Baring their souls: Seeking more coverage on naked church

Strip down this post to its bare essentials, and here’s the naked truth: Sometimes the Godbeat is more interesting than other news beats. Honest.

Take, for example, the story by WWBT — an NBC affiliate in Richmond, Va. — that skinny-dipped all over social media this week.

Before you click that link, though, heed the warning from one Twitter user:

 
Yes, this is a story about a church that worships in the, um, original attire of Adam and Eve:

SOUTHAMPTON, VA (WWBT) - About an hour’s drive south of Richmond, there’s a small congregation that doesn’t care about “material” things. They worship the same way we were all brought into this world, naked.

Even in February, when temperatures can average in the 20s, members show up in various forms: some fully clothed, others topless, many still completely nude.

Pastor Allen Parker says it’s not about the clothes, or lack thereof. He says it’s about baring his soul to Christ and leading his flock down that path of righteousness, no matter what they’re wearing.

As Jim Davis, our newest GetReligionista, put it, “Gotta admit, they save a lot on vestments and Easter hats.” (With comments like that, I’m afraid Jim is going to fit right in at GetReligion.)

Later in the WWBT report, we read:

If you think anyone here finds church attendance titillating, you’d be wrong. They’re here to find inner peace and Pastor Parker believes that starts with accepting themselves.

OK, that’s a nice start at peeling back the layers of this story, but it doesn’t reveal enough.

For example, what’s a worship assembly like? Do they sing traditional church hymns (such as “I Surrender All,” “How Firm a Foundation” and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”)?

What Scriptures do they read? Maybe Genesis 2:25 or perhaps Job 24:7? (Sorry, tmatt, I am trying to take this post seriously. Really, I am.)

Or maybe I’m the only one who believes this subject matter needs more coverage. Much more coverage …

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    I think they should have asked some theologian about why we wear clothes. Maybe that seems rather obvious, but it seems to me to stand to reason. I mean, you have these folks saying that this is the way we were intended to be, so if that’s the way we were intended to be, then why aren’t we that way? OK, besides the fact that I live in the Upper Midwest and it’s been below zero for most of the Winter. But come summer, if those Virginia folks are right, why shouldn’t I go to my local parish dressed in my birthday suit? They could have asked someone at the Theology of the Body Institute, which, even though it’s Catholic, would have been able to give some pretty sound reasoning on why we wear clothes.

  • http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca/ Randy Gritter

    Actually this has been tried. There was a group of Egyptian monks known as the Adammites. They did this. My understanding is that even in an all male community and an all monk community there were too many problems and the community failed. Even under the new covenant we are just too steeped in sin.

  • one of the guys

    This is a very American issue. All Catholics in all
    countries don’t all wear clothes to all churches at all times.
    The early church fathers report how men, women and children all had
    to be naked to be baptized for the first several hundred years of
    Christianity. I’m afraid that we as Americans project our own
    difficulties with our bodies onto everyone else in the world,
    regardless of their culture.

    If folks were naked getting baptized, as early icons portray
    Christ as being naked, then it stands to reason that there is no
    scriptural prohibition to one’s being naked in church.

    As to this story, it doesn’t seem that anyone is encouraging
    anyone to get naked at church. This is, after all, a church
    located at a nudist resort. You’d have to get through the main
    gate before you’d ever get anywhere near their little church.
    If you were a member of their resort, you probably wouldn’t think
    twice about worshiping naked since you’d probably forget that you
    were naked in the first place.

    As to why we wear clothes, wasn’t that Adam and Eve’s idea and not God’s?
    The only thing God did was to give them something that could warm
    their bodies better than leaves. In this country we are
    supposed to wear clothes to protect our dignity from those who want
    to objectify us. Problem is that it seems that folks wear
    clothes that invite others to objectify them. Haven’t you ever
    seen someone wearing something that was so uncomplimentary to them
    that you thought that they’d be better off naked?

    • n_coast

      For me that would be an argument in favor of infant baptism.


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