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Dear Gramps,

Could the use of decaf coffee and herb tea be in violation of the Word of Wisdom? But what about sodas, and herbal teas? I would like quotes from the presidency or the elders, please. Thank you,


Dear Dianne,

We have the Word of Wisdom and the word of wisdom. The first is the formal document as recorded in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. We are obligated as members of the Church to obey the precepts taught therein. Hot drinks in the Word of Wisdom have been defined as tea and coffee. When that prophecy was given, caffeine was an unknown substance. It has later been identified as one of several deleterious chemicals in both tea and coffee.

We are counseled to use wisdom in all our doings. Those sodas that contain caffeine have been confirmed to be deleterious to the health. Most herbal teas contain no harmful substances, but on the contrary, have different beneficial effects on the body.

Here are some quotes by the Brethren-

J. Widtsoe & L. Widtsoe, The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation, p.92-93.

“The physiological effects of caffeine have been studied experimentally by many investigators, especially in Europe. All have come to practically the same conclusion. All agree that the use of caffeine-containing beverages is harmful to the body and reduces normal health. No principle laid down in the Word of Wisdom has received more complete vindication by progressing science . . ..The heart and circulatory system are likewise affected by caffeine. Several investigators have demonstrated that not only are the heartbeats somewhat increased after coffee or tea drinking, but there follows also an irregularity of the heart, and an increase in the blood pressure. This means that more work is placed upon the heart. The increased rate of breathing after a cup of coffee is well known to every coffee user. There is direct action also upon the muscles, which has given rise to the statement that more muscular work may be done by men under the influence of caffeine. This is true, for a brief period, but as with the apparent mental brilliance after coffee drinking, the work done over a longer period of time is greater by a non-user of caffeine.”

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1,

“The main chemical in coffee that has caused health concerns is caffeine, a cerebral and cardiovascular stimulant. A large number of other substances are also found in coffee, and their effects on health are not yet well understood.”

Sterling W. Sill, Conference Report, April 1965, p.88

“And one of the most damaging sins and one that gives greatest strength to our death instinct is the violation of that great revelation given 132 years ago called the Word of Wisdom. Some violators of this law tend to excuse themselves because it appears to be such a small thing. It seems like just a little disobedience, a little caffeine a little nicotine, a little friendly indulgence in alcohol. Yet these are the springboards to disease, broken homes, immorality, disloyalty to God, physical death, and the death of many of our eternal interests.”

Richard L. Evans, Conference Report, October 1969, p.66 – p.67

“The pleasures of vice are mere illusions, tricks of the nervous system, and each time these tricks are played it is more and more difficult for the mind to tell the truth. Such deceptions come through drunkenness and narcoticism. In greater or less degree all nerve-affecting drugs produce it: nicotine, caffeine, opium, cocaine, and [all] the rest, strong or weak. Habitual use of any of these is a physical vice. A physical vice becomes a moral vice, and . . . to cultivate vice is to render our mind incapable of normal action. . . . One and all, these various drugs . . . tend to give the impression of a power or a pleasure . . . which we do not possess. . . . One and all their function is to force the nervous system to lie. One and all the result of their habitual use is to render the nervous system incapable of ever telling the truth. . . . Indulgence . . . destroys wisdom and virtue; it destroys faith and hope and love. . . . Whatever you do, count all the cost.”

The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.202

“Wisdom goes beyond the letter of the law. Generally when we speak of the Word of Wisdom, we are talking about tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor, and all of the fringe things even though they might be detrimental are not included in the technical interpretation of the Word of Wisdom. I never drink any of the cola drinks and my personal hope would be that no one would. However, they are not included in the Word of Wisdom in its technical application. I quote from a letter from the secretary to the First Presidency, “But the spirit of the Word of Wisdom would be violated by the drinking or eating of anything that contained a habit-forming drug.” With reference to the cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken any attitude on this at but I personally do not put them in the class as with the tea and coffee because the Lord specifically mentioned them.”

Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1922, p.165

“The head of the health department, Dr. Beatty, has requested me to say to the Latter-day Saints that there are more injurious ingredients in coca-cola than there are in coffee, and particularly when some of the good people say: “Give me the double shot.” I say to the Latter-day Saints, and it is my right to say it . . . I am not going to give any command, but I will ask it as a personal, individual favor to me, to let coca-cola alone. There are plenty of other things you can get at the soda fountains without drinking that which is injurious. The Lord does not want you to use any drug that creates an appetite for itself.”

-to cite just a few.


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