Even if Romney doesn't win the election (Go Mitt!!!), the church will have at least one enormous positive come from the scrutiny of the Mormon Moment.
About 30 years too late to save me from endless inane debates with people who love to ride “gospel hobby horses” (a Boyd K. Packer term), the church has finally come out with a statement that declares the obvious.
Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote a great rundown of this epic Mormon history bit:
OK, Mormons, drink up — Coke and Pepsi are OK
My only beef is the freakishly lame spin by Carrie Jenkins, BYU spokeswoman. When asked why church schools don't offer non-coffee/tea caffeinated beverages, she said that it's “…not a university or church decision, but made by dining services, based on what our customers want.”
Apparently in her 20+ years speaking for all things BYU, she has never once looked in a faculty file drawer, department refrigerator, or cup and has also managed to avoid seeing the throngs of folks at convenience stores two feet off campus refilling their 64 ounce jugs with Mountain Dew.
Time to get out more, Ms. Jenkins.
Great post! I often mention to the caffeine-as-word-of-wisdom-doctrine types that if caffeine were truly on the verboten list, then we’d have to keep those who eat chocolate out of the temple…then we’d really have a problem!
A facebook friend — and someone I’ve known since college — responded on my link. I think her point bears discussion as well. She said:
Here is my response:
I disagree. The Mormon Momment is bringing out constant declarations about what the church preaches. The church leaders are making an effort to clarify what is actual doctrine and what is not. And they said as much in the newsroom post.
As someone who drank Tab like water in junior high, went cold turkey from all caffeine for more than a decade, and now drinks it only rarely, my position has never changed: caffeine isn’t part of the word of wisdom.
If anyone “delighted in being a little rebellious” over drinking caffeinated soda, it’s because they were confused about our teachings in the first place.
It’s not a proscription, so there is no rebellion involved.
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Way to “assuage” my Caffeine and Theobromine guilt.
This is from a blog written by newsroom staff. I hardly think its an official statement from the Church!
Hate to rain on anyone’s parade but: I found out a few weeks after I was baptized (3 months ago) that I am allergic to caffeine (and besides, to alcohol…haha). A lot of holistic people have assured me that caffeineis a central nervous system attacker and not the greatest substance to ingest. I have said to church friends that I will drink coffee when it is offered at a home of a non church friend and there is pretty much nothing else they have prepared. It which case to me it is a social faux pas to go into a lengthy diatribe about coffee and the Word of Wisdom. Several church members have told me that they or someone they know at church drink Coke anyway. If you all start drinking lots of caffeine after years of not doing it, you will probably find out whether or not you are also allergic to it – by observing some changes in your body, at which point it could be wise to stay away from it….Despite the wonderful newspaper article that gives us back certain choices and/or makes what we have been doing anyway “guilt free”, I am still thinking God might still think regular intake of caffeine is potentially a body pollutant.
“I have said to church friends that I will drink coffee when it is offered at a home of a non church friend and there is pretty much nothing else they have prepared. It which case to me it is a social faux pas to go into a lengthy diatribe about coffee and the Word of Wisdom.”
I think it is a social faux pas to go into a lengthy diatribe about ANYthing when a guest in someone’s home, but there is nothing rude or improper about simply saying, “no thank you.” Coffee *is* one of the things that is specifically prohibited by church doctrine.
Ingrid, you really want to keep this going, don’t you?!
I realize the statement is on a blog written by newsroom staff. The blog is also on an official church website that is monitored and vetted by the church leadership AND is used to be the news dissemination venue for the church. You’ll even note that after the original posting, the blog post was tweaked to be more in line with the desired information.
You can keep debating the issue if you like. I consider the matter settled.
Christine, I’m not sure what parade you think you’re raining on. I think you have a general misunderstanding of the Word of Wisdom.
The church does not now — and never has — proscribed caffeine. The church does now — and has since the reception of the Word of Wisdom — proscribed both coffee and tea.
The problem has come from people trying to manufacture a REASON for the actual proscription when God didn’t give one. It fallaciously went something like this:
A simple analysis of this proves it false, but too many haven’t done the analysis.
The fact that you are allergic to caffeine isn’t relevant as far as a Word of Wisdom discussion goes. My mom was allergic to eggs. Of course, SHE shouldn’t eat them, but that has nothing to do with a general need to avoid eggs.
In the case of drinking coffee socially, you simply have to decide if you want a “social faux pas” or a moral sin. Which do you value more? Only you can answer that.
In my experience, I have never, ever, EVER had a non-LDS host be upset at me — or consider it any kind of breach of etiquette — to refuse things that were religiously (or medically!) proscribed. Never, ever. And it doesn’t remotely require “a lengthy diatribe about coffee and the Word of Wisdom.” It’s as simple as saying, “I’m sorry. Due to my religious convictions, I don’t drink coffee.” End of story.
And there is the problem. The fact that church members drink Coke has NOTHING to do with the discussion of drinking coffee. Drinking coffee breaks the Word of Wisdom. Drinking Coke does not. So, in a nutshell, your friends are telling you, “Well, it’s OK to break the Word of Wisdom by drinking coffee because other members do NOT break the Word of Wisdom by drinking Coke.
See the problem?
Christine, no one is recommending a massive ingestion of caffeine. The recommendation is for members to stop spreading misinformation about the Word of Wisdom.
First, the article did not give back a choice, since the choice wasn’t ever taken away.
Second, this is precisely what I do NOT think is appropriate.
God specifically proscribed coffee and tea. Don’t drink them. Don’t drink them socially or any other time.
God did not proscribe caffeine. While you are welcome, as a church member, to give all the MEDICAL reasons why you don’t think caffeine is healthy. But to speculate about what GOD thinks about caffeine is an unnecessary and problematic step. You have not NEED to speculate about it, so don’t. As far as MORALITY is concerned, it’s not an issue. It’s not your right to make it a moral issue.
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I know you want to close this but I definitely want to say I am sorry I really did not understand that distinction betwee tea/coffee vs other caffeinated items. such as migraine medication ???…I am kind of new.
It was always very obvious that everyone in the church consumes chocolate which obviously can have caffeine, most of it does.
I just try to emulate the other members in many ways but to me it is also important to figure out what God wants from me, from all of us, for sure.
I am sure the confusion is wide spread in LDS. By the time I ferreted out that my LDS friend’s LDS sister in CA drinks Coke every day and my friend thought that this was “not following the WoW” …that was only a week ago and along comes this newspaper article, which sameself friend sent me on Facebook as soon as it came out. (btw I REALLY dislike Coke…)
Then there is this one (to me) really stunning story: when I was not even an investigator and knew nothing about the Church I saw a lady whom I knew from the gym (turns out she is someone with a relatively high calling in my ward -at that time I did not know she was in any church) purchase a large hot coffee at a small roadside Java Junction outlet. (where I was getting a smoothie). She told me she had a migraine. I was like, poor thing..At the time I had no idea but now…I am left wondering who really does adhere to the WoW every hour every day…
I read on Wikipedia that in 1922, Church President Heber J. Grant counseled the Latter-day Saints:
“I am not going to give any command, but I will ask it as a personal, individual favor to me, to let coca-cola [sic] alone. There are plenty of other things you can get at the soda fountains without drinking that which is injurious. The Lord does not want you to use any drug that creates an appetite for itself.”
So he was a prophet right, so his word/revelation here is pretty much as good as that of God? And if it is so, is President Grant’s recommendation now truly overriden with the most recent newspaper article?
So now when I show up with a 6 pack of Coke at the LDS Beach BBQ this afternoon …
i call troll. but i’m not in charge.
I wasn’t going to say anything but since Oregonian brought it up, I’ll blame her. Haha.
Christine here and on Alison’s other blog you seem to alternate between “I’m new and clueless” and “I recall the history of all drinks ordered by people I don’t know and also I’ve read every remote prophetic quote.”
I admit, I’m also suspicious.
So where does this leave marijuana? Party at my house for Family Home Evening! Everyone bring brownies!
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Louis…marijuana = illicit drug = against WoW
I am really quite amazed that people still don’t get this. Sigh.
No I am really new, just have some silly ways about me. Anyway yeah how about me just being there when that drink was ordered and years later putting it into perspective. anyway i have never said it to anyone and you all do not know who that is. so I am not singling out, i hope. I just googled the caffeine thing and found the quote by Pres. Grant. Anyone can do it. Someone had already put the info about the article on the trib into the entry in the wikipedia…
People at the picnic said: you can drink iced tea and coffee. Or, if you want to be really on the safe side, you can drink just water for ever.
What do you mean by saying I “keep debating the issue”? I commented once!!!!!
When the newsroom staff bloggers speak, the debate is over!
But Angie, marijuana is not “specified” and only assumptions similar to those made about caffeine in the past lend themselves to it being “against the word of wisdom”. Right? I’m not advocating in any way but pointing out the similarities regarding what we choose to include in the Word of Wisdom as opposed to accepted scriptural (as in canon-D&C 89) instruction and guidance.
I like your last name, by the way! 🙂
Christine, here’s the deal. There are quotes all over the place that say one thing or another. You can spend days debating them. (In 1922 Coke still had cocaine in it, for one thing. Grant specifically said it wasn’t a command — so not a doctrinal issue — for another.) But the facts about the WoW are explicit.
FTR, “hot drinks” was specified, by revelation, to be “coffee and tea.” Not “hot coffee and hot tea.” Not “things that share any particular chemical substance with coffee and/or tea.” Not “things that might look like coffee or tea.” Not “things in a mug.” And not “things with caffeine.” No coffee. Period. No tea. Period.
For a number of years people could get temple recommends while drinking coffee and tea. (Both my grandmothers were examples of this.) That changed when I was a kid. (FYI, you CAN drink caffeinated coke and get a temple recommend. You CANNOT drink decaffeinated coffee and get a recommend.)
Loius is pulling chains. Illegal drugs have been discussed ad naseum since the 60s. So head to California, get a “doctor’s note,” and join the medical marijuana ruse if you want to bypass the law.
Ingrid, the title of this post is “The Caffeine Debate is Over – Finally.” Given that you’ve commented only three times here, the debate in question wasn’t between you and me. Rather, it’s been a decades long debate between people who know what coffee and tea are and those who like to make up stuff.
In that light, yes, when a newsroom staff blogger blogs ON AN OFFICIAL, VETTED CHURCH WEBSITE in a post explicitly written to ANSWER DOCTRINAL QUESTIONS for mass consumption, then, yea, it’s meaningful. And, yes, I consider the answer to be clear. (But, of course, I think it always was.)
So, when YOU want to continue the decades-long debate (started by others), yea, I think it’s silly. But keep riding that gospel hobby horse! Yeehaw!
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You say “Hot Drinks are Coffee and Tea” by revelation. By logic anything cold cannot be a hot drink, that includes cold coffee. I can see why some Mormons think they can drink it.
hehe I wonder what will happen when the time is up for me to get a temple recommand.
Maybe someone will dig out this blog comment and say: we cannot give it to her. a) she wants to drink cold coffee and b) she blogs on a Sunday.
1920 still cocaine in Coke ? where did you get that date?
I found this:
” In the 1890s, however, public sentiment began to turn against cocaine, which among other things was believed to be a cause of racial violence by drug-crazed blacks. In 1903 the New York Tribune published an article linking cocaine with black crime and calling for legal action against Coca-Cola. Shortly thereafter Coke quietly switched from fresh to “spent” coca leaves (i.e., what’s left over after the cocaine has been removed). It also stopped advertising Coke as a cure for what ails you and instead promoted it simply as a refreshing beverage.”
Here’s lastly what I am asking myself: When/how does something the current prophet says become a doctrinal issue?
Seriously Christine? I try very hard to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I’m in agreement with Oregonian and partone. I’ll give you one last indulgence. OK?
When the WoW was given, coffee and tea were the common “hot drinks.” People asked for clarification. It was given. Hot drinks meant the hot drinks that were common at the time: coffee and tea.
There is no indication that the heat of the drink was in question. For example, when “hot drinks” was specified to be “coffee and tea,” there wasn’t a general problem with people brewing their coffee, leaving it on the counter for six hours, and then drinking it tepid. (Although it appears you would do this.)
As for what forms doctrine, I think you could probably find this info given your adeptness at googling. But here you go:
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By the wiki you linked for Core Doctrine’s standard, then a Prophet’s teaching about the WoW being a commandment goes against the standard works which states specifically the WoW goes out “not as a commandment or constraint”. I’m not trying to split hairs, but your snarkiness is contradicting.
I’ve always looked at it this way– even thought the WOW doesn’t specifically mention it, and even if it doesn’t keep you out of the temple– the fact that the MTC, Church Headquarters soda machines, temple cafeterias, etc only offer non-caffeinated sodas, must mean SOMETHING. And I don’t buy the “it’s not in demand” argument. From what I can tell, there are more members who DO drink caffeinated sodas that those who don’t.
And either way, I’ve always been one to just take the safe route. Even if there’s absolutely no legitimacy to the “no caffeine” idea, there’s no harm in me NOT drinking it. But if there IS, then I made the better choice.
And I remember an interview that Mike Wallace did with President Hinckley, where Mr. Wallace was listing off the things that we don’t partake of– alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, tea, etc– and he specifically mentioned caffeinated sodas, and Presidently Hinckley was saying “right”, “right”, “right” as he mentioned them. Of course, answers given in an interview on 60 Minutes isn’t the equivalent of a General Conference proclamation or somekind of an official edict. But I can’t pretend like I didn’t hear it either. President Hinckley didn’t correct him or separate the things that ARE specfically mentioned in the WOW from the caffeinated sodas that AREN’T mentioned– he just said “Right!” It sort of sealed the deal for me. And like I said, if my assessment is wrong, so what? No harm done.
Louis, try this.
Tracy, so, what does it mean? Jenkins says it’s just demand. I can’t wait to see the result of the backlash to that one. Either Jenkins will have to retract or there will be Coke flowing from the soda fountain in short order. I’m waiting with bated breath to see what it will be.
For the record, the church actually does sell caffeinated stuff. For example, the cafeteria in the Joseph Smith building on Temple Square (owned by the church) is one. I took a triple take when I saw that a couple of years ago and made Sam go witness it for me. Someone just told me they do it at football games, but I’ve never looked (and Monica worked concessions at the game last week, and we attended).
Funny factoid: the Polynesian Cultural Center serves Sanka.
I recorded the interview with Hinkley and now, of course, it’s on YouTube. I wouldn’t use that interview to substantiate anything whether it supported my opinion or not. It’s a PR opp. Wallace listed a mess of stuff, he says, “right.” He lists another mess of stuff, he says “right” again.
Hinckley was way too savvy to get bogged down in some picky analysis during a clipped interview. There was no point in doing so, given the purpose of the interview. And it was edited as well!
Note that Hinckley (in either that same interview or another with Wallace) said that polygamy was “in the past.” We all know it’s not. But IN THE CONTEXT OF A PR INTERVIEW, that was really the best answer, given what we now PRACTICE and what we actually KNOW.
But let’s be serious. If, in spite of what the newsroom just said, caffeine is really verboten, then let’s do this right and stop consuming chocolate.
But wait, you can get chocolate in the MTC, church headquarters, the temple cafeterias, and every other food service entity the church owns.
So, what does that mean?
BTW, coffee has over a thousand chemicals in it. More than half of the chemicals tested are carcinogens! And caffeine isn’t one of them. So if we’re really looking to divine the reason God proscribed coffee, we might start with one of those. Just to be “safe.”
For example, coffee has benzaldehyde. So do apples and tomatoes. Coffee has furfural. But so do sweet potatoes, nuts, and bread. Coffee has caffeic acid, but, OH NO, so do potatoes, lettuce, mangos, pears, grapes, celery, carrots, apples, and more.
So if we’re going to jump to conclusions, we should at least do it thoughtfully. 🙂
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I get it Alison– there are many things in coffee and tea that are also present in other things–I think everyone does– even those who avoid caffeine. But to assume they’re avoiding it WITHOUT thought is ridiculous. With all the debate on the issue, and half (if not more) of the LDS members around you drinking it, do you really believe those who avoid it CONTINUE to do so WITHOUT having really thought about it?
When I heard about the newsroom statement, my first thought was relief. I don’t drink sodas with caffeine because it give me headaches, but I thought people would stop making stupid statements about it now.
Wrong. It seems the people who have spent their lives preaching the caffeine gospel are just digging in their heels and screaming louder. How really dumb can you be?
I’ve decided that we were told not to smoke because it causes wrinkles around the mouth. So anything that causes wrinkles is against the word of wisdom. Going out when any UVA or UVB rays are present will now be against the word of wisdom. Squinting is also against the rules. Aging is an obvious violation, so at the first sign of getting old, evil doers will be eliminated just to be on the safe side.
Tracy, in discussions about this issue for three decades, I’ve met very few Mormons who have any idea that coffee is full of carcinogens and mutagens. The chemicals weren’t even known (and obviously not tested) when the first Mormons “jumped to conclusions” about God’s unspoken reasons for proscribing coffee and tea.
Let me clarify, by “thoughtfully” I did not mean to imply that they hadn’t had brain activity with regard to the topic. What I meant was more along the lines of “careful consideration.” Perhaps I should have used “intelligently” or “logically” or something similar.
In that light, while I believe eliminating caffeine is a good health choice in almost all cases, I believe insisting that it is part of the Word of Wisdom is done without logic.
Since God didn’t tell us why he proscribed them — I think a great deal of the WoW is about obedience — and people WANT (apparently) to come up with chemical reasons for the proscription (just as they wanted to come up with reasons for the priesthood prohibition and everything else), it seems to me we should — given what we now know about coffee — look at the MOST HARMFUL chemicals, the known side effects (which there are many), the most probable reasons.
Personally, I do not and never have needed a reason. Coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol. That’s all I need to know on this subject. The proscriptions are clear. It’s the fact that so many have wanted to come up with a reason — outside God’s own counsel — that caused the debate in the first place. It was my (apparently erroneous) hope that we could now stop debating the unknown WHY and just deal with the counsel as it really is.
Well, you can’t have everything! 🙂
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Sigh. I wish people had less time on thier hands to debate what kinds of soda are culturally acceptable, and more time to actually study the teachings of the church. (This is not a slam to you Alison, you are addressing it because idiots refuse to remove thier heads from thier keisters)
If more of us would actually FOLLOW the freakin Word of Wisdom, we wouldn’t have so many FAT Mormons. (and yes, I am one of those fluffy members) We as a church have a basic guideline that promotes health in body and mind. The mote and the beam, and all that jazz.
I personally have become addicted to Dr Pepper over the past couple of years, with the blessing of my neurologist. I have used his “prescription” as an excuse to drink something that is terrible for my body, but sometimes helps with my chronic headaches. But I have built up a tolerance to the affects. Catch 22, right? I want to stop drinking it, and remove the side effects from my system, but hate the increased headaches that accompany the withdrawel.
When I was at school at Rick’s College, it was considered contraband and “verbotten” to have any sort of caffienated drink on school property.
It’s soda. It’s crap for your body. But it isn’t banned in the Book of Mormon. I wish people could use the sense that the Lord gave them.
Way too much culture, not enough actual practice…
The spirit of the Pharisees lives on in the Coca-Cola/caffeinated drinks discussion!
Re: the Heber J. Grant quote….
When it first went on the market in 1885 Coca-Cola contained cocaine from coca leaves AND caffeine from kola nuts and did not become completely cocaine-free until 1929. (http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/cocaine.asp)
Since Pres. Grant’s quote is from 1922, IMO it’s not reasonable to assume he was referring to caffeine as the reason for staying away from Coke. In fact, since cocaine* is much more addictive, it is indeed reasonable to assume that cocaine was the reason behind his comment.
*Just to avoid being misunderstood – I’m not saying here that caffeine is not addictive. I’m just saying that since it’s in a whole bunch of other things the church has not counseled against…
I think with *any* doctrine, for ourselves, we must
1)know the doctrine
2)live it as well as we can
3)not waste time grading other members on their knowledge, understanding, or adherence to each doctrine
That’s really why the caffeine thing has been a debate, right? In my opinion, *most* people have made their decision to drink it or not for whatever reasons they choose. The debate comes from looking at others and commenting/opining on their actions and their adherence to doctrine or tradition. Not even a month ago, a sister pulled me aside, very concerned because she had gone to another sister’s home and found out that there was caffeinated soda in the home!! The problem was not really that Sis. A didn’t drink caffeine or that Sis. B did (one would assume – it could easily have been for a family member or guest) drink caffeine. The problem was that Sis. A made note of the presence of caffeinated soda in the home and then, even worse, that she thought she needed to report it to someone she perceived as being in charge. YIKES. That is the problem. Caffeine provides a convenient scapegoat here, but this happens with MANY doctrines and false (or at least unnecessary) traditions.
For me this has always been very clear. I don’t mind what other people do. But when President Spencer W. Kimball wrote, ‘I never drink any of the cola drinks and my personal hope would be that no one would’ (TToSWK, pg 202) – I chose not to drink cola drinks. I don’t think they turn you into Satan; they may not even be bad for you. None of that matters to me. When a prophet of God takes a stand on anything, my choice is to be standing there with him – full stop. I don’t mind if I stand there alone with him, or in a crowd, but that’s where I’ll stand.
I have enough weaknesses to overcome that I need to spend my time and energies on – for instance: always being honest, being always forgiving, always unselfish, always charitable, having completely pure thoughts, etc. I see this part of the Word of Wisdom as one of the easier ‘tick’ commands/suggestions – ie: tithing (tick); modesty (tick).. etc. Oh that all the commandments were this easy! 🙂
What I find a little intriguing is that members have any problem with this at all. I think there are all sorts of things that have almost everything to do with an attitude of obedience, and perhaps almost nothing to do with anything else! Does anyone really think that wearing a white shirt on Sundays is intrinsically tied to one’s righteousness – other than as a sign of humble and willing obedience?
Just a note on the whole ‘hot drinks/caffeine’ debate. I remember our Stake President commenting on ‘caffeine-free coffee’ by asking, “whoever said that we don’t drink coffee or tea because of the caffeine?” Very fair point.
While I feel very comfortable with everyone making their own choices on these things, I do feel disappointed to see people straining at a gnat, as it were.
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