Why is it that some Mormons drink caffeinated sodas and others don’t? What is the rule here

mormon-churchMormons have been instructed through a revelation known as “the Word of Wisdom” to not drink coffee or tea. Though it does not state so, some take this to also mean not to drink caffeine in general. During an interview with Larry King in 2004, President Gordon B. Hinckley of the Mormon Church discussed the Word of Wisdom:

Gordon B. Hinckley: The word of wisdom covers many things. It covers the excessive use of meat, as I see it. It covers, in a very particular way, the use of tobacco and alcohol.

Larry King: By saying no?

Gordon B. Hinckley: By saying, by proscribing those things.

Larry King: No to caffeine?

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

Following this interview, many Mormons immediately quit drinking caffeinated sodas. However, since the punctuation was added by CNN, it is not clear whether President Hinckley was listing things we say no to, or whether he was clarifying the “no to caffeine” statement by adding the “coffee and tea,” in which there are lots of caffeine. In other words, it’s entirely possible he could have actually been saying, “No to caffeine: coffee and tea.”

The Mormon Church released an official statement in 1972 about the subject:

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.

When it comes down to it, the point of the Word of Wisdom is to take care of our bodies. Mormons believe that bodies are a gift from God and should be respected and taken care of, both inside and out.  Being addicted to any substance is proven unhealthy, and addictive behaviors should be avoided. It’s not rocket science that soda provides no health benefits to our bodies, and it would not be considered healthy to “need” soda to get by day-to-day.  To avoid this, some Mormons choose not to drink caffeinated sodas at all, others just try to drink them sparingly.

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