When I was a young quorum leader, in the 70’s, the Presiding Bishop of the Mormon Church came to our stake and told us, though it visibly upset a local bishop or two, that drinking decaffeinated coffee is not against the Church and they were not authorized to deny recommends over its use. To stem the controversy in the meeting, he sent to our stake a copy of a letter he had previously issued declaring decaffeinated coffee approved. I don’t like the smell of any coffees and have never drunk any ever, but that was the word of the Presiding Bishop on his letterhead to our stake. Our bishop posted this letter on the ward bulletin board but some overzealous person ripped it down before I could make a copy.
More problematic than decaf is the use of green tea in some oriental countries by members, especially in Korea where my nephew served a mission. Authorities there did not teach against it. I have since learned green and black tea come from the same plant with similar potencies, despite the high recommendation green tea received from the defunct Dr. Atkins and other health officials.
The Word of Wisdom is one of the highest traffic items on our web site. You could probably receive the information you desire simply by accessing the site, and entering in the Search Ask Gramps box, hot drinks, green tea, decaf, and other related words. However, we will take another stab at a couple of your questions.
Being a Bishop and a Mission President back in those days, I never received any said letter stating that it was approved. I have always believed coffee is coffee and have based approving temple recommends on that belief and have never been counseled to do otherwise. Also keep in mind that caffeine was never the issue. Another point I’d like to bring out is that decaffeinated coffee does not mean that it is free of caffeine. It just means that at least 98% of caffeine was removed.
Let me ask you a question, is strychnine against the Word of Wisdom? The fact that the Presiding Bishop possibly made the statement that decaf is not against the Word of Wisdom is by no means a recommendation for its use (if such a letter exists). Decaf coffee was not even a thing back when the Word of Wisdom was introduced so of course no mention is made of it. Since the Word of Wisdom is a canonical document, members of the Church are obligated by their acceptance of the scriptures to abide by its precepts or receive the sanctions of the Church.
We are constrained as members of the Church not to take any harmful substance into our systems, for—
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (1 Cor 3:16-17).
In addition, we are constrained to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thes 5:22).
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
If you choose to drink decaf, because you could get away with it and not be sanctioned by the Church, and did so in a restaurant where you would be known by others there as a Latter-day Saint, what do you think that they would think and say about you and about the Church that you represent? “These Mormons preach about the Word of Wisdom, but look at how they act about when they are out in public?”