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Baring the soul

A church in Virginia has decided to allow its congregation to attend services in the nude.

Pastor Allen Parker, the minister at White Tail Chapel in Southampton, believes his flock is in good biblical company, pointing out that many of the most important moments in the Bible happened while the protagonists were nude, including Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection (and, presumably, birth).

Although the church allows worshipers to attend services fully naked, many have decided they would rather continue to attend fully clothed, particuarly in winter. Others go partially nude.

The idea is egalitarian: Parker (pictured below) says that nudity is 'the great equaliser', reminding his congregation that they are all equal human beings and that, beneath any personal style or wealthy outward appearance, they are all the same beneath the clothing.

'There's not a feeling that you have to be better than one another, physically. We're humans, we have scars, we have what we have. It's learning to love and accept that,' Parker says.

Several couples have even been married in fully nude services, in which all members of both families are encouraged to shed their clothing before the couple take their vows. Robert and Katie church reflected that their guests were much more interested in 'hearing the word of God and speaking the word of God' than analysing the naked bodies on display.