A 31-year-old returned missionary aiming at some holy combination of seduction and surprise. Mormons stripped down to show us, with their unapologetic camera coyness, that they’re not “these awkward, naive religion peddlers. Kind of dorky. A little backwards, or cult members.”
Hardy has sold more than 1,000 calendars since September. Come Christmas, he’ll have them in 500 stores throughout the country. Meanwhile, some church members have called for his excommunication.
The calendar has been disparaged on LDS Web sites, where anonymous writers have suggested Hardy is no longer worthy of his church. One commenter asked, “Did you each get 30 pieces of silver for your betrayal?” - a reference to Judas’ payment for betraying Jesus. And not every writer has been so delicate in his phrasing.
The Mormon faith embraces modesty and sees sexuality as something best expressed in the marriage bed. So for many Mormons, photographing an icon of chaste spirituality doing his best to affect sexiness is utterly horrifying.
Hardy says the Mormons he knows - with the exception of an aunt in Arizona - think the calendar will help dispel the myth of the milquetoast missionary. Moreover, they think it’s hilarious. They see a calendar beef-caked to a degree that borders on parody. This view has also been expressed in Internet debates over the calendar, though seldom without swift return fire from the dissenting camp.
“This is not just a calendar ; it’s a movement,” Hardy says. “We want them to laugh at us. We don’t care. We are comfortable enough in our faith.”