Do any Mormons regularly consume decaffeinated coffee or tea? Does the church have a position on this?

Do any Mormons regularly consume decaffeinated coffee or tea? Does the church have a position on this?

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  1. I’m a convert and I think it is perfectly fine to drink decaf tea and coffee. The amount of caffeine content is less than an 8 oz Coke or a bar of chocolate. The “hot drinks” commandment can be interpreted in many ways. Joseph Smith may have been pointing out how “hot drinks” can damage and burn the esophagus. He most likely was talking about coffee and tea but soda wasn’t around then. I’m pretty sure he would have forbade against soda as well. I think the Word of Wisdom needs some revision. I have friends who go to sacrament with a Red Bull in their hands thinking it is A-OK. I drink decaffeinated green tea and herbal teas. The choice is yours!! I don’t think the purpose of the Word of Wisdom was to give concrete guidelines to follow for the rest of human exsistence. I think Joseph Smith would have wanted to reform it with the new information provided by science.

  2. Caffeine is not the reason why Coffee and Tea are prohibited in the Word Of Wisdom. Therefore other beverages with caffeine are not prohibited, per se. While coffee and tea without caffeine may still be.
    The reason why anything is prohibited in the Word of Wisdom was given in Doctrine and Covenants 89:4. “Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—”
    What are the evils and designs that we were warned about? We don’t know all of them, yet. But we do know some of them. Among those evils and designs are using addictive substances to separate people from their hard-earned money. Selling something that is addictive means easy money no matter what it is.
    Many Latter-Day Saints avoid decaffeinated coffee and tea to avoid the appearance of evil. Some doctors use decaff to wean people of off coffee completely. Some studies show that decaff coffee may cause other health issues, and therefore it is often used in this manner. Doctors who use decaff in this manner may allow a patient to return to regular coffee, or recommend that they stop coffee completely. Some recommend that their patients stick with decaff permanently. There are possibly other harmful and addictive substances in coffee. It is also possible that the chemicals used to remove the caffeine from coffee are the cause of the other health issues. More study is needed.
    Caffeine is a stimulant that taken in moderation causes little harm. Large quantities of caffeine are dangerous, no matter the source. Certainly dependence on Diet Coke or other caffeine sodas could fall into that “evils and designs” category, just as much as coffee. The Church, at this time, does not prohibit soft drinks, even caffeinated soft drinks. Overuse of any item to the point that it causes harm to our bodies, or is addictive; even food, is probably not conducive to the Holy Spirit.
    Tea has a second stimulant called theophylline, but it has a very small amount. It is the combination of the two, caffeine and theophylline, that give tea its wake-up qualities and possibly gives tea its addictive qualities. Decaffeinated tea does not remove theophylline. Many avoid decaff tea for this reason.
    Some Latter-Day Saints drink “herbal tea”. Keep this in mind; in the English language “tea” is a very broad and generic word referring to any drink produced by boiling leaves or other parts of plants. I will often season my Sunday pot roast with a “tea” made from rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. It is very delicious and certainly not a violation of The Word of Wisdom. The understanding of the Word of Wisdom is that tea made from the tea plant, whether or not it has caffeine in it, is prohibited. Other substances which can be referred to as tea by the method used to make it, are not prohibited.
    The doctrine and covenants specifically states, “And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man— Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.” D&C 89:10–11
    There are two last things that I remind everyone when I teach the Word of Wisdom in Sunday School. First, all commandments are spiritual. (D&C 107:12) Second, good health is the promise or the blessing of keeping the Word of Wisdom, or one of the hidden treasures. “And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.” D&C 89:18–20.

  3. The reason we don’t consume coffee or tea doesn’t have anything to do with caffeine. We were asked not to drink coffee or tea so we don’t. Therefore, we don’t drink it even if it is decaffeinated.
    I drink caffeinated soda. As a Mormon, non-Mormons that see me drinking soda with caffeine often ask me why I can drink that but not coffee. I explain that soda is not in the same category although some Mormons and others get worried about it.
    The problem lies in that people don’t understand what the Word of Wisdom is about. It isn’t about health as some think. It is about obedience. We have been asked not to, so we don’t, to show our abidance.
    We don’t look down on others that do because we understand that is not their belief and they do not have to be obedient to a rule that isn’t for them to follow.

  4. Yes, some Mormons do drink decaf.
    No, the church doesn’t have an official position on it.
    The proscription against drinking coffee or tea is ‘a sign of faith’, a symbol of a Latter-day Saints commitment to the gospel and the church community. It actually has nothing to do with health and is only tenuously linked to an early revelation on dietary advice.
    In the early 1920s, the church made abstention for tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco products a condition of ‘worthiness’ (a measure of commitment) for Latter-day Saints who wished to receive a recommend to enter the church’s temples. Consequently, the question of whether one ‘lives the Word of Wisdom’ is not at all about whether one is living a health life-style.
    Take for example the ongoing scandal of members of the military exchanging nude photos of the women in their lives for the prurient amusement of their fellow service members. Why is this a scandal? Because there are expectations of the conduct in the military consistent with it’s values. You cut your hair a certain way, dress a certain way, talk a certain way, think a certain way. A soldier doesn’t have to be in uniform to be recognized as a soldier and that’s the point.
    ‘Worthiness’ among the Saints is like this. It is a behavioral standard that demonstrates our alignment with our expressed values.
    I personally wouldn’t drink decaf, or near-beer, not because it would be a ‘sin’, but because it sends confusing signals about who I am. Not everyone sees it that way. Would it prevent someone from getting a temple recommend? It might, depending on who was doing the interviewing.
    There is a danger here of going beyond the mark, because frankly I could be mistaken for a coffee drinker just by taking a hot chocolate. In the end, it’s largely a personal decision based on one’s level of awareness and knowledge. As the Apostle Paul explained, meat sacrificed to idols can be eaten without sin, but if it proves to be an obstacle for your brother, one should refrain.
    I don’t want there to be any confusion about what my values are, so I don’t drink decaf, nor do I condemn anyone who does.

  5. Yes, some do.
    First off, the real answer:
    The only official interpretation of “hot drinks” ( D&C 89:9 ) in the Word of Wisdom is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term “hot drinks” means tea and coffee.
    — Church Policies and Guidelines
    So the church said “no hot drinks” 150 years ago ( D&C 89:9 ), and then later clarified that that meant “coffee and tea.” From there the individuals naturally started speculating that maybe it was the caffeine. Others speculated different things, like tannic acid. Actually throat cancer is so much more common in London and Asia than anywhere else that I’ve been told many members there think the guidance literally refers to the temperature of the beverage. But the official word is just “hot drinks” and “coffee and tea.”
    Anyway, my point is that if one thinks the culprit is caffeine, it is not incongruous that they go their lives refusing Coke and drinking their Decafs. Or drinking non-coffee drink alternatives, like Postum . But that’s not official nor I’d say common these days. An apostle recently joked from the pulpit about how the learning curve of his church calling required “a great deal of time, repetition, patience; no small amount of hope and faith; lots of reassurance from my wife; and many liters of a diet soda that shall remain nameless.” Most Mormons today stick literally to the prohibition against coffee as a prohibition against coffee and non-herbal tea.
    But since coffee is one of those things you have to train yourself to like against your taste buds’ better nature, I’ve never felt the need to drink coffee or non-herbal tea nor to really have an opinion on the topic. My mother was raised on coffee and so drank a lot of decaf when she joined the church. But to me the question is a little like asking whether Mormons can drink near-beers. Real question, and sure, why not, but unless they’re coming off drinking the real stuff I doubt any would.

  6. The Word of Wisdom specifically says we should not consume “hot drinks”, but has been clarified to mean Coffee and Tea. It also specifically warns against tobacco and alcohol, and since has included “all illegal and addictive substances.”
    Lots of members mistakenly believe it’s the caffeine, but that’s not the case (unless you’re addicted to the caffeine). It’s explicitly Coffee and Tea, and decaf Coffee is still Coffee, decaf Tea is still Tea.
    So yes, I have met members on my mission that though decaf was OK, and so they are out there, but in the churches eyes it’s still Coffee/Tea and should not be consumed by members.
    Hot chocolate is a regular staple at church events in many of the places I have gone, so I’d say it’s safe to say that the actual temperature, as well as the caffeine (though minor in hot chocolate) is not the issue, it’s the coffee bean and the tea leaf.
    Interestingly, church facilities that serve food, or have vending machines, such as the Missionary Training Center and Brigham…

    Victor Allen’s

  7. We have not been told to avoid drinks with caffeine or tannic acid in them. We have been commanded not to drink coffee and tea. So, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints should not drink any kind of coffee or tea.

  8. I assume by “Mormon” you mean members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
    If so, some Latter-day Saints probably do drink de-caffienated coffee, but that is not in harmony with the Word of Wisdom.
    Thanks for asking.

  9. Most of the Word of Wisdom has been proved to be way ahead of its time. Prohibiting alcohol and tobacco in the 1800’s probably sounded crazy at the time but seems incredibly prescient now. Eating very little meat would have sounded strange in the 1800’s, but that too has proven to be sage health advice.
    On the other hand, I find the whole coffee/tea/caffeinated soda question to be convoluted and contradictory. Coffee and tea are bad but caffeinated soda is not? Caffeine is highly addictive, and the negative health effects of soda are well-documented. The Word of Wisdom states that it is “adapted to the capacity of the weak.” By “the weak,” I think it might mean those of us who are hooked on soda and other junk.


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