This article is one in a series of articles about explaining our Mormon beliefs to our friends. See other articles in this series.

The law of healthy living for Mormons is found in their scriptures (see section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants) and is known as the “Word of Wisdom.” In this revelation, the Lord revealed which foods are good for us to eat and which substances are not good for the human body. It encourages the use of fruits and vegetables, grains, and the use of meat sparingly. The health guidelines prohibit alcoholic drinks, tea,coffee, harmful drugs, and smoking or chewing  tobacco.

The following are some great online resources for learning about the Word of Wisdom:

The Question of Caffeine

Caffeine is not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom and Church policy does not prohibit its use. Therefore, members of the Church are left to their own decision about whether to avoid caffeine. Some Latter-day Saints avoid drinking colas and other caffeinated beverages.

In 1996, Mike Wallace interviewed President Gordon B. Hinckley in the CBS program “60 Minutes.” In the program, he asked President Hinckley about a number of Church practices, including the Word of Wisdom. Mr. Wallace quickly named a number of things found in the Word of Wisdom, including “No alcohol, no tobacco, no coffee, no tea, not even caffeinated soft drinks…eat meat sparingly, exercise…get plenty of sleep.” To all these, President Hinckley responded, “Right. It’s wonderful.” Some people have taken that statement as an implication that faithful members of the Church should avoid caffeinated soft drinks. (Watch the segment here.) In the context of the entire interview, it appears to me  that President Hinckley was focusing on the major issues of doctrine, and not taking time to sidetrack the interview into less important issues.

Recently, in response to the NBC program titled “Mormon in America,” the Church clarified the issue of caffeine by stating the following: “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.)


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