For a lot of us, coffee is a big part of our day. But what is surprising is finding out that a certain group of people can’t have this drink such as the Mormons. But why can't Mormons drink coffee?
Mormons are not allowed to have hot drinks because they believe it causes health issues. They believe that a person should take really good care of their health and also believe coffee —as well as alcohol —is pretty unhealthy.
Can Mormons drink coffee?
Mormons are not allowed to drink coffee.
Historically, Mormons are restricted from consuming hot drinks such as coffee and tea.
Coffee has its benefits but it also brings a good amount of side effects. For one, it is pretty addictive and the Mormons don’t like that.
Who are Mormons?
Mormons are a religious and cultural group associated with Mormonism, the main branch of Joseph Smith's Latter Day Saint movement.
They acknowledge the importance of active participation in the church's lay leadership. They also believe in refraining from working on Sundays and family home evenings.
They put huge importance on ministering to other church members are all cultural practices based on church doctrine. Mormons strongly adhere to the church's law of paying to tithe and living the law of chastity and health.
Aside from coffee, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS also prohibits the consumption of alcoholic drinks, tobacco, tea, and drugs.
People who avoid the classic breakfast buddy aren’t all that unknown. Aside from those who shy away from it due to health concerns, some abstain due to religious restrictions.
Mormons or the followers of the LDS are an example of this demographic.
Banning coffee from their lives? I can’t imagine this happening to me. No coffee —EVER?!
This caffeine drink is among the prohibitions in “The Word of Wisdom,” from a book called “Doctrines and Covenants.”
Mormons believe that the Word of Wisdom is a medical law revealed by the Lord for their physical and spiritual well-being.
In 1833, the prophet Joseph Smith received these regulations as revelations from God that Christians must follow.
Believers of the Mormon faith regard its contents as less of a strict rulebook, but rather a set of guidelines to achieve the best spiritual and physical health.
Mormons aren’t the only ones with set rules that mention prohibitions on food their members can consume.
For example, members of the Church of Christ are not allowed to consume food with blood. The Church of Christ was established in the Philippines by Felix Manalo.
Iglesia ni Cristo like Jehovah's Witnesses prohibits eating or drinking any blood like “dinuguan” or Philippine blood stew.
Muslims are not allowed to consume pork and its by-products. This includes animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering.
Pork, rabbit, and shellfish are considered "unclean" by Adventists and thus forbidden.
There are quite a lot of debates as to what the Word of Wisdom accurately means by “hot drinks.” But the followers of the LDS have a general understanding that this pertains to coffee and tea.
The term “hot drinks” have been clarified by Church leaders. What if I’m boiling ginger and honey for my cough? Is that a no-no?
Well, some Mormons also believe that there isn’t a prohibition on herbal teas as it is for health. But then dark teas and —well green tea are not allowed. Oh, turns out matcha isn’t allowed either. 🙃
Recorded in section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Word of Wisdom talks about which foods are good to be eaten. Also, it mentions which substances are bad for the body and should be avoided.
This is especially drinks with names containing café or caffé, mocha, latte, espresso, or anything ending in -ccino. So cappuccino for Mormons is a no. ❌
They further interpret that the rule of thumb when it comes to caffeinated beverages is that it’s best to avoid anything from a coffee shop as they are likely against The Word of Wisdom.
There are quite a few exceptions to this rule against hot drinks. Consuming herbal tea and hot chocolate seems to be given a pass. This is even though they also have significant amounts of caffeine. 🤔
Now, what if it’s decaf?
You know decaf still has caffeine in it. Although in the interest of health, there are assumptions that decaf can cause kidney problems.
Can Mormons have caffeine?
The Word of Wisdom does not explicitly mention caffeine. But it does have a clause warning against any substances that can harm or enslave their followers to addiction.
Mormons can’t have hot drinks like coffee. They also can’t have stimulants especially if they could result in a certain level of addiction.
E-cigarettes, recreational Marijuana, and the habit-forming tendency brought by caffeine in coffee fall under this category.
But then, any Mormon will gladly eat chocolate and drink hot chocolate. Yes, even though The Word of Wisdom forbids its members from consuming caffeine, chocolate is not on the list.
And to think they have many food products and beverages on the “do not eat” list.
Okay, the reason I am bringing this up is how chocolate has caffeine. So how come it is not banned?
An 8-ounce cup of hot chocolate contains approximately 9 milligrams of caffeine, and any Mormon will gladly consume chocolate and hot chocolate.
According to one Reddit user, it's not the caffeine that is prohibited and that it is “...a wrong conclusion drawn by many people, even Mormons.” Well, a lot of Mormons stay away from coffee, but according to this user, “...no one ever said anything about caffeine. Joseph Smith didn't even know about caffeine.”
However, according to Spencer Kimball, the 12th president of the Church of Christ, the spirit of the Word of Wisdom would be violated by drinking or eating anything that has habit-forming drugs. Well, I am quite convinced that this hints toward caffeine.
So, what’s the real deal?
As it turns out, caffeine is tolerated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so sodas like Coke, various types of chocolate, and other caffeine-containing items that are not coffee are allowed.
Coke caused a bit of a stir when Mitt Romney was seen drinking cola. I mean it does have caffeine. But then, according to Romney, cold caffeine is allowed.
What’s continually confusing is how other Bruce R. McConkie, a Mormon apostle, considered drinking Coke a violation of the “spirit” while Gordon B. Hinckley mentioned that Mormons avoid caffeine on 60 Minutes.
To further clarify, the church already released an official statement in 2012 explicitly mentioning that soda —although it is a caffeinated drink— is allowed under church doctrine. (Yay!)
As it could be that Mormons don’t drink coffee because they are not allowed to consume hot drinks. Not exactly about caffeine.
But then, in sacred texts, anything heated or reheated, such as lunch leftovers, is also pretty much allowed.
Church members are not prohibited from drinking beverages that are hotter than room temperature either.
If you think about it, we have ways to prepare coffee cold. Can they drink coffee then?
I mean what if an LDS churchgoer would try an iced frappe? I mean that’s cold, right? We also have the option to make cold brews now.
The "Word of Wisdom," which members must follow to visit the temple, prohibits them from using or consuming alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco, coffee, and tea.
The church wouldn’t want their members ingesting harmful substances and encourages them to eat healthy foods.
Like anyone trying to be healthy, they are urged to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and to stay away from too much meat.
Not exactly a bad rule don’t you think?
Why don't Mormons drink coffee?
Some members don’t drink coffee and some do. This is all about their interpretation of the law.
The law that everyone is confused about is what Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith about consuming hot drinks. He claimed to have received a revelation from God forbidding Mormons from a few food and drinks.
This is because “hot drinks” are neither “for the body nor belly.”
Over time, the term "hot drinks" has come to refer to tea and coffee. If you think about it, not drinking coffee is more of a result of individual translations of church members.
Now, as much as they deny that the health code from the Word of Wisdom is a strict rule set, the most pious members and families of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints religiously follow the prohibition on coffee.
The coffee restrictions within the followers of the Church of Jesus of Latter-Day Saints used to be hard set. But now, the compliance of younger members of the church is starting to soften.
This kind of change happens to other religions too.
For example, what I know is that conservative Islamic groups consider dogs to be unclean. It would require believers to undergo ritualistic washing if they come into contact with canines.
Although many Muslims in other countries do not consider touching dogs to be against their faith at all.
Adherence to the health code provided by the Word of Wisdom has become less rigid for the younger generations of Mormons. Caffeinated drinks like coffee are starting to take their place in their diet.
There is a big possibility that the followers of the Church of Jesus Christ would eventually forego these food constraints. But in my opinion, this wouldn’t be happening in the nearest future.
The REAL reason why can't Mormons drink coffee
There are a few conflicting reasons that brought about the LDS coffee prohibition which range from the interest of health to mind control.
As you’ve followed the article so far, there are various interpretations about the real reason why the followers of LDS are prohibited from drinking coffee.
Jimmy Snow, a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who is now an atheist, discusses this rule in a youtube video below 👇
Jimmy talks about his experience when he was a Mormon. He interprets the caffeine restriction as a behavior and emotion control technique imposed by his former religion on its followers.
The rule against coffee and tea were implemented in such an uptight way that followers even tend to tell non-Mormons to avoid caffeine altogether.
Snow further establishes that the restriction is a prime example of manipulation and inhibition of the critical-thinking skills of the church’s followers.
Are hot drinks harmful to our health?
Hot drinks can be quite soothing. For example, it helps replace fluids lost due to fever and loosen mucus. Water, hot or cold, keeps your body hydrated and healthy.
They have properties that may protect your health all year.
When compared to drinking cold water, some people claim that drinking hot water can help improve digestion, relieve congestion, and even promote relaxation.
Hot drinks can help with digestion. Drinking hot water not only smoothes but also activates your digestive tract too and potentially relieves constipation. It's a good idea to drink hot water when you're constipated or want to detox.
However, hot drinks have also been linked to esophageal cancer in studies conducted in China and Iran.
But this is only because drinking piping hot beverages can cause thermal injuries to our throat and esophagus.
This also goes for eating very hot food repeatedly. It turns out, this eating behavior can lead to inflammation and the formation of cancer cells. Yikes!
If we look at it that way, it could support the claim about avoiding hot drinks.
Are Churches using food prohibitions to control members?
As Jimmy said in the video earlier, the Church of Jesus Christ may be using the prohibitions on food as a way to control its members.
Not all Jewish people observe the rules of kashrut by eating kosher food to about reverence and devotion to religious tradition.
Even Roman Catholics in the Philippines avoid pork during the season of Lent. Adult Catholics over the age of 14 abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays during Lent.
It is no longer acceptable to consume lamb, chicken, beef, pork, ham, deer, or most other meats. Eggs, milk, fish, grains, and fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are all permitted.
Well, they are not exactly prohibited from eating it. But they choose not to fast and show the strength of their faith.
Perhaps this is also the intention of faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Most Mormons do not consider caffeine to be against their faith. A few members of the church can be in good standing with the church regardless of the amount they drink.
But they choose to avoid coffee and even coke —anything with caffeine— because they would like to show how faithful they are in practice.
Can Mormons drink iced coffee?
How about iced coffee? This loophole referring to the rule against coffee and tea is quite a common rebuttal to the Word of Wisdom’s take on the said restricted beverages.
But is iced coffee bad for you? Well, it is an important question to ask since the Word of Wisdom prohibits the consumption of certain types of food in the interest of health.
Many studies have been conducted to investigate that regular coffee consumption can do more than just improve your focus and energy levels.
It reduces fatigue and increases energy, lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, and promotes weight management.
And well, since it is NOT hot which the Word of Wisdom strictly prohibits its members to have.
The rule’s modern interpretation and the current church leaders insist that the iced versions do not matter at all.
In my understanding, this is just like how not all Jews observe kosher. For example, some soft drinks are kosher. I’m using this as an example because the Jews are also holding on to these laws as a health regulations.
The body is the temple of the Lord after all!
Some Jews regard Jewish dietary laws as ancient health regulations that are no longer necessary due to modern food preparation methods. They consider following Kosher as more of a way to show their behavior towards their faith.
Why can't Mormons drink coffee?
For years, coffee has been a staple for breakfast. This beverage’s popularity as part of almost everyone’s morning rituals stems from the effectiveness of its main component, caffeine, as a neurostimulator.
The reason why can't Mormons drink coffee is because of the principles specified by their doctrines. The church strongly encourages these laws to be followed. According to them, this is for followers to ensure a healthy body, both in the physical and spiritual sense.