Seventh-day Adventists and Nudism

Are the two compatible?

By F. D. NICHOL, Editor of the "Review and Herald"

The December, 1945, issue of a nudist journal,. Sunshine & Health, contained an article en­titled: "A Seventh-day Adventist Nudist," by Harry A. Loring. The writer declared that he was a theological student who had been attending a Seventh-day Adventist school. The article opened thus: "Of all the unheard-of things—a Seventh-day Adventist nudist. Yes, I certainly am—both a nudist and a Seventh-day Adventist in good standing." The article set forth various strange arguments in behalf of nudism, including the contention that because Mrs. E. G. White advocated sunshine and fresh air, probably her writ­ings really endorsed nudism in principle.

The article came to the attention of certain of our ministers who were conducting evangelistic meetings. Persons studying our doctrines had the article called to their attention by relatives or 'friends, and asked our ministers whether Advent­ists really believe in nudism. Requests came from various of our ministers that a statement be made to correct the preposterous idea that Seventh-day Adventists endorsed or even condoned nudism in any way.

I was asked to write a letter to the editor of Sun­shine & Health, setting forth the denomination's position in the matter. Accordingly I wrote the following letter, which was published in full in the April issue of Sunshine & Health, under a two-page bold-face heading : "Adventist Church Ex­communicates Nudist as Violator of Church's Modesty Standards."

Jan. 17, 1946

Mays Landing, N.J.

Editor of SUNSHINE &HEALTH

DEAR SIR:

A copy of the December, 1945, issue of your publica­tion containing an article under the name of Harry A. Loring entitled "A Seventh-day Adventist Nudist,' has been sent to my editorial office. In addition, I have received a number of letters from Seventh-day Adventist ministers and from members of the church asking that some step be taken to refute the obvious implication in this article, namely, that a person may be a good Seventh-day Adventist and a believer in nudism.

It seemed to me that the simplest and most reasonable thing for me to do so far as your journal is concerned, was simply to write you a letter giving our position in the matter, and requesting you to publish it in an early issue. Your journal has much to say against hypocrisy and false views of life. I therefore presume that you will be glad to comply with my request to publish this letter which is intended to correct false views.

The article referred to begins thus, "Of all the un­heard-of things—a Seventh-day Adventist nudist. Yes, I certainly am—both a nudist and a Seventh-day Ad­ventist in good standing." The first part of this state­ment is eloquently true. "Of all the unheard-of things, —a Seventh-day Adventist nudist." The idea is so fanciful, so far fetched, so absolutely contrary to the whole spirit and genius of Seventh-day Adventism as revealed in its records and history that I doubt if it would be possible for anyone to tie together two ideas morecontrary, more conflicting, more mutually opposed than Seventh-day Adventism and nudism.

Anyone who has even the slightest acquaintance with Seventh-day Adventism knows that we have always. stood for modesty in dress, with particular attention to the matter of covering the body in such a way as to prevent undue exposure of legs or arms or breast. In fact, on more than one occasion our organization has. goneon record specifically as to the length of dress, the length of sleeve, and the depth of a neckline of a dress.

The most frequent and emphatic statements on the matter of modesty and dress, including specifically the length of the dress, have been made throughout our history by one of our most prominent leaders, Mrs. E. G. White. I make specific reference to her name because in the article by Harry A. Loring, reference is made to Mrs. White in such a way as to make it appear that she really looks with favor upon nudism. I could think of nothing more calculated to make this dear, demure, and godly woman turn in her grave than the suggestion that she gave any countenance to nudism.

And now the second half of the introductory state­ment. "Yes, I certainly am--both a nudist and a Seventh-day Adventist in good standing." This state­ment is utterly and unqualifiedly contrary to the facts. There lies before me a letter from the president of the college attended by the author of this article when he was a theological student, as he mentions in this article. Of course Harry A. Loring is not the name of this student. At least it is not the name under which he is registered in this college, a Seventh-day Adventist col­lege. This letter informs me that when the college learned of his active interest in nudism, he was called before a responsible committee of the college church and warned to give up such ideas, that in response to this warning he gave to this church committee "in writing a statement that he would renounce and discontinue all connections with this nudist movement and stay with the church." He was, therefore, not dropped from the church at that time.

Later, when the article we are here discussing ap­peared in this nudist journal, this young man who had left the college but was living near by, was called before a large committee of ministers, and, as the letter from the college president informs me, the young man denied writing the article. He refused to divulge the name of the one who wrote it ; he confessed that the article was his experience, that he had related it to this unknown party. He was reminded of the previous warning he had received and the fact that he was under the censure of the church, and therefore by no stretch of the imagination could he describe himself as a Seventh-day Adventist in good standing. At this second meeting before the church leaders he was summarily dismissed from the church.

The article refers to a second man who was addressed simply as "Elmer," and described as a "good Seventh-day Adventist brother." Our church records reveal that this person three years previous to the time this article was written was dropped from the church membership because of his interest in nudism. The reference in the article to other Seventh-day Adventists is too vague for us to check on. If there be any such others, you may judge of what happened to them by what we have already said.

It is easily possible that there may have been some­where in the United States and among the hundreds of thousands of our members, two or three others who became enamored of nudism. We do not know. No organization yet created in this world is able to hold all its members in conformity to its standards. But it is possible for an organization to keep its record clear and its standards unsullied, by summarily dismissing from its membership anyone who violates the standards. That is what the Seventh-day Adventist Church has done concerning the persons named in the article in your publication.

I know this letter is a little long, but I earnestly request of you, in the spirit of fair play and in the interests of dispelling all false ideas, that you give it space. I am sending this by registered mail to make certain that it reaches you. I would appreciate your sending to me a marked copy of the issue containing this letter.

Very truly yours,

F. D. NICHOL.

If the English language is capable of expressing ideas clearly, then surely this letter, appearing on pages 12 and 13 of the April, 1946, Sunshine & Health, ought to separate Adventists and nudism as far as the east is from the west.

The same issue of the nudist journal contains a long statement by the editor belaboring Adventists for their rigorous attitudes and caviling over the point of whether "Harry A. Loring" was disfel­lowshiped exactly as I described it in relation to the time of "narrating his experience to Elmer." All such discussion is beside the point and highly irrelevant. The undebated facts are that "Harry A. Loring" was disfellowshiped and because of his nudist views and practices.

My letter refers to an "Elmer," and states, "Our church records reveal that this person three years previous to the time this article was written was dropped from the church membership because of his interest in nudism." "Elmer" has a long article in the April issue of this nudist paper, in which he declares that my statement is contrary to the facts, that he was dropped from membership during the depression years because the church had not heard from him for a given length of time. He adds that he continued to attend an Adventist church when­ever he was so located that he could, and then fol­lows with this : "In the fall of 1942 a certain local elder, whom I will call Elder A, was told of my nudist activities, and promptly wrote me a very curt note indicating that my presence in his church was no longer welcome."

Evidently those who sent me the information about "Elmer" confused his being dropped from the church with this experience about three years ago, at which time "Elder A" informed him that his presence in the "church was no longer wel­come." The statement that "Elmer" makes proves-even more strongly than does the statement in my letter, how the Adventist Church reacts to nudism! And that is really the only point at issue.

Seventh-day Adventists have no time for nudism or for the fanciful arguments set forth in behalf of it. If, because of this, nudists think us bigoted and narrow-minded, as writers in Sunshine & Health vigorously and repeatedly affirm, then we plead guilty and thank those writers for so labeling us. The more they thus denounce us, the more firmly will they support our contention that we have nothing to do with nudism in any shape, man­ner, or form. In fact, if they will but continue to denounce us, it will save us the necessity of having to say anything further in the days to come re­garding the subject.

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By F. D. NICHOL, Editor of the "Review and Herald"

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