Did God send Jamie Oliver to the Southern Baptists?

FEATURED POST TODAY in honor of the SBC Annual Meeting.

I was just reading about Jamie Oliver's visit to a Southern Baptist church in Huntington, West Virginia, one of the most obese and "unhealthiest" cities in the country. Apparently, the visit created a lot of interest from the media but not much from Christians. Although the visit did not go unnoticed by the Baptists who brought some attention to the "Food Revolution"

Photo of Jamie Oliver and Baptist pastor Steve Willis, lifted discreetly from Baptist Press here.

If you have been following my blog this last decade, you have probably heard me talk about gluttony [see my post from 2003] and the church's refusal to deal with it, cruelty-free diets, the slow food movement, the Southern Baptist problem with obesity, and many other issues regarding food and drink.

So, as you can imagine, I was VERY VERY HAPPY that Jamie Oliver was welcomed into the Southern Baptist world to help them solve a problem that plagues the whole nation as well as their own denomination – which, btw, ranks highest in obesity than any other denomination in the USA.

Thank God for Jamie Oliver. They [we] can use his help.

A comment on my blog from 2007 struck me as prophetic . . .

"Yes, churches tend to arrange their social engagements around food–cheap food. It's what most people on a limited budget can afford. Unless the church is willing/able to foot the bill for everyone, or unless the church is blessed with an amazing, heart-smart chef who is willing to take on the burden himself/herself (btw, if you're out there and God is speaking to you about using your gifts this way, stand up!) this is what most churches do." Bryerthorn, comment on TSK, 2007

Maybe Jamie Oliver was that "amazing, heart-smart chef"?

As I said earlier, thank God for Jamie Oliver. He has a lot to teach the Baptists about food and diet. But I believe the problem lies deeper and will call for a solution that is more holistic than just replacing crap food with healthy food. I believe that real revolution, that is already happening among many, is concerned with loving food in a healthy way, with loving your kitchen and its utensils, with honoring the contract with have had with the animals since the Garden of Eden, with loving our neighbors who gather around our table to enjoy our feasts, with moving beyond guilt-ridden attitudes to eating towards a posture of balance, contentment, celebration and acceptance of our bodies. And I imagine Jamie would agree on these issues also.

jamie oliver on twitter.png

"Being overweight in the North American context involves more than a bunch of porkers cleaning out the fridge on a daily basis. . . There are many factors and they all should be dealt with. For some of us, we need to cut our intake and increase our exercise. But for many in deep poverty, hamburger helper and 'comfort foods' are all they have. . . Let's deal with all the issues that are the root of the problem and not just the appearance." Ted, another commenter on TSK

I didn't see the TV series [I was in North Africa at the time] but I was glad to hear that Jamie buried someone's deep fryer in the back garden. The next step is to encourage Baptists to throw away their microwaves – something we did 20 years ago.

Related on TSK:Grace to Ewe: Our Cruelty-Free Diet


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Throw away microwaves?! Yikes — I’ve heard a lot of heresy but seriously Andrew — you might have crossed the line! 🙂
    I was really impressed with Jamie’s show and the fact that it started off with a local church showing concern and care for its member’s health and well being.
    Very impressed.

  • Andrew says:

    Hi Johnathon. yes – GREAT story and so cool that it started with a local church.
    as for microwaves, don’t get me started . . but i will say that these last microwave-free 20 years have seen some WONDERFUL food prepared in our kitchens – yes, a little slower . . . but wonderful and I think we made a good decision.
    And stressed-out nuked-to-hell microwaved water can never NEVER EVER produce a decent cup of tea. Do I hear an “Amen” from Jamie on that one?

  • Oh I’m sure you’ve got a very valid point on microwaves. I don’t doubt it for one minute.
    I just haven’t broken the microwave’s hold on me yet.
    “Baked” potatoes in 8 minutes was hard to beat last night 😉

  • Andrew says:

    i cooked baked potatoes last week on my moroccan bbq – took about 2 hours but they tasted great. and it was fun to gather around a smoky fire, collecting wood and watching it burn.
    nobody forms community by sitting around a microwave oven.

  • “nobody forms community by sitting around a microwave oven.”
    So true. So true. Thanks for challenging me even further.

  • Miz Melly says:

    Love this Andrew. Thanks for the link.

  • Mark Knight says:

    Nice one Andrew. On this topic, you might enjoy this snippet from Reginald Fuller, the transatlantic ecumenist, writing in the sixties:

  • Joanna says:

    How about churches digging up their green lawns and growing vegetables in order to feed the poor fresh food? Already been done by Vineyard, Boise!
    They also use the veg to supply the fresh veg for a hot meal once a week on a Sunday.http://www.vineyardboise.org/Ministries/Barnabas.aspx
    I don’t have anything to do with the church but I do admire the different tack they are taking, even if it is in a huge mega-church which is not my style at all.

  • Jamie has done a great service in getting the average weight of the Southern Baptists down below obeisity levels.Now they’re an army on the march!!!???

  • I’d say you should check out the series when you get a chance, but I think after the microwave the TV is the next to go. The pastor at a the church was really Jamie’s one and only allie in the beginning.

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