The Nature of Fundamentalism,
The Fundamentals of Naturism:
Parallels and Divergences

    ...Naturists and American fundamentalists have much in common.  Both
are clinging to a simpler, purer way of life.  Both emphasize family values.  Both
feel under threat of extinction in an increasingly crowded and commercialized
world.  Both have recently felt a need to set aside their traditional aloofness and
reluctantly enter the world of politics.
    Yet with so much in common, harmless skinny-dippers since 1993 have
suddenly found themselves under severe attack from fundamentalists.  How has
this colossal misdirection of energies come about?  By a series of four
misunderstandings that can and should be corrected.  We are dealing with
people who confuse fundamentalism with religion, who confuse religion with
morality, who confuse morality with sex, and who confuse sex with nudity.  It
takes four logic-defying leaps of faith to get there.  This chain of illogic can be
broken at any of those four points....

    "The trouble with fundamentalism is that people confuse it with religion."  So
wrote His Holiness Charukerty Bhattarak Swamiji, Supreme Pontiff of the Digambara
(or naked) Jains at Shravana Belgola in southern India.  He was referring to Hindu
fundamentalists, but was among the first to recognize the international and non-
religious nature of these new forces.  Americans are well aware of Islamic
fundamentalists who have seized control of Iran and Afghanistan—how they force
women to cover their entire bodies and stop getting an education, how they persecute
anyone who disagrees with them, how they censor what their public are allowed to
know, how they inflict barbaric punishments for violations of religious law.  Few doubt
that many Christian fundamentalists would do the very same things if they could just
get their hands on power.
    We are also aware of Jewish fundamentalists who have long prevented any
agreement of peace in the Middle East.  Yet few Americans realize that mobs of Hindu
fundamentalists have also tried spreading a wave of intolerance across India in the last
several years.  With like mind but different purpose from Christian Revisionists, Hindu
revisionist authors are trying to rewrite history the way they wish it had happened.
Even the usually peaceful Buddhists have their fundamentalists who seized power in
Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), where they have inflicted a reign of terror on the
Hindu minority....

    For instance, part of the American Revisionist mythology claims that this is a
Christian nation founded on Christian principles.  Some enthusiasts even go so far as
to claim that our laws are based on the Ten Commandments.  Actually, George
Washington's administration drafted the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the
Islamic government of Tripoli, stating clearly in Article XI that "The Government of the
United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."  The
full senate ratified this document, and the new president, John Adams, signed it.
    The founding fathers who drafted the Declaration of Independence and the
Constitution had nearly all renounced Christianity in favor of Deism (which was much
like modern Unitarianism.)  In 1776, only 17% of Americans belonged to any church.
By 1850, the number had risen to 34%.  Only in the twentieth century, did half of
Americans join churches.  That number has continued to rise slowly, but still has not
reached the two-thirds mark. 
    Look at our presidents:
        Washington: Deist
        Adams: Deist
        Jefferson: Deist
        Madison: no church
        Monroe: no church
        J. Q. Adams: Deist
        Jackson: Deist
        Van Buren: Dutch Reformed—4 years
        W. H. Harrison: Episcopal—l month
        Tyler: Deist
        Polk: no church
        Taylor: no church
        Fillmore: Unitarian
        Pierce: no church
        Buchanan: no church
        Lincoln: no church
        Johnson: no church
        Grant: no church
        Hayes: no church
        Garfield: Disciples of Christ—6 months
        Arthur: no church
        Cleveland: no church
Christian apologists have tried to pad this list by claiming that some presidents were
baptized as infants or joined their wife's church after retiring from public office, but the
fact remains that during the first 112 years of this country, from 1776 to 1888, the
White House was occupied by a man claiming to be a Christian during less than five of
those years.  And we the people elected them.  Not exactly a Christian nation....

    Just what is morality?  To many fundamentalists, one word comes to mind: sex.
It is an impoverished definition.  Never mind that bedroom patrol organizations like the
National Family Legal Foundation operate on money embezzled by big-time crooks like
Charles Keating.  Never mind that Pat Robertson urges members of his Christian
Coalition to win elections by deceit.  Never mind that Canaveral National Seashore
Superintendent Wendel Simpson put up signs telling people they could skinny-dip
anywhere, so he could claim that naturists were moving into the wrong place—or that
proponents of anti-nudity laws claim they have been upheld by the Supreme Court
when, in fact, the court refused to look at them.   Dirty minds, dirty money, dirty tactics,
dirty lies.  Where is the morality?...

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