Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Weigh down and Way down--cult leader Gwen Shamblin

The New Year is always a time for resolving to lose the extra pounds packed on during the fall and holiday season.  That said, I was only casually familiar with the Gwen Shamblin diet plan called "Weigh Down." [established in the late 80s]   I have a vague memory of seeing her book [1997] about the diet plan on our church library shelves and maybe 20 years ago I believe there may have been a group of her followers/dieters at our church.  Gwen, her husband, her son-in-law and some friends died in a plane crash in Tennessee in late May.  It was completely off my radar (excuse the pun) and I hadn't heard about it.  I just found out that she had moved from diet planner and nutritionist to a prophet and leader of a cult that denied the Trinity and still claimed to be "Bible based" and a follower of Christ. She taught that the Father was physical being and the Son was created, and the Spirit was Christ's teaching.  She isolated her followers, and said her plan was the way to salvation. She said the teachings of grace were a license to sin. There is a documentary about her and the cult, called "Remnant Fellowship" Gwen Shamblin: The Documentary | Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc (midwestoutreach.org) 

 Al Kresta, a Roman Catholic (EWTN) recently did a monologue on his radio show about the difference between ignorance and arrogant.  Many Christians, he noted, are ignorant about church history and the Bible, but others become arrogant and decide they know better than 2000 years of church teaching and all the scholars and church leaders and believers of the past. Shamblin he put among the arrogant. He said her ignorance about church history was breath taking.

 Unfortunately, if they have even a smidgen of charisma or a few Bible verses to hang their teachings on, they can find followers.  If you think there are oppressed peoples among the intersectionality groups (LBGTQ, women, minorities), there's no group as oppressed as the obese and they are quite vulnerable to affirmation/manipulation and new ideas to retain their dignity and humanity in a world that ridicules them.

"On Aug. 10 [2000], Mrs. Shamblin disavowed the Trinity, the Christian belief that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united in one Godhead. She also invited people to the Remnant Fellowship, an 80-member nondenominational church she and her accountant husband had formed.

Almost overnight, what slimmed down fastest were the ranks of Mrs. Shamblin's Weigh Down Workshop followers. Thousands of churches that embraced Mrs. Shamblin in their battle against gluttony have dropped the program." . . .  

"In eight years, Weigh Down became the biggest in a wave of Bible-based diets. It now operates in 70 countries and 60 denominations. Groups of five and more meet weekly, mainly at churches. They pay $103 apiece for a 12-week workshop, including workbooks.

"Diets made God look stupid," Mrs. Shamblin asserts. "He was the chef behind lasagna. He loves sour cream. He was not happy that broccoli became righteous while Haagen Dazs became sin."" 
Church Lady of Diet Weighs In On Trinity and Her Flock Flees (culteducation.com)  (Wall St. Journal article from October 2000)

Shamblin became another very wealthy religious celebrity selling deceit and lies, and according to an article I read, left nothing to Remnant Fellowship in her will.  Another story said her daughter (whose husband also died in the crash) will continue with the teachings of the cult.

‘This is a cult’: inside the shocking story of a religious weight-loss group | Documentary | The Guardian

Inside Gwen Shamblin Lara’s creepy weight loss cult - News Flash

Gwen Shamblin's will leaves nothing to Remnant Fellowship (newschannel5.com)

What's Up With Weigh Down? My Brush With A Dangerous Cult (spiritwatch.org)  (Personal testimony)

https://youtu.be/w5SA1yVrB6A  When her Trinity views alienated followers

https://youtu.be/FTvE1ICKFZA  (includes a video clip of her using the Covid lockdown to promote her church/beliefs/weight loss program)

Note: I'm not familiar with any of the websites or news channels that I've listed here. I don't claim they have any more authority than the cults they describe.  But making weight loss equal to salvation is certainly not Biblical.

No comments: