Chad Hardy, who was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and banned from receiving his degree from Utah's Brigham Young University, said his "Men on a Mission" calendar series, which features former missionaries shirtless in Mormon-themed poses, costumes and locations, is aimed at fighting stereotypes, not disrespecting the church, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
"It's friendly. It doesn't tear down the beliefs of the church at all. Underneath, it makes people realize, 'Oh, they're sexy Mormons. They're real,'" he said.
Hardy said he is finishing up the 2010 "Men on a Mission" calendar, the third in the series, and plans to work on his "Mormon muffins" calendar, which features Mormon moms, during the summer.
"Though we understand not everyone agrees with the project," Hardy said, "the individual expressions of those involved have reshaped perceptions, removed walls, and shown ... acceptance and tolerance around the world."