Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Mormons Exposed" Webmaster Chad Hardy To Face LDS Church Discipline For "Beefcake" LDS Missionary Calendars

Update July 13th, 2008: Chad Hardy has been excommunicated from the LDS Church. See updated post HERE

The operator of the MormonsExposed website will be facing LDS Church discipline for publishing calendars featuring returned LDS missionaries in "beefcake" poses with their shirts off. Media stories published by CNN, the Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, KSL Channel 5 (205 public comments), and KUTV Channel 2. Also discussed on TMZ.

Hardy has been summoned by letter to a 3:30 P.M. Sunday meeting at the Warm Springs Stake Center in Las Vegas with a council of elders to discuss what is characterized as "conduct unbecoming a member of the church." A copy of the letter from Stake President Frank E. Davie, the senior leader over a group of LDS Church congregations in the Las Vegas area was provided to The Associated Press and to TMZ. It was sent July 6th, just days before the 2009 version of the "Men on a Mission" calendar went to press.

On Friday, Stake President Davie confirmed sending the letter and the plans for the meeting. He said the calendar was the primary concern. "I prefer not to say anything else about it," he said. "There is more involved, and he and I will have our meeting." The outcome of a council meeting could include disfellowship, excommunication, probation, or exoneration," Davie said. However, none of the returned missionaries who posed for Hardy's calendars are reportedly facing any Church discipline at this time.

Chad Hardy actually began the project in 2007. His calendars feature 12 returned church missionaries in mostly modest poses, minus their trademark white shirts, ties and black plastic name badges. So far, they've sold nearly 10,000 copies. Hardy has always been careful to disavow any official connection with the LDS Church. "You see more in a JC Penney catalog," said Hardy, 31, who once worked for Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller and now has his own entertainment company. "I just feel like my right to free speech is being violated." Hardy explains his motivation and objectives on the FAQ page of his website. They also donate a certain percentage of the proceeds to a range of charities listed HERE.

Hardy acknowledged he's not been an active member of the church since 2002. A returned missionary who served in southern California, he no longer pays church tithing or wears the religious undergarments considered sacred. In six years, Hardy has never been contacted by anyone from the church encouraging his return to the fold and he suspects the current inquiry was driven by the church's Salt Lake City headquarters. Despite his inactivity, there is no sign that he has actually apostasized from the Church. "I'm still a good Mormon boy in many ways," said Hardy, who says he bears no animosity toward Latter-day Saints, but never felt he fit in. "I still want to hold onto my heritage."

Public reaction seems to favor Hardy, even among the LDS community. Most supporters do not believe it detracts from the Church's image; some in fact believe it makes the Church look a bit less starchy. However, opponents like A Soft Answer believe it demeans the Church's image. Missionaries in the field are not encourage to present themselves as sex objects; they're out to sell salvation, not procreation. The Gospel does not need to be "sexed up" the way the greater society has been sexualized. How would it look if Relief Society sisters posed in thongs on a calendar? Or, for that matter, how would Catholics feel if priests posed shirtless on a beefcake calendar?

This is why Voice Of Deseret sympathizes with those who oppose the calendar. However, this does not rise to the level of an excommunication, or even a disfellowshipment. In either case, actual harm to the Church has to be intended. It's obvious that Chad Hardy did NOT intend harm to the Church. But if he insists on continuing to portray missionaries in such a un-saintly fashion, then it would be appropriate to put Hardy in a probationary status, which simply means he is denied a temple recommend.


Anonymous said...

I think if he was active they would have more grounds, but in this case are they chasing down others who are no longer active yet committing actually sins like Mormons who work as strippers or Mormons who are active in being homosexual? I am listed as a mormon, I even had a temple recommend that was still valid for the first year I was a born again baptist and publicly denounced the church, yet I was not ex-communicated? I know of others who are now Christians and appose the lds beliefs actively and cant even get there records removed? I think that If the church is going to start beating the bushes of its inactive it would have a lot more serious people than Mr. Hardy to deal with. I think that this is a worse PR move for the church.

SilverRain said...

I think there is a large difference when a person is doing visible, public things against the Church. There are plenty of members quietly apostasizing. There aren't any office gremlins carefully monitoring membership and worthiness. However, when a person shoves the matter into the public face, the Church has little choice but to demonstrate disapproval. It seems on the surface that Hardy is quite unrepentant for his behavior. That is, from what I understand, often the difference between probation and excommunication.

Anonymous said...

I have often heard that in the last days the worst persecution members would receive would be within the church, I wonder if we aren't seeing this now. This is a far cry from pornography, I see more skin at a ward swim party. It reminds me of when Julie on the Real World was kicked out of BYU. Members were up in arms, but most of them never watched the show. I did and thought she was a great example of a good church member. But it was the evil MTV! I am a good active member, but I am starting wonder how long I can sit passively by and watch this sort of thing happen.

Anonymous said...

Silverrain is absolutely right. Chad's excommunication is not about the calendar, although as the most sensational part of the story, the media and the anti-mormon crowd will certainly bring it to the forefront. Those who sin privately without trying to drag the Church's name through the mud are afforded more leniency. Why do you think none of those who appeared in the calendar were disciplined?

Jason said...

1. The church does not always publish who is disciplined and who is not. Details are never published or revealed. Whether you wish to accept the tenets of the LDS church is your choice.
2. Chad's decision is one of faith in Jesus Christ and in his living Prophet. If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints really is THE church of Jesus Christ guided and directed by HIM through his living prophet who speaks the will of God--- what else matters. I don't understand all of God's ways, and that's ok.
God answers prayers. He has answered mine. I've prayed to know whether this is his church and I have received an answer in the affirmative through peace in my heart. Knowing this, I will follow him with my whole soul.
I will not be a hypocrite and say that all people are perfect. All make mistakes, even Mormons, even Joseph Smith. (he repented and came back to God) My part is to follow him and to repent and come to Jesus when I falter. Jesus saves. Jesus heals. Jesus is my God. He is perfect. Through him, and only through him, I can come to God, the Father.

Anonymous said...

Some day Chad will be sending the cult, I mean the "church" a thank you for excommunicating him. A blessing he has not realized as of yet.

bathmate said...

nice posting. very good work. thank you. :)