function of religion is to explain the inexplicable, thus providing humans with
a sense of comfort in a chaotic world. Food, because it sustains life, is an
important part of religious symbols, rites and customs, those acts of daily
life intended to bring about an orderly relationship with the spiritual or
supernatural realm. Many of the features that shape dietary habits are derived
from religious laws. All over the world many people choose to eat or avoid
certain foods according to their religious beliefs. When a dietary practice is
preserved by religious dogma it is given additional force. Dietary differences
linked to religion should be considered when planning a balanced diet.
is a religion based upon the teachings and miracles of Jesus. Jesus is the
anointed one from God the Father who came to this world, fulfilled the Old
Testament laws and prophecies, died on the cross, and rose from the dead
physically. Christianity teaches that there is only one God in all existence, that
God made the universe, the Earth, and created Adam and Eve. In the world, more
people follow Christianity than any other single religion. The three dominant
Christian branches are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity and
Protestantism. The central convictions of the Christian faith are found in the
Apostles’ and the Nicene Creed. The creed explains that people are saved
through God’s grace, the life and death of Jesus, and his resurrection as
For most Christians the sacraments
mark the key stages of worship and sustain the individual worshiper. The
sacraments observed, and the way they are observed, vary among Christian
groups. The seven sacraments of Roman Catholicism, for example are baptism
(entering Christ’s church), confirmation, (the soul receiving the Holy Ghost),
Eucharist (partaking of the sacred presence by sharing bread and wine),
marriage (union of a man and woman through the bond of love), unction (healing
of the mind, spirit and body), reconciliation (penance and confession) and
ordination of the clergy.
largest number of persons adhering to one Christian faith in the United States
are Roman Catholics. The number of Roman Catholics in the world (nearly 1.1
billion) is greater than that of nearly all other religious traditions. There
are more Roman Catholics than all other Christians combined and more Roman
Catholics than all Buddhists or Hindus. Although there are more Muslims than
Roman Catholics, the number of Roman Catholics is greater than that of the
individual traditions of Sh??ite and Sunni Islam.
CATHOLICS FEAST DAYS
Catholic Feast days are days set aside to remember important people and events
through the course of the Faith from the time of Mary’s birth all the way
through today honoring the saints. Other than Christmas (the birth of Christ)
and Easter (the resurrection of Christ after the crucifixion), Americans in the
United States also celebrated New Year’s Day, the Annunciation (March 25), Palm
Sunday (the Sunday before Easter), the Ascension (forty days after Easter),
Pentecost Sunday (fifty days after Easter), the Assumption (August 15), All
Saint’s Day (November 1), and the Immaculate Conception (December 8).
CATHOLICS FAST DAYS
Catholic Church historically observes the disciplines of fasting and abstinence
at various times each year. For Catholics, fasting is the reduction of one’s
intake of food, while abstinence refers to refraining from meat (or another
type of food). The Catholic Church teaches that all people are obliged by God
to perform some penance for their sins, and that these acts of penance are both
personal and corporeal. The purpose of fasting is spiritual focus,
self-discipline, imitation of Christ, and performing penance.
Roman Catholic, fasting permits only one full meal per day at midday. It does
not prohibit the taking of some food in the morning or evening. The law of
abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from
eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is
considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are
soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish,
amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products
such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.
law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the
59th Birthday, to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church
defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together
would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash
Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by
drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic
beverages do not break the fast, however, they seem to be contrary to the
spirit of doing penance.
those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail,
pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual
laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves
without giving great offense are people who are excused from fast or
Eastern Orthodox Church is as old the Roman Catholic Branch of Christianity,
although not as prevalent in the United States. The orthodox church consists of
fourteen self-governing churches, five of which- Constantinople. Alexandria
(the Egyptian Coptic Church), Antioch, Jerusalem and Cyprus.
DAYS IN EASTERN ORTHODOX CHRISTINITY
Orthodox feast days are Christmas, Theophany, Annunciation, Easter (First
Sunday after the full moon after March 21), Ascension (40 days after Easter),
Transfiguration and Nativity of the Holy Theotokos. Easter is the most
important holiday in the Eastern Orthodox religion and is celebrated on the
first Sunday after the full moon after March 21, but not the Jewish Passover.
DAYS IN THE EASTERN ORTHODOX
of the strictest rules for fasting are found in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
During the Lenten season, there are a number of days when members are
encouraged to severely restrict their diets or refrain from eating altogether:
is the forty days before Easter. On the third Sunday before Lent (Meat Fare
Sunday), all the meat in the house is eaten. On the Sunday before Lent (Cheese
Fare Sunday), all the cheese, eggs and butter in the house are eaten. On the
next day, Clean Monday, the Lenten fast begins. During the second week of Lent,
full meals are allowed only on Wednesday and Friday. However, many members do
not fully comply with this rule. On weekdays during Lent, meat, eggs, dairy,
fish, wine, and oil are restricted. This also applies to any food products
containing these items. The week before Lent, all animal products, including
meat, are prohibited. Good Friday is a day for a complete fast during which
members are encouraged to eat nothing.
receiving Holy Communion on Sunday abstain from food and drink before the
service. Fasting is considered an opportunity to prove that the soul can rule
the body. On fast days no meat or animal products (milk, eggs, butter and
cheese) are consumed. Fish is also avoided, but shellfish is generally allowed.
Older or more devout Greek Orthodox followers do not use olive oil on fast
days, but will eat olives.
sixteenth century religious movement known as the Reformation established the
Protestant churches by questioning the practices of the Roman Catholic Church
and eventually breaking away from its teachings. The man primarily responsible
for the Reformation was Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk who taught
theology. He started the movement when, in 1517, he nailed a document
containing 95 protests against certain Catholic practices on the door of the
castle church in Wittenberg. He later broadened his position. A decade later,
several countries and German organized the Protestant Lutheran Church based on
Martin Luther’s teachings.
most significant food ordinance in Protestant churches is the Eucharist, also
called communion, or the Lord’s Supper. However, other than a liquid and a
bread like morsel being offered, there is little consistency in celebration of
this ordinance. It can signify an encounter with the living presence of God, a
remembrance of the Passover Seder attended by Jesus, a continuity of tradition
through community, or an individual spiritual experience. Though wine is
traditional, many churches switched to grape juice during Prohibition and
continue this temperance practice. Some churches offer the wine/juice in a
single cup which is shared, while others provide small, individually filled
liturgical churches, such as the Lutheran church, offer wafers similar to
Catholic practice. Others such as Methodists, often use a bread pellet. Some
organize their members to bake bread and many denominations simply cut up white
PRACTICES IN PROTESTANT CHURCHES
the many Protestant churches, there are variety of suggestions regarding
fasting during Lent. This is a product of the Reformation during which leaders
such as Martin Luther and John Calvin wanted new believers to focus on
salvation by God’s grace rather than traditional spiritual disciplines.
Assemblies of God views fasting as a form of self-control and it is an
important practice, though not mandatory. Members can voluntarily and privately
decide to practice it with an understanding that it is not done to curry favor
Baptist Church does not set fasting days, either. The practice is a private
decision when a member wishes to strengthen his relationship with God.
Episcopal Church is one of the few that specifically urges fasting during Lent.
In particular, members are asked to fast, pray, and give alms on Ash Wednesday
and Good Friday.
Lutheran Church addresses fasting in the Augsburg Confession. It reads,
“We do not condemn fasting in itself, but the traditions which prescribe
certain days and certain meats, with peril of conscience, as though such works
were a necessary service.” So, while it’s not required in any particular
fashion or during Lent, the church has no issues with members fasting with the
Methodist Church also views fasting as a private concern of its members and has
no rules regarding it. However, the church does encourage members to avoid
indulgences such as favorite foods, hobbies, and pastimes like watching TV
Presbyterian Church takes the voluntary approach as well. It is seen as a
practice that can bring members closer to God, rely on Him for help, and aid
them in resisting temptations.
Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes the autonomy of each individual and his
or her God-given power of choice. Rather than mandating standards of behavior,
Adventists call upon one another to live as positive examples of God’s love and
care. Part of that example includes taking care of health and believe God calls
us to care for our bodies, treating them with the respect a divine creation
deserves. Gluttony and excess, even of something good, can be detrimental to
practice of Adventism varies greatly from congregation to congregation. Some
are more conservative, others more liberal. Some example are:
In common with essentially all conservative Christian denominations, the SDA
does not allow the ordination of homosexuals. Loving, committed same-sex
couples cannot be married or have their civil unions recognized or blessed.
Perhaps their most obvious practice which differentiates them from most other
Christian churches is that they follow observe Saturday as their weekly Sabbath
(from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset). Their religious education classes are
called Sabbath Schools, not Sunday Schools. Some followers give a “Happy
Sabbath” greeting when they meet.
Higher education is highly respected within the church. The rate of college
graduates among the Seventh-day Adventist church membership is about twice the
US national average.
believe the key to wellness lies in a life of balance and temperance. Nature
creates a wealth of good things that lead to vibrant health. Pure water, fresh
air and sunlight, when are used appropriately can promote clean, healthy lives.
Exercise and avoidance of harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol and
mind-altering substances lead to clear minds and wise choices. A well-balanced
vegetarian diet that avoids the consumption of meat coupled with intake of
legumes, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, along with a source of
vitamin B12, will promote vigorous health.
believe that sickness is a result of the violation of the laws of health.
Vegetarianism is widely practiced because the Bible states that the diet in
Eden did not include flesh foods. Most Adventists are lacto-ovo-vegetarians
(eating milk products and eggs, but not meat). Some do consume meat, although
they avoid pork and shellfish. Mrs. White advocated the use of nuts and beans
instead of meat, substituting vegetable oil for animal fat, and using whole
grains in breads.
the Mormons, the Adventists do not consume tea, coffee, or alcohol and do not
use tobacco products. Water is considered the best liquid and should be
consumed only before and after the meal, not during the meal. Meals are not
highly seasoned, and hot spices such as mustard, chili powder and black pepper are
avoided. Eating between meals is discouraged so that food can be properly
ABOUT FOOD ALLERGIES VS FEASTING AND FELLOWSHIP IN THE CHURCH
can be a source of fellowship, but in a fallen and allergy-ridden world, it can
also present challenges. For most people, eating is a joyful opportunity for
Christian fellowship. But for people who have allergies, it can be a source of
division and isolation. Church feasts which serve as a visible symbol of
Christian unity and identity can be complicated in a fallen world. Feasting
together is good, but it can also get complicated. If we want to love our
brothers and sisters in Christ well, then it is worth time to think deeply
about food sensitivity and its relationship to Christian hospitality and
Food allergies are growing more and
more common. We know friends and family members who have food allergies. Maybe
we have them ourselves. Given the reach of social media, we also hear the
stories of children and teenagers who have gone into anaphylactic shock after
one bite of a Rice Krispies Treat. The causes of food allergies are not clear
but the effects, however, for some, they are relatively minor such as skin
reactions, eczema, rashes, itchy and watery eyes, and congestion. For others,
they are life-threatening: shortness of breath, obstruction of airways by a
swollen tongue or throat, drops in blood pressure, chest pain, loss of
consciousness, and sometimes, death.
those with food allergies, though, the shared table can be a minefield. Because
of the risk allergies pose to congregants, many churches are beginning to set
food policies like those in schools. Some will label dishes that are
allergen-free or set them on a designated table to reduce contamination, while
others offer gluten-free bread for communion. As awareness of allergies grows,
so do churches’ abilities to bear the burdens of those who risk their health
every time they gather to eat as a congregation.
members are also starting to bear each other’s burdens by discerning the
difference between the risk brought about by allergies and the food preferences
present in any body of diverse people. If the last two decades have seen a rise
in food allergies, they have also seen growing interest in food sourcing, with
many consumers growing increasingly conscious of what they take into their
bodies and committing to eat only clean, organic, or locally sourced foods.
three dominant Christian branches are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox
Christianity and Protestantism. Food regulations differ from one Christian
denomination or group to another, with some groups not observing any
restrictions at all. Some fasting days are observed by Catholic and Orthodox
Christians on certain days such as Good Friday or during Lent. In conclusion,
food selection is due to different reasons and religions. Understanding the
role of food in cultural and religious practice is an important part of showing
respect and responding to other people from different religions.