Mormon excommunicated for producing beefcake missionary calendar

BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 

SALT LAKE CITY – The creator of a calendar that featured shirtless Mormon missionaries was excommunicated Sunday after a disciplinary meeting with local church leaders in Las Vegas.

Chad Hardy said he bears no ill will toward the council of elders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“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.”

“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 also were 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.

“I have no ill feelings toward any of those people,” Hardy said of the church council. “They did what they believed was right and I really do feel it was the best decision for both of us.”

Frank E. Davie, the senior leader over a group of Mormon congregations in the Las Vegas area, confirmed the 12-member council’s decision in a telephone call to The Associated Press. He declined further comment.

Hardy said the purpose of the 2008 calendar was not to tear down the church or its 13 million members.

“The project is about stepping outside the stereotypes and stepping outside of the image,” Hardy said. “Not everybody fits the image and I let them know we’re not trying to portray an image for the entire church.”

An excommunicated person is removed from official church rolls, but 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.

Updated: July 14, 2008 — 6:19 am

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  1. I’m sure there will be a few posts here, which is certainly fine. As someone who sits on these same disciplinary councils, I assure you the decision was not made lightly and there might be a little more to it than this article makes known, although I have no direct knowledge of the situation.

  2. Did the Mormons ever think of trying to develop a sense of humor? I know it would be difficult, given their doctrine, but it would make life easier.

  3. Actually, I think you’d find more humor in our meetings and “get togethers” than most other religious groups, but there is humor and then there is making light of sacred things. Like I said, I’m sure there was more too it than what the article says.

    During our last general conference our church president, Thomas S. Monson, had us all in stitches while he told us of a boy who was mimicking him from the front row of a meeting; crossing one leg over another, switching when President Monson switched, making the same hand gestures…until President Monson stared the boy down and proceeded to wiggles his oversized ears, which the boy couldn’t do.

    We love humor as much as the next group.

    I, for one, do not have any problem with laughter even at my own expense, but I’m sure there are those in our church, just like in others, who take themselves too seriously.

    Since we don’t know the whole story and won’t unless Mr. Hardy chooses to make it so, you just can’t assume it was because Mormons haven’t developed a sense of humor.

  4. No offense, David, but this is hardly the first example of Mormons not having much of a sense of humor about things. While wiggling ears is, no doubt, a neat party trick, a neater trick would be not labeling things “sacred” to avoid talking about them. I understand why you don’t people out there making beefcake calendars about Mormon missionaries, but don’t you think excommunication is a bit harsh of a remedy? I mean, no crime was committed, and my understanding is that all that was shown were topless males, which one can see in any issue of Sports Illustrated. And, I do think the incident is funny, just as the incidents in England (no doubt primarily among Anglicans) that started this trend were funny, too. Difference is that we didn’t excommunicate anyone and we did laugh about it.

  5. After having done a little more reading about it, there was more to it than just the calendar. In our religion, when someone enters the temple they make sacred (yes, they are sacred) covenants, and it was obvious from other articles that the keeping or not keeping of those covenants had something to do with Mr. Hardy’ excommunication. As I’ve said three times now, there was more to it than just the calendar. It seems to me like Mr. Hardy wanted to part ways anyway.

    Excommunication might seem harsh, but we view it in a little different light, probably. I’ve seen a few use it as a time and season to strengthen their faith and come back renewed and stronger in their faith. It is not exactly a punishment, but a time for repentence. Maybe Mr. Hardy will use it for that, maybe he won’t. That is entirely up to him.

    As far as the labeling of sacred, that is a religious “tradition” from way back, my friend. There is nothing that we do not “talk about” in our church, but with whom we talk about them can be selective. Even the Lord himself did that.

  6. David, I don’t care if they excommunicate every Mormon in Utah. But let’s not lie about what they’re doing. They are punishing someone for a PR mistake. That’s fine; I’ve punished my share of people for PR mistakes, too, but I don’t ever remember it involving excommunication, and the resultant loss of one’s immortal soul. I always figured that monetary damages or loss of employment was sufficient to make the point.

    The issue I see here is the secrecy inherent in the practices of the Mormon church, which are eerily similar to those of the Roman Catholic Church, which led to the sex abuse scandal. I’m not suggesting that there’s an unknown scandal among Mormons, but I am suggesting that if there were such a scandal, their history of secrecy would help them cover it up. I don’t like any more secrecy in anything than is absolutely necessary to run an organization. The Episcopal Church, for all its faults, and I’m the first to admit them, is at least open and honest about what it does, rather than operating in secret. When we excommunicate someone, which admittedly we don’t do very often, we do it only after a public trial governed by rules of procedure and evidence. No one would need to post a blog entry saying, “Well, uh, there’s more to it than that, but because I got it from the cousin of the guy’s roommate’s brother, I can’t tell it, and it might not be right . . . ” We just cite the transcript. The Catholic example should be enough to make any organization realize that openness is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary in today’s world.

  7. That bothers me a lot too. There really is no good apparent reason for such secrecy, and there’s a lot to say for openness. Just because a church holds itself accountable to God doesn’t mean that they have to keep everyone else cut out of the loop.

    David’s defense of his church’s actions struch me as odd, with suggestions that “the church knows best and we can’t tell you why”. After the lessons of Guantanamo we should all realize that when it comes to matters of justice, assurances of authorities are no substitute for due process and open hearings.

    The funny thing is that after reading the extra stuff about the case it appears that David is correct about the church’s decision being justifiable, based on Hardy’s voluntary withdrawal from Mormon church commitments. (The problem of half-clothed bodies versus sacred undergarments didn’t occur to me and many other non-Mormons.) But there is still no supportable rationale for the LDS church to operate so furtively, even if you believe that church leaders are divinely inspired and infallible. It just looks like they have something to hide.

  8. Caleb,

    You sure jump to a lot of conclusions without having any of the facts: “But let’s not lie about what they’re doing. They are punishing someone for a PR mistake.” You were not in the meeting that resulting in Mr. Hardy’s excommunication, thus you cannot come close to stating that with any conviction other than you have something against the LDS church.

    Looking at your comments, I’m sure you read nothing more than the article that Frank reprinted here. For the fourth time now, THERE WAS MORE TO THE STORY. Mr. Hardy obviously broke some other covenants that our church considers sacred. As much as you would like to think so, we don’t excommunicate for PR’s sake. That wouldn’t even make sense. If we were that worried about PR, we’d change a lot of things to make our church more “popular” with the world; get rid of the Book of Mormon, stop stating we have living prophets, open up our temples to the world, etc.

    And you can go on with the ““Well, uh, there’s more to it than that, but because I got it from the cousin of the guy’s roommate’s brother, I can’t tell it, and it might not be right . . . ” crap all you want, Caleb, but that is not what I did. I can’t state facts that I do not know, but I can go off of my experience. I’ve sat in on many of these “councils” and what I stated came from my own experience, which would be much greater than yours, thus more likely to be closer to the truth of what happened than something you might conjure up in your mind. That being said, I don’t live anywhere close to Mr. Hardy, I did not sit on the council that decided his excommunication, so I cannot tell you any details, nor should you expect that I could. Sorry, but I’m not that “high up.” If Mr. Hardy wants to spill the details, that’s up to him, and the church would do nothing to stop him, but the church is not going to do it because it’s none of your or my dang business, my friend, nor anyone elses, unless Mr. Hardy wishes to tell them. There is only one exception to the rule of the privacy of the disciplined member and that is if it the person is a general officer of the church. If a member of the twelve, or seventy even the president of the church himself were to receive church discipline, then it would be made public. Since that is the case, there goes both your’s and Jose’s worry that we have a massive cover up going on. When members of the seventy, Paul H. Dunn and George P. Lee were excommicated in the late 80s, it was made public. Mr. Hardy is not a church officer, so his was not. Like I said, it’s none of our business.

    It seems to me that it shouldn’t be that big of a deal to you either. You state at the beginning, “…I don’t care if they excommunicate every Mormon in Utah…” If you didn’t care about that, then it logically follows that you wouldn’t care how it was carried out either or how “secretive” or open the church is about it.

  9. David, you’re right. I don’t care who the Mormons excommunicate. They no doubt would have excommunicated me long ago if I got near enough to them. And you’re also right that I don’t particularly care about the circumstances concerning this guy’s excommunication. I mean, duh, he should have known that twitting the Mormons, a group not known for their sense of humor, would get him in trouble and lead to something like this. So, no, I have no sympathy for him, either.

    What I do care about is hypocrisy and a lack of openness in church organizations. You said in your earlier post that you’d looked into the matter and “knew” that something more than the beefcake calendar had occurred. Now you say you don’t know any facts, but are going on your general experience, and that you believe something else happened. Whatever. We shouldn’t have to speculate about something like that. My point is that this is hardly a matter of national security. As far as I’m concerned, the only justifiable reason to keep anything secret is for some type of security, economic, or business reason. I don’t see any of those here. If the Mormons had wanted to keep the whole thing secret, they didn’t have to excommunicate the guy. I doubt that their world would have fallen apart over a beefcake calendar.

    Jose makes a good point. When has anything good ever come of secrecy? He cites Guantanamo Bay, and one could easily cite the Catholic sex abuse scandal as well. I have always held that the doctrine that caused the Catholics so much trouble wasn’t celibacy, but secrecy. Ditto some of the scandals in the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other secretive churches. When it comes to interpersonal interactions, the only real cleanser is sunshine. Secrecy never works.

    What you’re really saying through all your “you shouldn’t care about this” and “you shouldn’t care about that” statements is that I shouldn’t have the temerity to criticize the Mormons, a religion with which, you’re correct, I have no experience. I have nothing against the Mormons; I haven’t known many Mormons, but all of the ones I’ve known were nice people. What I have something against is hypocrisy, whether it comes from the Mormons, the Catholics, or my own church, of which I have also been critical. You can write any negative thing you want about any other church, such as mine, and no one complains. We understand that we’re fair game. But if someone writes a negative word about the Mormons, the scream can be heard from Salt Lake City to Lexington. Though your own posts, David, have shown great wit, most people who write in support of the Mormons appear to be a humorless lot, offended at every slight, and willing to devote reams of paper explaining exactly why the critism wasn’t justified. The Mormons, being arguably the worst PR practitioners in the world, just because of incidents like this, are going to have to get used to being criticized. They got a dose of it through the Mitt Romney candidacy, and as Mormons become more prominent in business and politics, they’re going to have lose this “I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you” mindset. Everyone else thinks it’s silly that you take this kind of attitude, and will lampoon you for it at every opportunity. Not to mention the whole underwear thing, which kind of creeps me out.

    The Anglicans have done a lot of dumb things in their history, but we never got into this whole secrecy thing; we are out front and anyone who wants to throw brickbats at us is welcome to do so. Until the Mormons get into that place, they can expect this kind of embarrassment.

  10. Caleb,

    I’m going to quote from my own posts, just so we don’t get confused here.

    “I assure you the decision was not made lightly and there might be a little more to it than this article makes known, although I HAVE NO DIRECT KNOWLEDGE OF THE SITUATION.”

    “After having done a little more reading about it, there was more to it than just the calendar. In our religion, when someone enters the temple they make sacred (yes, they are sacred) covenants, and it was obvious from other articles that the keeping or not keeping of those covenants had something to do with Mr. Hardy’ excommunication.”

    “I can’t state facts that I do not know, but I can go off of my experience. I’ve sat in on many of these “councils” and what I stated came from my own experience, which would be much greater than yours, thus more likely to be closer to the truth of what happened than something you might conjure up in your mind. That being said, I don’t live anywhere close to Mr. Hardy, I did not sit on the council that decided his excommunication, so I cannot tell you any details, nor should you expect that I could.”

    Now, not one of these statements contradicts either of the other two. They are completely consistent.

    I still have no direct knowledge of the situation, I wasn’t there. I read more on it and it was clear from the other articles that there were other issues besides the calendar. From my knowledge of how these things work, it would be consistent with that knowledge to say that even though I don’t have the complete details, there was probably more to it than just the calendar.

    But, whatever. You just seem to have this thing about our “secrecy” which I cannot for my life understand. I’m going to be a little bold here, and I want you to know that I’m not trying to be a jerk here, but trying to make a point: What makes you think you have the right to know the details about Mr. Hardy’s excommunication? What makes you think you have the right to know the covenants we make in our temples? (Just another example of things that non-LDS call “secretive.”) Seriously. You call it “secrecy.” I call it a right to privacy. What makes your view the better one? You compare it to the Catholic priest scandal. I respond….WHAT? One has nothing to do with the other. In one, priests were abusing little children and they hid it for years. That is not even close to keeping private matters of one adult’s church discipline, especially (as I’ve said before)when the LDS church would never stop him from making the reasons public if HE CHOOSES TO DO SO. There is a huge difference between a cover up of enormous proportions as the Catholic Church had and our church choosing not to make public the material facts of one man’s personal affairs with the church. I’m assuming that you didn’t even bother to read what I said about our general authorities’ discipline always being made public.

    And just so you know, I am never offended. Really, I’m not. If I see something that I think needs to be “corrected” (obviously that comes from perspective, what I think needs to be corrected might fair game to you…we each have our way of looking at things) then I’ll be pretty aggressive about it, but I can also see why you would see things like you do. It’s all perspective. If our beliefs cannot stand up to scrutiny then they are not worth believing. So far in my almost 40 years, I’ve never found any of my beliefs that could not stand up to my own scrutiny. If they couldn’t, I wouldn’t be a member of the LDS faith.

    Have a great day, my friend. I really enjoy reading what you write. It keeps me on my toes!

  11. David, we have no legal right to know the secrets of Mormonism, that is true. But “legal” is not the same as “moral”. Caleb and I are challenging the LDS church on its responsibility to be fair and consistent. In our experience, that ONLY comes with being open. Perhaps you believe the LDS church to be divinely immune from human foibles…I don’t know. What I do know is that secrecy and power are a bad mix, and that’s what the LDS leadership seem to enjoy. You are welcome to defend the policy of secrecy and authority on whatever grounds you wish, and we are sure to criticize it as unwise and ripe for abuse.

  12. Let me summarize: I’m talking about an individual case where we have no business knowing why something happened. That is called the right of privacy of Mr. Hardy.

    You guys are talking about secrecy on a grand scale. This cannot be proved by this individual case.

    If you take the logical course of what you guys are saying, then what we should have is a direct audio/video feed from every high council room in every stake center of every LDS church when a disciplinary council is held….right? That sounds ludicris, but that’s exactly what you’re saying.

    If you can think of anything we are hiding on a grand scale like the Catholic Church did, let me know, but I really thing you’re arguing a point that can’t be argued regarding this particular, individual case.

    By the way, Caleb, I am having this flashback of Dana Carvey in makeup, speaking in front of the presidential seal…. ;-)

  13. Jose,

    OK, so there’s a difference between legal and moral. I think we can all agree on that. Now tell me, what MORAL right do you have to have the entire details of the reason a person, be it Mr. Hardy or any other, was excommunicated from ours our any other church?

    You don’t.

  14. David, the fact that if I were Dana Carvey in makeup, I’d look better than the real me is a troubling fact. But to answer your question, I have no right to know anything about the Mormon church, period. My point is not about rights, but about public perception. You were quite right in an earlier post to suggest that if the Mormons really wanted to change their image and join the rest of the evangelical club, there are some fundamental things they’d have to do. And I don’t blame them for not wanting to do them. But one thing they could do is be more open about the process. Now I’m assuming, of course, that anyone in the Mormon church cares about public perception, and the only reason I make that assumption is because they always scream so loud when you criticize them.

    The Mormon church is going through growing pains and perception pains right now. The fact is that all most non Mormons know or remember about the Mormons is their past of polygamy and racial issues. I know that they have abandoned both of those, but memory lives on. Now they appear to want to participate in the larger world as public figures. I have no problem with that. George Romney was probably the first living Mormon very many people outside the church had ever heard of, and I suspect most of them didn’t know he was a Mormon. Admittedly I was quite young when he ran for president, but I never knew he was a Mormon until this past election. His star fizzled out before his religion was scrutinized. His son Mitt was, in many ways, the JFK of Mormonism. He got enough public support that one could say that he broke a public relations barrier in a way no earlier Mormon had.

    Just as Kennedy had to live with a religion that was frankly as foreign as the LDS church to most protestant Americans of the time (it still had a Latin mass at the time, and customs and rules that were far stricter than they are now), now Mormons are having the same experience. And if you look at it, they’re going through roughly the same process. The Catholic church has become so mainstream in the last forty years that no one blinked an eye when John Kerry, a lifelong Catholic, was nominated for President, and if anything, he was attacked for not being Catholic enough.

    So, it’s all a process. And if the church wants to make it go faster, they’ll need to do some PR work, and losing some of the secrecy is a big part of that, even if the secrecy involves something that no one has a right to know. We don’t have a right to know a candidate’s religion, either, but none of us would be satisfied not knowing. Americans don’t trust secrecy, and rightly so.

  15. David, let’s set aside the hyperbole and exaggerations for a moment. It would be foolish for me to defend statments that I did not make or positions that I do not hold. Let me just agree that there is certainly a place for privacy in the larger balance of considerations.

    Your question, “what MORAL right do you have to have the entire details” of the LDS proceedings against Mr. Hardy indicates where we are missing each other. You seem to look at this as an unwarranted invasion on the part of an outsider who has unmerited curiosity in sensational and tawdry scandals. But it’s not about me. It’s about Mr. Hardy and your church, not to mention other individuals and their churches. It’s about justice and accountability. It’s about the fact that secrecy is a natural obstacle to those values, and that openness is a remedy. An open exchange of information is no panacea, of course, and it carries its own costs. What I am asserting, though, is the notion that, generally speaking, being open is vastly preferable to being closed. There are examples too numerous to list, and I wish that you would acknowledge the dangers of secrecy, rather than portray the problem as a cartoonish choice between two outlandish extremes.

  16. I agree with Jose’s post. But to backtrack a bit, David, you wrote: “If you can think of anything we are hiding on a grand scale like the Catholic Church did, let me know . . .”

    Two points. First, prior to the breaking of the Boston Catholic cases in 2002 or so, no one outside the Catholic Church knew that a scandal was brewing there. Why? Because they kept it secret. And yes, they screamed like stuck pigs when someone suggested otherwise. I remember Cardinal Law, a man who would be indicted if he still lived in Massachussetts (they moved him to the Vatican to keep that from happening) calling down the “wrath of God” on the Boston Globe for reporting the story. So, no, I can’t tell you anything of that magnitude that the Mormons are covering up because if there is something, it’s been covered up.

    Second, I bring this up only because you asked, and this is nowhere near as serious as the Catholic example, but there have been reports for years that the LDS church has been buying up and either destroying or hiding old manuscripts that cast doubt on the sacred origins of the Book of Mormon. There have also been reports for years that the LDS church leadership has silenced its internal critics, including suppressing the work of critics inside the church who have, through their own scholarly efforts, come to conclusions which differ from the party line.

    Before you begin your thousand word refutation of this, I’ll answer your questions in advance. No, I don’t know any details. That may be because, if there is a coverup, it’s working. No, I’m not relying on any of the sensationalist books that have been published about various murders in Utah over the past few years. And, a big no, no, I have no right to know what manuscripts the LDS church has bought, destroyed, or hidden.

    But you asked what kinds of things outsiders might think the LDS church was covering up, and this is the big one. And you can’t very well say that there is no coverup, because if they’re covering it up, they’re covering it up from you, not me. I always said that the reason the Catholics exerted so much secrecy over the sex scandal was not to prevent Protestants like me from knowing about it, but to keep their own people from knowing. They figure that most Protestants are already against them, but they don’t want to alienate their own people. At the height of the sex abuse scandal, regular offerings to local parishes in the Church fell 40% or more. And that’s from Catholics, not Protestants.

    To be blunt about it, most non-Mormons already think that the Book of Mormon is a fake, and it’s unlikely that much is going to convince us otherwise. But the Mormons don’t believe that, and they would potentially be swayed by newly discovered evidence. So, if you want a potential scandal to conceal, there it is. And the Mormons have been so secretive about everything else that no one outside the church will ever believe that they aren’t covering up something here, too. Of course, the Catholics are subject to the same criticism; who knows what’s in the basement of the Vatican Library. Do you really want to take the Catholic Church as your example for openness?

  17. Caleb and Jose,

    Thanks for the posts. As always, they make me think. Let me assure you, there is not anything you have posted here; especially about coverups regarding the Book of Mormon, that I have not looked into. Like I said before, if my “truth” can’t stand up to scrutiny, then I won’t regard it is as truth. I’ve read the articles, on both sides, and I don’t see anything that shakes my faith.

    And no Caleb, I certainly don’t want to use the Catholic Church as an example in this matter…no offense to any Catholics.

    Thanks for your responses.

    (Look that was much less than 1000 words!)

  18. Jose,

    I read your post trying to put myself in your place. I can see why you say what you do. Believe me, I’m not trying to use exaggerated hyperbole. I can see exactly why you have the position you do and to be quite truthful, I think our church is quite open in the majority of things. There are thing we consider sacred, you call them secret, that we believe just shouldn’t be put out in the open. I hope you can see that it might be possible that some things don’t need to be out in open for all to see, when for the most part we are quite “out in the open.”

    I appreciate your way of seeing things. It is always good to see how others view you, or your religion. Thank you for your response.

  19. “There are thing we consider sacred, you call them secret, that we believe just shouldn’t be put out in the open.”

    That’s certainly true. But no, I don’t agree with the following sentence. Sacred need not mean secret. A church may well decide to keep sacred rituals restricted to members (e.g. communion) or keep the details private (e.g. confessions). But in both examples, the procedure, intent, and underlying theology are all open for explanation and discussion. If the Catholics can admit their peculiar doctrines of transubstantiation and papal infallibility, why can’t the Mormons be open about their beliefs? I’m sure that the Mormons have a rationale for banning non-Mormons from wedding services, but I’m reasonable confident that an objective outsider would find it lacking.

  20. Jose,

    Perhaps that is true (the “objective outsider” part), but that isn’t what I’m concerned about, my friend. Rather than be concerned about what an objective outsider might think, I’m much more concerned about what the Ultimate Insider thinks.

  21. Jose,

    After reading your post again something struck me.

    “A church may well decide to keep sacred rituals restricted to members (e.g. communion) or keep the details private (e.g. confessions). But in both examples, the procedure, intent, and underlying theology are all open for explanation and discussion.”

    I cannot think of one example of our theology that is not open to explanation and discussion. Example: I’m sure you’re quite aware that what we do in our temples are ceremonies or “ordinances” which bind families here on earth and in the eternities. While we might not come out and give the exact wording of the ceremonies, we can certain discuss the “why” of the ordinances and even the procedure is nothing secret.

    I just don’t think the whole “why can’t the Mormons be open about their beliefs?” argument holds any water, Jose, even when we’re talking about “Mormon marriages,” or anything else people think is secret.

    We don’t hide the “why” behind anything we do. If we are so secretive, then why do you and Caleb seem to “know” so much about us and what we believe? That sounds sort of illogical to me. I’ve always thought it sort of funny that people want to talk about how “secretive” we are as a religion, yet they always seem to know more about our religion and our “secretive” beliefs than a card-carrying, former bicycle-riding-name-tag wearing missionary, 30-plus-time-Book of Mormon-reading, close-to-40-year-old lifetime member knows.

    That makes very little sense to me and I would think a real “objective outsider” would definitely agree with that.

    This is definitely getting off the subject, but if anyone wants to discuss the why of our theology, then I’m all for it. Neither I, nor my religion have anything to hide.

  22. The LDS church can have a strict policy of secrecy and work hard to enforce it, and yet some secrets can leak out. Those two facts are entirely consistent.

  23. Getting back to the original piece, I think it commendable for the LDS church to keep mum about this particular individual. He has a certain amount of privacy due him, and if he wants to open his mouth and spill the beans-so to speak, then it becomes his right to do so.
    As far as the whole excommunication , I never understood the big deal. If a church decides to oust me for my beliefs or actions, then I had better think about what it is that I am doing wrong or right. If they think that my salvation will be lost due to the excommunication then they need to get in line with God’s word; my salvation is dependant upon Jesus-not what some church states.

  24. Peach,

    Wow! Somebody actually agrees with me on the privacy issue. I appreciate that!

    Regarding your last statement, you’re entirely correct. Jesus Christ is the one who will determine mine and your salvation. Like He said, “[He is] the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Him].”

    He also stated, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Born of the water equals baptism, as I’m sure you know. Born of the spirit equals the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost. (See Acts 2:37-38) When one is excommunicated those blessings are removed as they were given, by one having authority (the priesthood). Obviously, those blessings can be returned upon conditions of repentance. We believe that all men will be resurrected by the gift and power of Christ, no matter what they believe. However, the church is a vessel or conduit by which the blessings of the priesthood can be given to those desiring them. So, yes, Peach, our salvation comes by Jesus alone, but blessings that are part of that salvation, greater blessings that just being “saved by resurrection”, come by way of the priesthood of which Jesus Christ himself was and is the great High Priest. As it states in Hebrews, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”

    Jose,

    What I’m talking about regarding our beliefs and theology did not “leak out.” We publish books and pamphlets and articles, hundreds of them, stating our beliefs. We publish a monthly magazine and every one of our leaders’ general conference talks are published for the world to see. You state, “The LDS church can have a strict policy of secrecy and work hard to enforce it, and yet some secrets can leak out,” but give no examples to back up the statement.

    Many seem to think that we, the LDS church, have some great conspiracy to put ourselves out there like an ordinary Christian church and when we lure in the unsuspecting convert….”POW!”….we’ve got’em and then we unload all the great, dark secrets about what we “really believe!” Honestly, it’s enough to make me roll on the floor laughing. I’m sorry if that offends somebody, but really, how ridiculous is that? Like I said before, I have been a member for close to 40 years and no one has ever forced me to attend church, no one has forced me to pay tithes and no one has forced me to do anything. I’ve probably studied more than 98% of the members of the church regarding the theology of it and I’m still here. I realize that there are some out there that just think we’re all hypnotized zombies, but it just ain’t so, folks.

    Tell me where we are so secretive in our theology, Jose? Give me a good example. Are you going to go with all of the so called history that we’ve tried to hide? Sorry, but I’ve read as much of that as possible and there’s nothing to hide unless you want to start speaking about revisionist “historians” (and I use the term loosely….). And, as a matter of fact, those examples have nothing to do with our theology. They usually are very tired attempts at throwing stones at the character of early church leaders.

    Like I said, if you want to talk about our theology, fine, but let’s be honest about what we are really after. If you simply want to make general statements that you can’t back up because you’ve swallowed hook, line and sinker all the ridiculous crap you’ve been fed by your various ministers regarding our church and how they know so much more about what I believe than I do, then don’t waste my time.

    (Sorry if that offends anyone, but sometimes you just have to say it how it is. ;-) )

  25. David, I think the consensus is, too much secrecy leads one to believe an almost cult like atmosphere exists. That is what I gather from the posts.

  26. i have been a member of the LDS religion for 40+ years now and i have read all sorts of LDS literature, history, etc. that i have been able to get my hands on over the years. also, i have also studied other religions rather extensively (not academically but privately) and have even read all of the “anti-Mormon” literature that i have been able to find available. enough of that said, i have not been swayed from my belief in LDS Mormonism BUT i have discovered for myself that there have been considerable efforts by some LDS historians to paint LDS Church History (and with some LDS Church sanction) see also:
    “Discipleship and Scholarship” by Neal A. Maxwell, BYU Studies, Volume 32, no. 3;
    “The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect” by Boyd K. Packer, BYU Studies, Volume 21, no. 3;
    “Educating Zion” by John W. Welch & Don E. Norton.
    please pay particular attention to the second one—i was greatly disturbed by it!
    now after having read these articles and this entire blog, i am even more disturbed by the statement Caleb Powers wrote on July 21st at 12:24pm, here is part of it, “…there have been reports for years that the LDS church has been buying up and either destroying or hiding old manuscripts that cast doubt on the sacred origins of the Book of Mormon. There have also been reports for years that the LDS church leadership has silenced its internal critics, including suppressing the work of critics inside the church who have, through their own scholarly efforts, come to conclusions which differ from the party line….”
    this information does disturb me but please know and understand that all of this information does not shake my faith nor in my belief in God, Jesus Christ nor even in my belief in the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but what this your blog and these articles have done have caused me to feel is this—it only leads me to believe that the men who listen to God and run my church, the prophets, are just men—but nonetheless they are MEN. throughout the Bible prophets of old have made foolish choices from time to time and were hauled out on the carpet for these foolish deeds by the Almighty God Himself! look at Moses taking credit for a miracle! i trust that the same will ultimately happen to the men in my church who are orchestrating a cover-up, if they are BUT just because they are men and make foolish errors is no reason to throw in the towel nor to discredit the religion. God did not give up on the prophets of old and He hasn’t given up now on current prophets, remember He is the same yesterday, today and forever. my beliefs are very firm and all of this does not shake my faith or nor my confidence in gospel truths. i belief that ALL TRUTH will come out! i believe that if there has in fact been a cover up in my church, complete with buying up artifacts to make them unavailable or to destroy them, that that will come out too. i personally believe that all excommunications should be open to the general church as well as the public—ALL OF THEM! i agree with you on this!
    —it sounds to me from reading a number of things on the internet and if what i have read are true, even one or two of these situations might be true then that perhaps it is long overdue that all of these procedures should in fact be open to the general church and to the public. perhaps some or even most of the excommunications proceedings have not been as fair as most LDS members would like to believe. i know that in my own personal experiences that all the dealings with me have not been fair nor have i even been heard (and i have not done anything to warrant an excommunication!) i cannot think that i am the only member is that is concerned about these issues of secrecy and cover-up in my church. i was deeply disturbed that the church bought fake artifacts a number of years back and that church leaders were so easily taken in by a counterfeiter! i think that what Caleb and Jose have written here should be taken seriously, at least more seriously than David is it! please know that this David person is not someone who should be representing the Church in any way, he is just some member who thinks he knows a lot more than he actually does and by the same token i must say that i should not be representing the church either nor am i trying to do so— i am only stating to you that your letters alarm me and since i have previously done some of my own homework on this subject—your questions have raised more concerns on the subject than i already had and yet i can do nothing! i am only a lowly member of the rank and file variety and a female at that!
    i am writing incognito so hopefully none of these comments will be able to come back to me and bite me on my “sit-upon”!
    most sincerely,
    Solange Brune, a pseudonym

  27. It is funny I stumbled across this, I had heard of this calendar and thought it was a very odd thing, I didn’t approve of it but not because of it’s subject matter. I have seen Mormon missionaries that I believe are called “Elder” and don’t used their first names for the two years on their mission use flirting tactics to get younger teenage girls to go to church with them. The flirting was innocent but it was very creepy. It was a manipulation tactic foe the Elders to make some kind of quota. The calendar I felt was a much more honest approach.

    IMO and I am not a Mormon and have never been so I doubt I will have any sway, it would have been much better to ask this man and the models to stop, not prevent them from entering the temple to get a sneak peek at what they believe to be their afterlife. That is a very emotional and cruel punishment for a true believer of the Mormon faith that Christians (or other Christians depending on how you see Mormonism) do not realize. I would equate it with telling another type of Christian when he dies he can still go to heaven but not the same heaven his family goes to he would be separate from them for forever after death.

  28. Dear All
    I saw this programe on TV in the UK..I was very surprised to see returned missionaries being photographed without shirts on…Why.. because all missionaries attend to sacred Temple ordinaces before they embark on missions and is is very inappropriate to be seen in public without wearing clothing……

    Missionaries are very special young people who have dedicated two years to presching the gopel anywhere in the world….The Temple covennats which they make are eternal and are to be honoured at all times…..we beleive that our bodies are also sacred and eternal and are not to be explioted or used is a manner which would polute are desecrate……

    We also need to live in such a way as to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost who is the third member of the Godhead, and who if worthy by our actions we can call upon for direction and answeres to our everyday questions……That is one reason why we need to be careful in the way we treat our bodies…When you think about it our bodies do not belong to us…you and I did not create ourselves.. nor did any other human being…the procreation act is made so powerful by our God that he knw that we would engage in it…the result being a new body is born and inside it is out sprit which has decended from Heaven or the pre mortal life during pregnancy…then we are here to work our way through life…..The opposition to good is evil…..you must recognise the times when you have had a thought…..what is the thought going to lead you to do…if its good then think on…if its something you know to be wrong the get rid of it bolck it out…..for as a man thinketh in his heart so is he….

    Always remember that thoughts preceed the actions…the man who wanted to make a calander of returned missionries knew in his heart is was suspect and that is would cause a problem…….but he knew he could sell them and make money so he acted out his thoughts and now here we are…….if he had stopped and listened to the thought that told him its wrong…instead of the thought which said its ok…he would still ba a member of the church…….I hope this is helpful

    John UK

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