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Giving The Shirts Off Their Backs: The “Mormons Exposed” Calendar

Posted by Andrew on December 18, 2007

Submitted by: Jonathan Bacon

A man claiming to be an active member of the LDS Church is selling a calendar that features topless male returned missionaries. The news story about the calendar is listed by ABC news as one of its most popular stories (depending on when you click on the link, it may or may not be available): “Mormons Exposed” (http://abcnews.go.com/US/MostPopular/).

By announcing the calendar to news outlets, the creator of the calendar was obviously trying to generate publicity for the controversial calendar. So the question begs to be asked, should this calendar be controversial?

What, if anything, is wrong with returned-missionaries posing without shirts for a calendar like this? Is there any significant difference between this and other types of business enterprises operated by LDS membres who seek profits by selling non-religious goods and services (e.g., Melaleuca)?

In my opinion, I don’t think the act of being shirtless was wrong, per se. I mean, we can all go to the beach or swim in our pool and have pictures of those recreational activities posted on the internet for others (e.g., friends and family) to see.

What I do think is wrong is that the participants in this calendar have created an image problem for the church. If the title of the calendar had been “missionaries exposed” or “men exposed,” that would be one thing. But by using the name “Mormon” in the title of the calendar, they have directly affiliated themselves with the church in a way that could harm the Church’s image or brand that the Church works very hard to protect. The church spends millions on ad campaigns and public relations each year in order to create the desired image of the church. Some of those images include being family friendly, Christian, good neighbors, etc. Using the name “Mormon” in the calendar title creates an undesirable affiliationg with the Church. And thanks to the current political climate that has left the media trying to uncover who “Mormons” really are, the story becomes newsworthy on a national scale, portraying an inappropriate image of Mormon returned missionaries nationwide.

Missionaries should not be commercially portrayed as sex objects. Mormon men should not be commercially portrayed as sex objects either. At the root, the calender’s creator was clearly interested in making money, and thanks to the coverage it received and continues to receive, it may do just that. But at what cost to the Church and its members? That has yet to be seen.

What are your thoughts? Please leave them in the comments below.

6 Responses to “Giving The Shirts Off Their Backs: The “Mormons Exposed” Calendar”

  1. aainsworth said

    This is another fine example of commercial exploitation of the “Mormon” name to make a buck. Slight correction on the facts: the name of the calendar was “Men on a Mission,” but the company that produced it is called “Mormons Exposed.”

    Regardless of the name used, I was actually more disturbed by the male models posing in their missionary attire in the calendar (i.e., white shirts and ties, official name tags, etc.), and having those photos juxtaposed with their topless photos. In a way this use of photos of RM’s in proselyting attire disturbed me more than their topless pics.

    Of course, you can discount everything I’m saying as mere jealously that I do not possess a calendar-worthy upper body. 🙂

    I wish the operator of this little business enterprise would realize that the name “Mormon” does not belong to any one of us to use as we please. Rather, the name “Mormon” belongs to all of us and therefore should not be used in ways that we have reason to believe would be objectionable to a significant number of Mormons.

    Because the Mormon name belongs to all of us, maybe the appropriate resolution is for the owner of this business enterprise to donate all proceeds to the Church’s humanitarian fund. There is something unjust about an individual profiting off of a name that belongs to all of us.

  2. aainsworth said

    Comment originally submitted by Shawn L

    I’m not offended by the fact that someone put this calendar together. I am, however, offended at the very notion that somone might acutally spend money on it. I agree with A. that this is simply more of the same profiteering on the Church’s name. However, I don’t see any difference between this and the ridiculous “Air Moroni” shirts sold at every Deseret Book in the country. That said, I can think of a few of my Relief Society sisters I like to see in more, ahem, worldly attire.

  3. aainsworth said

    Comment originally submitted by really?

    There are lots of companies that use the church’s name for business ventures, but because this is an image that the conservative Mormons feel uncomfortable with because it shows a different side to it’s 12 million members, it is looked at as bad commercialism. But the cheesy Singles Ward movie and others like it, endless products at Desert Book, Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites, The Living Scriptures, etc… those are OK, and DearElder.com is also OK. I think it’s funny how the Mormons want everyone to accept them, but they can’t even accept their own unless they fit into the box like everyone else. This is a great way to show the world that not all Mormons are haters.

  4. jonathanhebacon said

    UPDATE and DISCLAIMER: Apparently the maker/organizer of the calendar, Chad Hardy grew up in my wife’s ward. I was not aware of this when I wrote the post, and I still stand by what I said. Also, he mentions on his MySpace.com page () that he plans on donating all the proceeds to charity… a interesting twist… but I’ll leave that for another debate!

  5. If you want to see a reader’s feedback 🙂 , I rate this article for four from five. Detailed info, but I just have to go to that damn msn to find the missed pieces. Thanks, anyway!

  6. John said

    Young Male (and I’m sure female, too) Mormon missionaries get their share of sexual temptation, and this calendar does not help. A friend of mine served his mission in Italy, and several attractive women knocked at his apt. door and demanded to be let in, so that they could have sex with him and his companion! lol At first he thought it was a big joke on their part, but then he realized they were quite serious. And then there is the true story of the elder who was actually kidnapped by a very mentally deranged woman who sexually molested him. Finally, there was a time when the Polynesian parents of the Church asked our leaders to not send their sons to Latin America, due to how the local women reacted to the young Polynesian Elders (but it does take two to tango).


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