Calendar Guy indicates he’ll sue BYU for degree he earned

BYU recently chose to rescind the diploma of Chad Hardy, the missionary calendar guy, because he was excommunicated from the church between the time he earned his degree and the graduation ceremony. According to this AP story, Hardy completed his courses in June and was awarded a degree at graduation exercises in August, but Norman B. Finlinson, an administrator at BYU, has since sent Hardy a letter saying the degree has been revoked because he had been excommunicated in July. Hardy says he’s going to “fight this tooth-and-nail,” indicating he’s going to sue BYU for his degree.

It’s hard to know why BYU would choose to prolong the Chad Hardy PR disaster. The best explanation is that BYU administrators watch late night comedy shows wondering, Why Aren’t There More Jokes about BYU? Or they sit around wondering how they can really give the Men on a Mission franchise a shot in the arm with a huge dose of free publicity. This law suit will guarantee Hardy, who’s shown he understands the media well, a half dozen news cycles over the next year or two (announcing this letter, the filing of the law suit, BYU’s response, the hearings, the ruling; the appeal, BYU’s response, the hearings, the ruling).

After BYU’s administrators help Hardy sell an extra hundred thousand Men on a Mission calendars, expand his product line and make him a national symbol of Freedom of Expression, they’ll probably realize Hardy didn’t accept their fight because he wanted the diploma.

129 comments for “Calendar Guy indicates he’ll sue BYU for degree he earned

  1. I was dumbfounded when I saw they had done this. PR disaster is right. The excommunication made international headlines, and now I’ve seen this picked up internationally.

  2. This is a bad message to send. It says that to BYU, the education (and more importantly, the professional career you gain from completing that education) is of less value to the school than standing within the church. That’s an awful message to send to future students.

  3. As a BYU-degree holding, active member of the church, I agree. BYU shouldn’t have done it. Bad move. I can’t imagine that anyone thought this one through.

  4. My view of this little drama is colored by the events a few years back surrounding Jan Hendrik Schoen. That Bell Labs physicists had some remarkable breakthroughs in 2001 which received mainstream attention, but actually he had faked his data. The fraud was investigated and denounced in 2002, and in the aftermath in 2004, the University of Konstanz revoked the doctorate that it had awarded Schoen in 1997, due to his dishonorable conduct. His degreee work was unrelated to the later, fraudulent work; his school just didn’t want it on the record that such a man has a degree from their institution.

    I don’t know if BYU is pursuing the correct option with its case, but Chad Hardy has made an embarrassing public spectacle of himself, the kind that leads a person to marvel “He just got a degree from BYU? Really?” His school wishes it could say, “No, not really.” How far should that wish be acted upon?

    Here is an article about an effort by Jim McMahon’s father to get Jim McMahon inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame. McMahon is in the College Football Hall of Hame, but not his own school’s, which school kicked him out without a degree after he had won the Holiday Bowl and the purpose of association between McMahon and BYU was ended.

  5. Of course, John, if BYU hadn’t yanked the degree, nobody on earth would have known that Mr. Hardy had the BYU degree.

    Like, who knew that Jim McMahon wasn’t in BYU’s Hall of Fame? Who knew that there was a BYU Hall of Fame? What does running a minor league football factory, preparing the best athletes for a lifetime of Sabbath breaking, have to do with a church university’s purposes anyway?

  6. “BYU recently chose to rescind the diploma of Chad Hardy”

    The AP story (which uses the word “yanked”) is misleading. BYU never awarded a degree to Mr. Hardy.

    “According to this AP story, … BYU, has since sent Hardy a letter saying the degree has been revoked ”

    On the contrary, the story says:

    A Sept. 30 letter from Norman B. Finlinson, the school’s executive director of student academic and advisement services, said a nonacademic hold was placed on Hardy’s record after the church-owned university learned of the excommunication.

    Holds neither revoke nor rescind degrees. They do prevent them from being awarded, however. The hold is consistent with BYU policy, which states:

    Withholding the Posting of a degree or denying graduation participation is used in all cases of probation and on a case-by-case basis, when criteria such as the following exist for withholding the posting or denying graduation for violation of the Honor Code when all other requirements for graduation have been met. As noted in the BYU Bulletin: Undergraduate Catalog, “Graduation may be delayed or denied for students who violate the BYU Honor Code, whose ecclesiastical endorsement has been withdrawn, or who have unmet financial obligation with the university.” The criteria include:

    Excommunication, disfellowshipment, or disaffiliation from the Church
    Serious violation of position of trust or responsibility within the university
    Serious criminal activity or offense, including predatory behavior or crimes against another person, or the discovery of such a prior offense
    Egregious academic dishonesty
    Discovery of a violation that occurred prior to graduation and if it had been detected earlier would have resulted in dismissal from the university
    If a student is not in good Honor Code standing, the university will not award a degree. Any HCO hold, warning, or probation must have been properly cleared before graduation. ” (BYU Honor Code Website)

  7. Let’s get practical.

    So they have a hold on the degree. Does he or does he not still get to say “I graduated from BYU in 2008” on his resume or bio without lying?

    It does seem to me that BYU is being consistent with their policies here, sadly…

  8. Here is an article about an effort by Jim McMahon’s father to get Jim McMahon inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame. McMahon is in the College Football Hall of Hame, but not his own school’s, which school kicked him out without a degree after he had won the Holiday Bowl and the purpose of association between McMahon and BYU was ended.

    BYU’s football program has enough problems without worrying about the HoF. A few more years of teasing their fans and then throwing up debacles like last week, and BYU will be begging Jim McMahon to come to campus…

  9. Then there is Prof. Steve Jones who was placed on paid leave without teaching duties, following which he chose to retire, the reason being essentially “Steve, you’re embarrassing us with this 9/11 stuff.”

  10. Funny Jones story. A close relative of mine interviewed with a BYU department in the same college as Prof. Jones about 3 years ago. As part of his interview, he was basically asked “So you come up with a miraculous new discovery. How do you handle the media?” My relative answered – “Get the paper published first before calling the media.” He’s working at BYU today.

  11. I don’t think so. He could say “I participated in a graduation ceremony at BYU in 2008”, but that would be misleading without indicating that his degree had not been awarded.

    Personally, I think it is rather strange that universities let people participate in graduation ceremonies before their degrees have been awarded. The University of Utah once offered to let me participate in spring commencement before I finished a necessary summer class. I turned them down, because I thought it was very odd. My degree was awarded in August, and I never went through graduation at all (though I could have later).

  12. Mark D – My wife was in this situation. BYU allowed her to wear the cap and gown and walk through graduation, even though she had one class (Health?) still to take via Independent Study before she was awarded the degree. I was graduating anyway, and we were moving. Although, my wife opted out of walking with her department, and decided to walk with mine – the only art major to graduate with the scientists that year. When I was in HS, high schools up north would let kids walk and take pictures with their classmates and all, even if they were headed for summer school to make up a class they failed. Now, here in Texas, our school district prohibits kids from walking at all. At the end of summer school, they get to pick up their diploma at an office and never walk.

    I’m not a fan of needless ceremonies, but I like commencement exercises…

  13. I support BYU’s right to enforce it’s honor code.
    I’m glad BYU protects its image by placing holds on those who have been excommunicated, and in this guys case, have been inactive for six years.
    It just makes sense.

  14. I agree with BYU’s decision. This isn’t an issue of media relations/PR, but an issue of ensuring that all the rest of the students understand that the Honor Code means something. If someone can bend the Honor Code as egregiously as was done with these calendars and get away with it, then how do you trounce on the kid who does something bad, but far less?

  15. I agree that his degree should be not awarded. I also agree that its bad PR.

    Essentially he has taken a 15-25K a year subsidy from the LDS tithe payer to take courses at BYU while being inactive and publishing his calendar. I have multiple YM here in my stake who are active and paying their tithing who are unable to get into BYU and he took a spot while doing all of this.

    At the same time its bad PR for BYU but really in the long run it will not matter. Now that TCU game…..

  16. The time for making a stand for BYU was back when he was exd. It looks like their being sneaky when they let him complete classes, let him walk then pull the hold on his diploma.

    I completely support BYU having their honor code, but they need to act faster and more transparently if they want to look like more than the chump administrators their proving themselves to be.

  17. He completed the courses, he passed, he\’s done, he should get his degree. BYU can take a leap with their honor code, are they a school or are they a church?

  18. Clearly, Chad is pulling the strings here. He is provoking BYU and the Church and their response accommodates him.
    On the other hand, I do believe that Chad wants that degree. A skillful negotiator who appreciates the parties’ self-interest and has standing with the LDS leadership could probably resolve this matter speedily.
    On ethical grounds, lets imagine a student who parts with Mormonism as a matter of conscience rather than pulling a provocative prank. The BYU honor code could not accommodate that person’s conscience but the administration would invoke the suspicion of cheating by marking transcripts with honor code violations without specifying the nature of the violation.
    In my opinion, that is not only unethical but also self-defeating. Of course, BYU is a church school subsidized with church money. There ought to be an honorable way out for reasons of conscience. Punishing religious dissent by labeling people dishonest, only promotes lying and hypocrisy. People who might want to transfer and create another slot for a faithful Mormon in the process will prefer to lie to their bishop and finish their degree to avoid the stigma.
    Of course, a religious dissenter could always leave quietly, although, one has to admit that it would be a lot easier to determine the most honorable course of action if people are able to talk openly about conflicts between conscience and self-interest.

  19. Perhaps the compromise position is that he could just agree to have his name removed from BYU’s records.

  20. But, gst, can you offer any guarantee Chad will not be hassled once a year for the rest of his life by the alumni association asking for donations?

  21. Matt E.

    I think that Hardy needs to be treated the same as any other member of the church who attends BYU. You get yourself Exed while under the thumb of BYU admins and you get what anybody else would get.

    I know plenty of people who were kicked out of BYU for LOC and WOW reasons. Hardy should be treated just the same. The stringent HC needs to apply to everyone and I am sure that Hardy signed a document where he agreed to honor the Honor code.

  22. BYU can take a leap with their honor code, are they a school or are they a church?

    I’ll defend BYU here (I was on the Honor Code Council, an ironic fact for anyone who knows me). When you agree to enroll, you agree to abide by it. I just don’t remember “in good standing” as being a criteria for receiving an earned diploma.

    (As far as BYU football goes – I was at the TCU game. Before Bronco worries about the right way, maybe he should first teach his team to lose with class.)

  23. The time for making a stand for BYU was back when he was exd. It looks like their being sneaky when they let him complete classes, let him walk then pull the hold on his diploma.

    In other words, similar to what they did to Jim McMahon. Wait until his eligibility is up, THEN kick him out of school. Classy.

  24. He has been (self-proclaimed) inactive for 6 years.
    Isn’t a degree 4 years….5 tops?
    How in the world did he get his eccles endorsement signed every year if he was inactive…not to mention the initial application?

  25. I am at a loss to see what BYU is trying to get out of this. Convincing everyone that the honor code means something? I think kicking people out who violate is plenty without denying degrees that were academically earned. They kicked out the Real World girl a few years ago. Didn’t that convince everyone?

  26. PR disaster? is it really?

    Matt and Marc in #2 refer to this as a PR disaster on the part of BYU. In #1, Dan suggests BYU let it go. But, isnt it clear at this point that this was NOT a decision made by BYU. This came straight from the top and at a PR level included Michael Otterson. This is not BYUs independent concern, but it is BYU complying to its centralized control, no?

    i find this public relations episode very consistent with large recent activity. Take the PR handling of the Mitt Romney campaign. There was a whole lot of whining about being victimized and misrepresented. Otterson was non-stop clarifying how the church was presented when romney\’s association was discussed. the church was the victim of misinformation and the real story or information could be found at (which, if that was all true we wouldnt need T&S)

    The church struggled with the PR during the FLDS fiasco. Again, the main talking point from SLC and Otterson was that \”we was robbed.\” they failed to tell the whole story, even if part of it was right. and their victim card started to get oxidized from being waved in the sun too much.

    We can leave the Prop 8 position for another thread, but it is fast becoming an enormous PR issue, and one that will play out for many years.

    here is an interesting quote.

    \”Then there was media frenzy over which church Senator Obama attended and what his pastor thinks. Personally, I give about the same weight to his pastor\’s opinion as I do to that of my barber.\”

    that is a simple enough quote. except that it is in the washington post and it was written by michael otterson. sure, it may be his opinion, but it stands in great contrast to what is being said to mormons and about mormons by the pr department.

    after following otterson and his pr campaigns, i have come to the conclusion that he is actually a smart and loyal person. i respect him for being both of those, while i do criticize his integrity. he is loyal to the base and to his direct leaders. he is just like the white house press secretary and he is good at it. he does a fine job of not disappointing his leaders and speaking to the base constituents that will agree with him, rally around him and the leaders, and be loyal to every position they take.

    as for chad hardy, they know there are millions of mormons that want BYU to take away his membership and degree. otterson and the legal department know it will play out poorly on the national news, but on or ksl it is going to be well recieved. this is a pr success for the LDS church and BYU is simply taking the bullet on the larger organizations behalf. Success!

    there was a metaphor used above – Chad is pulling the strings here. i could not disagree more. chad is playing along. there are no strings. there isnt a lever to pull. there isnt a trick to this. a better metaphor, if you have to choose one, is the river. chad is floating down a river and he does not get to determine the course, he can try to get to the sides or take a smoother route, but the river is going to its destination regardless.

    chad is in the middle of a larger campaign. he may have been involved in starting it by creating the calendars. but he is not leading it at this point. the church is absolutely leading this, every step of the way. they are doing so from two departments – legal and public relations. chad cannot pull those departments around. he is simply reacting to them and their threats and coercion.

    mormons love what the church is doing. byu students are hearing that they need to stay the course, and not act out. the church wants that message to get out. and it is being carried by media outlets for free. that is PR success, not a disaster.

  27. Did Chad Hardy know that creating the calendar was against the honor code? I remember how, when the first calendar was printed, Mormons came out of the woodwork defending this brilliant piece of merchandising, claiming they were glad to be shown as hethy non-prudes, etc. Now that Chad\’s in trouble, most of his Mormon fans seem to have run away.

    If none of his models were disciplined by the Church, how bad could it be? I don\’t get it!

  28. “I agree with BYU’s decision. This isn’t an issue of media relations/PR, but an issue of ensuring that all the rest of the students understand that the Honor Code means something. If someone can bend the Honor Code as egregiously as was done with these calendars and get away with it, then how do you trounce on the kid who does something bad, but far less? ”

    Anyone that remembers Jim McMahon or various other football players knows the rules can be bent with the honor code, especially if they want to win a bowl game. Why not bend it for this guy to avoid helping him sell calenders?

  29. 1. I thought it was clear that Mr. Hardy’s standing in the church was not solely related to the calender.

    2. BYU was in a bit of tight spot on this one — it could have gone either way and either way would have presented difficulties. More to the point, we see how the turn of a phrase can take on great significance — placing an “administrative hold” sounds a bit more benign than have one’s diploma “yanked.” Yet, it is this latter characterization that is the more accurate (as issuance of the diploma was contingent on certain conditions that Mr. Hardy evidently did not meet).

    3. I love BYU football. True blue, through and through. But they have always been bad losers. That said, you have to cut some slack for a team that hasn’t felt the pain of losing in some 16 games.

  30. 3. I love BYU football. True blue, through and through. But they have always been bad losers. That said, you have to cut some slack for a team that hasn’t felt the pain of losing in some 16 games.

    Multiple unnecessary roughness penalties when you’re down by 25 is definitely the definition of “bad losers”. Maybe Bronco should spend more time on teaching players to lose with grace (and learning to adjust to the direct snap) and spend less time on the fireside circuit.

  31. He has been (self-proclaimed) inactive for 6 years.
    Isn’t a degree 4 years….5 tops?
    How in the world did he get his eccles endorsement signed every year if he was inactive…not to mention the initial application?

    It’s pretty trivial to get an ecclesiastical endorsement. But it’s even easier to sign up for independent study, if you’re just lacking a couple of classes. There are plenty of people who’ve been on the 10-year plan, at any university.

  32. “But, isnt it clear at this point that this was NOT a decision made by BYU. This came straight from the top and at a PR level included Michael Otterson. This is not BYUs independent concern, but it is BYU complying to its centralized control, no?”

    At this point I feel honor bound to point out that the LDS Church was also behind the Kennedy assination. Ineed, it is well known that Michael Otterson was the second gunman on the grassy knoll. Needless to say, the Hardy episode is just another part of the conspiracy between Salt Lake, the Vatican, and the Rothschilds against ice cream and puppies….

  33. Perhaps Chad should have agreed not to publish the 2009 calendar and to repent of whatever else the charges were, so that the disciplinary council could have been postponed long enough for the degree to have been processed bureacratically. To my knowledge, Church discipline after completion of the processing of the degree does not revoke the degree (or retroactively place an administrative hold on it), even at BYU.

    As I understand it, Chad had already completed the course requirements for graduation before the Church discipline was imposed. It is unclear to me what else remained to be done so that the degree would be considered “granted” by BYU so that it would not thereafter be revoked or had an administrative hold place on it.

  34. Nate,

    Is your sarcasm a suggestion that the church PR department had nothing to do with this? are you making a point or just auditioning for the newest version of America’s Funny Idol?

  35. “Is your sarcasm a suggestion that the church PR department had nothing to do with this?”

    Of course not! Indeed, I think that the fact that the AP story contained no reference to the Church PR department only backs up this conclusion. After all, Michael Otterson did have a quote in the Washington Post, and it is not as though these sorts of things just happen. And don’t even get me started on the Rothschilds…

  36. please, do not start with the rothschilds. can you please start with reagan and AIDS? i like my conspiracies to be much more contemporary.

    i am glad you see things as i do. it makes me love you with more fibers of my being, not all of them, yet, but certainly more fibers.

  37. I don’t care how it “looks”. BYU would be unfair and partial if they let this honor code violation pass, just because it “looks bad” to some outspoken folks. Let them go elsewhere for a degree, if they cannot or will not abide by the rules. And lets use the same rules for every circumstance — not suspending them because they might “look bad” to some.

  38. has this already been addressed? can chad simply transfer all his credits somewhere, take two more classes, and get a degree from some other school? is that a possibility?

    hey, can byu take away my degree since i went there and transferred just so i could drink frozen granitas at PJ’s coffee? can byu take away my birthday? thats something i would really like.

  39. 25:I know plenty of people who were kicked out of BYU for LOC and WOW reasons.

    Sounds like you were hanging out with the wrong crowd. Tsk, tsk.

  40. To me the primary reason for the honor code should be to protect the integrity of the BYU environment. So if someone is breaking the WOW (for example), we don’t allow them to enroll in classes or otherwise be part of the student body. That helps preserve what is special about the BYU community.

    But I don’t see the point of denying someone the benefit of credits already earned. That just seems vindictive. Why not let Mr. Hardy have his degree and be on his way?

  41. “can byu take away my birthday? thats something i would really like.”

    No, Mayan, that’s the JW’s–wrong cult.

    Seriously, though, Mayan makes an interesting point about whether this is a PR disaster for the church or whether it is actually something they want. It’s much like the question of whether Sarah Palin is good for McCain or bad. Some of her comments, when viewed by rational people from a distance, come off as completely wacky. But she is not trying to win over the eastern elites and media hounds–she is preaching to the right-wing-radio-listening flag wavers. What Mayan is saying is that, if you view it from the way the church and BYU come across to the average American reading MSNBC or watching the Early Show on CBS, it looks like a PR nightmare that only the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert would orchestrate. But if you look at it from the perspective of the chapel Mormons who read Meridian, it looks very different. To those folks, letting Chad get his degree, or letting Peter Danzig continue to play in the Temple Square Orchestra, or letting Jeff Nielsen continue to teach philosophy at BYU would be the real PR disaster. They’re the ones that the folks at 50 Entemple care about.

  42. I agree with Equality. Letting people get away with long-standing Honor Code violations because they cook up some media tempest in a teapot would be extremely bad form. Who cares how many calendars he sells? The guy is evidently long gone as far as the Church is concerned. I think the calendars are kind of funny. BYU absolutely needs to stick by its policies. And maybe it will give them a chance to air their message, too.

    I feel the same way about people who whine about their excommunications. I have to say I really respect Hardy for not whining about his excommunication. If people use their excommunication as a chance for grandiose public whining via the media, that’s their problem. I hope local SPs won’t be cowed by that.

  43. The way it looks to me with the timing of everything is that BYU wouldn\’t have bothered to pull anything if Chad\’s story didn\’t get the publicity it received. BYU was in the know of the calendar production from almost the beginning; if BYU had an issue with this, then BYU had plenty of time to contact Chad and inform him of the consequences, but they chose not to. Interestingly enough; they leaped right on it when it became an international headline. Another example of BYU trying to save face!

    If they were truly only abiding by the honor code, then Chad would have been informed months ago and asked not to take part in the ceremony. This whole thing is total bull!

  44. Here are the relevant facts as I understand them
    1) Mr. Hardy was absent from BYU for a period of time.
    2) Following publication of the calendar he decided to take correspondence courses to complete his degree.
    3) Sometime after his re-enrollment in these classes he applied for graduation.
    4) his graduation was approved pending completion of all the requirements.
    5) Mr. Hardy was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in July 2008 from his home ward in Las Vegas, Nevada.
    6) Excommunication is grounds for dismissal and or denial of graduation
    7) Mr. Hardy participated in graduation ceremonies in August 2008
    8) BYU informed Mr. Hardy they would be denying his award of diploma.

  45. jay s,

    are those all chronological? at what relevant point did he complete his requirements? and, when did he last pay byu for courses completed?


    you are bad. real bad. that is a really naughty word you used. i dont just want birthdays to be prohibited, i actually want some of my completed birthdays to be revoked, taken away and held in limo until i reapply for my birthdays. i want that. and by damn, the rothschilds and the last remaining kennedy owe it to me.

  46. BYU definitely needs new and different legal counsel. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    Blake: So you don’t think BYU’s policy is legal? Or just that it isn’t legally wise?

    Any others with an opinion on this question please comment.

  47. not to get nate oman too excited, but it is my understanding that counsel on this case was in house. in the big house. i mean, in the office next to or across from The House.

  48. What’s next? BYU revoking Steve Young’s degree because he went on to the NFL and some Mormons believe that that is breaking the Sabbath?

  49. Ed’s reasoning in comment 47 best mirrors my own. Kicking someone out AFTER they’ve paid and completed their coursework is vindictive. BYU diminishes respect for the honor code when they appear to employ it coercively. The purpose of the honor code is ostensibly to maintain a particular environment on campus, not to coerce religious belief. BYU will have a hard time showing what purpose denying Hardy his diploma serves except to coerce his religious belief. What’s the purpose of kicking someone out of school after they’ve already left? There is none except revenge or coercion.

    And does anyone know why Norman B. Finlinson says Hardy has to be “reinstated as a member of the church in good standing” to be eligible for a degree? Isn’t keeping the honor code and getting an ecclesiastical endorsement sufficient, or does BYU accept people of other faiths only if they aren’t converts from Mormonism?

  50. “Isn’t keeping the honor code and getting an ecclesiastical endorsement sufficient, or does BYU accept people of other faiths only if they aren’t converts from Mormonism?”
    Exactly. And that is troubling because religion ought to be a matter of conscience.
    Somebody who leaves Mormonism openly, may not even have the opportunity to transfer because the administration would mark that person’s transcript with an honor code violation.
    The other university might assume that cheating or other unethical conduct occurred.

  51. why does norman B. finlinlinlinlinsensen use his middle initial? is he a general authority?

    equality explained my point very well, i think. better than i explained myself.

    while nate does not take it seriously, i do think that otterson and boyd black were very involved with this. i think they, at a minimum, monitored it very tightly. however, i will consider that it could have all been handled by byu’s counsel and pr directors as well. if we stop to consider the two groups, one being church headquarters and the other being byu as a separate entity – who were they targeting with their pr effort?

    was byu doing this for the benefit of the base members (meridian readers), as equality suggests? or, was byu doing this for the alumni/alumnae of byu? who is pacified by targeting hardy and then denying him his degree? do byu alumni want this?

    it seems to me that byu grads would not approve of this maneuver and would see it as a blemish to their own degrees. it is an embarrassment to be part of such a controlled university for some, maybe.

    am i completely off-base? i went to byu and i think this sucks. perhaps i am truly an outlier and most byu grads want byu to bring the hammer down on hardy, just as they are doing.

    and all the same questions could apply to the church? were they throwing byu grads under the bus to pacify a core constituency that wants the church to pummel dissidents or inactives? is there some pacification to members in saying that the church is ready and willing to excommunicate and deprive members that get out of line? i suspect there are bishops dealing with inactive members that have requested no contact and these bishops are clapping and thanking the church for finally showing some leadership in clearing the rolls of people that dont obey and follow.

    so. in simple terms. who is targeted by byu’s leadership in this, or by the church’s leadership.

  52. Chad is thee most amazing person I know!! I love how BYU’s decision is helping to manifest HIS affirmation of doing something that reaches all around the world!! Thank you universe you rule!! :)

  53. The more I ponder this (not too much, I was at McDonald’s with the kids), I think that BYU is handling this *exactly* the way they want to.

    See, we’re at a point in time where there has never been more collective BYU alumni wealth. And we’re also a point in time where tithing, as a percentage of the total amount it takes to run BYU, is at an all-time low. How do most big-ticket one-time cost items at BYU get paid for these days? With private donations. The new Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni Building (named for a not-alumnus)? Private donations. The great and spacious building devoted to BYU football? Private donations. The supercomputers? Private donations. BYU even renamed the engineering school after one of its biggest benefactors.

    These are the sort of people keeping BYU alive today, so that ever-increasing amounts of tithing can go to build temples around the world. (To be sure, a LOT of tithing money goes to BYU. But it’s less every year.) And these are the people BYU can LEAST afford to tick off. They are probably not running their own Bloggernacle sites. The people who really criticize BYU over this are not the people in its President’s Club.

    BYU would probably have wished that Hardy would go away quietly. They probably didn’t want any of this to come out. But they’re not sorry now that it’s public and they can be seen as taking a hard line, because their core donors (the Church and the wealthy alumni) aren’t disappointed.

  54. Does BYU make it clear to students that they can complete all of the academic requirements for a degree, but have it denied at the last minute if they are excommunicated after they have satisfied all the academic requirements? BYU is saying that if the person had managed to postpone his excommunication by a couple of months, he would have received his degree and they would have done nothing about it retroactively. My guess is that if this gets in front of a judge, he or she will rule that the student completed all the material requirements for the degree, and that his subsequent excommunication was not at that point a material requirement, since the classes were already over. The period of time from the completion of coursework to actual awarding of the degree is all time for performance by BYU, but the student has completed his period of performance. This is just basic contract law. If the student were a faithful person who believed he should relinquish his degree as an act of repentance preparatory to restoration of membership, that would be one thing. But in dealing with someone who is not a member, BYU is out in secular law territory, and since the student was found by BYU to have substantially performed his part of the contract during the period for him to perform, BYU’s policy is not going to override basic principles of contract law.

  55. The contract in question here is the university catalog, which lists graduation requirements, one of which states, “Students are required to be in good Honor Code standing to graduate.” I don’t even play a lawyer on TV, but it appears to me that Calendar Guy did not complete the contracted degree requirements, and therefore the university is within its legal rights to withhold the degree.

    The contract does indeed list a number of things that must be done by the student between completing coursework and awarding the degree. Namely, remain in good academic standing, complete applications, pay a graduation fee, post all needed transfer credits, and resolve any incomplete grades.

    University lawyers would probably argue that Calendar Guy was in violation of the honor code during his enrollment, and so the timing of his actual excommunication is irrelevant.

  56. if someone is breaking the WOW (for example), we don’t allow them to enroll in classes or otherwise be part of the student body. That helps preserve what is special about the BYU community.

    That, and the use of “frick” and “dang it!”.

  57. Here’s the relevant section from the Honor Code.

    Church Disciplinary Council Action

    When a student is disfellowshipped or excommunicated, Church leaders are to notify school authorities. In these instances, suspension from school is virtually automatic, although the president of the school has authority to authorize exceptions under rare circumstances to the end of the current term. The school generally suspends disfellowshipped and excommunicated students because acts leading to these Church penalties generally far exceed the bounds of the school’s Honor Code.

    Except for rare circumstances authorized by the president of the school, admission is denied to prospective students who have been excommunicated or disfellowshipped and have not been reinstated.

  58. Just to be on the record… I am definitely not THAT Chad. All my degrees are intact and I don’t even take my shirt off at the pool. Fewer fellow swimmers recoiling in horror that way.

  59. #56: “does BYU accept people of other faiths only if they aren’t converts from Mormonism? ”

    As I understand it, this is exactly the case.

  60. To Mayan Elephant – if this is planned by the PR department, and they are leading this course, then we have entered into the Monson Era, and we should all be afraid to step out of line, or we are off the boat. This sounds a bit more like Satan’s plan. Of course the active LDS will look at this as justice, while the rest of normal thinking Americans will just add this to the list of why Mormons are thought of as crazy and cult members. It’s too bad – Hardy was trying to strip off these stereotypes, (no pun intended) and the church and its members gladly put them right back on.

  61. How is this a PR disaster?

    People seem to keep on assuming that the Church wants to be perceived as more modern and hip, and less stick in the mud, less moralistic, less strict. That actually was the justification given by this calender guy for the calender- which I think just made it worse for him.


    Lets assume for a second that the Church is actually run by God and not by men.

    Why would God want to give people the idea that He’s okay with dancing around the edges of what’s acceptable?

    Frankly this is good PR for the Church, because the way the Church attracts good converts is by being perceived as highly moral and strictly obedient.

  62. i teach at one of the military service academies. What happened here is not unique to BYU. We yank cadets/midshipmen from the graduating class, even if they have completed all of their course work.
    – Failure to maintain physical readiness standards (too fat, can\’t pass the PE test, etc…)
    – Honor code violation that is adjudicated before graduation
    – conduct violation that is adjudicated before graduation.

    If they are kicked out, many are required to pay back the entire four years of education (approx $120k) and are not given a degree. They can transfer their credits to other schools (but face the problems that most do when trying to transfer schools — not all credits will transfer).

  63. So much for Romney in 2012

    The whole calendar guy episode should be an embarassment to every one of us.

  64. Mayan, you make some really good points.

    \”mormons love what the church is doing. byu students are hearing that they need to stay the course, and not act out. the church wants that message to get out. and it is being carried by media outlets for free. that is PR success, not a disaster.\”

    I am not sure all mormons love what is happening. I learned about the calender thing from some friends as we were enjoying each other\’s company. I am sad because at least 6 friends I can think of off the top of my head (including a ward clerk, 2 former EQPs and 1 current EQP; all have college/graduate degrees, are RMs if they had the opportunity as some are converts and all are really good people) have either gone completely inactive or have seriously curtailed their activity in the Church. Of course, the calender thing is not the only issue but it is part of the trend you mention. I was recently posed with an interesting dilemma from one such friend: attend a birthday dinner with some mutual friends or attend the ward activity. Our ward has gone from about 300 on Sunday to around 175 in the past six months. When I talk with my good friends in the surrounding 6 wards they say the trend is the same with declining attendance. I am just sad.

  65. So let me get this straight:
    Calendar guy has been around for a few years doing his thing with calendars….causing concern to some church leaders who have been watching on the sidelines…..well aware of his antics?
    Meanwhile, simultaneously, calendar guy has been enrolled in independent study at BYU finishing up a degree that he started there a long time ago….before he became a full-fledged, non-practicing Mormon?

    So we have calendar guy very publicly poking his finger in the eye of the LDS church, while (apparently unbeknownst to them?) taking classes at their exclusive university…?

    Yeah, that’s embarrassing.

  66. This clearly demonstrates that if one wants to build a very public rep as a rebel against the conservative orthodox LDS lifestyle culture, BYU-Provo is the place to go.

  67. I know the analogy is tenuous, but wasn’t Jesus’ crucifixion and death a PR disaster for the primitive Church? Here their Anointed One was executed by the Romans at the behest of his own people.

    Other than that, if you sign an agreement whereby you agree to be a “member in good standing” in order to obtain a degree, you either stick to it or forfeit your degree.

  68. sunnankar,

    thanks for your comments. can you give some more details about the inactivity? is there some obvious explanation for it, like a ward split that completely rearranged the congregation? was there a change in leadership? or, would you say there has simply been a general malaise among the members?

    if you were able to discuss the calendars and other things with the members, were you also able to compare this to other PR activity by the church?

    [hey T & S peeps. i dont think this is off-topic from the original post that suggested “It’s hard to know why BYU would choose to prolong the Chad Hardy PR disaster.” please advise if you would like this conversation moved or halted]

    if PR truly is a topic among members that have changed their participation or activity (the mormon term) what other PR efforts were most personal and influential in your community? the key topics that come to mind in the time frame you mention are:

    Prop 8 in California
    Prop 102 in Arizona
    Response to Andrew Callahan and Signing for Something
    Mitt Romney Campaign
    LDS reaction to the FLDS fiasco in Texas
    Michael Otterson posting at the Washington Post
    The Mormons on PBS (much older than the time you mentioned, but it has been in re-runs)
    The Danzigs
    Lyndon Lamborn (this did NOT appear to be a centralized PR effort, but my be topical if you are in AZ)
    The death of a Prophet (HInckley) and sustaining of a successor
    Building and Building and Building and Building temples and other construction projects
    Discussion and Bloggers discussing Mormonism

    this is a long list and it is not comprehensive. i just cannot believe that the calendar issue and byu’s response is enough to rank high with members and non-members . what i do think, is that this “PR disaster” is viewed as a trend, and a very consistent trend. and it is the trend, not any one particular event, that alarms members and outsiders.

  69. Just another reason I’ll do my best to get my daughter to attend ANYWHERE but BYU.

    Frex, what if my daughter became pregnant out of wedlock as a student. I would not be happy about that, but there would be enough to deal with in that situation without her university placing additional and unrelated burdens on her.

  70. 79 Johnna,
    Attendance at BYU is a previlege and not a right. If your daughter refuses to keep the honor code, and becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she will have to face the consequences.
    The rules are known in advance, they’re the same for everyone, and it is not Satan’s plan to affix consequences, that’s God’s plan. Satan’s plan was to remove ones ability to do the opposite of what Satan wanted. As a BYU alum, I know, I had many opportunities to choose to break the honor code, but I chose to keep it. I’m not asking for props. That’s simply what is expected. And those who won’t give it, need not apply.

  71. Do the libs here really think that there shouldn’t be consequences to actions?
    Is anyone defending the viewpoint, evident in Johnna’s post, that there shouldn’t be consequences to actions?

  72. I don’t see the problem–he knew the Honor Code was a requirement for his continued attendance and he chose to violate it, even after he agreed in writing to abide by it. Then when it comes time to get his degree, he suddently cries foul?!?!? I’m sure he’s not the ONLY BYU student who has found himself in these circumstances, clearly of his own making. Like I tell my kids, you CAN do what you want, but you CANNOT choose the consequences. And this is the consequence of his choices. His education was subsidized by the donations and tithing of the Church, which includes what I give each month. I have no interest in BYU awarding a degree to someone who wishes to disparage or demean my heartfelt beliefs. If he did not want to fulfill his part of the degree process, including keeping his word in regard to the Honor Code, then I say he DID NOT fulfill all the requirements for graduation. (I think the instructor at one of the military academies was right on target–my tax dollars also subsidize the military cadets’ educations, too.)

  73. Logical progression following the set policies (ask Linda or Steve in the HCO for more clarity):

    If you’re excommed, you lose your eccesiastical endorsement.

    If you lose your EE, you have to withdraw from BYU. You are on academic hold from that point on.

    Choices choices, friends. Don’t bash the honor code for being enforced–a choice was made that broke the honor code that got a person excommunicated (in this case, a very public break in trust towards the Church).

    Really, there’s no argument here on what BYU should have done.

    Relates well to the market and to business. A mediocre, steady policy is more successful than many implemented, brilliant, changing policies.

    Let that suffice the matter.

  74. ldsmom and others.

    can someone please clarify exactly what he did that was in violation of the honor code? it seems to me that his degree is being withheld because he got excommunicated, not because he violated the honor code. is there something in the honor code where the student agrees to not become excommunicated?

  75. Mayan (#84)

    Honor code says you will have a current ecclesiastical endorsement. If you get excommunicated, you lose that endorsement and you’ve committed a de facto breach, rather than a de jure violation, of the honor code.

  76. BYU’s policy apparently is concerned with when they learn of an act, and not when the act occurred. If they don’t revoke the degrees of graduates they learn violated the honor code while they were a student, then BYU isn’t actually punishing people who violate the honor code, only those who don’t postpone their repentence (or disciplinary council, in Hardy’s case) until after they’ve graduated.

    BYU incentivizes students to postpone repentence by treating those who delay repentence better than those who don’t.

    BYU administrators obviously aren’t geniuses, but I’m confident they’re all smart enough to know that trying to defend that policy is foolhardy. Even so, someone should challenge Norman B. Finlinson to write an editorial for the Daily Universe titled, “Why BYU chooses to incentivize students to postpone repentence by treating those who delay repentence and confession better than those who don’t.”

    If the issue is to enforce the honor code seriously, then BYU should revoke the diplomas of every student they later learn was living in violationof the honor code while they were a student, because they cheated, in the same way they would now revoke the diploma of a student they learn forged their transfer transcripts and references in their admissions application, because they cheated.

    He’ll probably resort to “the guilt you’ll feel will be so much worse than any diploma rescinding we could do. Think how awful all our graduates feel who didn’t confess until after graduation.”

  77. Thanks Todd and Matt,

    from what i read here in your notes and in the link, BYU and Boyd Black choked badly. maybe the original post is right and this really is a disaster.

    from the honorcode link: “All enrolled continuing undergraduate, graduate, intern, or study abroad students are required to obtain a Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement for each new academic year.”

    Enrolled undergrad, grad, intern and study abroad. its very specific. it does not include INDEPENDENT STUDY. in the independent study link it says:

    “Who can take these courses?


    You do not have to be a BYU student to take our courses. Our courses can be taken by anyone in the world at anytime and anywhere!

    Here’s a list of people who take our courses:

    * High school students needing to graduate on time or early
    * High school students taking college courses to count as dual credit at their high school and prospective college
    * College students taking courses that their college does not offer
    * College students who have to work full-time
    * Anyone who wants to take a course to simply further their education
    * Anyone who was not able to finish college and would like to continue working toward their degree”

    anyone working toward a degree can take the courses. ANYONE! there is no qualifier in that. so why can’t hardy be entitles to the degree towards which he was working?

  78. ME,
    While I don’t actually know much of anything (and have no opinion on Mr. Hardy’s graduation or lack thereof), your two points aren’t mutually exclusive. Hardy was working on his undergrad (I assume), and so needed his ecclesiastical endorsement. On the other hand, it is true that anybody can take continuing ed classes, including me (with my BYU degree and other degree). I would not be degree-seeking, so the classes would be purely for my own edification, and therefore it doesn’t matter whether I’m in or out of communion. But that doesn’t, it seems to me, mean that if I were doing independent study toward an undergrad degree that I wouldn’t need to have an ecclesiastical endorsement.

    I mean, I really don’t know. I do know, however, that this isn’t as resoundingly big, PR-wise, as people seem to think. I haven’t read anything about it in the NYTimes, the W$J, or any major national publication. It’s been magnified in the echo-chambers of the blogosphere, apparently, and probably makes news in the Mormon corridor, but not out here.

    That’s not to say it is right or wrong to put a hold on his degree. I don’t know; I doubt I would if I had any power. But I don’t really think this will color the way many people see BYU or the Church (or sexualized return-missionary calendars, or whatever).

  79. The pictures aren’t there now, but when i checked the calendar web site, the “I Heart Mormon Boys” t-shirts were being modeled by 20-something men. I think there’s a lot being left unsaid.

  80. Sam,

    Did you know we have actually worked together? it is true. anyways. the independent study requirements are for anyone working towards a degree. and, the honor code requirements do not include independent study. this is a problem for byu. it is. or, i should say, it is a problem for boyd black.

    i disagree about your assessment of how large this is. the guy is being interviewed by the cbs morning show for crying out loud. he is in ap reports. that aint good for the church. it makes the church and byu look vindictive to anyone that is not already converted and a fan of byu, that aint good.

  81. I believe BYU has a very strict code of conduct that this is probably against. I have no problem with BYU withholding a diploma if this does indeed violate such code.

    This guys is living off of this controversy and loves that they are not handing him a diploma.

  82. Doug,

    i dont think anyone is questioning the right of byu to withhold the diploma in cases where your assumption applies – that he ‘indeed viloate[d] such code’. as it stands now, there is not clear evidence that he did anything of the sort. he may have been a nuisance to the church but he doesnt appear to have met your requirements of having violated a code for someone that was using independent study.

    many people are maximizing monetary gain from the controversy of their lives. that is not unique. the church is discussing the controversy of joseph smith’s life to motivate followers. the victim and persecution of the saints is still part of the pr message. i am not sure what you mean by “living off.” is that a reference to the increased sale of calendars? or is he actually on some sort of breathing apparatus that requires controversy to create oxygen.

    i have not seen hardy mention that he loves not having his diploma. so, ill have to take your word for it on that one.

  83. ME,
    We’ve worked together? That’s cool–where?

    You may be right about how big this is, because I confess to a healthy dose of snootiness (I really feel much less icky now that I don’t even read–I don’t know about the latest disappeared child, but NYTimes, W$J, Slate, Salon, and various podcasts keep me relatively up-to-date on the news I feel like I need). Still, I haven’t heard from any friends or neighbors about him. (Of course, around here, I’m not sure how big a topless-Mormon-missionaries calendar would be, but that’s altogether different.)

    In any event, I don’t know that I ever read the complete Honor Code while I was at BYU (I learned my senior year that the one-sheet thing you get for your ecclesiastical endorsement isn’t the whole thing), so I readily admit that my analysis may be off.

  84. Chad wasn’t violating the honor code by being an excommunicated person taking independent study classes. Chad violated the honor code when he was excommunicated. After that, he tried to gain a diploma, something for which an ecclesiastical endorsement is necessary. Those who conflate graduation with independent study courses, are, fairly puerile in my mind.

  85. what does puerile mean? is that when you think independent study classes can be applied to graduation? what the hell are you talking about?

  86. As I read it, Lucifer himself could earn 1000 credits from BYU independent study, while smoking Camels, sipping lattes, wearing colored shirts, and cheering for evil teams like the Utes and Yankees, and at the end, he’d have 1000 valid credits and no degree to show for it.

    If the Prince of Darkness wants a degree from the Lord’s University, he’s going to have to apply for graduation, and by so doing, he’ll become a degree-seeking student instead of an independent study student, and therefore subject to the honor code. Satan will have to give up his Gentile ways, get an ecclesiastical endorsement, and toe the line like the rest of us if he want any of his 1000 credits to apply to a BYU degree.

    Calendar Guy isn’t the the Old Serpent, but he’s in the same boat. He can earn all the credits he wants by independent study, but the minute he wants to apply them to a degree, he’ll have to subject himself to the honor code as one of BYU’s explicit requirements for graduation.

  87. can someone please clarify exactly what he did that was in violation of the honor code? it seems to me that his degree is being withheld because he got excommunicated, not because he violated the honor code. is there something in the honor code where the student agrees to not become excommunicated?

    Getting excommunicated is the violation. See the quote I posted in #64. You are pretty much suspended immediately from BYU if you are excommunicated. The ecclesiastical endorsement is less of a concern for Hardy, since he was graduating at that point (but yes, one could not receive one at that point.)

  88. holy cow. Left Field, that was genius. pure genius. i think i get it now.

    when the church says anyone can take independent study classes. its more of a wink wink anyone. ya know, anyone can pay and take the classes, but the same anyone may not be able to apply those to a degree. its sorta like when my dad let me buy a car when i was 15. i could buy it. i could even own it. i could even register it. i just couldnt apply it to the road and travel in it while holding the steering wheel.

    and i think what you are suggesting, along with others here, is that the average ordinary person, including Lucifer the Serpent, knows that independent study classes may not be applied to a byu degree without honoring all things mormon.

    if chad hardy were to get an EE from a methodist, would the church give him his degree?

    another question here is whether it was clear to the ordinary reasonable person, also known as joe the plumber, that the degree would be denied after the excommunication. if that was clear, chad hardy may have asked to postpone his church court until after graduation. or, he may have decided to discontinue his projects. i dont think it is at all reasonable for anyone to have assumed, in advance of having the degree denied, that boyd black would pursue that tactic. that move truly came out of left field.

    i wanna try an analogy. lets say a guy has job producing stuff for his employer. he works hard. he shows up every day. he performs. he works. he smiles. people love him. but then he starts to butter his bread at the wrong counter. the employer says, “please stop, naughty boy.” he sorta stops. and he keeps working hard. doing his job. but then, he butters his bread at the wrong counter again. now, if he works during the entire month of august and expects to get paid on september 1st for his work he has done in august, but, unexpectedly, he gets kicked out of his church and loses his job on august 31st at 11.55 PM, is it reasonable for Spencer Kinard to expect a paycheck for his work done in August?

    the question here is about contracts and reasonable expectations, something i know nothing about. and its clear that chad and the school expected that his credits would be applied to his degree, with or without an EE for independent study.

  89. Cheering for the Yankees falls under the prohibition of “indecent conduct or expressions.”

  90. To continue the hypothetical, as long as Lucifer had never, in mortality, been LDS (i.e., so that he or she had never resigned or been excommunicated) and Lucifer cleaned up his or her act long enough to be in compliance for some period of time with the honor code and received an eccelsiastical endorsement from nonLDS clergy (Wiccan perhaps?), then Lucifer could graduate.

  91. but jesus is mormon, and lucifer is his brother, so lucifer was mormon at least until his 9th birthday. thats not exactly college age so he probably was wiccan at the time of his matriculation.

  92. Thinking to the eventual court case, and to the weakness of BYU’s legal position, I expect that BYU will be forced to base its denial on the honor code, but in the letter Norman B. Finlinson sent Hardy, he says that BYU will not let release the hold on Hardy’s academic records unless and until Hardy converts to Mormonism and is baptised into the Mormon church. (Finlinson says BYU will keep the hold until Hardy is a “member in good standing” — which requires conversion and baptism.)

    The judge will rule that BYU’s position is not in fact based in their honor code, that BYU impermissibly sought to coerce conversion and baptism, and that they therefore breached their contract with Hardy.

  93. Developing my thoughts from comment 105 further , I expect that Hardy’s legal case will focus on the legitimacy of this policy of BYU:

    Former members of the Church are in a separate category from nonmembers and, therefore, reentry into the Church will thereafter be a condition for readmission to BYU. Selected Clarifications of the Honor Code),

    and application of this policy to someone who has completed their coursework and is applying not to attend BYU but to graduate and move on.

    Is it lawful for BYU to punish students who convert to another religion? I don’t know what grounds BYU asserts they have to expel a student for converting to, for example, Roman Catholicism. Nor do I know what constraints federal law places on BYU, because BYU accepts various forms of federal education dollars, to punish students who change religion. If the federal government pays a student’s tuition for all four years (e.g., ROTC, Pell grants, Stafford loans), can BYU expel that student, solely because she converts to Roman Catholicism, without violating any education, military access or civil rights laws?

    I certainly don’t want my tax dollars funding schools that deny graduation to students who convert to Mormonism. I’m a proponent of school vouchers, and think religious institutions can and do run better schools because they can invoke religion, but I would deny participation in a voucher program to any school that refuses admission due to religious belief or membership, or that expels students who change religion, like BYU does. It’s fine to have a voucher school provide a daily Mass to all students. It’s unacceptable for a voucher school to restrict admissions to Catholics or to expel or punish students who convert to Mormonism.

    Honor codes are good when they are focused on objective behavior, like BYU’s is. Turning honor codes into de facto religious tests, as BYU is trying to do with Chad Hardy, is poor policy and poor theology.

  94. Mayan: I believe that the “Mormon” moniker does not, and should not, apply to believers or saints of previous dispensations.

    Lehi, Nephi, Jeremiah, Ezekial, Peter, James and John did not call themselves “Mormons”. And I’m very confident that they did not, either in the Spirit world, or as resurrected beings, put on a Moroni lapel pin, or put a “RULDS2” sticker on their celestial or spirit-world mini-van starting in 1830 or any time since then.

    But there’s a good question for debate concerning the spirits who have accepted the gospel in the spirit world, and have accepted their proxy baptisms in LDS temples. I think those who die after 1830 might have the option of calling themselves “Mormons”. But if someone lived and died prior to 1830, and had their temple work done after 1830 (or after 1840 actually, since I don’t think any proxy-baptisms happened prior to Nauvoo, right?), they’re not really part of this dispensation. Would they even want to be called “Mormons”?

    And what does Mormon himself think of all this? (The Mormon, that is, Moroni’s dad.)

  95. I don’t think I made the previous entry sufficiently obvious that it was light-hearted. So I’ll add that I do actually occasionally whimsically wonder what the “greeters” in the spirit world are allowed to say to the new-arrivals if the new-arrivals ask certain questions. How close did the South Park segment come, when it portrayed a greeter telling the new-arrivals “‘The Mormons’ was the correct answer.”

  96. Excuse my ignorance–but I don’t get this. Guys have their shirts off outside doing landscaping or at the beach and it’s acceptable. Pictures are taken though not usually
    publicized (family pics on vacation). Obviously if a girl took her shirt off and posed for a pic that the Honor Code at BYU would be violated. Is it that he took off his temple garment for the picture that violated the Code or did he pose totally nude?

    He’s not posing in a pornography way is he?
    If he did the course work how can be possibly be told, in esscence that
    he didn’t? Surely another university would look at his transcript and
    accept it if he transferred it.

  97. Interesting video. I noticed that the interviewers repeated the incorrect information that Hardy had “graduated officially.” Not so. You can have lots of credits, you can wear the cap and gown, but until it’s posted on your transcript, you ain’t got no degree.

    Also, Calendar Guy completely dodged the question about how he failed to follow the requirement to observe the honor code until graduation. Instead of answering the question, he started plugging his calendar.

  98. What I don’t understand about this conversation is how some consider this a PR disaster, or that the sky is falling because BYU chooses to maintain their honor code.

    Last time I checked, this Church and BYU were not democracies, nor public institutions. They have a right to establish and maintain a set of rules for all those who wish to enter into a relationship with them. Same thing occurs with baptism. Do we cry foul everytime someone is excommunicated because it is a bad PR move?

    Life is unfair. You play by the rules or you risk facing the consequences.

  99. Bookslinger,

    thanks for bringing it up. while the chad hardy case may not prove that jesus calls himself a mormon or is a mormon, it proves ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt’ that boyd black (no relation to jack black for at least 4 generations) and the PR/Legal team at byu believe he is mormon. after all, if you must be mormon in good standing to get your degree at byu, its only logical and reasonable that one must be living comfort eagle as a mormon in good standing to be the head of the one true church, the mormon church. i cant see how jesus can be the head of the mormon church and not be mormon, unless, of course he can also be the head of the catholic church and not be catholic, and head of the mayan elephant church without actually being mayan or elephant.

    great comments matt evans. “Turning honor codes into de facto religious tests, as BYU is trying to do with Chad Hardy, is poor policy and poor theology. ” that conclusion really stood out to me. i agree with it. what i still think is unsettled is whether or not this was poor PR policy. i still suggest that the PR results are exactly what was intended – which was to impress alums and the core base of mormon followers, without concern for bloggernacclers, liberals, non-mormons or anyone else.

    i accept that description of the intention of the pr effort is based on my own assumptions.

  100. #97–brilliant. I actually had to read it out loud, nice turn of phrases.

    So, here’s my thing. I think perhaps BYU is going to need to clarify (not change, but make explicit–perhaps just pulling #97 and posting it in its entirety) its independent study policy re the relationship between ecclesiastical endorsement and the application of such classes to graduation. I find it a bit unsavory, and not necessarily following the admonition of Paul to basically tell people that their money’s good enough to buy credits (and seriously, that’s what online/independent courses are really about–revenue without the application of resources), but we find them too unsavory to actually associate with them. And perhaps someone might have tweaked to Brother Hardy’s issues BEFORE they took his money for courses. Clearly, he has not been “in good standing” for some time.

    And if an ecclesiastical endorsement is a big deal, then lets make it a big deal. I realize it must be exhausting to be a Judge in Israel in Provo, but it seems to me that if we require an endorsement, the endorsement should be worth something. I’m not calling for an Inquisition here, but were it me, I’d certainly be hoping that if I were the last person to sign Brother Hardy’s form that it would have been far enough in the past to disconnect me from his excommunicable behavior.

  101. NOYDMB, your astute and insightful observations continue to astound. Now that you have pointed out the connection, the scales have fallen from my eyes and I now see that Matt is also one of those dangerous liberal wolves in sheep’s clothing who need to be carefully watched, and driven from the church if at all possible. Your voice of warning has saved countless testimonies.

  102. Wow, Matt, your comment #108 looks like a broad challenge to church policy that goes way beyond the Hardy case. If I understand you, you think BYU should lose all access to things like ROTC, Pell grants, etc, unless they institute full “freedom of religion” for all students.

    I believe the restrictions are even tighter for faculty–in order to keep their jobs they must be eligible for a temple recommend, which would seem to mean that not only must they pay tithing and keep the WOW, but that they must be willing to tell their bishop that they have a testimony (is this right)?

    Do you really think courts should step in here? Or the congress?

  103. BYU is a private university sustained by private donations, and therefore, able to set any requirements for graduation—\”students will master the art of origami\”—that it pleases.

    Pell grants are not negotiated between the government and BYU (although they end up receiving the money), they are negotiated between the government and individual college-attending taxpayers.

    Re: #108, BYU being a Church-run organization means that the requirements it can set are much more significant than origami; they\’re concerned with the eternal welfare of their members. On a much larger scale than tithing funds, the university does not encourage or support those who leave the church. There is a huge difference between a nonmember muslim who attends the university and a baptized member who has made covenants with God (presumably after having gained and held a testimony; if not, at their own disservice), and then breaks those covenants.

    There are strong religious and moral reasons not to grant Chad his diploma, but even viewed as a simple agreement (as pointed out in #97), Chad violated the terms BYU and he agreed upon when he became a degree-seeking student. No diploma.

  104. actually books, chad EARNED his diploma before he was DECLARED in violation of an honor code that was not considered an obligation for independent students. nobody here is arguing that byu should not or cannot set their own standards for its patrons/students. what is at issue here is whether the publicity after denying the diploma is positive or negative for the church and its school.

    byu is not on an eternal welfare mission. it is a university with a football team for crying out loud. not supporting members who leave the church may be consistent with the church’s mission, but i dont see how that is beneficial to byu as an academic institution.

    i went to byu, can byu come get my credits and take them away? can they take yours away if you forget to do your visiting teaching next month? do you have a one year supply of wheat? if not, please surrender your diploma instantly.

  105. Mark Brown. Evidently you are unaware of the difference between a statement and question. In the english landguage, sentences that begin with the verb “to be”, are often questions. Also, the question mark at the end really should have clued you in. It only makes sense, if you’re going to make snide and rude remarks, to at least be grammatically correct. I asked a question, and the individual answered it. Now, it’s true, I would have felt great in knowing they were related, but alas they are not. A question was asked and answered, how rude of me. Please note, Matt, that most of the invective here comes from Mark Brown, reading minds just like the anti-Mormons.

  106. Ed, I think the issues I raised would apply to students and not faculty. BYU has more rights to decide who works there (the leading US Supreme Court case about religious employment is Presiding Bishopric. It concerns the church firing an employee at the old Deseret Gym for failure to maintain a temple recommend. The church won and I like the decision.

    To go back to my comparison with a good voucher program, I’d want Catholic schools to still hire nuns, or whoever they want, but I wouldn’t let them accept state vouchers if they employed a religious test against prospective or current students. In the same way, BYU can hire who they want, but they can’t discriminate against students receiving federal grants on the basis of religion.

  107. Is #97 (Left Field) correct in the point about the Honor Code applying to those who seek degrees by accumulating independent study credits, but the Honor code does not apply to those accumulating independent study credits which are not intended for a diploma?

    Is it correct to paraphrase BYU’s police as: “You don’t need an ecclesiastical endorsement for independent study, but if you use those credits towards a diploma, then you do?”

  108. #123: I was really going with what ME posted back in #88. It doesn’t specifically say that independent study students are exempt from the honor code, but it does not list them among those required to get an ecclesiastical endorsement. That would certainly explain how Calendar Guy was able to get his credits without an ecclesiastical endorsement. Of course, the problem is that independent study students are just earning credits; they’re not on a degree plan. You can transfer those credits to another school, subject to their transfer policies, and apply them to a degree there. Or if you are an enrolled degree-seeking undergraduate at BYU, you can apply the credits towards a BYU degree. Aside from the honor code itself, there’s really nothing unique to BYU about all this. Every university makes a distinction between degree-seeking and nondegree-seeking students, and has different policies for those seeking a degree than for those just earning credits.

    Where Calendar Guy ran afoul of the system is that he couldn’t get a degree as an independent study student, and he couldn’t get an ecclesiastical endorsement as a degree-seeking undergraduate. He knew he couldn’t get an endorsement to take classes on campus, so he tried to slip in the back door by earning credits in a way that didn’t require an endorsement. But to apply for a degree, he still had to change his status to degree-seeking. With that status, he had to have an ecclesiastical endorsement, not only to take classes, but also to get a degree.

    It was a catch-22 that he should have foreseen. My suspicion is that he knew exactly what he was doing when he enrolled for those independent study courses, and deliberately turned it around into a catch-22 for the university. If BYU granted his degree, he could laugh up his sleeve about having pulled one over on the university in granting a degree to someone actually ineligible to graduate. If they declined to grant the degree, he could run to the press with the sad story about he earned his degree only to have it denied and get lots of free advertising for his calendar from media outlets only too happy to plug his calendar under the guise of a news story (see link in comment #110 for an example).

  109. Mayan in #78. “can you give some more details about the inactivity? is there some obvious explanation for it, like a ward split that completely rearranged the congregation?”

    I am not sure what additional details I can give as it is mostly second hand information I gather from talking with friends from surrounding wards. Of my 6 close friends I talk to who all live in different stakes in the surrounding area they have all reported similar attendance drops. As I said some hold leadership positions so they focus more attention on the matter. I have no idea what is causing it so it is not obvious to me. Perhaps the issue is hiding in plain sight. I do not really put much attention towards it because it is outside of my stewardship and calling.

    My calling is a temple ordinance worker (past 4.5 years) and I have noticed a stark decline in temple attendance from both patrons and workers. There was a new temple dedicated a few years ago and we had a significant impact (lost 3 of 14 stakes from our temple district). However within about 6 months and after significant focus by the Stake Presidents on the temple we were back to our previous number of workers and patrons. However, over the last 8 months I have noticed a steady decline from about 40 workers on my shift to about 15 with a similar decline in patrons. I know everyone bellyaches about the price of gas and I have seen less cars on the road. Perhaps it is a case of ‘Post hoc ergo propter hoc’ or ‘After this therefore because of this.’

    I wish I knew what to do to encourage more of my friends to return. I greatly enjoy their company and still do many activities outside of Church with some but you know how life is with getting busy and people just drift away so I have not seen some for a while. I am just sad that I rarely see a lot of my friends at Church or the temple anymore.

  110. I did a little searching on the internet and found some interesting information from whom I assume is Chad Hardy:

    \”I know everyone is speculating about my excommunication, and thinking there must be more to the story that I am not telling. Well I am the only one who can ever openly say what went on in the court that day, but I will say this, and say it by swearing on the Bible and everything that is good and holy on this planet: There was NO talk of ANY form of personal transgression AT ALL during my disciplinary council. The \”other\” charges that Frank Davie casually broke confidence and slyly shared with the Associated Press to create this assumption was simply that I do not honor my priesthood (by not attending church meetings) and do not honor my temple covenants (by choosing to remove the sacred garment.) The entire meeting was about the calendar, and after I spoke, all the questions that were asked by the council ALL had to do with the calendar. Just for the record, my reasons for leaving the church had nothing to do with transgression.\”

    and this quote:

    \”For those who doubt this effort, or think I got what I deserved – there is so much more to the story that I can not share publicly – and when the entire story is told you will realize what a pile of [word not allowed to be posted on USA TODAY] this whole situation really is. Just to set the records straight, producing the calendar was never about money for me. I have made $0 from it. My financial Jewish partner is completely about the money, as he should be. My part has always been the creative and message. And as far as I am concerned, the project has done what it set out to do – to create dialog and offer a different perspective, and to make people think, laugh and talk about the world we live in. I never thought in my wildest dreams that the church would come after me like they have. I thought for sure they were smarter than that. I suppose they wanted to make an example of me, but all it did was make the project more popular – and famous.
    It would be ignorant of me to say that the excommunication did not give me a boost – Oh my Gawd, the doors it has opened not only for me, but for the entire project. I have been interviewed by celebrities, been in national magazines, television, radio, etc. However, it was never my intention to make this project about me. I wanted to ride the back seat and just steer the project, but that didn\’t happen. When the calendar came out last year, that was the scariest thing I ever did. Within 24 hours of launching, I was on MSNBC and from there the rest is history. I almost canceled the interview because I knew I was setting myself up for a [word not allowed to be posted on USA TODAY] storm of criticism and doubted myself that I might not be strong enough to handle it. I learned real fast that everyone has an opinion, and the letters I get from Republican TBMs are Nazi scary! The support has outweighed the criticism and because of that, I have moved forward with no fear.
    This BYU situation caught me off guard more than the excommunication, mostly because I finished my coursework back in 2002. I never had the money to finish my religion classes until recently, and I took them independent study so I could finally get my degree. I have not been a full-time student since 2002, and did not realize that my status in the church would have any effect on the posting of my degree. I have not read anything in the honor code about that – only things that apply to registered students. Why did they let me walk? Why did my adviser give me the green light only for Mr. Finlinson to take it away after the fact? We are talking about 32 days from the excommunication to the actual graduation. I applied for graduation and finished my independent study classes before the drama with the church even took place. The crazy thing is I was not ex\’d for anything that is in violation of the so-called honor code. When I was as student there, I was an active, tithe paying member.
    By the way, I still owe $8,000 on my stafford loans outside of the pell grants Uncle Sam gave me to attend BYU. I never really wanted to go there. I was pressured to go there like most of the kids. Had I known then what I know now, I would have the knowledge to make a better choice and would have attended a different school that does not discriminate based on religious affiliation. I was so indoctrinated that I had no idea what I was signing when I signed the honor code agreement. \”

    So this leaves me with more questions than I\’m able to answer. If the church wants to excommunicate someone, I guess that\’s their prerogative. What I don\’t understand is the legal situation. I hear some people saying BYU is privately funded and can pretty much do anything they want, as long as it\’s stated in a contract such as the honor code. But what about the fact that some students attend on the basis of government subsidence such as Pell Grants? If Chad was a recipient of the grants, doesn\’t this equate to BYU receiving money from the government?
    I think BYU is walking a fine line with the whole separation of Church and State thing. If BYU is truly private, then all funds should be privately funded. What adds more confusion is that BYU has a policy of accepting non-members as long as they agree to abide by the honor code. Since Chad is technically not a member any longer, does he have right to request his degree as long as he states he will abide the honor code for a short interim? If BYU then denies his degree, wouldn\’t this be considered religious persecution?
    All in all, without knowing all the facts and just going simply off of what I know, I think BYU has made a mistake.

  111. Josh, assuming the account you’ve posted is accurate, I’d expect that Hardy’s legal claim will rely heavily on the fact that he was attending BYU with federal dollars. Because the government has a financial stake in his schooling the issue is under what circumstances BYU can effectively waste tax payer funds by denying a diploma, and whether their claim that Hardy is ineligible for a diploma, and the government’s money sunk, unless and until Hardy converts to Mormonism.

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