Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo, NZ

Banning Obesity in Worship?

A rather confused story about banning obesity in worship came out of Oregon recently. The New Creation Church of Hillsboro attracted attention to its Worship Team Guidelines, which seemed to ban people with obesity from leading worship:

No Excessive weight. Weight is something that many people have to deal with. Make sure that you are taking care of your temple, exercising and eating properly.

This apparent exercise in weight bias brought a quick outcry. Jonathan Aigner, an evangelical Christian, objected on religious grounds:

One of the things I find most bothersome about the modern worship movement is the requirement that all participants must fit a certain model. I’m not talking about a general dress code here, or rehearsal guidelines, but an expectation that you look the part. Maintaining a current and commercially appealing brand is contrary to the gospel, and it’s contrary to point of corporate worship.

A few weeks after this story surfaced, the church posted something of an apology on its Facebook page:

New Creation Church Apology

Plenty of churches toss out the “taking care of your temple” metaphor to send people with obesity on a guilt trip. Plenty of other churches seem to practice an understanding of the gospel as a call to welcome and love all of God’s precious children.

Weight bias is pervasive. Sadly, we are unsurprised to find it in a church.

Click here to read more from the Christian Post. Click here for observations about associations between religious practices and obesity.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo, NZ. Photograph by Bernard Spragg / flickr

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October 21, 2016