Mormon Wrestling

Like two wrestlers, circling each other, the one large and muscular, yet feeling attacked, and the other slight and a bit beleaguered, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Principle Voices threw press releases at each other recently (LDS, Principle Voices). Yesterday, a third party was drawn into the ring when Chad Hardy, the returned missionary creator of the “Men on a Mission” calendar was excommunicated from the Church, according to the Associated Press, for conduct unbecoming a member. Concerned with definition, more than sex, this set of releases has analytical importance for understanding contemporary Mormonism.

Following the press storm on the Texas raid on the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attempted to distinguish itself from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a set of documents posted to its web site. Once again it made the point that it is big and mainstream and does not practice polygamy. But it went further and insisted the word “Mormon” can only be misapplied to Fundamentalists who espouse polygamy since they are not part of the LDS Church and Mormon is a term which properly should only apply to Latter-day Saints. Mormons have nothing whatsoever to do with this polygamous sect in Texas,” he said. “The fact is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially discontinued the practice of polygamy in 1890: 118 years ago. It’s a significant part of our distant past, not of our present,” the posts reported Elder Quentin Cook as saying. This statement builds on President Hinckley’s earlier assertion; “[t]here is no such thing as a ‘Mormon Fundamentalist.’ It is a contradiction to use the two words together.”

In response Principle Voices, which is an advocacy group formed by representatives of the main Fundamentalist branches of the restoration tradition–The FLDS, the Apostolic Brethren, the Davis County Cooperative Society, the Work of Jesus Christ (Centennial Park), and independent polygamists—asserted strongly that they are Fundamentalist Mormons, despite LDS attempts to preempt the word Mormon. [W]e consider ourselves to be adherents to Mormonism (and Christianity) no less than were Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and John Taylor. What distinguishes us from the modern, mainstream Church is that we have endeavored to observe the original, fundamental precepts of the restored Gospel, while the Church itself has, since the early 1900s, repudiated several of them.”

This issue—are the Fundamentalists Mormons or not—is very important to both groups. The Latter-day Saints, without modifiers significantly, see themselves as the only “true” descendent of Joseph Smith’s restoration of the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims the word Mormon as applying only to it and its members even though it is ambivalent about the term. The Church (notice no modifiers on second reference—I am following its style guide) prefers people use its full name and limit the word Mormon to proper names and “the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It not only prefers this but uses language that makes anything but incorrect and improper.

Nevertheless, the Church’s survey found that 36% of those surveyed of the general public “confused” the FLDS with Mormons, i.e. the LDS. Although unmentioned by the Church, Americans feel ambivalence about Mormons, whether the Fundamentalist or non-Fundamentalist varieties. To assuage that ambivalence the Church has developed a public relations campaign to portray Latter-day Saints as mainstream and ordinary, except for the power of their religious message. In that campaign the Church uses both the full name of the Church and the simple term “The Mormons”.

It is not surprising that the much smaller groups would insist they too are Mormons. The claim to Joseph Smith’s revelations authorizes their existence. Latter-day Saints would prefer to see Fundamentalists as people who have left the fold or as “sects,” using a diminished term of scant social legitimacy. Reducing their status makes their claims around the principle (polygamy) less important.

Polygamy may seem racy to many Americans, since it is about multiple spouses and sex within these large marriages. But the issue is less sexual than semantic. To label an issue as semantic is generally to claim its unimportance in the general scheme of things. Yet this particular semantic tussle not only makes people red faced and steaming, it has serious consequences.

The Latter-day Saints developed a public relations arm of the Church, which involves not only Church Public Affairs but also the production efforts of Bonneville International. Now we see Fundamentalists gathering together, despite the differences among the various groups and individuals, to form an advocacy group and to make their own press releases. Despite the enormous differences in scale, the LDS efforts to claim ownership of the word Mormon and to scrub it of semantic accretions and ambiguities that do not jibe with the preferred message of the Church, enable Principle Voices, the name of the advocacy effort, to be effective. Of course it must be mentioned this takes place in a much larger theatre with many others reporting on Mormonism and that has consequences for the daily life of both religious bodies.

In the LDS case the development of a public relations apparatus has had an organizational effect on the Church. It not only leads to a focused message for giving to non-Church media, but encourages consistency within and attempts to limit alternative voices whether those alternative voices are members or part of the Church’s bureaucracy and authority structure. This is part of its effort to create a brand and protect that brand (See Natalie’s July 12th post.)

Branding, though, is not simply about public relations and the use of language by people, it is about fixing the brand and making it property. That is to say it takes words and other signs and makes them things. Not only are the words used in communication, but they have an additional reality as pieces of property. Words no longer simply take their meaning in communication when millions of people use them in sentences, when they take sound or script and connect it to a meaning. Rather the words are owned.

Making a connection between a word and what it means is always insecure. However when words are made property, the property consists in using social means to attempt to seal, make secure, the connection between signifiers and signifieds, between signs and objects. The property is that signifier joined with signified. But since that joining can never be completely sealed, it must be maintained by the owner of the property, the brand, to keep the millions of tongues and keyboards using it in the way they want to have taken for granted.

Branding, in this sense, is making a social act—the joining of sign and object—a matter of apparently uncontestable reality. Of course this is contradictory. Brand owners must constantly work to maintain the brand, even when doing so shows that the ostensible reality is not so real as the owner would wish.

As a result, brand owners will resort to legal means to create their property and defend it. In both the LDS and Principle Voices press releases these legal issues are central. Elder Lance Wickman, who is both a General Authority as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and as an attorney is General Counsel to the Church, stated in the letter released to the media “Over the years, in a careful effort to distinguish itself, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gone to significant lengths to protect its rights in the name of the church and related matters. Specifically, we have obtained registrations for the name “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” “Mormon,” “Book of Mormon” and related trade and service marks from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and corresponding agencies in a significant number of foreign countries.”

It may be significant that Elder Wickman does not mention registration of “Mormon” in the United States. Principle Voices states that “the term “Fundamentalist Mormon” (not Mormon Fundamentalist)–1. describes our true identity and religious position

2. does not apply to an established church, but is rather a descriptive generic term

3. can be compared to the fundamentalist segment of numerous world religions

(See Fundamentalisms and Society, 2 vols., published by the University of Chicago Press, 1993) 4. has not been registered by the LDS Church for usage in this context.” (Bold mine).

The attempts to create realities of the conflicting claims, and thereby give a body blow to their opponents, goes beyond uses of the law. It also draws in academics and other authorities. We see the Church relying on its research arm to create and administer a survey while Principle Voices appeals to the University of Chicago Press and its magisterial Fundmanentalism project. The LDS, in the their kit for the media, claim a different authority. They cite the Associated Press. “As reflected in the AP Style Guide, we ask that you and your organization refrain from referring to members of that polygamous sect as “fundamentalist Mormons” or “fundamentalist” members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Not only does the claim to property and ownership of the brand rely on law and other authorities, it also depends on internal discipline to present a consistent brand. Fundamentalists have not yet developed the apparatus to discipline the disparate groups and individuals that together form it, despite the strong authoritarianism within some groups, but the Latter-day Saints have. We see this exemplified in the disciplining of Chad Hardy. The creator of the popular calendar “Men on a Mission” which shows returned missionaries in various states of dress was excommunicated yesterday in Las Vegas. While the disciplinary council was convened by Hardy’s stake president with the “primary concern” of the calendar showing conduct unbecoming a member, one of the calendar’s models Jonathan Martin was reportedly called in by his Stake President “after a letter was sent to his church leader by higher-ups in Salt Lake City” (Deseret News).

Arguably, the calendar with its pictures of shirtless returned missionaries, juxtaposed to photos of them in missionary garb, plays to stereotypes and fantasies of missionaries as sex objects and does not fit with the preferred image of Mormons held by the Church. I obviously was not at the council and do not know this for a fact. But it seems contextually fair to state. Nonetheless I can write securely that protecting its brand, through internal discipline, is an important Church action motivated by the public relations emphasis and by notions of words as property, as part of brands.

The wrestling match here, no matter how many parties involved, is fascinating for a social science of religion. The development of a public relations apparatus has implications not solely for the external life of a group, but for its internal organization as well because signs are simply not stable. They require the expenditure of lots of work to keep meanings constant and this involves religion in other instances of society, such as the legal system and other systems of authority. Religion then can no longer be just itself.

Chad Hardy will go on to make money from his latest calendar. The publicity, including the releasing by his stake of his summons to the disciplinary council can only help sales. And, Latter-day Saints and Fundamentalists are locked in a sibling struggle that despite the disparities that will go on. And there will be more to comment on another time.



  1. It’s been interesting to watch the LDS church’s growing pains play out on such a public, techological forum.

    I don’t know if there is much precedent for the grappling that is taking place so publically, but it sure seems unusual.

    Thanks for the insight.

  2. StillConfused says:

    I have that calendar. My non-Mormon very young secretary gave it to me … as a joke. Nothing in it seems excommunicatable to me.

  3. Natalie says:

    Great post.

  4. I think the wrestling metaphor is good, and if we stay with it we need to admit that there is a big difference in the size of the combatants. If the church isn’t careful, it will risk being seen as a bully who picks fights with littler kids on the playground.

    And thanks for pointing out that it was only a few years ago that we were advised to NOT describe ourselves as Mormons, and to move away from the term altogether. If someone else used that term, we were supposed to correct him.

    Thanks, David. This is a thoughtful post.

  5. C. Biden says:

    What Natalie said.

  6. The calendar controversy seems to be a storm in a teacup. I wonder how the more authoritarian types in positions of power within the Church react if they see pictures, of say, Mormons who are competetive bodybuilders or competetive Olympic swimmers? Or female pro BeachVolleyball players(All of whom, malepr female, wear really skimpy outfits?)

  7. David, I loved the post until your predictions about Hardy’s fate. I don’t see him as one bound for great success of any kind. He’s basically a smut peddler with a gimmick, and it won’t last.

    The discussion of branding seems to be critically important here, but is it anything new? It seems to me that we have been very concerned about establishing our uniqueness and distinct role as the one true church for quite some time.

  8. Jim Robertson says:

    All the news reports I’ve read state that he released his summons to the disciplinary council, yet your imply that the stake released this information. Can you please clarify and provide your reference for that information? I.e. that the stake released the summons. TIA

  9. Exactly what Steve said in #7.

    Hardy found a way to sell sex, and he did it with RM’s. There was nothing original in his product, since the RM and Mormon angle has been done already. “Smut peddler” is a perfect description.

    The LDS/FLDS battle is fascinating, otoh.

  10. Jim Robertson, in what I have read the summons is merely quoted. It does not say who provided it to the press. nevertheless the Stake President is quoted by the AP from what appears to be a conversation. If I implied what you say it was not my intent.

    Sorry Steve about the hardy predictions. It is just that smut with a gimmick sells, particularly when there is controversy. He may have difficulty recruiting more models from mainstream Latter-day Saints. But who knows. But my post is neither a critique nor, especially, a support of the calendar.

    Establishing uniqueness and branding are two different things, despite the business worlds efforts to make branding a metaphor for ordinary human life. Branding, in the way I am using it, refers to property and to the building of social organization to promote and protect that property. This is very different from simply claiming uniqueness. It is a concern about the relationships of signs, meanings and contexts that develops means of organized power to protect the preferred relationship and which draws on institutions of the state in the process.

    Indeed, Ronin. The reaction to Hardy does seem overkill, as StillConfused noted, but so have many other publicly known cases of discipline. I wish we had a more information about this process to make better generalizations about when and why discipline is brought to bear.

    For now, I see this as stemming, in part, from the efforts of the Church to develop a consistent PR stance and protect its what now became property.

  11. Yes, Ray, but saying that does not change the fact the Church saw his calendar as sufficiently important to hold a court on him and they called in various of his models. It also sells, unoriginal, smutty or not. I will hate myself later for saying this, but that is the market. It does not really care about originality, quality, etc. Only what sells. I agree, however, the LDS/ Fundamentalist issue is more interesting. hence it occupies some 90% of my post.

  12. How you people who were not in the disciplinary council can speculate about its being “overkill” is beyond me.

    Do you know more than has been reported in the press about the reasons Mr. Hardy was invited to the disciplinary council? Do you know what evidence was presented there? Or the reasons that the stake president made the decision he did? And why he was supported by his counselors and the twelve high councilors in that decision?

    Have you ever sat in that chair, with the responsibility to make the right decision–right for the Church and right for the person whose membership status you’re considering?

    My guess is that your answers to all these questions is “no”. In which case, you ought to leave the subject well enough alone.

    And, as Jim Donaldson points out, you stated that the stake released the summons to the disciplinary council:

    The publicity, including the releasing by his stake of his summons to the disciplinary council can only help sales.

    Your response, that you did not intend to imply that the church had released the summons, suggests only two possible responses–neither of which is particularly favorable to you.

    You might have been better off simply admitting that you erred in including the words “by his stake” in your original post, and correcting the post.

  13. Mark B., I suspect you’re right, but no need to be all uppity.

  14. The “branding” theme is interesting; I hadn’t thought of it quite like that. To be honest, I kind of look at the church’s actions (publicity, news room, etc.) as reacting to media and misunderstandings that need to be reacted to lest the misunderstandings get worse. I enjoy debating, questioning and analyzing things about the church as much as the next person here but there is something I find missing. Sometimes, you believe or you don’t, you follow or you don’t. When it comes to things regarding the “church’s actions (meaning in Salt Lake) you either believe they are following Gods wishes or you don’t. Of course they are human and can make mistakes but they are also called of the Lord and I have to have faith that he will take care of things. Otherwise my belief in the church, especially one with modern prophesy means nothing. Isn’t there a point where you follow or you don’t? Have faith or do not? Maybe that is part of the issue with Mr. Hardy as well.

  15. Mark B. I read through my post to answer Jim Donaldson and did not see that phrase. I stand corrected. I did say that and I am wrong. I am also sorry. I should have read my own post better.

    As to the rest, for the record, I have been on both sides of the disciplinary council. The councils are difficult and the weighing by the leadership, in my personal experience from both sides, was difficult and demanded much prayer and soul searching.

    The statement on overkill is based on the public record. If there is more than simply the calendar then of course I do not have access to that. But one should also not avoid the issue because material is held back, often for good reasons.

    So, the answers to the questions are not all no. Also, for the record, in my experience on both sides of discipline–I was one person who was responsible for making a decision about another person’s membership, but my own case never actually moved past the stake president to an actual court–no one was excommunicated.

    On my error I will take my caning.

  16. again I exaggerated. Paragraph 2 above. I have only been on one side of a disciplinary council and was also facing one, but my stake president after much soul searching chose not to call the council.

    I try to be careful in my writing, but sometimes I fail.

  17. The church does not generally give details on an individual’s excommunication. Perhaps Hardy’s calendar is just part of an unwholesome lifestyle. It is interesting to speculate but it’s really none of my business (which is just one of the many reasons that the church didn’t invite me in to watch the proceedings.)

  18. Sorry if I sounded uppity (that’s both to Steve and to David). Although I did change my initial line, which included “shut up” to the less uppity “leave . . . [it] alone”. How’s that for self-editing?

    I suppose that we can discuss the hypothetical question whether church membership should be called into question over the publishing of something like Mr. Hardy’s calendar. The difficulty arises when we use words that make it sound as if we’re talking about his specific case. Which we cannot, since we weren’t there, or should not, if we were there.

  19. Chad Hardy’s real mistake was not forming a corporation complete with share holders. Then he could hide behind the we need to make money at all costs and the church would not touch him. He could even be eligible to be a GA. Or start a hotel chain.

  20. Boo, Josh. Hiss. Poor form.

  21. I do want to add that the Sake President did speak to the press, as best one can tell, even if he did not “release” the letter. That surprised me.

    While the hypothetical you raise Mark B –and please note I did say I was not there in the post–is very interesting, for me the more important issue follows the post, i.e. the development of proprietary notions of identity, a public relations apparatus, and legal options of branding leads to a tightening of internal discipline. Would you agree or disagree, and why?

  22. Mark B. says:

    Yes, the SP did speak to an AP reporter, although I’m not sure that I believe the SL Tribune’s account:

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

    Why would he call them just to confirm the decision and then decline to say more? It seems more likely that the AP initiated the contact.

    In response to your question, I’d have to know more of the history of church discipline before I could give an opinion. It seemed there was a lot of excommunicating going on in the early years of the church, when none of the PR apparatus existed, and nobody was trying to use the church as a marketing tool–unless you count the negative sense in which the E.D. Howe’s of the world sold their works with their promises to expose the nefarious doings of the Mormons.

    The other problem is that we cannot know why Pres. Davie called the disciplinary council–if it was just the calendar, then the data point is relevant to your argument. If the calendar was a sideshow, not the main event, then I’m not sure that this incident tells us much.

  23. david knowlton says:

    The original AP report as printed in the D News said

    Davie on Friday confirmed sending the letter and the planfor the meeting. He said the calendar was the primary concern.

    “I prefer not to say anything else about it,” he said. “There is more involved, and he and I will have our meeting.”

    The outcome of a council meeting could include disfellowship, excommunication, probation, “or exoneration,” Davie said.

    Judging from this, the calendar was the main issue. The report does indicate there were other concerns but those do not seem to be the reason the summons was written and sent.

  24. Mahonri says:

    What would you do in this situation? You have grown up in a polygamous family, as have all of your ancestors back til the 1840s. You great-great-grandfather was a post-Manifesto polygamist as was his father, both with the approval of LDS Church leaders.

    You grow up reading the Book of Mormon (Doctrine and Covenants, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith etc.). There is nothing in your beliefs that seems to differ from any of your Mormon ancestors, from the 1840s to your own parents.

    Although you realize the word “Mormon” is a nickname, yet you know the early day Saints were nicknamed “Christians” and became proud of it, and likewise you accept the label Mormon with pride.

    Then the LDS Church, another organization of Mormons (for there are many), which is undoubtedly the largest and most powerful of any such group, demands that you stop using that label. They say you should be called a member of a polygamist group, yet you are not polygamist and don’t think of your faith in that way – it encompases (as far as you are concerned) everything you read in the scriptures and teachings of the prophets, and polygamy is only part of those beliefs.

    What do you call yourself? From the 1930s, your ancestors who came home from Mexico found themselves called “Mormon Fundamentalists” by an LDS Church General Authority, by Time magazine and journalists, and later you have been called such by scholars, historians and the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

    Is Mormonism a brand like Kellogg? Should of it think of itself in the same category as General Electric, or Coca Cola? Can such a corporation appropriate a nickname. Considering the size of the Catholic Church and its antiquity couldn’t it claims prior rights to the term “Christian”? What is the difference?

    Note: with two entries on this same subject, and this comment applying to both, I hope no-one minds me posting this in both. BTW, I personally believe that the calendar is rather a tenuous link to this subject.

  25. Interesting discussion about branding.

    RE: The public nature of the excommunication of Hardy brings up the highly confidential nature of disciplinary councils. You generally never hear about them unless there is significant press coverage, such as a sexual predator, or the former congressman from Utah who was excommunicated about 20 years back. In such rare cases, a public announcement is sometimes made. The high visibility that Hardy generated with his calendar made it more likely that some official notice would be made of his discipline. I’m not betting that the SP called the AP, but instead he was called and responded with a confirmation of the results. I don’t like using a phrase like “protecting the brand” when referring to the Church, but in general descriptive terms, it seems accurate.

  26. Ranbato says:

    Hardy mentioned in several interviews that he doesn’t attend church or pay tithing. While that isn’t sufficient to warrant excommunication, I can see how to combination of those and publishing the calendar might be.
    That doesn’t even begin to address any other issues he may have like WoW, etc. that haven’t been discussed openly.

  27. I personally am of the view that Hardy should have been ignored. He got millions of dollars in free publicity and made us look like the “Church Lady” in the process. They should have started with a call from his local bishop. Sending him a letter gave him something to show the press.

  28. Boo, Josh. Hiss. Poor form.

    Josh’s line has nothing to do with the topic, but is it poor form? Why are some Mormons allowed to make money off smut, while others aren’t? Why are Mormons allowed to make money from the sale of tobacco or alcohol, but still remain members?

    Or is LDS-themed smut worse than hotel porn smut?

  29. Nevermind, delete comment #28 if you’d like. The actual topic is more interesting than rehashing hotel pornography again.

  30. Steve Evans says:

    lol, jjohnsen, perhaps your #29 is right.

  31. I read the AP article and i don’t think it said he was excommunicated for the calender. It just said that the guy that did the calender was excommunicated. Hardy said the Church didn’t approve of the calender but he didn’t say that was why he was excommunicated. I have a hard time believing that was the reason.

  32. I thought it interesting to hear my friend give a non-Mormon take on Chad Hardy and his calendar.

    He cited Hardy’s own words in the newspaper where Hardy says he created the calendar to see what would happen if he “shook-up” the “million dollar Disney-type image” that the Church has promoted.

    My friend: “Well now he knows, when you set out to deliberately undermine the image of chaste modesty that your church has spent a lot of time, money, and effort to create- they kick you out of their church. What else did he expect?”

  33. hawkgrrrl says:

    Unless Hardy wants to tell everyone why he was ex’d, it’s all speculation (even if he does it might still be speculation). The church council could have had a different outcome based on the discussion with him. He stated he was ready to have his records removed before he was called in to the church council but he didn’t bother despite the fact that he hadn’t been a practicing Mormon for years. It is far more likely that the calendar was just the symptom that there was more going on with him. He’s not upset about being ex’d, so I’m not prepared to get my undies in a bundle over it.

  34. StillConfused says:

    My daughter and her boyfriend were also talking about the Hardy ex-ing. This appears to be a hot topic with the early 20s crowd. They don’t see a problem with the calendar and think the Church over-reacted.

  35. What hawkgrrl said in #33. Hardy’s not upset about it, so it probably was the right decision – whatever the full reason. No bunching of the undies here.

    I also agree that it’s problematic to claim that polygamists shouldn’t be called fundamentalist Mormons – if that is what they want to be called. It certainly describes them well from most objective perspectives. Self-identification is important to us, and we ought to allow all everywhere the same privilege.

  36. He’s been posting on RfM about it…

  37. What’s RFM? Subscribing to 50 Mormon blogs isn’t enough, now I need this RFM as well?

  38. RFM = Recovery From Mormonism, the site that was started by Steve Benson when he left the church, I think. If he didn’t start it, he was certainly very active there.

  39. With all this talk about branding I couldn’t help but think about one of the first lines in Armand Mauss’ book, All Abraham’s Children.

    Ethnic, religious, and even family identities are not created in a vacuum but are the products of negotiations across time between peoples – often peoples of unequal power, sometimes mutually hostile peoples. The identities at stake here are not only that of the Mormons themselves, but also those of certain other peoples with special definitions in traditional Mormon religious teachings.

    While Mauss was speaking of Native Americans, Jews, and blacks, the sentiment is still very much applicable to the the current situation with Fundamentalist LDS societies, as well as concerning individuals who might want to “shake up” the institution. Identity = Branding. And in today’s media conscious world, the church works very hard to protect its identity.

  40. I think RfM predates Benson leaving the church by a couple of decades.

  41. david knowlton says:

    If any one is interestedhere are Hardy’s comments from RfM on the disciplinary council mentioned by Ben.

  42. This issue of who get to be called Mormon is odd. We’ve been told of late that we shouldn’t refer to ourselves as Mormons, yet we wish to deny someone else that right. Second, I believe a 20th century General Authority was the first to call them fundamentalist Mormons. Finally we wish to be known as Christians, yet other denominations cry foul.

    I understand that we wish not to be confused with them. However, it seems to me that they have grounds for wanting to be known as fundamentalist Mormons.



  43. Steve Evans says:

    I endorse this new Steve’s #42.

  44. I like Steve #43’s name ;=)

    Steve Graham

  45. #41 – Intersting read of self-serving crap. The inconsistencies and narcicism are amazing.

    If we can’t excommunicate members who 1) don’t want to belong and 2) say they a) don’t accept the authority of the Priesthood leaders, b) effectively left the Church years ago, c) only remain to engage in social experiments when they know the outcome, d) express surprise when excommunicated, e) explain away the excommincation as good men doing what they felt they were being forced to do, etc., we can’t excommunicate anyone.

  46. Please pardon the spelling errors. I’m rushing and didn’t go back and check.

  47. hawkgrrrl says:

    I read the link. The contrarian (out, damned contrarian!) in me would like to say that on the downside, if Hardy was keeping his non-LDS business partner in check as he says (e.g. not selling “missionary position” tee shirts, keeping the pics less racy), then it’s a shame if that spirals downward. OTOH, “it could have been a lot worse” isn’t the best defense in any court, but probably even less in a church court. It’s akin to: “I may have sold sex, but less than I could have.” But in fairness, Marriott should be questioned about hotel porn, IMO. And it is way too expensive.

  48. “And it is way too expensive.”

    Didn’t see that one on the horizon, hawkgrrrl.

  49. hawkgrrrl says:

    I like to keep you guys on your toes!

  50. My daughter and her boyfriend were also talking about the Hardy ex-ing. This appears to be a hot topic with the early 20s crowd. They don’t see a problem with the calendar and think the Church over-reacted.

    I guess I should be comforted that the early-20s crowd isn’t running the Church.

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