Episode 352:

Serve The Children

Gwen Shamblin Lara, The Weigh Down Diet




Episode 352: Serve The Children

This week, Karen tells Georgia the story of church leader Gwen Shamblin Lara.

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Gwen Shamblin Lara, The Weigh Down Diet Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash 

Other Images: 

1. Gwen Shamblin Lara (Scott Sabo via Wikimedia Commons) 


LETTER FROM TENNESSEE about religious diet guru Gwen Shamblin and her Weigh Down Workshop. . . The Weigh Down Workshop, which is based in Franklin, Tennessee, is now a multimillion-dollar business, and Shamblin has taken the controversial step of broadening her message beyond her weight-loss base. She argues that her method of renunciation can be applied to all manner of other sins, such as alcohol abuse or dependence on prescription drugs or homosexuality or the claims of wives to be on equal footing with their husbands. Having criticized the diet industry for encouraging an impious obsession with food, Shamblin has now unleashed her wrath on the church, which she views as overly permissive. In 1999, she and a small group of like-minded believers established their own church, the Remnant Fellowship, at which they sing songs of praise and read Scripture and testify about their passionate submission to the will of God. . . Shamblin is a petite and pretty woman with shoulder-length blond hair swept into a two-inch bouffant in a manner that passes for subtle among Southern ladies. She is given to wearing tight cashmere sweaters cinched at the waist, and slim black skirts that hide the skinny legs about which she professes embarrassment. When she speaks, she sounds like Dolly Parton channelling Dr. Laura. "There is no restraint in this country—somewhere along the line, Americans forgot to behave," Shamblin told me in the first minutes of our acquaintance, one morning last October. "People in this country have gone to great depths to make everything change but themselves. . ."

-Source: “Slim for Him” by Rebecca Mead (New Yorker) 2001

Gwen Shamblin Lara, The Weigh Down

Karen's Episode Sources

  1. The Way Down (HBO Max)
  2. “The Weigh Down Diet” by Gwen Shamblin
  3. Weigh Down website 
  4. “Meet Our Leaders” (Remnant Fellowship)
  5. “Joe Lara” (Remnant Fellowship)
  6. “How to identify a cult: Six tips from an expert” (CBS News) 2018
  7. “Controversy surrounded Brentwood church, founder for years; Gwen Shamblin Lara among those presumed dead” by Phil Williams (News Channel 5 Nashville) 2021
  8. “Gwen Shamblin's will, potentially worth millions, leaves nothing to her Remnant Fellowship church” by Phil Williams (News Channel 5 Nashville) 2021
  9. “New Gwen Shamblin video: 'I think we are the most highly investigated church in the United States'” by Phil Williams (News Channel 5 Nashville) 2021
  10. “Gwen Shamblin interviews reveal late Remnant leader's thoughts on divorce, child spankings and cults” by Phil Williams (News Channel 5 Nashville) 2021
  11. “Before HBO Max: Explore NewsChannel 5's Gwen Shamblin, Remnant Fellowship investigations” by Phil Williams (News Channel 5) 2021
  12. “2021: the year that Gwen Shamblin's life, death made news around world” by Phil Williams (News Channel 5 Nashville) 2022
  13. “Plane Crash Complicates HBO Max Documentary on Diet-Inspired Church” by Nicole Sperling (New York Times)
  14. “‘This is a cult’: inside the shocking story of a religious weight-loss group” by Adrian Horton (The Guardian) 2021 
  15. “Church stands by parents convicted of death” (Associated Press) 2007
  16. “What To Know About Gwen Shamblin’s Husband & Ex-Husband” by Justice Namaste (Bustle) 2021
  17. “Our History” (Remnant Fellowship website)
  18. “Who Was Gwen Shamblin's husband Joe Lara? Meet the 'Tarzan' Actor” by Molli Mitchell (Newsweek) 2022
  19. “The Way Down Subject Delaney Wingerd Is Still Part Of Remnant Fellowship” by Gretchen Small (Bustle) 2022
  20. “Faith-based Child Abuse?” by Corrie Cutrer (Christianity Today) 2004
  21. “DIETERS PUTTING THEIR FAITH IN SUSTENANCE OF THE SPIRIT” by Dana Hull (Washington Post) May 17, 1997
  22. “Delivering us from Caloric Temptation” by Julia Lieblich (Newhouse News Service) June 6, 1998
  23. “The Gospel of Gwen Shamblin: The Weight-Loss Cult Leader Who Poisoned Women’s Brains” by Nick Schager (The Daily Beast) 2021
  24. “Gwen Shamblin Lara Accused of Being a Cult Leader in New HBO Docuseries” by Jessica Lea (Church Leaders). 2021
  25. “BIBLE-BASED WEIGHT LOSS WORKSHOP SUED FOR RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION” by Nicki Pendleton Wood (Nashville Post) April 27, 2001
  26. “Gwen Shamblin Lara, other leaders of controversial church presumed dead after plane crash” by Keith Sharon (The Tennessean) 2021
  27. “Substitute God for Food: Author” by Byron Hensley (The Mufreesboro Daily News Journal) 1997
  28. “'Continue the dream': Remnant Fellowship Church founder's children will keep church going after her death” by Brinley Hineman (The Tennessean) 2021
  29. “Slim for Him” by Rebecca Mead (New Yorker) 2001
  30. “Gwen Shamblin in the Balance” by John W. Kennedy (Christianity Today) 2000
  31. “The Weigh Down Heresy” by John W. Kennedy (Baptist Press) 2000.  
  32. Remnant Fellowship: A Brief History And A Dire Warning” by Adam and Maria Brooks (Spirit Watch Ministries)
  33. “The Fallout: Gwen Shamblin’s Denial of the Trinity” by Wendy Griffin (Christian Broadcast News) 2000
  34. “Church Lady of Diet Weighs In On Trinity and Her Flock Flees” by Ianthe Jeanne Dugan (Wall Street Journal) 2000
  35. “Churchgoers leaning on God to shed their unwanted pounds” (The Tennessean) 1994
  36. “Here's the Current Status of Remnant Fellowship Church After Gwen Shamblin Lara's Death” by Lauren Kranc (Esquire) 2022
  37. “Percy Priest Lake plane crash: Both engines, more human remains recovered” by Hannah McDonald (News Channel 5) 2021
  38. “Divine Dieting” by Gayle White (The Atlanta Constitution) 1997
  39. Gwen Shamblin interviewed on ABC's 20/20
  40. “A year after Gwen Shamblin Lara's death, her presence looms large at Remnant Fellowship” by Amanda Pèrez Pintado (USA Today) 2022
  41. “Henley-Shamblin Vows to Be Jan. 7” (The Memphis Press-Scimitar) 1977