Is Mormonism a cult?

To many Americans, Mormon theology seems an impenetrable stew of biblical literalism, weird relics and a supernaturalism so aggressive as to border on science fiction, stirred together by a parade of shady self-declared prophets, from the frontier polygamist Joseph Smith to the complacent, dark-suited elders who run the church today. "Plutocratic oligarchs," Harold Bloom labeled them: men (all men; women are barred from participation in the Mormon priesthood) either cynically manipulating the religion for personal gain or themselves taken in.

Does this confection make the religion a cult, as commentators as wide on the spectrum as the evangelical Baptist Robert Jeffress and the acerbic atheist Christopher Hitchens have speculated?

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