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'Mormons Are a Cult,' He Says. Now Sharron Angle Has a Pastor Problem

4 years ago
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Sharron Angle's penchant for oddball comments and questionable assertions (see her latest on the alleged threat in the U.S. posed by Islamic law) has already caused enough problems in her close-fought bid to take Democrat Harry Reid's Nevada Senate seat.

But now explosive statements about Mormons by Angle's longtime pastor are causing the Republican candidate and Tea Party champion more headaches as her campaign enters the home stretch.

Pastor John Reed of Sonrise Church in Reno, a non-denominational, evangelical-style church where Angle was an active member for many years, calls Mormonism a "cult" and Reid, the majority leader and a Mormon, "a powerful person in a cult" whose position should "alarm" people.

Nevada has the fourth-highest concentration of Mormons of any state, with 7 percent of the population, and Mormons and their GOP-leaning social conservatism are sure to be crucial to an Angle victory.

The sentiments expressed by Reed may also portend complications for Mitt Romney, who is also a Mormon, should he pursue the 2012 Republican nomination, as expected. Apart from Glenn Beck, who has found greater acceptance among conservative Christians than probably any other Mormon (though few realize he is Mormon), Mormons often face suspicion for their beliefs.

Reed's comments -- published on Thursday in an interview with columnist Dennis Myers of the Reno News & Review -- reflected the more explicit form of that Christian suspicion, as Reed said Mormonism has "kooky" beliefs and that the church employs hit squads to "kill" lapsed members.

Reed also compared Angle to Snow White: "There's no dirt," and added: "The dirt's on Harry Reid, you know -- the whole Mormon thing. I could tell you the junk about Mormonism and the weird things that go on."

Reed also said this of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the formal name for the Mormons:
"The Christian community -- all the Christians, theologians and scholars, all recognize that, that Mormonism is a cult," Reed continued. "I have books in my library on cults, and it lists Mormonism right there with all these bizarre cults. Well, there must be a reason. I mean, here a member of a cult is one of the most powerful people in the United States. Doesn't that alarm you?"

"And his allegiance is to Salt Lake City. Something is up with that. Something's weird. But nobody touches that...Harry Reid's allegiance is to Salt Lake City."

"The Mormon church is rich, powerful, they do illegal things. They do secretive things. They've got all this money. They own American businesses. There's weirdness going on there. Churches are not multimillionaire organizations like the Mormon church. You know, there's some weirdness with that, but nobody questions it, nobody asks one question to Harry Reid and says, 'Tell us about your faith. What does a Mormon believe?' Ask him about the holy garments that he wears that protect him from evil. Isn't that kooky? Ask him about getting his body parts anointed by oil. Isn't that kooky? Ask him about when he goes to the temple and he gets baptized for dead people. Isn't that kooky? Ask him about the hit squad of the Mormon church and why they need people to kill Mormons that go against them. Isn't that controlling? Ask him how they shun people, then they get their family members to disown them and divorce them if they dare leave the Mormon church. Isn't that cultish?"

"I mean, I could go on and on. The Mormon church is a cult, and Harry Reid is a powerful person in a cult, and nobody even questions it."
In a follow-up interview with The Associated Press, Reed stood by his comments:

"What I am saying is what most Christians believe and know," he told the AP. Many Christians note that Mormonism, which was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 and has its headquarters in Salt Lake City, is outside mainstream Christianity because it rejects the classic doctrine of the Trinity and has its own sacred texts and views on the afterlife.

Harry Reid's campaign naturally jumped on the pastor's comments. "These disturbing and hateful expressions of extreme religious bigotry from Sharron Angle's spiritual adviser should alarm any Nevadan that believes in religious freedom and the separation of church and state," said Reid campaign spokesman Kelly Steele.

And Angle's campaign quickly sought to limit the damage. "As a Christian, Sharron shares the same values with other active Christians, including those of the Latter-day Saints community. Sharron has the utmost respect for followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and she strongly disavows any disparaging remarks against them," said Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen.

Her campaign also distanced herself from Sonrise Church and Pastor Reed, saying she had not been a member for more than six years.

But up to this year, Angle listed Sonrise as her church on her website, and Pastor Reed said Angle sang in a contemporary Christian band at the church. She taught Sunday school for more than a decade until her husband urged her to switch to a different church earlier this year where he could hold a more prominent volunteer position, he said.

"She asked if she could come back and visit," Reed said. "She was very sad to leave us."

Angle now attends Fellowship Community Church in Reno, another conservative, evangelical church where Sharron and her husband, Ted, are listed as one of the couples who host a weekly home Bible study group. Ted Angle is also listed as a deacon.

Whether the latest controversy will turn out to be Angle's version of Barack Obama's Jeremiah Wright problem remains to be seen.

The furor could also conceivably help Angle, since surveys show that Americans are less likely to vote for Mormon candidates than any other groups except for Muslims and atheists. And Republican evangelicals are less likely than any other group to say they would support a Mormon. So maybe Angle will find the issue rallies her base.

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I recommend that all of you do some research on the belief system of Christianity and cults. You will see why they are called cults. They hold distorted views of christianity, God and Jesus, and the Bible. There are many resources avaiable however, I recommend the ESV Study Bible (English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles) as it contains explanations of each belief system and world religions in one volume.

November 15 2010 at 6:31 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I'm LDS and I'm used to rediculous charges against my religion but I've never heard anything so stupid as the comments of Reed. Clearly someone that prefers to believe the negative statements made by someone that has no idea what they're talking about. "Hit squads?" That's a new one. Try this, I joined a Christian church, converted from the less satisfactory Baptist church, in 1972 and the LDS church membership was about 7 Mil. It's now over 14 Mil. Mr Reed, do you think it might be our belief that Jesus Christ is our savior and that we need to live the commandments rather than give them lip service. Or, maybe our work ethic, our stress on independence and education, our desire to help those that are less fortunate. Are we a rich church? Maybe by some standards, but, that could be because the Lord asks us for a tithe of 10% and we know it goes to help others. We do not have a paid clergy that is provided housing and transportation, do you fall into that catagory Mr Reed? Our leadership in SLC have their world wide church business expenses paid but they do not get a salary. They are all retired from private enterprise and live on their retirement pay. Mr Reed, please take the time to get to know us before you make the accusations that only show your ignorance.

October 14 2010 at 9:31 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

When you really think about it, all religions are cults. Jesus was a radical Jew who started "a cult". Joseph Smith started a cult. The Catholic church is rich and does illegal things (cover-ups of pedophilia), the Vatican last time I checked was a multi-million dollar organization, they influence politics indirectly. Reed talks about "holy garments that protect (Reid) from evil" ... OK, so what kooky things do Jews, Muslims and Christians believe? Supernatural beings with wings? ... covering themselves (women) up from head to toe, no eating of pork?? Water into wine? miracles? btw, after the NT, when was the last time God came down or sent an angel to speak to someone? When everyone starts to realize that ALL religion is a nice fairy tale used by all cultures to make sense of the universe and our place in it, and stop making such a production over whose is "the best", will we be able to stop fighting and start respecting one another.

October 14 2010 at 6:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I am NOT a Harry Reid supporter but Angles pastors comments show how truly ignorant many evangelicals are about the LDS faith. If it wasn't so sad it would be hilarious. Thing is, this pastor , and many like him, are spreading these ridiculous rumors to their flocks who take the pastors words as the truth.

October 13 2010 at 2:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

For anyone who bothered to read the story, towards the end it is finally revealed Angle has not been a member of the Church for more than six years.

October 10 2010 at 1:33 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

I am SHOCKED! I actually agree with Sharon Angle on something?

October 10 2010 at 11:35 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Protestantism has had so many cell divisions, that it seems to me that it, too, can be considered to be sponsoring cultism. Just look at the many, many variations of Protestantism that are in existence today--many of which are (to use the pastor's words) "weird" (e.g., Presbyterianism and the concept of the elect; evangelicism's belief in the speaking of tongues, etc.). So, I don't think any Protestant church--mainstream or otherwise--can afford to charge any other religion with cultism.

October 09 2010 at 9:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

If it weren't for double standards, liberals and Democrats would have no standards at all. Obama sat in the pews as the "Rev." Jeremiah Wright said "God d--- America" and that we brought 9/11 on ourselves with U.S. foreign policy, but that wasn't reason enough to disqualify him as president. This Angle thing pales by comparison.

October 09 2010 at 9:12 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

There is a kernel of truth in most religions, but the Devil is in the details.

October 09 2010 at 8:10 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Look up the word "cult" in the dictionary and you will see.

October 09 2010 at 7:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


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