Thursday, August 02, 2007

"And they were not ashamed..."

Naked Before God
Christian nudists hit the church—and the hot tub—for three days of wet and wild worship in the backwoods of Tennessee

Photos by Eric England

It’s unusually cool for a June evening at the Cherokee Lodge, and the nudists have finally covered up. They sit at round plastic tables under the pavilion’s tin roof, drinking $3 cans of Miller High Life and watching a 60-something in a teal thong shake her deep-dimpled ass to some Top 40 song. Every once in a while, she spins to reveal quick snapshots of her nipples peaking out of a fishnet top that sparkles under the disco ball and Technicolor spotlights.
Soon the sweaty DJ spins the “Electric Boogie” as a herd of middle-aged and elderly bodies, sagging in painful ways, begin to move mechanically to the electric slide on the dance floor. Some of the more practical women wear blouses and sweaters with no panties, others wear tube tops that they wriggle down and over their breasts, which sway freely to the beat. The men, some donning only cowboy hats and dingy pearl-snap shirts, terrycloth robes or nothing at all, rock their hips—and subsequently, their dangling genitals—with complete abandon. They all shimmy from side to side, tilting forward and snapping their fingers in the most bizarre display of jiggly, full-frontal nudity.

When a slow country song wafts through the night air, most of the 40 or so nudists couple off. Rick, a financial analyst from Kingsport, Tenn., who asked that we only use his first name, seems to be the only eligible bachelor at the nudist resort’s Saturday-night dance. He and I sit alone, swilling overpriced beer and talking about his divorce, the days of disco and how he’s usually not very social at these things.

Rick’s wearing a “Watch Out!! I’m Here to Raze Hell” T-shirt, which covers a boyish upper body with no tan lines. He’s managed to avoid the round belly and love handles common among the midlife nudist set. You might not notice him at a bar in the city, but here, at a party in the thicket of the Cumberland Plateau nearly two hours east of Nashville, Rick’s a silver fox.

A few women do, in fact, ask him to dance—an older, 5-foot-tall woman almost as round as she is tall drags him onto the cement dance floor for a Shania Twain song. And the leggy brunette bartender who mans the beat-up beer fridge in the corner gets Rick smiling big toothy grins as they dance to a disco beat. She’s sporting nipple rings so elaborately coiled around her small breasts that you can’t help but stare.

Neither woman is looking for any action, but Rick doesn’t care. He’s here for Jesus.

Bible Study Kevin Moore and his wife, Myra, talk scripture at Saturday morning convocation.
He has joined more than 20 others for the Christian Nudist Convocation, a semi-annual gathering of salt-of- the-earth folks whose dedication to being nude whenever possible is rivaled only by their love for Christ. “May the Lord protect our nudity from the sight of those who will not benefit, and may He allow us to be seen by those who will.... Amen,” goes the prayer from one of the nudist’s websites.

In three days, they’ll hike, swim, barbecue, have sing-alongs and, of course, praise Jesus au natural. Some won’t put as much as a shirt on all weekend. For most, the convocation is a respite from their churches, neighbors and families—the prudes of the clothed world who are scared to high heaven by the thought of bare butts on church pews. For others, it’s a coming-out event, a safe place to test the waters where “Christian nudist” isn’t considered an oxymoron.
For now, Rick’s the only CNCer on the dance floor. Two of the convocation’s couples sit and watch, but the rest of the Christians are minding the children at the campsite or stewing in the hot tub, which sits in a small cabin made of weather-worn wood. The Christians have cornered an atheist in the Jacuzzi, and it’s time to get to work.

All this late-night drinking and dancing is not quite their scene, even though tonight’s party is devoid of the grinding and dry humping you’d see at most nightclubs. They came here to learn how to be better Christians, to discuss how Jesus jibes with nudism and to enjoy the hot tub jets without swim trunks. But they’ve got a higher purpose. They’re here to let the rest of the nudies know that Jesus loves them. And he doesn’t care what they’re wearing.

The CNCers make up a good percentage of this weekend’s Cherokee Lodge clientele, who have made their way off Interstate 40 to a wooded area just outside of Crossville, the golf capital of Tennessee. More than 100 people occupy the campsites, cabins and RVs littered across the nudist resort’s 240 acres—not counting the few dozen others who have taken up permanent residency in trailers on the lot. This isn’t exactly a big showing for Cherokee: the ladies in the main office say quite a few of their beer-drinking regulars decided to stay home when they heard the Christians were coming.

But after all of the flak the CNCers get in their hometowns for their nudist ways, they’ve decided their divine mission is here. And it isn’t an easy one. Many of their fellow nude vacationers are looking for an empty lawn chair, a good buzz and an even better tan, which leaves the CNC crowd torn between two worlds: the Christians who think their nudist ways are crazy, and the nudists who don’t want to be bothered with all this Jesus talk.

“We’re foremost Christians, but most Christians don’t want to accept that,” says Kevin Moore, the CNC’s Saturday worship leader. “In a church, if someone finds out you’re a nudist, you’re condemned. And nudists have a poor view of Christians because they bug them when they’re here [at the resort].”

He gets a host of “amens” from the congregation. This morning they’ve forsaken the pool and taken over the outdoor pavilion where the disco ball hangs in wait for the night’s festivities.

Cherokee Lodge does have its own chapel, the Little Church in the Wildwood. It rests between a pet cemetery, which is marked by a smattering of silk flowers crammed into the packed dirt, and a whole mess of trees.

The rustic church is home to Cherokee’s own weekly service. The untreated, rough wood pews are usually spotted with resort regulars on Sundays—even when the CNC isn’t it town. But the church is small and sweltering. It doesn’t have electricity, so this morning’s convocation moved to take advantage of what’s left of the cool night breeze.

Other nudists stare as they walk by, making their way from the outdoor showers and heading toward the pool, carrying towels they’ll use to line lounge chairs and bar stools as they belly up to the snack shack for beer and a hamburger.

Meanwhile, Kevin’s leading a discussion titled, “Where are we going? And why are we in this hand basket?” Only one guy laughs at the joke, but they all get the gist. “Isn’t that what a lot of Christians think about nudists? That we’ve got a fast track to a warm place in hell?”

They’re thinking a lot more than that. Many consider nudist resorts the anti-church and, of course, orgy central: hotbeds of lust where loose women, exhibitionists, hedonists, perverts, child predators and the like assemble to roll around in a big stinky pile of sin and vulgarity. And they can’t see how good Christians could fit in—or why they’d even want to try.

The CNC crowd has gathered this morning to take notes and talk scripture, to prep fortified biblical explanations for naysayers who think that God would never sanction social nudity. They do, in fact, believe God led them here—to their own Garden of Eden.

For the most part, the morning’s conversation is typical church talk: they were created in God’s image, and what he made was very good. Jesus died for their sins, and so on.

Then they get into this summer’s Christian nudist theme, the stuff that they’ve been reading in the stream-of-consciousness posts that CNC organizer Boyd Allen has plastered on his website. “But of course we cannot possibly continue in this life perfectly without sin,” one post reads.

“Then what do we do? We grab the nearest bush and hide from God, right? No, no, no.... That was what Adam and Eve did, remember? We don’t want to do that again!”

Allen continues, “We run to God as we are and ask him to forgive us and not just cover our sins but to wash them away and we will be clean spiritually. Jesus [the] Christ washed away our sins.... We have been restored to our original state to where we can come to God in the garden, walk and talk with him ‘just as I am.’ Then why do we still insist that our bodies are shameful?”
But wasn’t it God who clothed Adam and Eve? If the eye rolling and the groans are any indication, the CNC’s Saturday morning congregation has heard plenty of that before.

As Allen puts it, all God says to a fig-leaf-laden Adam and Eve in Genesis is: who told you that you were naked, and have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? “Whoa here,” Allen writes. “That sounds more like he was displeased with their discovery. Now we all know that God did indeed clothe them, but was that to cover their naked bodies in shame, or was it to protect them in their new environment?”

The CNCers adhere to the latter. Nudity is righteous, but at certain temperatures, cavorting without your pants on becomes a little silly. Today, as the session drones on in the sticky heat, even Kevin leads worship totally nude, baring an upper body shaved to appear near


It’s apparent that if the CNCers lack anything, it’s body shame. They adjust themselves in plastic patio chairs that leave horizontal marks between their shoulder blades. Some are squished so tightly into the dirty seats that their flesh presses into the armrests and spills over the sides.

Kevin’s gone through the Bible and marked every reference to nakedness, give or take a few. He talks about how God spoke to Isaiah and told him to walk barefoot and unclothed. How Peter fished naked near the shores of Galilee. And how Jesus was nude when he washed the feet of his disciples. “But there’s nothing in there that says nudity is inherently wrong,” he says. For much of the weekend, their dialogue centers on such nude biblical references.

One woman sits facing the congregation. She’s clothed only in a pair of thin cotton shorts with an elastic waistband hiked up almost to meet her large, heavy breasts. She takes hold of one breast, lifts it off her stomach and covers the flesh underneath with a thick swipe of deodorant. She moves slowly and deliberately. No one seems to notice.

If anything, the group would be hard-pressed to understand why an outsider might find it offensive. Why wouldn’t you want to sit at the dinner table with your plate of Cherokee’s famous barbecue and come face-to-face with a passerby’s penis as you gnaw on a drumstick? Why would you elect to keep on your top in 90-degree heat? Within the first half-hour of meeting the CNCers, three men asked why I was the only one wearing clothes and whether I had any intention of taking them off. Later another offered to pay my Cherokee day fees ($25 plus tax) if I’d visit some other day—and fully participate.

Guitars for God Lonnie Kimble, a CNC newbie, provided all of the music for the weekend’s worship.

With his freckled face and eyebrows so blond they’re near invisible, Boyd Allen looks a little like an overgrown Opie. It’s fitting for a country boy who grew up on a 40-acre farm in Florida.
When Boyd was 13, he gave into a simple, compelling urge that burned inside him: he needed to be naked. He would undress and sneak off into the woods to run and explore. It wasn’t what a good Christian boy living in a strict household was supposed to do. So he didn’t tell anyone.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, he picked up a book about family naturism in a bookstore. “It was what I was thinking, what I was feeling, and I thought, ‘This is beautiful,’ ” he says. He marched over to the magazine section and flipped through an issue of Nude & Natural. He came back a month later for the new issue, where he found some biblical talk about nudism. “I bought the magazine and started looking up the scriptures. I started writing my thoughts down because it was beginning to flood my head. I just kept writing on and on.”

It’s that zeal that helped him become the CNC’s new leader. He was elected to take the helm when the convocation last convened a couple of years ago at White Tail Resort in Virginia. CNC creator and nudist humor author Allen Parker asked Boyd and Kevin to be the CNC torchbearers after the convocation fell short of his expectations.

Parker started the CNC in 2003 to unite a handful of Christian nudist resort chapels with the hope that they’d confederate and start churches in nudist resorts across the country. Instead, he says the CNC morphed into what it is today—more of a social outing, a place for meeting, greeting and fellowship time.

For Boyd, it’s a godsend. He used to show up 15 minutes early to his telecommunications job so that he could pray over his co-workers’ cubicles—imploring God to give them a good day. Now he’s found his calling.

Today, Allen’s 4-year-old daughter darts from tent to tent at the CNC campsite, just as happy as she can be. Allen’s wife, Gwin, grills hamburgers and hot dogs for the group cookout. Her breasts hang dangerously close to the sizzling meat as smoke encircles her body. This is the family life of Boyd’s dreams—a wife who disrobed before he did at their first visit to a nudist resort outside of Greensboro, N.C., and a daughter who can run free and nude, without the shame and secrecy that marred his childhood jaunts.

But the family’s nudist life hasn’t been all that easy. Boyd doesn’t talk much about their struggle to stay nude and happy. But Gwin does.

She sits at the picnic table, her cookout duties complete, and talks about how Boyd would move the family to Cherokee tomorrow if he could. It would certainly make nudity easier, but Gwin isn’t prepared to isolate her family from friends and relatives who’d never step foot in such a place.

It’s not that they live in secret. Most of their neighbors know. With Allen walking outside without as much as a bathrobe to grab the morning paper, it would be difficult for them not to.
It wasn’t until a stranger caught sight of Allen mowing the backyard in the buff that a cop came knocking. Gwin felt a familiar fear: they’re going to take away my daughter. “All you need for something like that to become a problem is one zealous social worker with not a clue as to what this is all about—and no desire to find out. That’s all it takes. I know what we’re doing isn’t wrong. I know what we’re doing is a good thing,” she says, as her daughter scampers up and asks for a “drinky.”

The officer let them off, but it didn’t put Gwin’s mind at ease. Her daughter will start pre-K in the fall, and it’s hard to teach a 4-year-old to keep quiet about the nudist lifestyle, especially when it’s all she’s ever known.

“It’s annoying that I have to teach [my daughter] very strongly that we do this—it’s OK—but understand that there are places and people who don’t get that,” Gwin says. “And in her little mind it’s, ‘But why, mommy?’ And what do you say? Because that’s the way people are.”

It’s difficult to convince people that subjecting a child to so much nudity doesn’t make you a pervert. Just ask Cameron Bennett. This is his first CNC, and he’s brought his wife and two kids along for the ride. After all the hell they’ve been through with their home church, they’re considering joining the Little Church in the Wildwood.

They attended the Church of Antioch until Cameron got candid about their lifestyle. He told his Bible study group that he attended worship service at a nudist park, and things quickly began to change. He tried to volunteer in the church’s nursery but was turned away. “I was urged during the business meetings, ‘Don’t volunteer anymore. The ladies are nervous—they don’t want you in there,’ ” he says. “They were afraid that I was going to molest a child. Let’s face it, when I would check my daughter’s diaper, I would touch the diaper to make sure it wasn’t wet. Well, touch in an area down there, some people think you might be molesting, too.”

He withdrew his membership from the church and asked God to lead the way. He found the CNC. “Maybe this is where I return to the Lord...,” he says.

Soul Man Boyd Allen, the group’s fearless leader, takes to the pulpit at the Little Church in the Wildwood.

Cameron and others believe children are natural nudists. They think that kids, much like Adam and Eve, should be free to run nude through the garden, to live their lives without knowing shame—that it would take Satan, or a prudish parent, to plant the idea of shame into their hearts and minds.

A pack of CNC kids run around the resort, fighting over Thomas the Tank Engine and playing with flashlights. Except for the occasional pair of pull-up training pants, they’re nude. They scribble with pink sidewalk chalk that smears across their rears and bellies. No one cares if the kids get dirty. They’ll get hosed off later.

And they appear to be very, very happy. They don’t seem to notice anyone’s nakedness—especially their own—and don’t as much as stare at the fattest of the CNC crew or leer at all that sagging.

CNC parents think these kids will be better-adjusted adults for it. They subscribe to the mantra that nudism demystifies the body, satiates curiosity about the opposite sex, curbs premarital sex and combats poor body image in children.

Many of the CNC women wish they’d had such a childhood. They huddle together in a corner of the pavilion for a women’s-only session and gab about everything from their own bouts with bad body image to uncomfortable bras and The Tyra Banks Show. It’s a buffet of breasts, seven pairs to be exact, ranging from A to DD.

Most were lured into the nudist lifestyle by their husbands. Myra Moore, who is married to Kevin, says her husband’s desire to explore the nudist community floored her. “I said, ‘There’s something wrong with this. I can’t accept it.’ Being a Christian, I said show me in the scripture...wrong, right, indifferent, where is it?” And Kevin showed her.

It took six months to get Myra to a resort, but Kevin didn’t push. He knew it was delicate. Myra was molested at age 6 and had lingering issues with her body. “He was caring enough and he was Christian enough to think about me and what I’d been through,” she says. “He waited until I was ready and he showed me how to trust him, trust in God and go to a resort.”

Another woman chimes in. She was molested from age 3 to 11 and dreaded being nude around her husband. When she agreed to dabble in social nudity on her delayed honeymoon, she was terrified. “When I got there, I saw that the people weren’t looking at me as a piece of meat; they treated me just like if I was wearing clothes—in fact, better than that. They just accepted you for you. It’s really actually helped me in many, many ways.... I can be around my house nude, around my husband nude and it doesn’t bother me. It’s done a lot of healing.”

All of the CNC women nod. The nudity-as-a-healer theme is a common one.

It’s a good time for Gwin to bring up her master plan. She hopes to bus anorexics and bulimics to nudist resorts, where she’ll minister to them with the help of her fellow CNC women, eating disorder experts and, of course, God. “As naturists, we’re in a position to say, ‘Here’s our body. We’re not ashamed. We’re the normal size—and it’s OK.’ ”

The CNC women agree that the nudist resort is one of the few places where they aren’t judged by the size of their breasts or the style of their clothes. But that doesn’t explain why, even here, some of them have traces of eyeliner on their lids, artfully feathered hair and nether regions waxed—in some cases, full-Brazilian style, which is to say, bare—to high heaven. For the most part, however, they’re a fairly plain group whose beauty regimens consist of little more than a smear of sunscreen.

They consider themselves to be a modest bunch. It’s the other women, the clothed ones with cascading cleavage and push-up bras—the ones with the lustful “look at me” intentions—who are immodest, they say.

They know that many a Christian would find the nudist idea of modesty laughable. And all of those claims about nudity for the sake of body acceptance? They know some would say they’re twisting the scripture to justify their desire to let their goodies out for all to see.

But at Cherokee, no one seems to be looking. The CNCers give good eye contact because it’s considered poor form to look down. Besides, they say they wouldn’t want to, at least not for the purpose of lusting after your wares.

When Kevin asks the congregation where lustful thoughts come from, several of the women say Satan. “The Book of James says it comes from within our own heart. You’re making it someone else’s problem if you’re saying you can’t be naked because it’s going to generate lustful thoughts in me. You’re putting your own weaknesses on them.”

They believe that not all nudity is created equal. It’s a notion that’s difficult for most in our sex-soaked society to comprehend, they say. If the only time we’re exposed to nudity is in a sexual context, then we’ll think that bare bodies at a nudist resort must be sexual.

The CNCers don’t see clothes as lust deterrents. Even Gwin confessed to the women’s group that she has “always found that clothing, if it drapes on a man just right, is more provocative than 100 naked men.” See, they think of their lifestyle as “chaste nakedness.” And even a dance floor full of gyrating nudies can’t make them lust. They’ve got Jesus in their hearts.

No matter how much scripture the CNCers have in their hearts, they know there’s no way to ensure that all that bare chastity won’t turn somebody else on. They call it “lust of the eyes.” But it’s not the kind of transgression the CNCers can sense, or really bust you for. If it were, the mere presence of Lonnie Kimble would’ve had my ass packing before the first devotions.
When Kimble, a CNC newbie, straps on his acoustic guitar (and nothing else), it’s an image ripe for the cover of a romance novel. He plays “Jesus Loves Me” at the morning sermon, probably without an ounce of lust in his heart. He’s got the toned, beach body of a surfer, with tousled, sun-bleached waves that tease his broad shoulders. He looks like Jesus with a tan and access to modern grooming.

He’s the one in the group who is difficult not to look at, though admitting as much to any CNCer would have landed me in the much-feared group of the spiritually weak who, even when faced with such chaste nakedness, have a hot case of lust.

Not a Baptismal Dip Rick, the convocation’s resident single, and fellow nude worshiper John Anderson thank God that this Eden’s got a pool.

As sinner’s luck would have it, Cherokee Lodge is not a bastion of fitness. The hottest thing you’ll see is a pair of pierced nipples. But more often than not, they adorn breasts that have long since moved southward. There aren’t any lithe co-eds bouncing playfully on the beach volleyball court. In fact, the whole experience is more like an unfortunate lesson in the anatomy of the aging. Cameron puts it this way: “I’ve seen some of these ladies. They look great with a shirt on. Take that shirt off—eew. I didn’t know they sagged that far down.”

The place is virtually sexless. And the folks at Cherokee Lodge want it that way. The rule sheets disbursed at check-in offer these warnings: no dirty dancing, lap dancing, lingerie or overt sexual behavior. There’s even a surveillance camera in the hot tub.

This is no swingers club either. If it were, Rick, CNC’s resident disco-dancing bachelor, wouldn’t have it. He does admit that, during a prior Cherokee visit, one woman started talking dirty in the hot tub. He reported her to management and she was banned from the resort. “There are singles clubs. But if you want something like that, go to Nashville or Knoxville, OK?” he says. “But it’s not here at Cherokee.... That’s not what nudists are here for.”

Even without the hot sex (and with all that self-policing), the Jacuzzi is still nudist Mecca. To an outsider, the thought of steeping in a tub where swimsuits are strictly disallowed with a whole slew of sweaty strangers is unappetizing. But to the CNCers, it’s just another tool in their master plan to proselytize the nudies.

“To most Christians, this resort would be the end of the world.... To me, it’s Jerusalem. It’s our own backyard,” Kevin says. He calls nudists modern-day lepers who “most Christians don’t want to touch with a 10-foot pole.”

Enter the hot tub. The Bible describes God’s voice as quiet, Kevin tells the congregation. When nudists aren’t at the resort, they’re at home with the kids, the TV and all that noise. “You can’t hear God as easily. Here, you can hear a little more.” And in the Jacuzzi, they’re relaxed and easier to approach.

When Kevin burns through his long list of biblical references to nudity, some of the CNCers take notes. Sure, they’re here to get closer to God. But, at the heart of it, they know they have lots of explaining to do. “We have a calling to teach the average Christian that naked does not equal bad,” he says. But they all know that’s a tough row to hoe. For now, they’d rather gather an arsenal of explanations they can use to tell nudists why God sanctions social nudity.

That night, as the droves of nudists danced the night away, the new CNCers got a trial run. God put that atheist in the hot tub, and the crew channeled Kevin—and all that scripture—and gave it their best. There’s no telling if it worked. Come Sunday morning, the CNCers can’t even remember the man’s name.

The nude bodies filter into the chapel. They arrange their towels on the pews and settle in for service. It’s a big day for Pete, the only CNC worship leader who’s got his own clothed congregation at home.

He asked that we not use his name (in fact, he wouldn’t give it) or any indication of his age or where he lives. He even asked that we refrain from describing his body in great detail. “If they found out, I would lose my church, my kids, my family, my life,” he explains, his 20-something wife slinking behind him in the pews, cradling her stretch-mark-laden stomach in her arms.
You can’t help but wonder if “they” means his congregation, who undoubtedly would be outraged and awed to learn that their pastor’s been preaching the good word to a small congregation tucked away in the Tennessee backwoods—with his penis peaking out of a silk navy robe.

This is the first time I’ve seen Pete clothed. He slipped on the robe while walking the rocky path that leads hikers past a cluster of travel-trailers to the Little Church in the Wildwood. But he couldn’t have chosen a worse time to suit up. It’s still far from noon, but when the heat from 20-plus bodies meets the damp morning air inside the chapel, it’s steamy, and the group starts to smell a bit sour.

Kimble has just slipped his guitar strap off his shoulder after leading the fellowship in singing “Amazing Grace” and “Awesome God.” The baritone voices rocked the rough pews into vibration, and everyone’s in the mood for some more soul shaking.

Pete delivers. He starts his sermon so hard and loud, it’s frightening. Soon he’s howling, “You don’t have to be afraid of God anymore!” And you’re afraid. He rants in dramatized near-delirium about “Jeee-zus!” and his “guh-lory.” Before long, you’re begging him to breathe, and he does sporadically, with the deep grasping breaths of a swimmer emerging from the water.
When he moves on to the “Book of Isaiah,” he’s pacing and gushing Bible verse so fast that he’s hard to follow. The sweat has started to trickle from his short sideburns as his silken robe sticks to his pale skin and begins to work itself open. He tells of how the prophet Isaiah fell to the ground when he had a vision of God and cowered in fear, his sins exposed. But the angels purified him and God said, “You will go and speak for me.”

“And Isaiah gives one of the best answers you can ever give God,” Pete says. “Isaiah says, ‘Here am I. I’ll go.’ ”

It rings true for Pete. When God drew him to the nudist ministry, the former heathen head banger was ready. “I really feel that God laid this on my heart, that this is a ministry that he wanted me to do,” he says. “You know, of all the missionary-type endeavors to do—some people get sent to Africa, some people get sent to South America—and the Lord was like, ‘I want you to go to nudist resorts.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, what an assignment.’ Aren’t I the lucky one, you know?”

Ever since that faithful calling, Pete has prayed over it—hard. He’s asked God to stop him from disrobing, from traveling to Cherokee, if it wasn’t his way. But God’s only reassured him, even as Pete dog-paddled in the lodge swimming pool Saturday night.

As the cool water slipped over his bare body, Pete asked God what he should tell a church full of nudists. And you’ve got to wonder why God didn’t answer with something more original. “God especially wanted me to tell you this morning to remember that you were created in his image,” Pete tells the churchgoers as he gets into the same we’re-not-ashamed-of-what-God-created spiel the group has been pushing all weekend.

They end the service in prayer, asking God to claim the nameless, hot tub atheist for the kingdom. To extend Cherokee’s borders and to increase the Little Church’s anointed. And then they pray for their nude brothers and sisters who will be continuing the Lord’s work the next weekend as the convocation moves on to Show Me Acres nudist resort, a little slice of heaven about two hours outside of Kansas City, Mo.

They eat some burgers and rush to break camp, to roll up their tents and corral the kids as the thunder begins to clap and dark clouds form overhead. Gwin tries to pawn off leftover baked beans and weenies on the travelers, but she ends up walking the dirt road to the resort’s main office, where she offers the food to the women inside. These are the same women who gossip about how the whole CNC lot scared off the camp’s heavy drinkers.

Some CNCers begin to dress outside of the open doors to their modest cars—one marked with the license plate “NKD B4GD”—as a few fat, stray raindrops find their way to the group’s naked skin. Many of the men dress in the same pair of clothes they arrived in. In fact, it’s all that most of the men packed. That and a towel.The women climb into the passenger seats, reluncantly clothed but without a bra if they can help it. And they’ll ride that way, all the way home—where they’ll quickly disrobe and once again feel free.


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