A familiar cliché to people in some religious communities is, “You’re so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good.” Perhaps for this article that cliché could be restated as, “you’re so spiritually firm for heaven, you’re not physically fit for earth.” Many religions, regardless of their beliefs surrounding the after-life would, if pressed, stress the importance of living a healthy, peaceful, and charity-filled life here and now. Faith groups may be doing well in the spiritual areas; however, the statistics show that they’re getting failing grades in the health department.
Research shows a direct correlation between religion and poor health, specifically concerning obesity. According to a Purdue University study, “Sociology Professor Kenneth Ferraro a found the correlation between being overweight and being religious was statistically significant regardless of a person's choice of faith…The religious lifestyle has long been considered a healthy one, with its constraints on sexual promiscuity, alcohol and tobacco use," Ferraro says. "However, overeating may be one sin that pastors and priests regularly overlook. And as such, many firm believers may have not-so-firm bodies….In state-by-state comparisons, Ferraro found the percentage of obesity highest in states where religious affiliation was more prevalent.” The level of obesity varied among different religious groups, though conservative evangelical Christian churches generally had higher rates of obesity in their ranks. Nonetheless the study showed that “Being overweight was a tendency across all religious beliefs [including Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and many religious immigrants as well].”
The Purdue study was conducted several years ago, however a more recent study was done by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which yielded similar results. In their research they found that in a nation-wide sample of the U.S. population, the prevalence of obesity is greater in those involved in religion of some sort than those who that did not report a religion of any kind.
In addition, a nine year Utah-specific health study compiled by health science professor Ray Merrill of Brigham Young University (BYU), a Mormon school, found that active Mormons are 14 percent more likely to be obese than non-Mormons.
To be clear, the research mentioned in this article is not implying that religion itself causes obesity; rather the inclusion of unhealthy food in religious activities does. Though some may downplay the above research perhaps under the impression that it only involves obesity and not other major diseases like cancer etc., obesity is nothing to ignore. Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of preventative medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine observed, “Obesity is the major epidemic that is facing the U.S. population right now. We know that people with obesity have substantial risks for developing diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, and of dying much younger.”
Responding to the dismal health picture painted by the research, Matthew Feistein, lead investigator for the BYU study previously mentioned said, "Here's an opportunity for religious organizations to initiate programs to help their congregations live even longer." Former Pastor and founder of the Hallelujah Diet Dr. George Malkmus, ignorantly promoted ill health in his church. However since 1989 he has been passionate about training clergy to promote health rather than sickness. One need not be overweight; even if a thin person eats enough GMO laden junk “food” long enough he/she will put themselves on the path to illness just as any obese person would.
Dr. Malkmus admonishes ministers, “Why are some 90% of the prayer requests in our churches for the healing of those in our churches who are sick? Do you not see a relationship between how we nourish these physical bodies and the physical problems the people in our churches experience and pray to be healed from? …In our church socials, the tables [are] heaped with sugar desserts, and animal flesh …are you aware that these items — that are being offered and served in our churches to this very day — contribute to ill health? Sugar destroys the immune system and makes us susceptible to colds, viruses, and bacteria and yes…cancer! The fat in the animal products clog up the arteries and cause high blood pressure, need for stents and bypasses along with heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. These animal products also cause cancer, arthritis, asthma, acid stomach, heartburn, gout, liver problems and more. Rather than giving the children in our churches cheap junk food, we should provide them with health promoting foods like apples, oranges, date-nut balls and ice water rather than sugar-laden soda or “fruit” drinks. And for our socials, let’s provide our church people with such items as salads of all kinds – vegetable salads, bean salads, corn salads, whole grain pasta salads, etc., along with baked white and sweet potatoes, and a variety of cooked and raw vegetables and fresh fruits. There are so many delicious dishes that tantalize the taste buds and fill the stomach that are healthy and health promoting. Why do we have to serve our church people at the various church functions unhealthy fare that promotes ill health? Does this make any sense?”
Dr. Malkmus and others like him encourage clergy of all stripes to set the example by adopting a healthier lifestyle and promoting health rather than sickness. “It is high time that we begin preaching from our pulpits …how to properly nourish and maintain these physical bodies we have on loan from God.”
In addition to our religious traditions, due to the way certain eating habits have been ingrained in us through society, our families and holiday get-togethers - it can be challenging to make healthy changes. With the right educational tools and desire for health and healing - not only for ourselves but for our neighbors - we can see start to bring our houses of worship back to the health experienced in the Garden of Eden.
PERSONAL TESTIMONIES OF HEALING
Mother and daughter reclaim optimal health: Since following the Hallelujah diet and lifestyle, after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, my mother and I have collectively lost over 100 pounds and I have conquered cancer! Hallelujah! We are healthier, stronger and more vibrant than we've ever been.
Anne's health recovery: I benefited greatly on the [Hallelujah] diet also, getting rid of arthritis and 20 extra pounds in just the first six weeks after adopting the hallelujah diet.
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Divinely Wholesome Creations
Submitted by: Lorraine, MA
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 largee tomatoes, chopped
1 60z can of tomato paste
¾ cup of filtered water
2 tbs curry powder
2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
3 cups cauliflower florets
1 10oz package of frozen peas, thawed
Place the potatoes, onion, pepper, carrots, and tomatoes in a crock pot. Stir in the tomato paste, water, curry powder, cumin seeds, garlic powder and salt. Mix well and add the cauliflower florets. Cover; cook on Low for 8-9 hours or on Low for 4-5 hours. Stir in peas just before serving.
Recommended Unit Size: 4-7 Quarts
-------------------***FOR SPIRITUAL HEALTH***------------------
"Man shall not live by bread alone...."
Feel free to listen to my sermon below and may it help you become or stay spiritually healthy:
Sermon title: "In the Garden"