Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Sad Day For Chad Hardy; "Mormons Exposed" Webmaster Excommunicated From The LDS Church After 45-Minute Hearing In Las Vegas

Updated post on Hardy's BYU diploma difficulties HERE.

In a sad development, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has excommunicated Chad Hardy, the enterpreneur who conceived the MormonsExposed website and who produced the Chippendale-style calendars featuring LDS returned missionaries in shirtless "beefcake" poses. Media stories published by the Salt Lake Tribune, KSL Channel 5, and KVVU Channel 5 in Las Vegas (with video). Previous post HERE.

Sunday's meeting, convened by senior Las Vegas-area stake president Frank E. Davie at the Warm Springs stake center, lasted about two hours and the 12-member council deliberated about 45 minutes before making its decision. As Davie himself originally disclosed, the calendar wasn't the only issue; his sustained inactivity also contributed to the decision. He was accused of not keeping various covenants, which is considered more serious for a Church member who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood (the highest priesthood) than for other members. Not only has Hardy been inactive in the Church for the past six years, but he had also ceased to pay tithing or wear the sacred undergarments. In addition, Hardy, as he subsequently admits in this story, not only defended his business, but apparently tendered no offer to change it to meet Church standards or terminate it. All three of this factors combined earned him the supreme penalty which can be imposed by the Church.

Stake President Davie confirmed the council's decision in a telephone call to The Associated Press. He declined further comment. In contrast, Hardy says he bears no ill will toward the LDS Church. He says an official letter severing his ties with the 13 million-member Salt Lake City-based church should arrive in about two weeks.

"I felt like I spoke my truth," the 31-year-old entertainment entrepreneur said. "Bottom-line, they still felt the calendar is inappropriate and not the image that the church wants to have". Hardy posts more of his reaction on his personal website (different than the MormonsExposed website).

"Men on a Mission", which has sold nearly 10,000 copies at $14.99 each, included pictures of 12 returned missionaries wearing black slacks, but not their trademark white shirts, in modest poses. The men are also photographed in traditional missionary garb and share their religious beliefs in biographical sketches. Some of the 12 models have also been called to disciplinary meetings, but none were punished.

Hardy said he considered resigning his membership to avoid the hearing, but decided against it out of respect for his family. Hardy is a sixth-generation Mormon. His parents live in Utah. Hardy insists that the purpose of the calendar has never been to tear down the church or its 13 million members.

Since its debut last year, the calendar has generated plenty of buzz through the Web. Some, including this blog, have criticized Hardy for painting missionaries as "sex symbols" and contradicting church teachings that promote modesty. Others have rejoiced at his attempt to give young Mormon men a new image.

The LDS church takes disciplinary action when leaders believe a person's behavior or actions are openly incompatible with the faith's teachings and could potentially damage the church. Council hearings are designed to help members, not simply punish, and are considered a necessary step in repentance and part of a process of returning to full fellowship in the church. An excommunicated person is removed from official church rolls, although they are still welcome at church services. Excommunicated members are prohibited from receiving the sacrament and can't perform church callings such as teaching or preaching during meetings. They also cannot enter church temples.

Commentary: The triple combination of the calendar, his inactivity, and his unrepentant attitude was simply too much for Chad Hardy to overcome. He gave Frank Davie and the council none of the mitigating or extenuating circumstances needed to assess a lesser penalty. Had Hardy at least agreed to market the returned missionaries differently, perhaps he would only have been disfellowshipped. In addition, Hardy's sustained inactivity may have convinced the council that he did not value his Church membership, rendering an excommunication decision easier. A record of activity might have convinced them that he actually cared about Church membership.

No Latter-day Saint, active or inactive, who strives to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, can rejoice over the excommunication of an errant member. I didn't even rejoice over the excommunication of Sonia Johnson and Martha Beck, although they revealed themselves to be actual enemies of the Church. In contrast, Chad Hardy was NOT an enemy of the Church; he was simply determined to go his own way, and his philosophical attitude towards his excommunication bespeaks a residual integrity not possessed by the other two who I mentioned.

And let's address one final issue. Some hardline Mormons may speak of excommunicants being "delivered unto the buffetings of Satan". This is bunk; whether or not an excommunicant is "delivered unto the buffetings of Satan" will depend upon the reason for excommunication and his attitude afterward. Sonia Johnson could be said to have been delivered unto the buffetings of Satan for a while; as a result of her excommunication, she lost her family (her husband dumped her), her membership, and her femininity (she turned lesbian). But she seems to have recovered. Martha Beck underwent therapy, emerging to suddenly declare that her father, the distinguished LDS historian Hugh Nibley, sexually abused her as a child. While she left the Church voluntarily, she divorced her husband, then both her and her ex simultaneously turned queer shortly thereafter (what a freaking mess). In contrast, there is no reason to believe that Chad Hardy will be delivered unto the "buffetings of Satan".

Some might speculate that Chad Hardy might become a "son of perdition" because he held the Priesthood and was excommunicated. Such speculation is unwise, unproductive, and unfounded. Here's some guidance on the subject from

First, in order to become a son of perdition, a person must hold the true priesthood of God [Melchizedek Priesthood]. Since only male members of the Church can even hold the priesthood, only apostate Church members have the possibility of being classified as Sons of Perdition. Second, in order to be a son of perdition, a person must rebel against God with full light and knowledge that he is in fact doing so. Succumbing to temptation or a lack of faith is not sufficient. One must defy God with full knowledge that he is indeed God. It is impossible for us to name anyone as a son of perdition, barring any revelation from the Holy Ghost, for only God truly understands the intentions of a person. While most men and women will suffer the pains of hell for their wickedness, precious few have descended to the depths of open depravity which would classify them as Sons of Perdition.

Not only has Chad Hardy NOT COME CLOSE to qualifying, but the only person who ever walked the earth who has specifically been identified as a son of perdition is Cain. We cannot even say for certain that Joseph Stalin was a son of perdition.


post-mormon joe said...

I'm glad that the excommunication of Chad Hardy shows the rigid intolerance and ridiculous paranoia of the LDS Church.

Deseret Dawg said...

Wrong, Joe, it shows we have a line which cannot be crossed. Society is no longer accustomed to such limits because the concept of limits has been abandoned. Perhaps only those who are LDS can best understand it. We consider a church to be more than a social center; we actually promote a specific way of life, with corresponding ground rules. But in a society promotes religious pluralism, one can easily find an alternative.

But even I didn't anticipate that Hardy would be excommunicated. Apparently, he gave them absolutely no recourse.

Emily said...

I cannot imagine the Church will excommunicate him just for creating the calendar. It has got to be something more or his rebellion against counsel

Deseret Dawg said...

Emily - I agree with your call. Apparently when he met with the counsel, he not only expressed no regret for his actions, but his intent to persist. Combined with his sustained inactivity, this led the council to conclude that he no longer attached any value to his Church membership.

I believe that had he been active, and offered to compromise on the calendar issue, he'd still be a member today. Stake authorities do not make excommunication decisions frivolously.

But since Chad apparently doesn't have a problem with it, the issue should go away quickly.

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.

bmp1213 said...

So, now what about the "missionairies" that are in the calendars? Will they be excommunicated as well?

And why was it a sad day?

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.

Anonymous said...

I am an active LDS member. While I don't think that the pictures are necessarily appropriate, they aren't offensive. The Church's actions I believe were... over-zealous.

They need to give him his degree and reverse the excommunication. It is the Christian thing to do, and as Christ's church, it would show more understanding and tolerance.

Anonymous said...

I would venture a guess that Chad's excommunication is directly related to a sexual sin, contrary to his temple covenants. The rest of the issues, including the calendar, would be peripheral at most.

Anonymous said...

Oh, for heaven's sake, can't you see how rediculous this is? Garments were designed by JS originally for men in polygomous marriages. They were the longjohns of the 1800s. Do a little history homework, people! It's not all that difficult.

Jesus didn't care if someone wore polygomous longjohns. Tithing is not a big deal in the Saviour's teachings either. (It would be a huge concern for an organization funding a 2 billion dollar mall with worldwide 'tithes, though).

The last sermon the Savior taught was to love God with everything you've got and to love your fellow man. Reading some of the bigoted responses from so-called 'saints' in Utah makes me cringe to see what some self-righteous Mormons think of themselves and their fellow man.

To the lovers of cliches', remember what assume means - to make an ass out of you and me.

Don't assume anything.

Charles Alvey said...

According to the bible if you love God you keep his commandments. John said it. If you don't keep his commandments, instead of mercy you receives justice. Its just like civil circumstances. If you break the law you are punished. The LDS church has very high standards that are far from popular in the world. Chad did not keep the commandments of the church and he was punished accordingly. I hope this makes sense to all those you think it was unfair that chad was excommunicated. The same concept is enforce at BYU and that is why Chad also didn't receive his degree.

Charles Alvey said...

Sorry about the poor grammar and spelling.

Anonymous said...

Only recently have I researched the Chad Hardy story and find it quite interesting. But I am a little baffled by peoples' commentary that there must be more to the Church's decision to exommunicate Chad than merely the calendar(which by the way is hilarious). Unfortunately, most members of the LDS church know very little about their own history. Joseph Smith excommunicated members at the drop of a hat, literally! Both he and
Brigham Young excommunicated members for word of wisdom violations while they both did the same. Do as I say, not as I do. Joseph Smith even tipped back with some wine with John Taylor, Hyrum, and Willard Richards in Carthage just the night before the martyrdom. Let's be honest, the chruch can and will excommunicate for anything it deems necessary to protect its good name. The most common reason listed to justify church discipline is "actions/behavior unbecomming of a member". This is basically what Chad was given and includes just about anything. The incongruency and inconsistency of church disciplinary councils is also concerning. I don't blame Chad for refusing to sit in the corner and lick his nuts for these self-indulgent, power-hungry narcisists. At least he was able to walk out with some freakin' dignity. And remember, these people only have power over you if you relinquish it to them.

Anonymous said...

Hi, covenant is a temple covenant. I think that he has offended the Spirit of God. I can see now the difference when a man do not join the church and are showing themselves on the calendar nudes, does not offend, but an elder showing himself naked in the calendar really offends. Well, he has made covenants, but he has already broken them. Well, he is not a son of perdition. What a man has go to do in order to be a son of perdition, he must got to see God and see Jesus and deny the gospel and assent the blood of the prophets and servants of God. One man has got to be receiving knowledge than the Holy Priesthood. It is not enough. But he has lost the Priesthood forever and ever, and he is damned and will remain single forever and ever. This is what he is going further the great damnation of eternal singleness. I am glad that I have not gone further so far away. Thank goodness. Thank God I am still free and have not gotten this road where he is right now.