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Gramps,What is the general council’s word on decaffeinated coffee, decaffeinated Coke and Pepsi?

Ruth, from California


Dear Ruth,

Tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco are against the Word of Wisdom. I am continually amazed at how people try to split hairs and walk as close to the line of disobedience as possible without breaking any rules. We can rationalize that the reason the Lord gave a commandment against tea and coffee was because of the caffeine that they contain, and there is certainly no doubt that caffeine is a harmful, habit forming drug; but caffeine is not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. Why don’t we just take the revelation at its face value and exercise obedience to the Lord?

Now, just because Coca Cola and Pepsi are not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom certainly does not give us license to use them. They do contain harmful drugs and should be avoided. But how about decaffeinated Coke? As members of the Mormon Church we are by that fact representatives of the Church to all those who observe our actions. It’s surprising how many people try to justify doing something wrong if they observe another in an act of disobedience. Also, unless you hang a sign around your neck announcing to all who see you, “THIS IS ONLY DECAF,” you bring the Church under condemnation by those who are looking for a fault.

Just last Sunday I heard a letter read by the father of a girl traveling in South America with a group of university students, many of them of the Mormon faith. In the letter she said that she was asked by a non-member observer, “Why is it that you don’t drink coffee or Coke and the other members of your group who are also Mormon, do? Does that principle of your doctrine actually mean anything, or is it just for propaganda purposes? How could one respond to such a question in the face of that kind of example? Henry Drummond asked the rhetorical question in his treatice called, “The Greatest Thing in the World,” “How many people are kept out of the Kingdom of God by the unlovely characters of those who profess to be within?”


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