Me??? Little ole Jack Mormon?? Ummm, yeah, not really but last week there was this crazy news story about Chad Hardy’s excommunication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (otherwise known as the Mormon Church). He put hot chest-baring male return missionaries in a calendar, put it on the market and made a killing. Unfortunately for Chad, the male leaders of his local congregation didn’t like it (I’m sure the Relief Society didn’t mind) and took action. I had numerous requests to blog on this story but as I read it became clear it wasn’t really a story. Chad was pretty happy he got shit-canned, he got serious publicity for his next calendar, and since he wasn’t living a Mormon lifestyle he simply didn’t care. The funniest thing about the story is the fact that Brandon Flowers is from the same congregation and he wears make up. Personally I think a church should be able to tell people to get out if they want to. They make the rules, they’re speaking for God, general membership isn’t supposed to understand its inner workings; it’s a church for Crissakes!
Chad’s excommunication did get me thinking about the process because growing up I recall there being a terrible stigma attached to the word. You’d hear about someone getting Ex’d (until the 1970s*, decisions of excommunication and disfellowshipment were announced openly in ward Melchizedek Priesthood meetings, although the nature of the transgression was usually not announced) and then you’d wonder what transgression was committed or who had sex with who. Members would heap initial pity on the family then withdraw leaving them isolated as the family with an excommunicated member. Most never quite recovered and the whole process seemed very extreme. I remember this being the case in several instances in my Ward growing up.
Bruce C. Hafen (who is a current General Authority and I believe somewhat Liberal) formalized the reasoning behind excommunication. I think it’s a pretty good read but on the disciplinary end it seems far reaching and harsh especially since most acts of discipline are handled at the local level and open to interpretation. Chad Hardy’s excommunication does seem a little senseless but for those who really have issues but want to remain inside the church, why not just lie? I’d still lie if they had pictures of me with my pants around my ankles while my secretary’s legs where on my shoulders. No, I have no idea who writes this blog! No, that isn’t my email address! See, that’s not so hard, is it? For the serious Mormon is it really worth the heart ache?
*I believe announcements continued until the late 80s, talk about harsh.