Steve runs the meetup site Siskiyou Hiking Bares in Ashland, OR, a meetup for clothing optional hiking in the back country.

Dear Swami:
Call me old-fashioned, but I just hate to wear clothes. The way I figure it, if God had meant for us to wear clothes, then He would have made Christian Dior or Levi Strauss the first man instead of Adam. Needless to say, I've had a hard time finding a religious group that would accept me as the Creator made me. Any ideas?

Abba Riginal,
Malibu, California

Dear Abba:
It's certainly astounding how clothes-minded religions can be, isn't it? Well, I've got some good news for you. There's an obscure yet ancient sect which shares your belief, followers of the prophet Nuddha who traveled widely through the East ---mostly in the summertime ---- teaching the principles of Nuddism. In the beginning, he says, was the "Naked Truth". All was peaceful until people began decorating their bodies with various forms of clothing, armor, ceremonial garb---and the more people had on, the better they felt about themselves. In fact, many anthropologists believe this was the origin of the word "moron". Nuddhists who traveled from village to village had less on than just about anyone else, so their teachings were called "less-ons". And in a world where the morons have greatly outnumbered the lessons, maybe this is a religion whose time has come.
Swami Beyondananda

From When you see a sacred Cow....Milk it for all it's Worth by Steve Bhaerman (Swami Beyondananda)

Nudism / Naturism is not about sex, it is about freedom and acceptance.

Do not be concerned about your own personal appearance. Everyone is different and that diversity is celebrated and accepted. There is no such thing as a perfect body. The mutual acceptance of others leads to a healthier acceptance of ourselves.

Overview of Naturism in 1999
The Future: A Nude World Order?

I was polishing my crystal ball the other day when an image appeared that made me smile. There were lots of people working together shoulder to shoulder. Young and old, weak and strong, nude and clothed, all belong. As the image faded I began to wonder if this wasn't just my own imagination drumming up this fanciful pipe dream, or if it really represented a possible future.
I began to think back to my childhood and how society was then. Maybe some trends could be identified that would show whether this crystal image was a good one or just an over enthusiastic dream from the lousy pizza last night. I remember when nobody could wear shorts to school and skirts had to be to the knee. Athletic attire was basic baggies. At the beach, the bikini was risqué and Speedo suits hadn't been invented. Hot tubs were something done in Japan and the dry sauna hadn't made it to these shores yet either. We did have steam baths, strictly segregated by sex. Kind of got the picture? Rock an roll was in it's infancy and the flower generation wasn't much further along. Then society (or parts of it) began asking questions..... like why did African-Americans have to sit in the back of the bus and why did women always get paid less than men? In the 30 years that followed a lot of changes took place. Slowly at first and then with a more determined cadence. It is still going on and in nude recreation the changes will pace other changes in the society.
The health and ecology movement have done much to lay the foundation for a more receptive public. Thirty years ago it was weird to eat whole wheat bread and a low cholesterol diet. Now it's "in". Alternative, more natural means of balancing the physiology, such as chiropractic, massage and other body work techniques have all become common place. All this has opened up body awareness. The rapid growth of the human potential movement has also emphasized tolerance and acceptance of others and ourselves, both mentally and physically. I see a trend here that is heartening. We are beginning to see ourselves as total human beings, instead of tightly defined roles without sexuality. Even some of our toy dolls now come anatomically correct (listen up Ken and Barbie)! An objective honesty is slowly washing around our ankles like a rising tide. As this body honesty expands, more people will come to see the nude lifestyle as just another alternative in this open society. As the society continues to refine the concepts of freedom, modesty and total health, the inevitable result will be increased awareness of ourselves as natural beings that need to be free.
This is an exciting time for nude recreation. Despite the negative impact of religious right sponsored legislation, gains have been made and the media continues to show a more relaxed attitude toward nudity. The media is a good barometer of general public attitudes, because they will only make money if they give the public what it wants and stays within social boundaries of what is acceptable. Even when commercialized, the media is "exposing" the general population to the nude human form. This is, in effect, a national desensitization process funded by the marketplace. Nudity sells in advertising because it is what the public wants to see, but is conditioned not to admit. As general attitudes open, so does the prevailing attitude about nudity. more and more the press is neutral or even positive towards the idea of clothing optional recreation. More non-sexual nudity is seen on screen and TV (occationally during prime time). We are right on the edge of a huge explosion of naturism in this county! Well.....maybe a little explosion.
I remember the times I had been the only one to initiate skinny dipping at the old swimming hole. Once one person went nude, this legitimized it for the others who were ready to join in the fun as long as someone else went first. Soon, many of us were enjoying the water au naturel. I still love doing this! Now there are more people willing to take the first plunge and I see this beginning to happen on a national level. The first ones in the water are the naturists. There are many out there who would follow if there is a large enough group to join, to provide that "protection" that large numbers provide. (Just look at the turnout that Spencer Tunick gets for his nude photography art shots. The individual is always less likely to risk when isolated, but in a large enough group, you go with the flow. As more and more nudists / naturists openly provide the lead for freedom from clothing and all it represents, nude recreation will mushroom. Once the numbers of naturists reach a critical mass level (enough to swing a local election?) there will be a mass upsurge of participation in nude recreation. And then it won't be any big deal.
As the economy continues to struggle along, there are inevitable forces that will affect nude recreation, both positive and negative. The recent realization that our economic house must be put in order will put a strain on the spendable income of the general population. This will tend to decrease more expensive vacations (some nude) and unnecessary amenities. This will also put more pressure on state and national parks, which are seen as an economical vacation for many. This, combined with decreased federal spending will increase park management problems which nudists and naturists must not become a part of, but assist in alleviating. As belts tighten, many entrepreneurs will see the opportunity nude recreation presents as an economic asset to be developed.
Current economic trends suggest it will take some time to balance the budget and slowly reverse the massive flywheel of policies and economic behavior that got us into this mess. This will tend to focus attention on real problems as they are finally acknowledged. Jobs, crime, environment, education and health care will dominate our attention. Nudity will slowly become a non-issue. All this leads to the conclusion that the public is becoming less concerned about nudity in general and more concerned about issues that really matter. There will be bumps along the way, but the trend is clear. Eventually the public will come to see nudity is:
1. No big deal ( i.e.. there are bigger issues to attend to)
2. Acceptable (I won't die of embarrassment or go to jail if I'm seen nude by others)
3. Expected in certain locations and circumstances

I foresee more cooperative nude recreation ventures begun out of economic necessity. I also foresee the possibility of more cooperation between naturist / nudists and the public park authorities, opening up more clothing optional areas to the public. If we had as many politically active naturists as there are politically active snowmobilers, we would have our own trails and access areas in the national parks. The market place will continue to respond to these new demands for nude recreation despite the difficulties in financing and opposition from minority opinion, resulting in a truly mainstream acceptance of nude recreation. This won't be accomplished in the next seven years, (1999) but as new generations come to power, maybe in my lifetime. Through all this, the economy will be tight and the ecology will suffer. There will be too many people and not enough basic necessities. There are difficult times ahead..... times to challenge us all. But if we work together, and strive to love each other as total human beings, they will be the best of times. I wouldn't miss it for anything!

Our public nakedness is not fashion or style, but rather a message for
the future.
Our nakedness calls for freedom and ecology and peace.
Our nakedness, open to sun and wind and rain,
calls for making peace with Mother Earth.
Our vulnerable flesh, lacking armor,
calls for co-existing with our fellow humans.
Our nakedness proclaims "LOVE UNTIL DEATH!"
Fascist censors understandably wish to suppress our message.
In the short run of months and years, the censors may win.
In the longer run, the tide of enlightenment
flows toward life and freedom and love.

author unknown

secluded sunlight
hidden back between the trees
my unconfessed joy!
S. B.

simple chain of gold
follows the contour of hips
lying in the sun
S. B.

*The Law and the Public Will
We should be able to exercise our freedom to be nude in appropriate places, and I recently read some e-mail about the open attitude in Vienna, Austria where thousands of bathers along the Danube River will skinny dip along side textiles with no problems whatever. No demarcation lines or signage is necessary to "protect the sensibilities" of textiles that might be offended. Our primary goal should be emphasizing education of the public at large as a way of increasing opportunities for nude recreation without the need for formal signage, but........
I have always looked at the issues of nude recreation from the perspectives of legal rights and public acceptance. Legal rights are a start, but without a general public acceptance, laws will be overturned, circumvented and otherwise abused. Civil rights laws followed this path for generations. When public acceptance is won, however, there is no law that will contain it. The people simply ignore the law, even when a small percentage of the population continues to be convicted, it will not stop the majority from exercising what they believe to be their rights. The 55 MPH speed limit laws were a good example of this. In fact, the founding of our country is based on civil disobedience resulting from bad laws that the public refused to follow.
Here are two situations which are exemplified on opposite coasts of the U.S. In Florida, there are laws which have been passed and court cases that provide precedent for the rights of nude beach users. This does not stop county boards of supervisors from passing ordinances of their own to circumvent state laws. It also does not prevent local law enforcement, or the National Park Service, from harassing nude beach users and citing them anyway, if not for nudity, then for something else. In California, there are almost no beaches that are signed as official nude beaches, and a state law remains on the books that makes nudity on most beaches illegal. However, prosecution for nudity will only occur if there is a complaint and the nudist refuses to dress. In this case nudity has been fairly well accepted or at least tolerated by the general California population, and the law is ignored, because most people just don't complain. This has resulted in nude beaches being established all up and down the coast of California, and a laid back attitude at almost all state beaches not viewable from a public roadway where mixed textile and nude use occur without incident. I know which situation I would rather be in.
A good case can be made (no pun intended) for official signage and designated nude use areas in the U.S. With our puritanical background and forces that are systematically trying to obliterate nude recreation, some kind of legal protection will smooth the way for public acceptance, as it did with civil rights. At the same time, we need to focus strongly on the education of the public with every means available to foster a majority acceptance of nude recreation in the future. We should be able to exercise our right to be nude or clothed as we chose on any public beach in the nation, but the public must be educated or we will forever be relegated to the inaccessible boarders of the landscape.

Steve Bosbach