c. 2008 Religion News Service
(UNDATED) The creator of a controversial calendar featuring shirtless Mormon missionaries has been excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after meeting with a disciplinary committee on Sunday (July 13).
Chad Hardy said the “Men on a Mission” calendar was intended to provoke discussion among Mormons, but church leaders in Warm Springs, Nev., found his conduct “unbecoming a member of the Church,” according to a letter obtained by the Associated Press.
Excommunicated members have 30 days to appeal, and can follow a process to eventually re-join the church. Hardy, who stopped attending church services altogether when he moved to Las Vegas, said he doesn’t plan on appealing.
“I’m done with organized religion,” said Hardy, a sixth-generation Mormon and former missionary himself, in an interview.
Sunday’s two-hour meeting brought to an end a lengthy dialogue between Hardy and his leaders of his regional stake, which is similar to a diocese. The two sides first met in April to discuss concerns about Hardy’s conduct, and in the ensuing months, Hardy was frequently questioned by local church leaders about his personal life.
Hardy was notified of the meeting five days in advance, after an e-mail exchange with stake president Frank E. Davie. He spoke in his own defense at the meeting, but did not provide any witnesses to testify on his behalf.
“They were very respectful to me,” Hardy said of the meeting. “(The calendar) was the main issue. There were no personal issues involved in this.”
Davie declined to comment on the excommunication process.
A spokeswoman for church headquarters in Salt Lake City called the disciplinary hearings a “private matter,” and said excommunication and other disciplinary matters are conducted at the local level, on a case-by-case basis.
“Because the fundamental purpose of Church discipline has always been to help members, rather than simply punish, disciplinary councils are considered a necessary step in repentance on the way back to full harmony and fellowship in the Church,” church spokeswoman Kim Farah said in a statement.
Excommunication is the most severe discipline that can be handed out by the church. Excommunicated members can no longer wear sacramental garments, attend church meetings or actively participate in church services, although they can still attend church in a limited role.
The calendar was first released last year through Hardy’s Web site, http://mormonsexposed.com, and features 12 shirtless male missionaries in various poses. Models had all completed two-year missions, and were active participants in the church.
According to Hardy, the goal was to “show that there is a different side to Mormons,” and raise awareness of alleged “hypocrisy” within the church. The calendar sold 10,000 copies in its first year, according to Hardy, and a 2009 edition is due out in September.
While Hardy worries the ruling could scare some prospective missionaries away from the calendar, auditions are currently underway for the 2010 edition. Hardy said he has no plans to discontinue the franchise.
“Anytime you instill fear in people, you’re going to have a harder time recruiting. I’ve already had to deal with that issue,” Hardy said. “But there will always be those that want to step out.“
KRE/CM END MURPHY
File photos from the 2008 Men on a Mission calendar are available via https://religionnews.com.