I hired an ex-Mormon.
I can't remember how this came up, but recently one of my newer employees mentioned that he had a lot of Mormons in his family. I'd harbored suspicions of a Mormon background for a couple of weeks, but for the sake of professionalism, I was not going to be the first one to bring it up.
Well...it turns out my suspicions were right and my Mormon-dar is in excellent working condition. This guy's family apparently left when he was pretty young, which is obviously great for him. The revelation of our LDS connection started a chain reaction of discussions of Mormonism, Utah, and our personal backgrounds in the church.
He asked me if I still get Mormons knocking on my door, because he's still on a list of inactives somewhere and his family periodically gets bothered by members of the church who are trying to reach out. So I told him that when I first moved out of my parents' house, my family provided the church with my new address. I specifically instructed my parents not to share my address with the church the next time I moved, but a few years later I got a Christmas card from a man I'd never met who was the Elders' Quorum President of a ward I'd never attended and I had to send a nasty email to a Bishop I'd never even heard of to make sure this wouldn't become a regular thing.
Another coworker, after listening to our exchange about the various ways the church tries to track people down, offered us a sage nod and the simple conclusion: "Yeah, that's a cult. You guys were in a cult."
Like it's just that obvious.
It took me a long time, even after I'd stopped believing in the church's doctrine, to classify it as a cult. Maybe it was processing time or decompression or something, but it's continually astounding to me how clearly evident it is to outsiders (so to speak) that there are some policies, behaviors, and cultural values in Mormonism that are seriously not okay. Or, as this other coworker termed it, creepy.
And this was without mentioning the creepier aspects like the baptisms for the dead and the so-sacred-it's-secret temple rituals and the crushingly insular mindset and the whispering public testimonies in toddlers' ears and the hero worship and the temple garments and the regular inoculations against apostasy and the frequently disparaging mischaracterization of ex-members.
As much as I don't think that using the word cult is constructive when discussing the church with faithful Mormons, that doesn't change the church's status. It's still a cult. Some of us were just lucky enough to get out of it before it locked us in for life.