This is not a neutral word.
What use does it serve?
Here are some definitions:
- a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies. (There you have it, “cult” is everywhere, in every religion.)
- 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.)
- Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols. (All of religion again.)
- 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.)
- 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.