SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- A Las Vegas man who devised a calendar that features shirtless Mormon missionaries is facing a disciplinary hearing and possible excommunication because of the project.
A lifetime member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Chad Hardy was summoned by letter to a Sunday meeting with a council of elders to discuss his "conduct unbecoming a member of the church."
A takeoff on calendars of firefighters and returned U.S. servicemen, Hardy's project debuted with a 2008 calendar featuring 12 returned church missionaries in mostly modest poses, minus their trademark white shirts, ties and black plastic name badges. It has sold nearly 10,000 copies.
"You see more in a JCPenney catalog," said Hardy, 31, who once worked for Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller and now has his own entertainment company. ..
The calendar was designed to shake up Mormon stereotypes, Hardy said. The pages include photos of the men dressed in standard missionary garb. In biographical sketches each missionary talks about his beliefs.
Davie on Friday confirmed sending the letter and the plans for the meeting. He said the calendar was the primary concern.A returned missionary himself, Hardy acknowledged he has not been an active member of the church since 2002. He said he's 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.
"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."Some of the missionaries in the calendar, many of whom were recruited by Hardy's friends at church events, have been asked by their church leaders about the project, but none has faced disciplinary action, Hardy said.
"The biggest concern was, whether this was an attack on the church, and when they determined it wasn't, it was no big deal," said model Jonathan Martin, a 25-year-old Utah Valley University student who was contacted by a church elder in May.
Martin said he was told the inquiry was being made after a letter was sent to his church leader by higher-ups in Salt Lake City.
Church spokeswoman Kim Farah declined to comment on Hardy's specific situation, but said that "any church discipline is the result of actions not beliefs."
"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," she said.
Members have been excommunicated for reasons including criminal activity and scholarly works of history or theology that contradicted church claims.The 2009 calendar -- which drew 100 inquiries from interested missionaries -- will be released in September.
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