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Gone Wild

Gone Wild


After one man undresses missionaries for his calendar, LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University strips him of his degree.

When they weren't busy promoting the passage of California's Proposition 8 in recent months, Mormon leaders tried their best to make Chad Hardy's life hell. Riled by his "Men on a Mission" calendar of shirtless returned missionaries, elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints excommunicated Hardy -- a lifelong Mormon -- in July. Then in September, officials from the Provo, Utah-based Brigham Young University informed the 32-year-old entrepreneur, who had participated in the school's graduation ceremony a month earlier, that his diploma would be denied. BYU says Hardy's expulsion from the church placed him outside of the "good honor-code standing" necessary to award him his degree, which has been placed on nonacademic hold; Hardy contends that since he completed his coursework prior to excommunication, the rule should not apply. Meanwhile the 2008 skin-baring calendar has sold more than 10,000 copies, and Hardy -- who eschews sexual labels himself -- says the just-released (and "a little bit sexier") 2009 incarnation is already "flying off the shelves."

Will you sue BYU to get your degree?Yes, but I haven't been able to file yet because of the expense involved. My attorney has assured me that the church, with its financial resources, will likely attempt to bury me under legal pleadings in order to encourage me to give up. One attorney estimates my costs could exceed $30,000.

Have any of the guys featured in the calendar faced LDS discipline?Not that I am aware of. Several of them were called in to meet with their local church leaders about the same time I was originally contacted [about disciplinary proceedings], three weeks after Thomas S. Monson became the president of the church. The models were not disciplined, nor did their local leaders have a problem with the calendar. I was singled out.

Do you still consider yourself Mormon at this point?I feel that I'm a Mormon culturally, but not religiously. Mormonism is much like Judaism in that one may stop observing the practices of the religion, but culturally still identify with it. Mormonism has been a part of my family for six generations. I was raised in the faith, served a mission, and attended two LDS colleges. I was the model Mormon, no pun intended.

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