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Every religion has its sets of beliefs and restrictions. Just like Muslims are forbidden from consuming liquor and Jews can only eat Kosher food, Mormons are restricted from certain foods as well. Coffee is among the few things the Mormon church restricts. This leads us to the question: Why Don’t Mormons Drink Coffee?
Mormons do not drink coffee because they believe that in 1833, God prohibited them from consumption of harmful substances including coffee. This was a rule mentioned in “Word of Wisdom”. It was so mandatory that you could not enter a Mormon temple unless you followed this rule. Substances like tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and tea were also prohibited.
Why Don’t Mormons Drink Coffee?
While many people believe Mormons do not drink coffee because of caffeine, that is not entirely the case. Mormons, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, avoid drinking coffee as part of their religious dietary guidelines, known as the Word of Wisdom.
Sodas and chocolates also contain caffeine, but Mormons still drink and eat them. Also, since hot drinks were forbidden, the Mormons could still consume iced coffee then, which also contains caffeine. Therefore, it is obvious that there are lots of questions. It all comes down to personal interpretation in the end.
While many things are obviously forbidden, others are not. The remaining interpretation is up to individual Churches, families, or even individuals.
Some Mormons feel they are allowed to drink sodas, while others do not. Many Mormons avoid any coffee-related foods, even decaf pastries. Some Mormons believe that the problem lies in consuming caffeine, while others believe that the problem is with the coffee drink itself. Thus, they refrain from any coffee-based beverages and foods. Other Mormons will even avoid drinks that contain traces of tea.
Strict Mormons even avoid chocolate or chocolate cake because of the trace amounts of caffeine in it. Thus, different Mormons with different value sets and interpretations of the health code follow it in different ways.
History of the No-Coffee Rule for Mormons
The prohibition on coffee stems from the Word of Wisdom. The Mormon prophet Josh Smith said that he received the transcript of “Word of Wisdom” in 1833, where God instructed him to avoid consuming harmful substances without any specific mention of coffee.
While the Word of Wisdom does not specifically mention coffee, the Church has interpreted it to include coffee and other caffeinated beverages as well. The Church leaders have explained that they believe caffeine can be harmful to the body and that avoiding it is a way to follow the spirit of the Word of Wisdom.
The reason behind this (according to some interpretations) could be that coffee has effects on your mental state. These restrictions were presented as a way to live a healthier life. There is another myth regarding this restriction that coffee is forbidden because it changes the way you behave. That is why liquor and other alcoholic drinks were also forbidden.
The Word of Wisdom has clearly stated that “Hot drinks are not for the body or the belly” so people automatically assumed that it meant coffee and tea were forbidden. The most obvious reason behind such a restriction is the medical consequences of them.
What is The Word of Wisdom?
The Word of Wisdom was revealed as a divine revelation on February 27th, 1833, as per Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith was the founder of the Latter Day Saint organization. Brigham Young reported after Smith’s passing that the revelation was provided in reply to challenges experienced while holding meetings in the Smith family residence.
Followers and abiders of the Word of Wisdom were promised health, knowledge, and even hidden treasures. It was stated that those who followed these holy rules would never get weary and would not faint. This document even contains a list of substances that were beneficial for health. These substances include grains, fruits, and herbs.
The first material listed in the revelation that should not be consumed is “wine or strong drink.” There are some exceptions to this rule. Cigarettes/tobacco and “hot drinks” are also prohibited, according to the disclosure. The revelation of the Word of Wisdom also reveals legitimate use for some banned drugs. While “strong liquids” should not be consumed, they were allowed only if they were used for cleaning bodies. This is the most important reason why many Mormons don’t consume coffee at all.
Find some of the most interesting facts about coffee here – 50 Interesting Facts About Coffee.
Do Mormons Drink Decaffeinated Iced Coffee?
Since the Word of Wisdom does not tell us why coffee and other hot drinks are prohibited or the rationale behind not using them on the body, it is usually up to individuals and churches themselves to interpret these rules; thus, while some Mormons avoid coffee because it is a hot drink, they also avoid decaffeinated coffee.
Some Mormons believe that the religion prohibits its followers from consuming tea and coffee in particular. Thus they avoid any form of coffee, even without caffeine. Some Mormons believe that caffeine is the problem, and so they consume decaffeinated coffees.
Is Coffee Really Bad For You?
If Mormons are so strict about coffee, it begs the question, “is coffee that bad for you?”. It is not. In fact, coffee may even contribute to your good health. Coffee is not bad for you, but it is addictive and only harmful if over-consumed. There are several health benefits of coffee such as better performance at work, increased stamina, prevention of Type II Diabetes, reduction in chances of cancer, fight depression, and much more.
In addition to that, according to John Hopkins Medicine, coffee in the right amount increases your lifespan. Coffee reduces the chances of coronary heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and diabetes. According to Healthline, coffee boosts your energy levels, supports your brain health, helps to control weight, prevents liver diseases, and much more.
However, Mormons are prohibited from drinking coffee because it is addictive, and the addiction could lead to overconsumption. When overconsumed, coffee can cause nausea, stomach ulcers, headaches, and much more. There are several other harmful effects of overconsuming coffee.
Mormons have strict guidelines about their food and drink intake, but it is all to ensure a more healthy lifestyle. While not all Mormons avoid coffee as instructed, coffee and sodas are still banned in some parts of Utah and other areas where Mormonism is prevalent. Ultimately, the decision to follow the Word of Wisdom is left up to each individual member.