brush. “Broad brushes have their place” as you’ve said recently.
I grew up Southern Baptist. My entire family views Catholics the way he describes. And Southern Baptists are not as bad as Independent Baptists or Pentecostals in this regard.
The good news is that many of these people are beginning to recognize Catholics as their allies on many important issues.
In my home town (population 900), the Protestant minister crosses the street to avoid the parish priest. Like race, I think people are less vocal but there still is a lot of anti-Catholic feeling among Evangelicals. I’m not a great believer that certain sins (like racism) have been conquered and no longer exist in society. But different people have different experiences.
But here is my criticism of the press. The term “evangelical” has been overused and politicized to the point is has little theological meaning. “Methodist” and “Catholic” have some visible boundries. Evangelical may once had it but has come to mean conservative white Christian. I even had a nice Catholic lady once say to me she is an evangelical. I thought maybe she meant charismatic Catholic. No, she says, I’m Christian and for the TEA Party, so I am evangelical.
I also know brothers who go to the same Methodist Church, one says he is evangelical and other does not.
The truth is that a lot of the people a generation ago who would say they are evangelical (because of their theology) do not today because of their tolerance. Very strange, but the term has lost meaning. Certainly African-American tend to reject the title even though for many of them, it fits their theology.
Reread your post of yesterday, Monsignore.
This is a secular attempt at “Divide and Conquer”, designed to fire up under the differences of us Monoteists.
We should use this opportunity to Unite with the other Monotheists instead.
We should unite with the Jews and Islam, as well as other fractions of Christianity, and then conquer the world together in The Name of The One True God.
Then we should abolish the concept of National states, and we should establish a Theocracy instead, ruled by a Triumvarate of Islam, the Jewish Sanhedrin, us and the other Christians.
And then we should ship the hedens off to Antarctica, before we go about rebuilding Paradise with our Monotheistic brothers and sisters of Islam, Judaism and the lost sheep of the other fractions of Christianity.
This is my plan.
Are you in Monsignore?
Thank you for the article.
My two cents from living in Kentucky and Middle Tennessee for the past 30 years.
Are Catholics and Mormons considered cultists? It depends. It depends on location and definition.
30 years ago, when moving to a new house the neighbors would come over, introduce themselves (very friendly, very traditional Southern), then ask where we went to church. When I said we were Catholic the new neighbors politely excused themselves and never spoke to us again. Did they think we were part of a cult, or just “lost souls”? I did hear about Catholics worshipping statues, being cannibals, etc. (side note, I grew up in a large Catholic community, I never knew about the statue worshipping or the cannibal-thing until I moved South)
25 years ago we would get the Chick Tracts stuck to our windshield at the grocery store.
12 years ago, in a LARGE city a middle school child we knew was told, in religion class at her private, Church of Christ, school, that Catholics were cannibals because we believe we are eating Jesus in our communion. When this was objected to by the parents, the teacher, in a meeting with the administration, was sorry that the child was offended by what she said – neither the teacher nor the administration corrected the teaching about Catholics and communion.
7 years ago, again, some friends and I attended an ecumenical (mostly non-Catholic, mostly non-affiliated “Bible” churches) weekend religious retreat that drew participants from both city and rural areas. It was a great retreat, not a typical Catholic retreat of quiet and solitude, but great. At the end of the retreat one friend was asked by a member of his group if he could now publicly say how Christ had touched his life “because you worship Mary”?
So, do folks believe Catholics are cultists? I’m not sure. I am pretty sure they believe we are lost, Christ is not our/my personal savior and we will not go to heaven. I still hear about the Catholic Church preventing people from reading the Bible. I hear Sola Scriptura. I hear about the greedy, rich Catholics who should sell their statues to help the poor. Last time I checked there was no Catholic section at the local Christian bookstore.
Mormons? My impression is that Mormon beliefs are a bit fuzzy to the average Southerner (if there is such a thing as an ‘ average Southerner ‘ ). Mormons say they are Christian and that they believe in the Bible so I am not sure that many questions are asked by the average person. I do not know if Mormonism is taught from the pulpit or in Sunday School. Do I personally think that Mormonism is a cult? I do not believe that Mormonism is Christian – it just does not fit any of the definitions – but the definition of a cult usually includes a leader who is worshipped and I do not believe that Mormons worship Joseph Smith or their current President. Mormons are not “Moonies”.
Today, here in the South, there is a large Nazarene Church in my town that practices (and advertises on its billboard on a busy road) Lent. Participating in Passover Seders, while not commonplace, is now considered interesting and acceptable. Women are seen wearing hajibs at the grocery store. Catholics work with Protestants in faith based charities. My neighbors now speak to me even when they know where I go to Church. I believe the emphasis is now based on faith. Religion versus non-religion. God being a part of your daily life versus “God and church are bad”. Making your decisions based on faith, praying to God before making big (or everyday) decisions. There seems to be less emphasis on which church you go to, as long as you go to church.
Current politics: since all three major Republican candidates are Catholic or Mormon, the conservatives participating don’t really have a choice, do they? Would the voting numbers be different if one of the candidates was Protestant/Evangelical? 15 years ago I would have said yes, absolutely. Today, I am not sure what the outcome would be. I do believe that the split in politics, and society, is becoming “religion” versus secularism (no religion or anti-religion).
I see Chris Matthews as a cultist. Obama is the new Jim Jones!
Excellent post Msgr. Of course, no one knows what is deep in Chris’ heart, but what comes out of his mouth is condescending, arrogant, and oh so authoritative. I believe you could characterize his true feelings regarding all things Catholic as: “Aren’t us liberals so much more enlightened than those tradition-burdened, stuck-in-the-15th-century Catholics?? Why do they resist the progress (our ability to replace God’s moral code with our moral code) we have made over the last 50 yrs?”
While I agree that Chris Matthews takes every opportunity to portray the orthodox Catholic Church as out of touch, and just plain wrong, I think he pities Catholics – from his elevated, sophisticated liberal perch – more than he hates them as a true bigot would.
I was also raised as a Baptist in the South in the 60s and 70s. I would say that, as there were pretty much no Mormons and darn few Catholics in the area, we almost never thought about them at all. I was taught that they had different beliefs from ourselves, as did every other Protestant denomination. Though some of the things I believed at the time about Mormons and Catholics were incorrect (for instance Papal infalliblity) the same can be said about my beliefs of other denominations as well. And for that matter, I don’t know all there is to know about Baptists……
The first real experience I had with anti-Catholicism came when I moved to New York. I can say the same for antiSemitism. My first experience of anti-Mormon feelings came when I moved to California.
Right on the Mormons, wrong on the Catholics. It comes down to basic theology and control.
It also comes down to the demands of the group. The sociological definition of ‘cult’ is ‘high demand group’. Mormons shun those who leave, control how members dress, speak, eat, time spent in mettings etc. Evangelicals and Catholics do not.
Theologically, Catholics and Evangelicals, while having differences in theology certainly, DO AGREE on the ‘basics’ the person work and nature of Jesus Christ and the nature of God. They both agree with the historical church creeds.
Momons, OTOH, teach and believe contrary both to historical creeds and the person,work, and nature of Christ and the nature of God.
Therefore, again, Mormons are rightly called a ‘cult’. Catholics are not.
FWIW, my Christian bookstore has several Catholic books and they are not in the ‘cult’ section.
i have no use for Chris Matthews and I wish that he would no longer identify himself as a Catholic. However, no less a luminary than my barber (for the last 25 years) who is a faith-filled Southern Baptist has more than once told me that he and others of his faith have longed believed that Mormons and Catholics are both cults. However, he says now that his “talks” with me make him think that only Mormons are a cult. But down deep I feel assured that he still believes that Catholics, as a group, are a cult but that since I have told him that I believe that Jesus Christ died for me, I’m going to heaven But when I remind him that I suspect we can talk about this further in Purgatory, he may toss me back in with all the other Catholics. A simple man, he has a beautiful, uncomplicated faith in Jesus Christ, But unlike me, he was raised to love God because Christ died for him. I was raised to fear and respect God, which I certainly do, and I pray to God regularly to teach me how to love Him. Somewhere in Scripture, my pastor reminds me, Christ said something to the effect that those who keep His commandments love him. I do my best now that I have reached codger status.
Mr. Christopher Matthews – – How about doing some research about the Catholic Church??? Glad I’m not a listener of NBC & found this article on a Catholic blog.
Apparently, you’re as misled as some ignorant Catholics who don’t even know what the Catholic Church teaches: we’ve lots of those, Nancy Pelosi, most of the Kennedys and more. People today like to be cultural. Why not change what God said to suit their liking (thus becoming their own God). Little do they know that what J.Christ of 2000 years ago SAID, can’t be changed. Like it or not, His words can’t be changed. Oh yes, speaking of Henry the 8th, the Lutherans & the other thousands of branches today — think that’s what they decided to do. Change what Christ taught. How nice, people today can pick a religion that will teach them what they want to hear so suit their needs.
Please Catholic church, ESTABLISHED by Jesus Christ Himself (we’re not a denomination in case you aren’t aware. By the way, which branch of the Catholic Church are you? J. Christ established the Catholic Church as the ONE Shepherd w. Peter as our lst pope and despite the persecutions, wars & behavior of human error, the Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has survived and we are intact today. Obama can’t take us down – -we still stand and forever will remain standing because our Canon laws remain intact & unchanging.
Today, it’s ironic that many ignorant Catholics leave the Catholic Church (by the way, we’re not an ‘establishment’ — Christ IS the Catholic Church) because they don’t know there faith and many Protestants joining because they know the true faith is Catholicism..
I suspect most Catholics know as little about the Mormon church as they do their own. Bottom line-false teachers (by thought/word or deed) abound in all denominations/churches. After all is said and done, it’s about Christ and Him crucified. So, if/when I get “up there” I expect to sing praise with many who on this earth are considered members of a “cult” by whatever name.
I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ and His possession, I am what many would call an Evangelical Christian or Protestant, thought I do not refer to myself as either. I am also a Pastor but a sheep first like all sheep of Jesus.
I think many Christians like myself believe that Mormonism is a heretical cult with good reason it is a religion that leads away from Christ.
In regards to Catholics, like in any denomination there are some who are Christians and some who are not just like in my non-denominational church. Remember us non-Catholic Christians do not believe in purgatory, Salvation through Jesus Christ is now not later after physical death. In regards to the Catholic church (both of them) we do not believe either to be “the” church of Jesus Christ but the church is the world wide number of Christians who have come to God though Jesus Christ and are saved by faith and reside in many denominations and in the one and only true church of Jesus Christ, His church, which has no name other than His. Only God can separate the wheat and tares, the sheep and goats, so we are cannot really know who is Christ’s and who is not among all those who profess to be Christian.
It also seems to me that some so called Protestant denominations may be at least border line cults such as some Baptists who live and teach judgement and accusing the brethren seems to be their main focus.
As far as voting for President, while I would prefer a Christian in the White House, I would still vote for a non-Christian if I believed him to be a good President. Looking at many past Presidents who claimed to be Christian, the claim does not always make a good man or a good President. I support Ron Paul by the way as he is the only I believe can be trusted out of all the current people running including the current President Obama,
I would no problem voting for and supporting a Catholic I just don’t see any good ones running currently who I trust based on their historys..
I note that Msgr. Pope left out mentioning the anti-Evangelical Christian bigotry that still exists in the RCC and with some Catholics in mentioning bigotry. Not trying to pick a fight pointing that out just saying that is part of this whole issue. Know that I, because of my Lord, love all people and my Catholic brethren and where any of us is in error that is one of the things God is working on with His power which is so mightily at work within us and we struggle with Col 1:29. Also many Catholics are and have converted to what many refer to as Evangelical Christianity. Blessings hope I have not offended anyone and I am well aware of the timber sticking out of my own eye so I can hardly see anyone else’s speck in their eye.
You haven’t offended me, but I wonder where you picked up the line about salvation after physical death vis a vis purgatory. It didn’t come from an official Catholic source because it’s heresy. I’d be interested to know because I find all the criticism I’ve ever heard of Catholic theology comes from people educated by people who have no idea what it is.
Christians, the born again, can tell if another is born again and can tell if someone is not born again. Its a fruit of the spirit. Plus, you can hear the voice of Jesus in the saved persons talk. My sheep know my voice. When someone gets saved, they come out of whatever religion they were chained to, soon enough. I still attended my church until i was led to a body of other believers. Thats how it happens.
Let me say first that I really like Chris Matthews AND Lawrence O’Donell. My background is pretty similiar to Chris’s except that I grew up in Indianapolis 3 blocks from both my Catholic parish and the Methodist Church. He’s a BIT older than me, but “I” remember the 1960 election and we went through as Catholics in Indiana(the only NORTHERN state ever run by the Klan) and even much later. TRUST ME, I know how they (Evengelicals, fundies, whatever), think of us and it ain’t pretty. Just because they down play it DOESN’T MEAN, they STILL don’t think of us as “lost” etc. In fact, in the early 70’s, I nearly was engaged to a girl I met at my local college who’s mother was an ardent Southern Baptist. My girlfriend decided that, after meeting me, that she really didn’t believe all that fundementalist stuff and at the ripe age of 21 was summarily kicked out her house. she ended up living with my cousin until she graduated. Her mother decided that she now “lost”. I had lots of discussions with her mother and informed that the Catholic Church was the “whore church” of Revelations.
Eventually, my girlfriend and I broke up, but NOT because of the faith issue(the last I heard she was “comfortably Espiscopalian”.). She wanted to tleave the state to attned grad school and I couldn’t follow.
Southern Indiana has a lot of German Catholics, but EVEN MORE fundies, etc.
Finally, as an operative, I like Chris and Lawrence BECAUSE they were staffers on the Hill and THEY know how it all REALLY works unlike the other talking heads.
Chris Matthews makes his living on opinions. A pundit need not be taken seriously unless an individual seeks affirmation from a celebrity for their own beliefs or thoughts on any given matter. However, it’s always interesting to hear what people who’ve fallen out of their faith have to say on faith based matters and learn how many people are ignorant enough to take them at their word. Opinion, in the current environment, has often become an abuse of office.
While it is true in many cases that a more collaborative relationship has developed over time between the Evangelicals and Catholics on essential things, it’s been my personal experience as a Catholic to be described by some evangelicals/fundamentalists as a pagan. I could only respond to the best of my ability as a lay person, civil, but with conviction. The Mormans and Jehovah Witnesses are definitely cultists in their estimation, as well as the estimation of some Catholics and almost visceral feelings accompany such statements. We can agree on the Mormon Church’s misguided and incorrect theology, but that most faithful Mormons are very decent people. Because of my own shortcomings in the practice of my religion (there are times I am convinced I am the worst Catholic, ever), I have come to think that most who engage in certain rhetoric or beliefs are simply unaware of the injustice done to others, themselves, and the Christian faith by this attitude.
Thank you, Msgr. Pope for another pertinent and insightful article.
Chris Matthews raised a valid point (some/many Evangelicals consider the Catholic Church a cult). Of course, they are wrong, but that does represent a growing number of “non-denominational” faith communities.
While Pastor Jon above did not come out and say the Catholic Church is a cult, I’d be willing to bet that he does consider Catholicism a ‘false religion’ and if one were ‘truely saved’, they would not remain Catholic and join a “Bible believing church”. So, Matthews’ point can be applied wider than only those who actually use the word “cult” to denegrate the Catholic Church. There are millions of “non-denominationals” who are anti-Catholic enough to sit out the election rather than vote for a Catholic like Rick Santorum who has no problem identifying himself as a Catholic.
BTW, Pastor Jon, you only consider the 27 NT books Scripture because the Catholic Church canonized them from the hundreds of Christian writings circulating in the early Church. If you trust that the Catholic Church got the 27 NT books exactly right when they canonized the NT in the 4th century, how is it that She got so many other Christian doctrines wrong?
As I said Christians are Christians whether they are Catholic or Protestant, so not sure why you would think I would consider Catholicism a false religion. I know many many Catholics who are ‘truly saved’ as far as I can tell…. and as I stated above only God knows who are His elect.
I know of many times the people of Jesus over here in the Protestant camp have gotten the Word of God wrong and ended up with wrong doctrines because of it. So what exactly is a “Bible believing church”?
I consider us who belong to Jesus and yes that includes Catholics, to be the church (meaning community) of Jesus. i don’t go looking for who has got it wrong but who has the One Who has it all right. I have learned plenty from my Catholic friends and see things within the Catholic church that the rest of us Christians are missing and could use.
I am not gonna respond to your last paragraph joefen out of respect. I didn’t come here to correct anyone or find fault or tell anyone I got it right. We all got it wrong to some degree and I trust our Lord (that is your and my Lord joefen) to come back for His perfect bride ( that’s us again Joe). He already knows how He is going to work this all out and unite us all as His people, as His bride. Maybe you and I will sit next to each other at the wedding feast, Joe.
i really like what Msgr. Charles Pope wrote here that why I responded. Charles ( I hope you don`t find it disrespectful for me to call you Charles) I also like what you wrote on the Commandments being cures promises, it is wonderful, it blessed me truly. Yes I browsed around a bit because I recognized your heart for God in your words. Thank you.
I have read the comments in this thread and I have a question after reading how many who responded here see us non-Catholic Christians being towards Catholics. Being in my late fifties I have never once heard in any church a negative comment from the pulpit or among the congregation towards Catholics. i do remember once a fellow Pastor in our church mentioning how a man who was going to be baptized was a former Catholic and was now needing prayer as he was battling spiritually over that. He told me after the service a Catholic couple who was visiting our church told him they were upset the way he said it and said God rebuked him for it right after he said it. I have heard over the years a few Christians speak badly of Catholics, one being very harsh, I spoke up in each case best I can remember, that such attacks were wrong and we needed to look at ourselves in light of God`s holy perfection not find fault with others. Now there was time long ago that I did not believe Catholics were saved and even debated some Catholics on that. God has corrected me and I have repented. I can truly say I have nothing but respect and love for my Catholic brothers and sisters. Yes there are going to doctrines we don`t agree on but can we not camp in the love of our Lord and be kind and love one another.
So my question is if I have not seen this wide spread negativity towards Catholics in all the churches I have visited or my own church, is it really that wide spread. (sorry question mark key has all of a sudden stopped working on this keyboard 🙂
I have prayed for years that God would unite us under Him and be glorified in that. Lets all learn from God and be like him and bring Him glory as His people. He will work out all the other stuff as only He can.
With you before our great God.
There are two types of people…saved and unsaved. The unsaved will point to a group and say…look at them, they are unsaved and do wrong things. While they themselves are unsaved. The unsaved think that there are gods elect in all types of false religions, or at least they say there are, not to offend anyone. Yes, we dont want to offend any unsaved people. Some unsaved people think their religion is the true religion, and the others are damned. Salvation is between you and Jesus, and he is the one you go to for salvation. If you hope you are saved, or think you are saved, guess what? The Holy Spirit is not the author of confusion. The saved know Jesus personally and know they are saved.
Thanks everyone for the comments. I have been away today and thus could not participate in the thread but I did read most of your comments. It would seem we have a longer way to go in relations with the evangelicals than I would hope or think, but I still think its better than I remember in the 70s. As for Mormons there is even a longer way to go and our theological differences with them are far greater. Nevertheless I think we can still exhibit caution before we too easily accept possibly distorted notions of what they actually teach.
You stated that “To be clear, I do think that Mormonism is a false religion or at least a heretical offshoot of Christianity”. But did you forget that all of the Protestants are following a false religion? That is what I learned in Catholic Church..
All this reminds me of Jesus last prayer ( from the Cross) that we might be one…and sadly how very far we have yet to go to complete His vision for us. Certainly such thoughts as Mr Matthew uttered here do not contribute to this end ,Even if he meant it only as a commentary it comes across as narrow and bigoted.
thank you thristfortruth, as you put it so well Jesus does want us to be one with Him and the Father, I to hope we soon learn from our Lord how to cooperate with Him in that.
I think Mr. Mathews is just planting another class warfare subject for the public to take and run with. I don’t sit around and judge the candidates by the sex, color or creed but stricktly on what direction they are proposing to lead the country. I would think most mature voters approach it in the same way. You have you uninformed and bigoted voters and that’s the people most easily fooled into such political skulldudggery. The war on women gimmick didn’t work, the manipulation of abortion rights to contraceptives didn’t fly, so now let’s peddle cultism and watch the conservatives devour themselves. Mr. Matthews is probably feeling a tingling running up his leg just waiting to see if he pulls this one off. I’m not falling for it but i think your Catholic guilt is getting the better of you.
Unfortunately, many of the comments on this thread validate Mathew’s opinions. There is still bigotry, fueled by misinformation about the Mormon church. The one thing that we want the world to know is that we believe that we are saved through Jesus’s atoning sacrifice as much as any other Christian believes it. It is funny to me to read so often on the web that Mormons live clean lives, have Christian values….etc., but they are a cult. Doesn’t the Bible teach that by their fruits you will know them? For those that fear a Mormon president, you should know that we believe that the founding Fathers were inspired by God. A Mormon in the Whitehouse will uphold the Constitution.
Cheers back, Brian. If people understood your reference to the White Horse Prophecy, I think they would run screaming from Mitt Romney.
Unless I’ve misunderstood it, and I don’t think I have, it implies that the Mormon CHURCH (via a Mormon president, obviously) will save the Constitution, which will be hanging by a thread; not simply uphold it.
Frankly, I don’t care who saves it, as long as someone has the guts to do it.
A good clean life. That is a great thing. All religions and their clergy should be like that. Now, lets look at the criteria for going to heaven. What does Jesus say during judgment? Why are some people sent to outter darkness? Its not because they attended mass or lived clean lives, or helped the poor…..Jesus says….Depart from me, i never KNEW you. If you dont know him here, you dont know him there. Knowing is being born again, because this carnal man cant understand the things of god, but a new spirit does. A new spirit from heaven is placed in you when you are born again. And no, the ritual of water splashing doesnt do it. You have to cry out to Jesus for yourself. Its not a ritual you can attend. Step rite up and get your salvation….only 18 hail Marys today only, get em while they last.
Shalom Msgr. Pope….
After reading your blog I am in total agreement that Mormonism is a heretical offshoot of Christianity and should not be considered Christian. As a former Advocate for a Regional Bishop who had Mormons proselytizing in front of his Church during Sunday Mass. I also find that Mormons are not monolithic and each Stake needs to be addressed individually and by its leadership. The Stake involved with our Church had a Stake President and Bishop that was horrified to find out that their missionaries were doing such things and ordered an immediate halt to the practice. However, the Stake President that the missionaries came from had an entirely different point of view. Mostly Anti-Catholic….
Yes we Catholics view Mormonism and many other non-Catholic faiths not from our Churches viewpoint but our own failed understandings and miss the true points totally, causing more harm than any good. Many Catholics will do this and not understand our own history, doctrines and catechisms making defense of our faith even tougher, since many of the false understanding we project will be used against Catholics as they are used against the other faiths. So its becomes a vicious distortion cycle. We Catholics even have misnomers about our own Charismatic Renewal within our own Church. You know those, Catholic Bible thumpers (sic)….
However, I do disagree that we Catholics should not go toe to toe with Mormons or any other should I call them “Churchanity” not Christianity group as one of the posters here articulated. Especially when they come knocking at our doors. But before ones goes toe to toe with any other faith, that Catholic needs a solid understanding of not just the Bible but our own history, doctrines and catechisms. Then we need to remember to be Christ like when that opportunity arises to go toe to toe. Otherwise the point of Evangelization is totally missed. Stand side by side with any heretical offshoot of Christianity? No! But remember the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi!
Furthermore, Catholics who view the fact that Mormons or for that matter any religion as doing only great deeds, hence they are really Christians, need to remember that faith and deeds are not two separate issues. Either is dead without the other….
Lastly, this election year will be trying for many Catholics. Is faith that important during any election? Do you vote for a Mormon or not? Are the Catholics running any better? Does one stay the course? All I can say is follow the USCCB guide and pray before you vote and if its really bothers you that much. The seek counsel from your Pastor or favorite Priest…
@ Brian…Assuming you are a Mormon and that what you say about this religious persuasion is true, it is good news indeed. Especially happy to hear that a Mormon in the White House would uphold the Constitution! Let us pray for that end together, if it be the Will of Our Father in Heaven.
In the 1960’s, a social justice oriented priest was driving from Washington, DC to Selma, AL to participate in the civil rights march. Somewhere in Tennessee, his car broke down. It was on a rural, country road. All he could see is one old shack up on a hill. Looking for some help, he walked up to the house and knocked at the door. Very slowly, an old man opened the door a crack and bellowed “What do you want, stranger?” The priest explained his situation. The old man opened the door a little further and stared at the priest’s roman collar. He says “You a priest?” Father answered, “Well, yes I am.” The old man responded “We don’t like any priests in these parts.” Given his desperate situation, the priest searched for a way to change the topic. As the door opened a little more, he noticed a picture of the Pope on the wall. He asked “Why do have a picture of the Pope?”. “Where?” said the old man. “On your wall, right there.” Said the priest, pointing. The old man exclaimed “Pope! That Yankee salesman told me that is Harry S. Truman in full Masonic regalia.”
I agree that some non-Catholic Christians view the Church with at least suspicion if not disdain. I’ve known some who think “Catholic” and “Christian” are mutually exclusive terms.
A recent poll showed 76% of Evangelical Pastors say Catholics do not need to convert. Chris Matthews got it wrong.
Chris Mathews: A Brother. What he is saying about what evangelicals think, as he has posited: Irrelevant to just about everything. What does it have to do with “the price of tea in China” That’s my opinion.
Based on the tax returns that Romney, Santorum and Gingrich provided, Romney (Mormon) pays tithing and a lot more to charity and Santorum and Gingrich (Catholics) don’t pay tithing and pay little to charities.
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