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David Diskin: Community groups and churches should promote health and well-being

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 12:00 pm

The News-Sentinel asked: As America continues to suffer from an obesity epidemic, many houses of worship, including some in Lodi, have put together exercise programs or weight-loss groups. Is physical health an important part of spiritual well-being? What role, if any, should religious or community leaders play in helping people stay healthy?

Two and a half years ago I made the life decision to be vegetarian. There were several reasons: health, environmental impact, and the well-being of other animals. As a vegetarian, I’m not alone in the atheist community. Nearly half of the members of our group, the Stockton Area Atheist and Freethinkers, are vegetarian or vegan ... and the same is true for similar groups across the country.

Vegetarianism isn’t limited to atheists either. Nearly all Jains and many Hindus and Buddhists are vegetarian — for spiritual and health-related reasons. The First Precept of Buddhism prohibits the killing of animals. Here in Lodi, the Seventh Day Adventists have a strong vegetarian following — and have hosted some fantastic vegetarian cooking classes.

I applaud Pastor Townsend’s approach to health, and others that have taken a similar approach. A community organization — whether it be a church or a group of atheists that hang out on Friday nights — should do all it can to promote the health and well-being of its members. It’s inspiring to see such a positive program, and I’m proud of Chris and others for their efforts. Perhaps we’ll see a similar endeavor in our group as well.

Most atheists believe that this is our one and only body — our only opportunity to exist. I hope programs like this encourage people of all worldviews to take care of what we have. "Atheist Aerobics," anyone?

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