"Free your breasts! Free your mind!"
That's the rallying cry of the group GoTopless.org, which held a series of recent events around North America promoting a woman's right to bare her breasts in public. There were a dozen demonstrations across the United States on August 21, and a few more in Canada this past weekend, with more planned around the world.
According to its website, GoTopless.org is "a U.S.-based organization founded in 2007 by spiritual leader Rael and we claim that women have the same constitutional right that men have to go bare-chested in public...In our society, men and women are supposed to have equal rights. But women are commonly arrested, fined and humiliated for daring to go topless in public, a freedom men have had for decades.
To protest this unconstitutional gender discrimination, GoTopless.org is holding National GoTopless Day events in cities nationwide. Thousands of women will be baring their chests that day in the name of equal rights, and we hope you'll be there too!"
Using nudity to promote social causes is nothing new; PETA has done it for years to draw attention to animal rights. GoTopless seems sincere in its goal to promote nude rights: its website has a box where people can sign a petition to repeal restrictive anti-nudity laws.
But below that you'll find the first hint that something's a little strange about this pro-breast brigade: A "Recommended Reading" book titled "Intelligent Design." Is this pro-nudity, equal rights group an unlikely covert front for Bible-thumping creationists?
Actually, far from it. Light years away, even.
The "intelligent designer" referred to is not God but instead space aliens. You see, the organization's leader, Rael, is also the leader of a religious group called the Raelian Movement, which teaches that humans are descended from ancient astronauts who "seeded" Earth with our kind long ago.
The last time the Raelians made international news was in 2002, when Clonaid, a foundation they created (and was later revealed to have only two employees), claimed to have created a human clone. It turned out to be a publicity-seeking hoax. [ 7 Things That Create a Convincing UFO Sighting ]
So is all this breast-baring equal rights activism just a recruitment tool to get open-minded men and women into their spiritual movement? Come for the boobs, and stay for the UFO religion literature?
Perhaps, though the open nudity theme fits in with another of the Raelian Movement's teachings (beyond the ET theology): free love. The campaign has only been going for a month, so it's not clear if anyone who participated in the topless rallies has actually read the group's literature and become a full-fledged member. Points for clever marketing, though.
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Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. His website is www.BenjaminRadford.com.