Is Caffeine against the Word of Wisdom?


Motivation

There seems to be a high level of confusion among Mormons regarding the drinking of caffeinated beverages.  Are they against the Word of Wisdom?  Were they ever against the Word of Wisdom (WoW)?  Many Mormons who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s believed that these drinks were forbidden, but recent statements by the church appear to indicate that they are allowed.  In this work we attempt to gather official statements made on the subject of caffeine in order to trace its development within the context of the health code known as “The Word of Wisdom”.

Summary

In order to understand caffeinated beverages and their relationship to the WoW, one must first look to the statement contained in the health code given in 1832:

“…hot drinks are not for the body or belly.”

The exact definition of hot drinks is not given in this revelation and was not explicitly recorded by Joseph Smith, the movement’s founder.  However, Hyrum Smith, the brother of the prophet defined this for early members when he said in 1842, “Again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly. There are many who wonder what this can mean, whether it refers to tea or coffee, or not. I say it does refer to tea and coffee.”[1]

Early members understood the reason that hot drinks were forbidden.  Vapors from these drinks were thought to be unhealthy.  It followed that other drinks which were served warm and had vapors were also unhealthy.  This included hot soups and hot chocolate which were on at least some occasions forbidden by high ranking leaders.[2]

Following the turn of the century and the practical end of polygamy within the Mormon movement, the Word of Wisdom began to be enforced around 1918 when it became a part of the temple recommend interview (at about the same time that prohibition became law in the US).  Also in 1918, the first article appears in the Improvement Era outlining both the evils of coca-cola as well as suggesting that it is not proper for Saints to partake of this drink. During the 1920s, mentions of certain items (such as smoking increased) whereas other items (including caffeine and beer) decreased markedly. The 1930s showed a marked increase in many aspects related to the WoW, and there were more references to the WoW, beer, liquor, and tobacco in General Conference than any other decade on record.  Old theories regarding hot drinks and vapors had been discarded, but science had discovered that coffee and tea contained caffeine and that caffeine was an addictive stimulant.  It was logical to conclude that the reason for the prohibition of hot drinks – now defined to be coffee and tea – was due to the caffeine, and that any substance containing caffeine should be banned.

Mentions of the Word of Wisdom in General Conference

During the 1930s, the subject of caffeine is revisited in General Conference and multiple general authorities suggest that using caffeine (in the form of cola drinks) goes against the WoW.  This was most explicitly stated in 1938 and 1940.  There is some indication that at least some members took the cola ban in the 1940s seriously and abstained from these drinks during the war.  However, after 1940 the topic became dormant in General Conference without any references until the mid 1960s.

Frequency of various drug related terms in General Conference

The counter-culture of the 1960s with its messages of “free love” and ideas about drug use created a reaction within the LDS movement.  Both the sexual codes and the WoW were expanded and reinforced.  Regular bishop’s interviews with youth were introduced.  A prohibition of caffeine was again discussed starting around 1965.  Although the official magazine published opinion pieces in 1971 indicating that caffeinated sodas was a matter of personal interpretation, in 1972 the First Presidency had made a clear statement that consuming certain beverages (such as colas with caffeine) was a violation of the WoW.  However, they tempered this statement by noting that this type of violation would not result in a loss of a temple recommend.  As a temple recommend is an indication within the movement of righteous living, having something which was both prohibited but which did not impact their eternal salvation and temple status may have been confusing for members.  This state of confusion continued until a softening (due to lack of discussion of this topic) started to occur in 1988.

By 2003, and again in 2012 the church softened its stance stating that the use of colas with caffeine was a matter that members could decide for themselves (in line with the pre-1972 guidance).  When BYU started serving caffeinated drinks 2017, any remaining vestiges of the previous doctrine or guidelines seem to have been removed.  In spite of that, many members continue to avoid caffeinated drinks.

Literature review

Official church statements:

First presidency statement:  Dec. 3, 1971:

“In reference to the Church’s attitude regarding Sanka coffee.

“The use of a beverage from which the deleterious ingredients have been removed would not be considered as breaking the Word of Wisdom. However, in all cases it is well to avoid the appearance of evil by refraining from the use of drinks which have the appearance, the smell, and the taste of that which we have been counseled not to use. However, temple recommends should not be denied to those drinking Sanka or the cola drinks.[3]

In February 1972 the first presidency stated:

“There has been no official interpretation of [the] Word of Wisdom except that which was given by the Brethren in the very early days of the Church when it was declared that ‘hot drinks’ meant tea and coffee.

“With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.”[4]

References to caffeine in General Conference

1930:     David A. Smith

It is interesting to note that scientists and medical men have given more thought to and have conducted a more extensive research into the field of foods and food values during the last fifty years than during all the history of the world before, and that the results of their research harmonize with the Word of Wisdom. Recent medical publications make the following statement: “Coffee and tea do more harm than good. Caffeine and tannic acid are the harmful agents in these beverages. Children should not have coffee or tea. Tea retards digestion. ” ” Extremes of cold and heat produce gastric catarrh. ” “Piping hot broth or coffee is grateful on a cold day, so is ice-cream on a hot day, but extreme hot temperatures in the stomach are detrimental. Food repeatedly taken too hot or too cold may give rise to disturbances. Too hot food may be the cause of stomach disease.[5]

1935:  Rudger Clawson

The Lord also points out the things that are good for man, but not all of them. And in respect to these things that are pronounced as being evil, he does not tell us in the revelation why there is evil in them, but time has determined this question. Scientific men have told us that in tobacco there is a deadly poison, and in tea there is a poison called tannin, in coffee a poison called caffeine. And we know that such must be the case, because these forbidden things are really and substantially narcotics, and a narcotic is something that is habit-forming. The things that are good for us are not habit-forming. We can take them up or put them down, but these bad habits very often and in most cases become masters of men; the habit is greater and stronger it appears than the individual.

1938:  George F. Richards

I want to say to you that from the beginning of this Church, in the days of the Prophet Joseph, down to the present time, the leaders of this Church have interpreted that Word of Wisdom to include tea and coffee and all drinks that are habit-forming because of the caffeine and drugs they contain. We, as Latter-day Saints, who by our uplifted hands sustain the prophet in our day and time, President Grant, are under obligation to accept the interpretations that are made by him and by his predecessors with respect to this matter, that the Word of Wisdom that has come to us from the Lord includes tea and coffee among those things which we should not partake of.

1940:  John H. Taylor

We have the same proposition in relation to the Word of Wisdom. We know the fundamental truth of the Word of Wisdom is based on a truth that can not be eliminated or removed by any type of argument or reason. For instance, in coffee we have caffeine that is harmful, yet we sometimes reason that the same thing that makes coffee objectionable may not be so objectionable when it is used in some other way. It just indicates that we have not proven the thing so thoroughly that we have been able to hold fast to that which is good and make it a part of our lives.

Stirling W. Will stated in 1965:

And one of the most damaging sins and one that gives greatest strength to our death instinct is the violation of that great revelation given 132 years ago called the Word of Wisdom. Some violators of this law tend to excuse themselves because it appears to be such a small thing. It seems like just a little disobedience, a little caffeine a little nicotine, a little friendly indulgence in alcohol. Yet these are the springboards to disease, broken homes, immorality, disloyalty to God, physical death, and the death of many of our eternal interests. In the February 26, 1965 issue of Life magazine, there is an appalling article about the toll being taken by the dope traffic in the United States. And among its most damning effects is the deadly addiction it forms and the good inclinations that are destroyed by its craving.

In 1969, Richard L. Evans quoted Dr. David Starr Jordan of Stanford University in his talk and stated the following:

“The pleasures of vice are mere illusions, tricks of the nervous system, and each time these tricks are played it is more and more difficult for the mind to tell the truth. Such deceptions come through drunkenness and narcoticism. In greater or less degree all nerve-affecting drugs produce it: nicotine, caffeine, opium, cocaine, and all the rest, strong or weak. Habitual use of any of these is a physical vice. A physical vice becomes a moral vice… and to cultivate vice is to render… our mind incapable of normal action…. One and all, these various drugs… tend to give the impression of a power or a pleasure… which we do not possess…. One and all their function is to force the nervous system to lie. One and all the result of their habitual use is to render the nervous system incapable of ever telling the truth…. Indulgence… destroys wisdom and virtue; it destroys faith and and hope and love…. Whatever you do, count all the cost. “Thus spoke the eminent educator, Dr. Jordan. And this he added: “To be clean is to be strong…. To say no at the right time, and then stand by it, is the first element of success…. He is the wise man who, for all his life, can keep mind and soul and body clean. ” (Selected from The Strength of Being Clean and The Call of the Twentieth Century.)[6]

In 1975, Vaughn J. Featherstone made it clear in a conference address that the 1972 bulletin from the First Presidency on prohibiting soft drinks with caffeine was in full effect.

I was over in England a while back and a bishop asked me, “What is the Church’s stand on cola drinks?” I said, “Well, I can’t remember the exact wording of the bulletin, but I remember seeing the bulletin when I was a stake president. The Church, of course, advises against them.”

He said, “Well, I have read the Priesthood Bulletin, but that isn’t what it says to me.”

And I said, “Would you get your Priesthood Bulletin? Let’s read it together.” And so we found under the heading “Cola Drinks”: “… the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs. …” (The Priesthood Bulletin, Feb. 1972, p. 4.)

He said, “Well, you see, that doesn’t mean cola.”

I said, “Well, I guess you will have to come to your own grips with that, but to me, there is no question.” You see, there can’t be the slightest particle of rebellion, and in him there is. We can find loopholes in a lot of things if we want to bend the rules of the Church.[7]

Between 1975 and 1999, there is no known mention of caffeine in General Conference.

In 1999, Keith B. McMullin referenced in his talk the story of a person being reactivated into the church.  As part of this process, the individual, “stopped using drugs and caffeine”[8].  It is unclear if he was referring to soft drinks or (more likely) coffee.

2002 – Hinckley, in the address “the church goes forward” referring to press coverage of the recent hosting of the 19th Winter Olympics:

Georgie Anne Geyer, prominent syndicated writer whose column appears in many newspapers, wrote as follows: “How on earth could a largely Mormon state do something so daring as hosting an international celebrity meeting? Would the world come gladly to a state whose dominant religion asks members to abstain from alcohol, tobacco and even caffeine, three staples of international conferences? “[9]

In this reference (again) it is unclear if Hinckley is referring to soft drinks, coffee, or both.

Select references to caffeine in Church periodicals

In the 1918 Improvement Era on page 443 there is an article entitled, “Should Latter-Day Saints Drink Coca-Cola.[10]  The article was written by University of Utah geology professor Frederick J. Pack and states in part:

Recent inquiry seems to indicate that the “Mormon” people in general are quite unfamiliar with the chemical composition of this drink (Coca-Cola) and that its physiological effect is very much the same as that of tea or coffee.

After briefly explaining that Coca Cola has caffeine – and that this is the same active ingredient as coffee and tea, the article continues:

For the Latter-day Saints who believe that tea and coffee are detrimental, there can be but one attitude toward to use of Coca-Cola, for, according to the testimony of the company itself, its action is precisely similar of that of tea and coffee.

… the caffeine content of a glass of coca-cola is just about equal to that contained in a cup of tea or coffee…  According to the belief of certain noted scientists, caffeine, when artificially added is much more harmful than when naturally present….

“…If you extract the caffeine and mix it with syrup, and flavor it, you can drink six or eight glasses of it, and there is no warning from your stomach, and you become a nervous wreck.”

The article continues with about 2 pages of text quoting various doctors and professors and listing the negative effects of caffeine.  It concludes by saying:

“Should the Latter-day Saints or, for that matter, anyone else, drink coca-cola?”

In 1971, The question was answered in a church article entitled, “With all the knowledge we have of perhaps harmful additives in much of the food we buy today, and our knowledge of caffeine in soft drinks and chocolate, and lots of other unhealthful substances in food products, how does one live the Word of Wisdom in 1971? Can one really live it fully?”

The article provided two independent answers, both which stressed that it was an individual choice.

Answer/Doctor Lindsay R. Curtis

In reference to the question, it is true that caffeine is a stimulant, and an unnecessary stimulant for constant consumption. But it is a very valuable drug when it is used by physicians. Without it, many of our medicines would fail to relieve our headaches, our discomforts due to colds and injuries, and many other conditions.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which in great amounts could cause untoward results; yet theobromine is a valuable medicine in its proper place…

Let us use good judgment. If we are still uncertain about certain products and feel keenly about it, let us make it a matter of prayer and fasting. We will find the proper interpretation—for us. But we should not feel that this is the answer for everyone else.

Answer/Mrs. Winnifred Jardine

…Aside from the specific instructions regarding alcohol, tobacco, and hot drinks (which we have been told means tea and coffee), the application of the Word of Wisdom is a matter of personal discipline and restraint.

In 1972, an official church statement was made in the Priesthood Bulletin of February 1972 (volume 8, number 1):

“There has been no official interpretation of [the] Word of Wisdom except that which was given by the Brethren in the very early days of the Church when it was declared that ‘hot drinks’ meant tea and coffee.

“With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.”[11]

This new policy was also published in the New Era in May of 1972.

A snippet in the September 1973 Ensign shares one readers experience in a comical way as they talk about refusing to drink Coke and coffee after donating blood.  The story infers that this is the normal, expected behavior of Mormons.  The story ends:

Then, in frustration, she called across the hall in a loud voice to the nurse in charge, “This man won’t drink coffee or cola. What should I do?” Without hesitation the nurse in charge yelled back, “Send him back to Utah!”

The harmfull nature of caffeine in drinks is again mentioned in an article in May of 1974.  It reads in part:

Special concern is often expressed about the soft drink industry. The harmful effects of the cola drinks have been mentioned many times. But other drinks are often marketed that contain caffeine. Buyers should know well the products they are purchasing.

In 1975, one article explained in response to the question, “Is it against Church standards to drink cola beverages or any other beverage containing caffeine?”:

Two of the tests we can employ as we question the use of any food or beverage are: Is it wholesome? Is it prudent?…. Finally, remember that the Lord has counseled:

“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” (D&C 58:26.)

We know that cola drinks contain the drug caffeine. We know caffeine is not wholesome nor prudent for the use of our bodies. It is only sound judgment to conclude that cola drinks and any others that contain caffeine or other harmful ingredients should not be used.[12]

In July 1975, one article justified the church by explaining that they do not invest in items of questionable morality:

the Church does not buy securities in any corporation that manufactures products such as cola drinks, publishing companies that print material that is not consistent with our standards, producers of alcoholic beverages, or tobacco companies.

A 1979 article mentions in passing that one star member made sure that the locker room vending machine contained root-beer (presumably because drinking caffeinated drinks was prohibited).

Another article from the Oct 1979 New Era (which quotes a man writing during the 2nd World War) seems to indicate that the caffeine ban was in place in the 1940s:

He shared some of his experiences with me, and then in the last paragraph he said, “Vaughn, I want you to know I have never had a beer or a cigarette, never a drink of liquor or tea.” He said, “I have never had coffee or even a cola drink in spite of all the pressure from the boys in my company.”

In 1981, the 1972 instruction was reiterated, but with clarification that consuming caffeinated colas would not result in loss of a temple recommend:

  1. What are the health consequences of drinking caffeine drinks other than coffee? What is the position of the Church regarding their use?

  2. The full answer to this question lies in the area of medical opinion and reliance on personal discernment. Cola beverages do contain caffeine and thus may be avoided in accordance with the spirit of the Word of Wisdom. The most current Church literature relating to the question is found in a Priesthood Bulletin statement dated February 1972:

“With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.”

There is no current Church policy that would preclude a bishop issuing a temple recommend to a person who consumes cola beverages. However, Cola beverages contain caffeine in amounts that are approximately one-half to one-fourth the amount in a cup of coffee, depending upon the size of the bottle. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that certainly tends to become addictive in its use, with the attendant side effects of nervous-system stimulants. Frequent use of cola beverages can lead to an addictive pattern similar to that observed in coffee drinkers.[13]

A 1988 article entitled “Caffeine – the Subtle Addiction“[14], takes a very negative view towards both Coffee and caffeine consumption more generally.  The approach of the article is to cite specific scientific studies which support the general view that coffee is very unhealthy.

Coffee and the caffeine it contains plays a major role in dozens of diseases in the United States, from the number one killer, heart disease, to the number one physical complaint, chronic fatigue. (Goulart, 1984 [See “Sources” footnotes at the end of the article].)

…Since 1980, however, several research teams have published significant medical reports demonstrating that the chronic abuse of caffeine is very risky. Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics and Johns Hopkins Medical School, for example, recently published their findings from a thirty-year study that confirmed a close relationship between coffee intake and coronary heart disease. (LaCroix et al., 1986.)

… Some people avoid caffeine by switching to decaffeinated coffee. However, several medical investigations over the last decade have shown that between 40 and 50 percent of decaffeinated coffee drinkers have gastrointestinal difficulties, such as ulcers, colitis, or diarrhea. (Goulart, 1984.) Decaffeinated coffee stimulates the production of stomach acid because the roasting of coffee beans releases harsh acids and oils that irritate stomach linings. One study of 13,000 patients in Boston, Massachusetts, area hospitals also showed that the risk of developing myocardial infarction was the same for decaffeinated coffee drinkers as it was for regular coffee drinkers. (Health Letter, 1982.)[15]

The article concludes by quoting the previously mentioned Priesthood Bulletin of Feb. 1972 which specifically advises against the use of any beverage which may be habit forming.  This appears to be the last time that the 1972 bulletin is mentioned in the official church literature.  One may infer that sometime after 1988 drinking colas with caffeine became more allowable due to lack of reinforcement of the previously standards.

In 1996, Boyd K. Packer stated in General Conference:

Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom. It’s well known that tea, coffee, liquor, and tobacco are against it. It has not been spelled out in more detail. Rather, we teach the principle together with the promised blessings. 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.

Everything harmful is not specifically listed; arsenic, for instance—certainly bad, but not habit-forming! He who must be commanded in all things, the Lord said, “is a slothful and not a wise servant” (D&C 58:26).

In some cultures, native drinks are claimed to be harmless because they are not specifically mentioned in the revelation. Yet they draw members, particularly men, away from their families to parties which certainly offend the principle. Promises made in the revelation will be denied to the careless or the reckless.

Obedience to counsel will keep you on the safe side of life.

In a Jan 1997 New Era article, there is a clear indication that cola consumption is a matter of personal choice:

…While caffeine has usefulness in relieving pain and treating some illnesses like asthma, continued use, even in small doses, can be detrimental to good health. The Word of Wisdom prohibits tea and coffee, but we are left to make our own decisions on other foods and beverages which contain caffeine.

Dr. Clifford J. Stratton, a Doctor of Human Anatomy at the University of Nevada in Reno, says, “I counsel inquiring members that eating or drinking anything that may result in bodily harm is probably a violation of the spirit of wisdom enjoined in Doctrine and Covenants 89.” [D&C 89]

Ensign, June 1988, 60

In the Apr 2008 New Era there is an article entitled “Is there anything wrong with drinking sodas with caffeine in them? Is caffeine bad? The Word of Wisdom doesn’t mention it.”  The answer given seems to indicate that caffeinated drinks should be avoided, but is not specific in prohibiting them.  As in previous cases, it refers to older statements (in this case the 1996 statement by Packer rather than the 1972 Priesthood Bulletin):

Doctrine and Covenants 89:9 says we shouldn’t drink “hot drinks.” The only official interpretation of this term is the statement made by early Church leaders that it means tea and coffee. Caffeine is not specifically mentioned as the reason not to drink these drinks.

However, we should keep in mind this counsel given by President Boyd K. Packer: “The Word of Wisdom was ‘given for a principle with promise’ (D&C 89:3). … A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom. … We teach the principle together with the promised blessings. 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. … Obedience to counsel will keep you on the safe side of life” (“The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises,” Ensign, May 1996, 17–18). [16]

In Dec 2008, an article was published called “The Energy Drink Epidemic” talks about the problem of overuse of caffeine. It states in part:

…This habit involves the abuse of a drug to which most people give little thought, even though it is now the most commonly abused drug on the planet. What was her habit? Excessive cola consumption. The drug? Caffeine.

One must keep in mind, of course, that from a medical point of view there are certain appropriate uses for caffeine. For example, doctors will sometimes prescribe caffeine for use in neonatal care. In addition, used in moderation, caffeine may not pose significant health risks. It was the resulting side effects from overuse of the drug that gave me such concern in Mrs. Jones’s case.

Not all caffeinated drinks are created equal; the quantity of caffeine varies greatly from product to product. To put this into perspective, consider that most cola soft drinks have from 22 to 55 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, compared to a common cup of tea that varies from 26 to 47 mg. Coffee may have from 57 mg for a cup of instant to 180 mg for a cup of brewed. By comparison, energy drinks may have from 80 to 500 mg of caffeine in one can.[17]

In 2012, the Newsroom published the following in response to a report on NBC.  This was during the height of the “Mormon Moment” when Mitt Romney was running as the Republican candidate in the US presidential election.  It appears to be distancing itself from a caffeine ban when it stated:

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.

Additional Statements and actions

In 1998 in an interview with Larry King Live, Hinckley seems to indicate that caffeine is against the WoW[18]:

Larry King: No to caffeine?

Gordon B. Hinckley: No to caffeine, coffee and tea.

In 2003 after Mitt Romney won the governorship in Massachusetts, some reporters noticed that he drank cheery coke.  In response to press inquiry, the Church responded as follows:

“The Church’s health code,” spokesman Dale Bills e-mailed from Salt Lake City, “called the Word of Wisdom, is contained in a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The revelation prohibits the use of tobacco, alcoholic beverages (‘strong drink’) and ‘hot drinks’ … The only official interpretation of the term ‘hot drinks’ as used in the revelation is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term means tea and coffee.

“On questions not specifically addressed by Church teachings, members are expected to exercise wisdom in applying the principles of good health. Soft-drinks containing caffeine fall into the ‘exercise wisdom’ category. They are not specifically restricted, but many Church members voluntarily avoid them.”[19]

A 2004 manual for seminary teachers relates the following:

You have been counseled repeatedly to “live in the world, but not be one of the world.” Sometimes some of our members want to live as close as they can to worldly standards and yet qualify for a temple recommend. Live by the covenants you took in the temple; do not live on the fringes. You will be judged by the kinds of movies you attend, by the way you dress, and by the music to which you listen. Some years ago one of our teachers told his students that he used cola drinks and that it did not prevent him from holding a temple recommend. This was an indication of poor judgment on his part, and it illustrates what I mean by living “on the fringes.” Live the spirit of the commandments.

In 2012, BYU dining services indicated that the reason that they did not sell caffeinated drinks was simply because there was “no demand”, but that they might begin selling them at some point in the future.[20]  In September 2017 when BYU started selling caffeinated drinks it made national headlines.[21]

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to u/i_love_the_funk on reddit for alerted me to the 1918 article in the improvement era addressing coca-cola.

Thanks also to Roger Nicholson at FAIRMORMON for providing a source for the 2003 statement made by Dale Bills, spokesperson for the LDS church.

References

[1] Hyrum Smith, “The Word of Wisdom,” Times and Seasons 3 no. 15 (1 June 1842), 801. http://www.centerplace.org/history/ts/

[2] George Q. Cannon, 1868 speaking on the word of Wisdom, “We must not permit them (children) to drink liquor or hot drinks, or hot soups or to use tobacco or other articles that are injurious.”

[3] First Presidency, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, N. Eldon Tanner, Dec. 3, 1971 http://emp.byui.edu/ANDERSONR/itc/Doctrine_and_Covenants/sections076-100/section089/89_10sankacoffee_tfp.htm

[4] https://www.lds.org/liahona/1990/03/caffeine-the-subtle-addiction?lang=eng   Priesthood Bulletin of February 1972 (volume 8, number 1).

[5] Full quote:  First, wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks are mentioned as being, “Not good in the sight of our Father.” Because tea and coffee are not mentioned, some excuse themselves in their use, for they say they do not take them hot. I heard a brother sometime ago, perhaps to justify himself in his desire to indulge his appetite, say that he would not be surprised if someone would come along and attempt to forbid the use of hot soup. I told him provision had already been made for that. I shall not attempt to interpret the meaning of the Word of Wisdom, for to me it is clear, but may I call your attention to statements made by others by way of comparison. Hyrum Smith, brother of the Prophet, delivered a sermon on “The Word of Wisdom”, soon after this revelation was received by Joseph Smith. In this sermon the Patriarch of the Church, who was sustained with Joseph Smith as a prophet, seer, and revelator, warned the Church against the use of tea and coffee, which he said were injurious to the mind and body. It is interesting to note that scientists and medical men have given more thought to and have conducted a more extensive research into the field of foods and food values during the last fifty years than during all the history of the world before, and that the results of their research harmonize with the Word of Wisdom. Recent medical publications make the following statement: “Coffee and tea do more harm than good. Caffeine and tannic acid are the harmful agents in these beverages. Children should not have coffee or tea. Tea retards digestion. ” ” Extremes of cold and heat produce gastric catarrh. ” “Piping hot broth or coffee is grateful on a cold day, so is ice-cream on a hot day, but extreme hot temperatures in the stomach are detrimental. Food repeatedly taken too hot or too cold may give rise to disturbances. Too hot food may be the cause of stomach disease.

[6] “The Call of the 20th Century” can be found at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/9469/9469-h/9469-h.htm and contains much of the first half of this combined quote.  “The Strength of Being Clean” can be found at http://econ2.econ.iastate.edu/classes/econ362/hallam/Readings/StrengthCleanJordan.pdf

[7] https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1975/04/a-self-inflicted-purging?lang=eng

[8] https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/welcome-home?lang=eng

[9] https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/the-church-goes-forward?lang=eng

[10] https://archive.org/details/improvementera2105unse/page/432

[11] https://www.lds.org/liahona/1990/03/caffeine-the-subtle-addiction?lang=eng

[12] https://www.lds.org/new-era/1975/10/q-and-a-questions-and-answers/is-it-against-church-standards-to-drink-cola-beverages-or-any-other-beverage-containing-caffeine?lang=eng

[13] https://www.lds.org/ensign/1981/01/staying-healthy-welfare-services-suggests-how?lang=eng

[14] https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/06/research-and-perspectives/caffeine-the-subtle-addiction?lang=eng

[15] https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/06/research-and-perspectives/caffeine-the-subtle-addiction?lang=eng

[16] 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

[17] https://www.lds.org/ensign/2008/12/the-energy-drink-epidemic?lang=eng

[18] http://www.lds-mormon.com/lkl_00.shtml

[19] Coca-Cola is Okay, Pop quiz: Coke is OK, by Alex Beam, Boston Globe, 1/16/2003.

[20] http://fox13now.com/2012/08/30/lds-blog-post-says-caffeine-ok-for-mormons/

[21] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/09/21/byu-is-finally-selling-caffeinated-soda-to-its-students-are-we-supposed-to-rejoice/?utm_term=.f9b70d8d98ba