Low Gluten Is Still Gluten

I intended to blog on something different today, but it will have to wait for another day.  I have a pressing matter to discuss since it seems like the subject matter is in my face right now.

I won’t get in to too much detail, but here’s the gist of it.  Tuesday night I get an email from a list asking about low gluten altar bread with some quoted information about said LGAB and questions about how the church should store and serve it to prevent cross-contact.  This was for the writer’s daughter with Celiac to receive communion in church.  My initial reaction was, WHY?  WHY?  WHY?  What are you thinking?  Are you crazy?  Is this person for real?  Gluten is gluten is gluten.

I took some deep breaths and calmed myself before starting a reply.   I explained my personal opinion on knowingly consuming gluten and reminded her that even if there is no visible physical reaction, there can still be a reaction to the gluten.  I also reiterated that 100ppm is way above certification standard of 20ppm or less.  That said, I answered the questions about preventing cross-contact during storage and serving.  Then I reiterated my opinion.  *click* Send.

I get a reply from someone else in the list berating me for not getting my facts straight and for being disrespectful of their faith.  Wow.  That really hurt.  Here I was just trying to be helpful and answer someone’s question and someone else gets on me and tells me I offended them.  After more deep breathing to calm myself down, I responded.  I copied and pasted the info from the original email and told her it was not my intent to offend, that I was using the information that was given and whatever they choose to do, they choose to do.  I was simply stating what my opinion in the matter is if I was given that option at church.  That being no way, no how, never.  *click* Send.

I am not insensitive to other people’s faiths.  I grew up in a dual faith household if you could call it that.  My mother was raised Methodist and we attended a Methodist church.  My father was raised Catholic and when I was with his family, I went to Mass.  I can relate to wanting to receive Communion.  It is a great symbol of shared faith that we partake of the body and blood of Christ.  It can be very affirming when we are feeling low and in need of something to edify us.

I take issue with churches taking everything in the Bible literally.  Yes, there are some things that should be taken literally.  There are many that shouldn’t.  The Catholic church will only allow altar bread made from wheat for the sacrament because it is in the Bible.  Yep. It’s there.  I had to do some digging today after Heidi brought the same issue up on her Facebook page.

Exodus 29:1-2 1 “And this is what you shall do to them to hallow them for ministering to Me as priests: Take one young bull and two rams without blemish, 2 and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil (you shall make them of wheat flour).”

If you keep reading, the wheat offerings are supposed to be burned.  Yet, in the New Testament, we eat them in remembrance of Jesus and his sacrifice.  This is where Old and New Testament collide.  And if I got it wrong, someone tell me, but it was the only passage about wheat being used for cooking that I could find.

Anyway. There is a reason why there is an Old and New Testament.  Whenever someone tries to use the Old Testament passages to prove something to me I remind them that it is Old Testament, not New.  Not everything from the Old Testament applied once Jesus entered the picture.  Life today is not the same as it was in the Old Testament either.  Neither is our food.  Especially our wheat.  There is more gliadin in it today than there was back then.  There are more people eating it in larger quantities than back then, too.  Gluten, soy, and corn are modified and put in our foods to make them taste better.  Yes, our wheat is not Moses’ wheat.  Anyone that tries to tell you different either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care.

Personally, I believe that God would not force us to eat something that would make us sick.  Ever.  Not even for the sacrament.  Yet some organized religions will force their congregations into some “safe” option that really isn’t safe at all.  That is not right.  It inflicts emotional and physical pain on those faced with the inability to eat wheat or gluten and feel guilted into consuming the LGAB.  You must eat this or you will go to Hell for not receiving Communion!  Bullshit.  Pure unadulterated, straight from the bull shit.  St. Peter will not turn you away from the Pearly Gates simply because you didn’t take that little piece of bread or wafer (whatever your church serves) because it makes you sick.  God will not turn you away.  God will keep loving you as He always does.  The New Testament tells us that it is our Faith (our heart) and not just our works that will open those gates for us.  For a church to guilt a member into eating something that makes them sick is unconscionable.

I say again, gluten is gluten is gluten.  As Dr. Vikki Peterson said, you are “playing Russian Roulette” with your body when you knowingly consume gluten.  Low gluten does not equal no gluten.  If churches refuse to change their stance on this issue, it’s time to find another church that will understand your needs and not attempt to force you into choosing a seemingly lesser evil.  And, thank you, Shirley for keeping me sane while I composed my response!  *puts away soapbox*



  1. Amen, sister! I have had similar issues with this. Especially the Catholic church, within which I was raised. However, I’m happy to report that the Episcopal church (which my mother calls Catholic lite – all the sacraments with none of the guilt) offer gluten-free alternatives to their parishoners.

    • Hey Theresa! Long time, no see! I hope you are well. 😀 I was specifically trying not to point my finger at the Catholic church, but they are more than culpable for sure. I’m glad you have a church that offers you a gf alternative!

  2. My server crashed and my blog went kablooie. I’m slowly getting back up and running. I’d like to say that it is MY church, but sadly, we’ve become the heathens my mother has always feared. But knowing that there are churches out there that are willing to see reason gives me hope of reclaiming my immortal soul.

  3. Well, you KNOW i gotta chime in here…

    The passage from Exodus is, of course, in regards to Passover–which Jesus was celebrating during the Last Supper. so they are related, and they aren’t. Which is how the big three work.

    The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is the book upon which the big three base their faith. THen they each have a book that “interprets” the Hebrew Bible with revelations, visions, and teaching of various prophets. For the Jews it is Tanakh, for Christians, the New Testament and for Muslims, the Koran. All three will “refer” back to the HB in order to explain their teachings, as a sort of “see–it was written here before” kind of testament.

    So the issue then is with the “new” books and not the old, IMHO. There are a million rules in the Hebrew bible–and the big three don’t follow them all. Otherwise there would be teens being stoned all over the place–and i mean with rocks–for being disobedient.

    In an unusual turn, i find it is the Koran the most defends your beliefs here. (odd in the current climate, i know) In Islam there are 5 pillars of faith, and one must adhere to them–TO THE BEST OF THEIR ABILITY. I use the example of Ramadan here. During Ramadan you are to fast during the day–no water no nothing. UNLESS YOU ARE PHYSICALLY UNABLE. Right there, in the Koran. Because Allah is a merciful god and would not wish harm upon his faithful.

    Faith is the work of man. There is an old Jewish tale that tells of a room of Rabbis arguing about (of all things) Exodus, when Moses appears to listen to them. And he has no idea what they are talking about. Because the words of man, and time change everything.

    Is an alcoholic expected to drink wine for the sacrament? How is this any different? And why is it that faith, which can turn away so drastically from the original teachings, can never GROW?

    While your post is about Gluten, your message is much deeper. If the Big Three–and others–continue to disenfranchise those who seek their guidance, they are doomed. period.

    That being said, there is always going to be SOMEONE who will be offended by anything. Faith, or politics or whatever. Sometimes the argument isn’t worth it.

  4. Also–Paul wouldn’t be behind this either. He was a VERY accepting dude, and knew how much the faith needed the faithful, and not rules. Just look at his teachings about interfaith marriage…

  5. So true, Mamasan. I’ve been doing a gluten, egg and dairy detox for the past two weeks and a half which coincided with Easter Sunday, when our church gives communion. I couldn’t participate, but also felt like if I didn’t take one, the people around me would look at me strange since they added the addendum “only take the communion if you have repented to God.” So I gave my piece to Dtri. It sucks that there are rarely any options for people with gluten allergies or Celiac.

    • Babygurl, have I told you lately how proud I am of you for taking your health into your hands this last year? I’M SO PROUD OF YOU! And you’re getting Dtri in on it, too. I love it. I hope your gluten, egg, & dairy-free weeks are going well. I know it had to be hard passing on that, especially when they tack on stuff like that to make it look like the people who don’t take communion sinners who refuse to repent or something. *hugs* Love you!

  6. I just don’t understand how anyone could confuse that issue–something either does contain gluten (whether “low” or “high”) or it doesn’t–just as you can’t be a “little bit pregnant.” Can you have “low cyanide”? Um, still dead if you eat it.

    It’s unfortunate that your desire to be helpful wasn’t taken as such, but at least you know your motivation was in the right place. Good for you for stating the truth.

    • Thank you, Valerie! That is the exact place that was mentioned in the original email I received. That part at the end about the ppm was copied and pasted into the email. I was aghast. 100ppm. And apparently many people in my local support group attend churches that serve this LGAB with 100ppm. I’d be sicker than a pregnant woman in her first tri-mester if I had that much! I think what really drove me to actually say something about this was the fact that the same day all this emailing took place, I was glutened (2nd time in 2 weeks. Actually, twice that day). Accidental happens, I get over it. I just can’t understand people willingly doing this to themselves. But, like I told them, it’s their choice. They obviously aren’t going to change their minds about this at all. Yes, there have been more emails. *shaking my head*

      • I am so sorry you are going through this. I completely agree with you – 100 PPM would likely make me sick. I have gotten sick from stuff tested at 20 PPM 😦 What I found interesting about the LGAB was that Gluten-Free Living magazine seems to have endorsed it, which really surprised me. I had assumed there were gluten-free communion wafers so this LGAB concept is still mind-boggling to me.

  7. I attended a seminar at the William K. Warren Center for Celiac Studies at UCSD a couple of years ago. We were still learning the ins and outs of living with celiac. And one of the most interesting things I learned is that if you have celiac disease, your body cannot distinguish between trace amounts of gluten and a large amount of gluten. The reaction is the same. Which is why cross-contamination is such an issue. So saying something is low gluten is a little bit like saying you’re “sort of pregnant”. You either are or you aren’t and it either has gluten or it doesn’t. Period.

  8. Thanks for sharing this post, Debi. You did an excellent job. Thanks, too, for the link love (you’re way to generous with that). Every time I think about the whole debate I get emotional, varying from incensed to just tired and sad. It’s one of those battles I don’t feel we should have to fighting, you know? Many times, I’ve actually wished that celiac/gluten issues were, in fact, like a peanut allergy because when someone has a peanut allergy it’s taken seriously and people get that any amount is too much. That’s why I hate the less than 20 ppm thinking (and I, in fact, react to far less). It just opens a big can of worms. Dawn’s analogy to alcohol is a good one. The church doesn’t push alcohol on a person with an alcohol dependence, do they? Even a tiny amount of gluten is like a little bit pregnant or a little bit of cyanide as others here said. Or a little bit of rat poison, which another friend says. Would you give a faithful church member rat poison in the name of the Bible? I’m especially interested in this topic right now because my MIL casually told me about one of my members, a friend of hers, who passed up communion wafers at church and was given a “different” kind. MIL shared because she thought her friend was given gluten-free communion wafers, which to my understanding do actually exist, but I wonder.


    • You are always welcome, Shirley. 😀 I have to make sure that people who come to my blog for the first time know who all these people are that I’m talking about! I hate that 20ppm thinking, too. I always have. I can be so sensitive sometimes and if I have any doubts about something, I usually pass. Better to go without and be safe than get sick. Theresa mentioned in one of her comments that there are gf communion wafers. However, the Catholic church will only serve wafers made from wheat…because it’s in the Bible and that’s what Jesus is believed to have used at the Last Supper. The link that Valerie shared is where the information came from in the email. I recognized it right away. So sad with religion/churches hold fast to their rigidity and forget that times do change. We change.

  9. Debi, yes, I’m sorry I sort of cruised over that discussion, didn’t I? I know the part about the Catholic church only accepting low gluten communion wafers, although I have heard of individual Catholic churches serving the gluten-free communion wafers. I believe I read that on the celiac listserv quite a while ago. Obviously, that’s not publicized too much lest the individual priest get in trouble and that option be removed. The church my MIL and her friend, my support group member, both go to is Baptist. As far as I know, gluten-free communion wafers would be acceptable, but I’m anxious to see what she tells me when I ask what she was served.

    Thanks, dear!

  10. Debi, this is a wonderful wonderful post. I just do not understand how people would be willing to sacrifice their health. The Bible, first off, was written thousands of years ago…long before we were destroying our bodies from environmental toxins, processed foods, antibiotics, and all of the other things that have helped to trigger the gluten-sensitivity issues of today. And Celiac Disease is still a relatively “new” disease in the scope of things – definitely not a source of concern during Biblical times. Oye..I better stop because I could really get myself going on this one! You really did a great job of addressing this issue though!

    • Thank you, Kim! I don’t understand either. What really threw me was the woman who wrote the original email was looking at the LGAB for her daughter. That, I understand even less. Some churches are just stuck in the dark ages and rather than adapt to the needs of TODAY, they force members to adapt to the churches antiquated ideas. At least as far as this issue is concerned. Like Shirley said, it would be a much different story and dialog if gluten were viewed by others like an allergy where any consumption is harmful (because it is). Maybe one day this won’t be an issue. 😀

  11. Pingback: An Open Letter to the Catholic Church Leaders « Hunter's Lyonesse

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