Supposedly, Mormons aren’t allowed to have caffeine. What is the precise Mormon caffeine rule?

Supposedly, Mormons aren’t allowed to have caffeine. What is the precise Mormon caffeine rule?

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  1. The Word of Wisdom is a product of 1800′s health trends and the interpretations of leaders and members afterward. It doesn’t make logical sense. It’s just about obedience for members. Like not eating pork for Jews. It’s just a thing. The no caffiene thing was a trend awhile back when people were trying to make sense as to why they shouldn’t drink tea or coffee. Not officially bad per the religion.
    This is a funny explanation. Brother Jake tries to explain this with a believer perspective, but shows all the inconsistencies. It’s funny and a good summary.

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  2. Mormons are allowed to drink/ingest caffeine…just not in the form of hot coffee or hot tea. The original specification in the Word of Wisdom–which warns against things that are not healthy for human bodies—is “hot drinks.” That was clarified later to mean “coffee and tea.”
    The popular myth that caffeinated soda is against the Word of Wisdom was finally specifically debunked a few years ago. You’ll still find a wide range of opinions among church members about what is or is not against the Word of Wisdom, but hot coffee and hot tea are minimum defining items.

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  3. Let us be completely clear- I know of no doctrinal statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (incorrectly called “Mormons”) that forbids the consumption of caffeine. I have been instructed that in the past, some leaders of The Church spoke out against the recreational drinking of what was termed “colas;” I understand that these statements were made at a time when Coca-Cola was still going off a recipe intended as a painkiller. These statements were essentially condemning the misuse of over-the-counter medicine of the day.
    We do have a document we regard as scripture which we refer to as The Word of Wisdom; a revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded in section 89 of our Doctrine and Covenants . When it was given in 1833 it was clearly understood to be only what our name for it implies— wisdom . It even states that it is not given “by way of commandment or constraint.” Among many items of counsel, it advises proscribing “hot drinks.” In the 1830s, this almost certainly implied coffee and tea. It was not until 1921 when the then-Prophet, Heber J. Grant, received the directive from God to preach a strict adherence to the proscribed substances listed in the Word of Wisdom. The statement about hot drinks is interpreted to mean coffee (decaf or otherwise) and tea derived from the actual tea plant (as opposed to herbal teas such as chamomile or ginger).
    Many members and leaders alike have felt that, after examining the underlying principles of The Word of Wisdom and owing to the addictive nature of caffeine, caffeinated beverages should be avoided. Alternatively, some have inferred that the reason coffee and tea are proscribed is due to their caffeine content and therefore extended their practice to the shunning of caffeine. (This logic is flawed, however, since whether 1830s chemistry able to justify the Word of Wisdom or not, it has repeatedly been emphasized that the justification for the Word of Wisdom is that it came from God by revelation, rather than from medical science.) These viewpoints have in the past been widely promoted. Ironically, their proponents usually overlook chocolate completely.
    In 2012, in order to clarify some points of an hour-long NBC documentary about our religion, The Church made an official statement regarding the caffeine issue, which after revision states “the church revelation spelling out health practices … does not mention the use of caffeine.” A news article treating this and other related questions can be read here:
    Chug a Diet Coke? Mormon church clarifies stance on caffeine
    This point is very important in my mind, since misunderstanding it can lead to the perception that decaf coffee is permitted under our health code, and this is not the case. I alluded to this several lines up.
    I personally tend to avoid sugary and carbonated beverages in general, but not out of a sense of religious duty. I’m no health nut, but once you get on that hydration train, you feel so good you never want to go back. I do like the once-in-a-blue-moon Dr, Pepper if there’s nothing more interesting around (ginger beer and birch beer are my favorites) and I tend to take Tylenol with Coke, or drink it to supplement my ADHD meds (caffeine has a calming effect on ADHD neurology). I find Pepsi… abrasive on my stomach. I’ve never touched Mountain Dew. It looks like piss to me. I have no issues with Barq’s root beer, but I like Bundaberg Root Beer better, so typically go for non-caffeinated root beer out of a flavor preference.
    UPDATE: I feel somewhat silly about it, but I never had the thought to seek any more authoritative statement on the caffeine issue for my answer. Quite by accident, I stumbled across it while looking up something procedural for my duties as a Branch Clerk (what, I cannot now recall). Since it’s relevant, I cite it here, from Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 2018 section 21.3.11 Word of Wisdom :
    “ 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.
    “ Members should not use any substance that contains illegal drugs. Nor should members use harmful or habit-forming substances except under the care of a competent physician. ”
    That’s the entire section. Out of the gate, the only thing the Brethren felt it was needful to clarify were how “hot drinks” should not be understood and that illegal and prescription drugs fall under the Word of Wisdom umbrella. The statement assumes that any habit-forming substance worth mentioning would be one monitored by a physician, which does not include caffeine (at least, I never heard of the case yet where a doctor used caffeine as part of a regular regimen of treatment, for pain or otherwise). In all other respects, the statement seems to disqualify the caffeine argument.

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  4. There’s nothing in Mormon doctrine that refers to caffeine. The “Word of Wisdom” is guidelines set for LDS members to follow but only a few things have been “revealed” as specifics. Tea and coffee are the main two that seem unusual. People usually assume it’s the caffeine in these products that is “prohibited” but that specification has never been made. Some members don’t drink caffeine because of this assumption. The best way to find results for yourself or a friend is read through the Word of Wisdom and pray for clear guidance on ways you can improve your health.

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  5. There has been a lot of confusion about this, no less among Latter-day Saints.
    There is canon scripture that deals with health issues and specifically recommends against the use of tobacco and hot drinks . It should be noted though that the scripture is rather explicit about the fact that this isn’t commandment .
    To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days— (Doctrine & Covenants 89:2)
    On the other hand, in the early days of the church, the Saints were gathered to Zion, which meant variously Kirtland, Ohio, Clay County, Missouri, Nauvoo, Illinois and eventually what is now the Intermountain West region of North America. Classical 19th century economics featured the gold standard, the effect of which was to constrain the availability of cash and in frontier regions like the American West, barter often compensated for the shortage of money. This was a problem where it concerned bringing converts from Europe and Eastern regions, since ship and train fares had to be paid in cash. As a result, Church leadership requested that the Saints conserve cash by simply abstaining from less socially exigent purchases, such as alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, “Eastern fashions” and leather goods.
    This had a transformative effect on Latter-day Saint communities, which I’ve addressed in other answers on Quora. Effectively though, abstention from these products became a mark of faith , which was formalized in the 1920s as a requirement to receive permission to enter the church’s temples (reserved for the most committed Saints). As time went by, US economic policy changed to fiat currency and the original reasons for these behaviors disappeared, yet as is often the case, the culture was perpetuated even as the original reasons for it faded from the collective memory.
    Fast forward to the post-war years, which saw the Church expand from a regional Church to a North American one. The Church did not as yet have the sophisticated lines of communication it does now, so folk doctrine was still prevalent right up until the new millennium. All sorts of folks sincerely believed that Mormons shouldn’t drink hot chocolate, much less Coca-cola. Even into the early 2000’s I was careful to discern “what kind of Mormon I’m dealing with…” I was once confronted by an older couple, on an airplane, about drinking Coke. They were disgusted! I was perplexed (and surprised that they picked me out as a Saint…a bad Saint, but a Saint nonetheless…).
    Only now, in 2017–2018, are we seeing Church-associated institutions like BYU selling caffeinated drinks in cafeterias and vending machines, but it’s still not universalized, in spite of the fact that the Saints have been brown-bagging it into the Church office buildings for years.
    It’s a fascinating example of the staying power of cultural mythology.

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  6. It is not caffeine; it is hot drinks, which are defined as coffee and tea. Nobody better take away my Diet Dr. Pepper!
    Why? Because Heavenly Father told us to take care of our bodies. That is good enough for me. No alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. Not such a hard law to live by, and much easier than the dietary restrictions Moses had to deal with.

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  7. Supposedly Mormons aren’t allowed to have caffeine. What is the precise Mormon caffeine rule?
    There actually isn’t one.
    In Doctrine & Covenants, it says for us to not drink “hot drinks”. The official interpretation of this is that this refers to coffee and black/green tea, and not to hot punch, hot chocolate, herbal tea, etc. It has been applied to temple worthiness interviews. That is, you are supposed to refrain from coffee and tea (as well alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs) in order to enter the temple.
    There is a common assumption that the motivation behind this restriction is the caffeine. As a result, many people in our church will tell you that we do not drink caffeinated sodas. However, the Church has clearly stated that drinking caffeinated sodas will not keep you out of the temple.
    In this way, I see the specific restriction against coffee and tea as something similar to the restriction against eating pork in Old Testament times. There were certain health advantages to this, especially in those times, but the reality was that God gave this commandment as a way of testing His people and giving them something to be disciplined about. Some members of the Church seem to think that there are mysterious health advantages to not drinking coffee and tea that we just have not discovered yet, but I highly doubt that. I follow this injunction because it is a commandment, and I think it is a commandment because the Lord wants to test His people.
    That said, note that the Word of Wisdom incorporates many things that are not mentioned in temple worthiness interviews. For example, we are supposed to go to bed early and wake up early, and we are supposed to eat meat “sparingly” – yet your bishop is not going to tell you that you cannot go to the temple because he saw you pigging out at the ward barbecue.
    Members of the Church can drink caffeinated sodas and eat chocolate (which also includes a significant amount of caffeine) without being excommunicated, kept out of the temple, etc. However, note what Boyd K. Packer once said on the matter:
    There are many habit-forming, addictive things that one can drink or chew or inhale or inject which injure both body and spirit which are not mentioned in the revelation.
    https://www.lds.org/new-era/2008/04/to-the-point/is-there-anything-wrong-with-drinking-sodas-with-caffeine-in-them-is-caffeine-bad-the-word-of-wisdom-doesnt-mention-it?lang=eng
    So there is no explicit rule against caffeine. Drinking Dr. Pepper is not going to keep you out of the temple. It is a fact that apostles at least sometimes drink Coke and Pepsi. If you want to live according to the spirit of the Word of Wisdom, you should probably try to minimize your caffeine intake, as even secular doctors will tell you that caffeine is not good for you. However, those who think that the Church has a complete ban on caffeinated drinks are simply wrong.
    In short, don’t drink coffee or black/green tea at all, and try not to get addicted to any other kind of caffeine-bearing product.

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  8. Like most rules, it depends on the local bishop, or “Judge in Israel.” I’ve had some Judges that were liberal and some conservative. One Judge, upon hearing my confession of drinking cappuccino, told me that espresso has a fraction of the caffeine brewed coffee has and went into the science of how the steam releases beneficial fats from the bean that have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and lower risk of certain types of cancer. He left the legality of espresso drinks up to me. Then I moved. And that was that.

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  9. “Supposedly” isn’t exactly very authoritative and whoever told you this is not a reliable source of information on LDS rules and customs.
    The rules regarding intake of harmful substances are found in the Word of Wisdom , and the link here will take you to the authoritative essay on the church’s website, which I summarize here:
    Avoid
    Alcoholic drinks (see D&C 89:5-7 ).
    Tobacco (see D&C 89:8 ).
    Tea and coffee (see D&C 89:9 ; latter-day prophets have taught that the term “hot drinks,” as written in this verse, refers to tea and coffee).
    We are also enjoined to eat well:
    Vegetables and fruits, which should be used “with prudence and thanksgiving” (see D&C 89:10-11 ).
    The flesh “of beasts and of the fowls of the air,” which is “to be used sparingly” (see D&C 89:12-13 ).
    Grains such as wheat, rice, and oats, which are “the staff of life” (see D&C 89:14-17 ).
    And why?
    “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.
    “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” ( D&C 89:18-21 ).
    That’s it. No mention of caffeine or other drugs. But of course, we’re smart enough to get the gist of what God is saying here: avoid bad things that limit your abilities and lead to bad health and do consume good things that build up our bodies so that we can be helpful to others.
    The whole “caffeine” thing comes from people trying to “scientifically” pick apart this revelation (“what do coffee and tea have that other drinks don’t?”) but it’s not authoritative at all.

    Victor Allen’s

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  10. I avoid caffeine. I do so as a result of my religious observances, specifically because we have been counseled to avoid substances that influence our ability to feel the Holy Ghost. My observation is that caffeine has a number of effects that culminate in me having a shorter attention span and feeling more anxious, both of which I believe impede the Spirit.
    I do use it when I am trying to complete a long drive and I know my body could use just a little bit more help to stay alert. I don’t like doing so and try to avoid it, but there it is.
    Said another way, I treat it like a drug or medicine that I should take only when I have a specific illness or symptom to address.
    Caffeine is also helpful for those suffering from headaches, so I take Excedrin, which contains caffeine, if I can, but may settle for a caffeinated beverage if I can’t find a better alternative to get it.
    The Word of Wisdom was kind of the basis of this understanding, but it isn’t really the basis so much as further guidance has been provided. I think people are best able to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost when they have avoided caffeine, along with a great many other things that are not prohibited as such (which included too much sugar or large cinnamon rolls – The Sanctity of the Body – Susan W. Tanner ).
    There is a defensible position in and individual deciding for himself or herself to avoid caffeine based upon guidance from modern prophets. I would not agree with anyone saying someone is not a good Latter-day Saint simply because they were observed drinking a Dr. Pepper.
    Quick war story-
    At our last stake conference, there had just been a shooting at a church a couple hundred miles away and a number of people were concerned about safety. So I was one of several Elders that was positioned to identify any hints that someone might try to harm folks at the meeting.
    At one point, I walked past the food preparation area and notice the exterior door was propped open. I walked over and looked outside, but did not immediately see anyone. So I took the stop out and let the door close- after all, I would not expect anyone to be using the kitchen during Stake Conference.
    A few minutes later, I noticed a gentleman dressed for the meeting wander out from the back sidewalk to the shed where the Boy Scout gear is stored and then walk behind the shed for several minutes. It was an odd enough behavior that I watched more closely. When he came back in, he was acting a little self conscious. I saw part of a can and thought it was alcohol. I relaxed a little bit since I was worried about armed attackers, but mentioned it to a member of law enforcement just to make sure he was aware of the potential for an issue. This man went for a walk to see what was going on. As you probably guessed, the can was for a caffeinated beverage. I was trying to figure out why he hid behind the shed when plenty of people just bring them in using RTIC cups and the like. I guess old habits die hard.

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  11. The precise Mormon caffeine rule is :
    “Don’t get addicted.” Yes I believe that’s the right answer.
    And the secret to a free and happy life.
    Otherwise, there is no rule in our doctrine that precludes caffeine specifically. Prevention of casual caffeine consumption is a more nuanced self-imposed rule some Latter-day Saints believe based on avoiding the main addictive stimulant in coffee and tea.
    It may be wise to limit it to measured use, but caffeine denial is not in the “Word of Wisdom” contained in the text of D&C 89. Like anything else, it is a naturally occurring chemical found in plants to be consumed with wisdom.
    Godspeed, my friend!

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  12. Could someone explain the thinking behind the ban on ‘hot drinks’? Is there some scriptural reference? Do they see some harm? I would think a hot drink on a cold day would be good for the soul.

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  13. There isn’t one. The closest thing we have in recent times is this statement from the Newsroom at LDS.org:
    “Despite what was reported, the Church revelation spelling out health practices ( Doctrine and Covenants 89 ) does not mention the use of caffeine. The Church’s health guidelines prohibit alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing of tobacco, and “hot drinks” — taught by Church leaders to refer specifically to tea and coffee. “ See Mormonism in the News: Getting It Right | August 29 (2012).
    I’ve always avoided caffeinated soft drinks, but after seeing a 60 Minutes segment on a study that found that daily caffeine, among other things, contributed to long life, I started adding a no-guilt daily energy drink to my diet. President Uchtdorf even generated a good laugh in conference when he referred to his partaking of a “soft drink that shall remain unmentioned” while solving a late-night technology problem. Rumor has it that Pres. Monson had a favorite soft drink that was caffeinated.
    In other words, it’s not something we worry much about, if at all. It’s more of a cultural point of humor at this point.

    Eight O’Clock

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  14. There is no proscription against caffeine… although for decades there used to be. The other LDS respondents to this question have conveniently “forgotten” that two prophets back, Gordon B. Hinckley specifically identified caffeine as the culprit in the Church’s ban on Coffee, Tea & caffeinated soft drinks. When I was on my mission and at BYU, all Caffeine was banned, whether in the form of No-Doz or Mountain Dew. I even got in trouble on my mission for drinking RC Cola, which didn’t contain caffeine in Europe at the time.
    Then Hinckley died and was replaced by Thomas Monson, who liked to drink Pepsi. Following Monson’s lead, the Church flipped, caffeinated soft drinks became okay and the membership had to jump through strange, new theological hoops in order to explain why “coffee and tea”, whether hot or cold, were still “bad”, while caffeinated sodas and hyper-caffeinated energy drinks were suddenly not.
    When the Word of Wisdom was written in D&C 89, caffeinated soft drinks hadn’t been invented yet, so we can cut ’em some slack there, but also under the same WoW, naturally fermented beer is very clearly specified as being OKAY and frequent ingestion of meat is very clearly specified as being BAD. Mormons have never paid attention to the meat ban and it was only during Prohibition that Heber J. Grant outlawed all beer for Mormons. Although today’s Utah beer 3.1% is much weaker than the natural beer brewed by Grant’s pioneer forefathers, beer is still taboo because that’s the way the current theocrats want it.
    It’s not about making sense, it’s not about consistency… it’s about doing what you’re told .
    Here’s the thing you have to remember about the LDS commandments… they don’t have to make sense or stay consistent. What is important for Mormons is that they obey their commandment du jour while pretending to themselves that they’ve always made sense and have never changed. That “never-changing” groupthink illusion is why you won’t find any of the Quormon answerers here, who are old enough to remember back just 15 years ago when caffeinated soft drinks were clearly taboo, acknowledge the way things used to be.
    So, to recap today’s rules for those of you who are still confused:
    All Coffees and most Teas – BAD, regardless of temperature, regardless of caffeine content.
    Ovaltine, Postum and Hot Chocolate – GOOD, even though the commandment specifies “hot” drinks and doesn’t specifically name coffee or teas.
    Caffeinated Sodas and Energy Drinks – All dandy since about 2008, even though many energy drinks are merely flavored drug delivery systems containing far more active stimulants than coffee ever dreamed of.
    Tobacco – Bad in all its visible forms. Vaping is bad because it looks like smoking. Use of the nicoderm patch and the nicotine gum is okay because it doesn’t look like smoking and you’re trying to quit.
    Marijuana – Not mentioned in the WoW but generally bad because it looks like smoking and is a still illegal drug which the Church wants to keep that way.
    Meat consumption – The WoW has a lot to say on this and strongly urges spare and only occasional use. Mormons have never paid the slightest bit of attention to this, no GA’s ever bring it up.
    Alcohol – WoW says naturally fermented, home grown beers and wines are fine if they are “mild”, strong wines and distilled spirits are bad. But since Heber Grant and the 1920’s, all alcohol or alcohol mimics have been considered bad.

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