Skip

Faith-Based Weight Loss
March 27, 2007 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Gwen Shamblin's faith-based weight loss program, The Weigh Down Workshop, has been so successful that in 1999 she spun off her own Evangelical church, now found in over 100 cities worldwide. Her weight loss methods are not without controversy, and her church has recently been in the news.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot (24 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
LOLXTIANFATTIES!1!!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:59 PM on March 27, 2007


Eponysterical?
posted by me & my monkey at 1:01 PM on March 27, 2007


Get this group some federal funding, stat!
posted by gurple at 1:07 PM on March 27, 2007


My copy of "Help Lord, the Devil Wants Me Fat!" (which is all about fasting your way to a slimmer saint and how filling a glass of water can be) came with a full-page illustration that I tore out for my fridge: "Obesity is a condition that proves the Lord doesn't help those who help themselves... and help themselves... and help themselves."
posted by hermitosis at 1:11 PM on March 27, 2007


You gotta serve somebody. But no seconds.
posted by hal9k at 1:15 PM on March 27, 2007


WWJE?
posted by billysumday at 1:18 PM on March 27, 2007


In all seriousness, the combination of religious cult and weight-loss group, while hilarious in concept, seems pretty tragic in reality. Makes me wonder about the dark possibilities inherent in 'faith-based' addiction treatment, marriage counseling, etc. Good post.
posted by gurple at 1:25 PM on March 27, 2007


gurple, I completely agree. This story is a sad one.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 1:28 PM on March 27, 2007


Didn't the founders of fath-based weight loss programs simplify things by going into the desert and fasting for 40 days?Too bad these fatties do not all do that in Mojave Desert
posted by Postroad at 1:28 PM on March 27, 2007


I agree, gurple. This group appears to be preying on the simple minded, and it makes me sad.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:30 PM on March 27, 2007


Case in point: Betsy just thought it was God's will that she should get a French manicure instead.

This group has certainly found a lucrative, and credulous target market.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:43 PM on March 27, 2007


I'm a fat aetheist. I don't believe in dieting. I don't think it's there. This is my perspective on reality, and when it comes to my perceptions, what I say goes. What you may perceive to be fat is just the results of a conspiracy brought about by religious zealots and the government that's always trying to control everybody and what they really want is they wanna keep all the Twinkies in the world for themselves. Well screw them. I'm having a Twinkie.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:45 PM on March 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Shamblin has also caught some heat from other Christian groups for her unorthodox understanding of the Trinity.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:51 PM on March 27, 2007


Thanks, Pater Aletheias, for putting the humor back into the situation. From "holyweb.com":

The Remnant Fellowship does not teach salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, is not part of an evangelical denomination and does not believe in the Trinity. Thus, this church is more like a cult.

The Remnant folks are a weight-loss religion, or a religion-based weight loss program. They require bizarre behavior out of their adherents, including apparently appalling child abuse. They bilk their sheep for money. But that's all ok -- it's only because they don't believe in the Triune God that they're a "cult".
posted by gurple at 2:13 PM on March 27, 2007


I've worked professionally with Gwen Shamblin in the distant past. She was very, very demanding and seldom times reasonable, but she never struck me as having "teh crazy". Extremely driven.

I was frankly surprised when she began her splinter church and started teaching crazy talk.

Back when she first bust on the scene, it was actually pretty supportive "God will help you overcome your overeating" type stuff. She talked about always leaving food on your plate, never eating "everything". And she started making giant piles of money very, very fast. It all happened really quickly.

That's a long, long damn way from beating your kids with wax sticks.

I wonder how she got from A to B.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:18 PM on March 27, 2007


Starving for Jesus.
posted by psmealey at 2:27 PM on March 27, 2007


In all seriousness, the combination of religious cult and weight-loss group, while hilarious in concept, seems pretty tragic in reality. Makes me wonder about the dark possibilities inherent in 'faith-based' addiction treatment, marriage counseling, etc. Good post.

Too late. AA's claim not to be a religious group is the scam of the century.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:31 PM on March 27, 2007



Faith-based addiction treatment is massively prone to abuse of just this sort. AA itself has the grace of being voluntary-- the problems come about when you force submission, confession and humiliation on people, as is done in many, many faith-based addiction programs, especially those for youth.

Unfortunately, about 90% of mainstream, supposedly non-faith-based addiction and alcoholism treatment attempts to force AA's 12 steps on people, thereby completely distorting the whole program. The faith-based ones are even more extreme, often.

How did this person get from A to B? My guess is the usual process of cult formation: absolute power corrupts absolutely and when you start believing your own PR, you start believing that any stray thought of yours is brilliance, there's no reality check and it soon becomes clear that it is easier to keep people in line through guilt and shame than through positive messages that allow openness to other viewpoints.
posted by Maias at 2:37 PM on March 27, 2007


AA itself has the grace of being voluntary

Actually that's my biggest problem with AA -- a lot of the time, it's effectively not voluntary. I.e., if you get a DUI and the state forces you to get alcohol treatment and the only treatment groups in your area are AA and other religious options.

I have a buddy in AA who's an agnostic (or thereabouts), and he hates all the God stuff, but to him the God stuff is a small price to pay for what he considers to be life-saving help. Looking at it from the outside, though, it seems like a price he shouldn't be forced to pay.
posted by gurple at 2:43 PM on March 27, 2007


But that's all ok -- it's only because they don't believe in the Triune God that they're a "cult".

If you can find a link where someone says that all those other things are okay and that their only problem with Shamblin is doctrinal, I'd be interesting in seeing it. Just because someone have been concerned by her unorthodox doctrine doesn't mean they like everything else she was doing. For example, I think Bush lied about the reasons for war and, at the same time, I also think that he has no regard for the Constitution. See, I can critique him for multiple things simultaneously. In fact, the lead article on holyweb.com's page about WDW (the page you were mocking) is about the child abuse problems. I don't think they were turning a blind eye.

Problems with Shamblin's doctrine started catching people's attention long before any of the other abuses came to light. You might think it's silly to pay attention to things like that, but at least in this case, it was an early indicator of her potential to become overly attached to idiosyncratic ideas, and should have been a red flag for people to pay attention for potential unhealthy patterns in other areas. It's not a one-to-one correspondence, but when you are a Christian who is willing to go against roughly 1700 years of tradition on the fairly key issue of what God is like, you're probably willing to counter some pretty ingrained societal patterns as well--like how to treat children.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:49 PM on March 27, 2007


Wow. OK, granted, I was polarizing the viewpoint of the Holy Web folks because I found it funny. You must admit that that site comes off as more concerned with doctrinal issues than with the stuff that most of us find freaky.

I'm sure we can both agree, at least, that what they meant to say was that these doctrinal differences make WDW a heresy, rather than a cult.
posted by gurple at 4:34 PM on March 27, 2007


Thanks for the post, Chinese Jet Pilot. There's something about her authoritarianism that reminds me a lot of Gary Ezzo's childcare seminars.
posted by maryh at 4:39 PM on March 27, 2007


I'm going to go pray for her hairstyle.
posted by nanojath at 5:35 PM on March 27, 2007


There's something about her authoritarianism that reminds me a lot of Gary Ezzo's childcare seminars.

That makes sense, both teach that there is only one proper way to [engage an intimate yet quotidian part of life] if you're a Christian and if you fail to do so, you're not living the way God wants you to and are demonstrating your own lack of faith and commitment to Christianity.
posted by Dreama at 9:55 PM on March 27, 2007


« Older Althouse gets a bit angry...   |   The eye of Sauron... er, Saturn Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post