Mormons and Caffeinated Soft drinks

Related Posts: The Word of Wisdom

Summary: The Mormon code of health is called the Word of Wisdom. It states that we should abstain from “hot drinks,” tobacco, and alcohol; that we should enjoy wholesome foods and eat meat sparingly.

Hot drinks are taken to mean caffeinated coffee and tea. But then, why would coffee and tea be prohibited? It is usually posited that it is their caffeine content. But if they are prohibited because of caffeine then shouldn’t other caffeinated drinks also be avoided? such as Coke and Pepsi? Many Mormons believe so. Others not.

Officially, caffeinated coffee and tea are prohibited. As for Caffeinated sports drinks and colas, some Mormons will tell you the Word of Wisdom prohibits them, others will say not. Your answer will vary from person to person, but officially they are not.
In this post I shall explore the caffeinated soft drinks issue and go a little into its history.

(For a discussion about the caffeine issue see Gregory Smith, “The Word of Wisdom in a Caffeinated World,” at Mormon Times; and “Teas” by Kaimi Wenger at Times & Seasons; and “Health Practices” from LDS Newsroom.)



  1. The beginning of the twentieth century was the “age of the expert” according to former Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia (Speech given at USU September 18, 2008); an alphabet soup of government agencies—CCC, FCC, RFC, NIRA, etc.—were created each headed by an “expert.” This confidence in experts and their opinions, in this case Frederick J. Pack, H.W. Wiley, and Dr. John A. Widtsoe (an Agricultural scientist) should be factored into an explanation of the LDS’s caffeine proscription.

  2. You write very well.

  3. See also

    Clifford J. Stratton, “Caffeine—The Subtle Addiction,” Ensign, June 1988, 60–61

    Lester E. Bush, Jr., ed., "Mormon Medical Ethical Guidelines," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12:3 [Fall 1979]

  4. See also, "Why a Mormon Won't Drink Coffee but Might Have a Coke: The Atheological Character of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" by James E. Faulconer, in Element, the magazine for the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (SMPT).

    "In describing the LDS Church as atheological I intend to explain why the Church neither has an official theology, explicit or implicit, nor encourages theological speculation. My explanation will be that the absence of theology reflects the LDS understanding of religion as a set of practices, beliefs, and attitudes, and that such an understanding is fundamental to LDS religion.

    "Latter-day Saints often speak of the Word of Wisdom as a health law, and there is evidence for that way of understanding it. Nevertheless, there is no official explanation of its prohibitions and there is anything but a universal practice, especially regarding, for example, the consumption of caffeine. There is little consistency among LDS practices regarding caffeinated drinks and no more consistency regarding the explanations of those practices. Consider that many LDS abstain from all caffeinated drinks, presumably believing that it is the caffeine in coffee that makes it forbidden; and thus, other drinks with caffeine are also forbidden. However, few of them who abstain from caffeinated drinks in general will drink decaffeinated coffee, though consistency would dictate that decaffeinated coffee is not prohibited. (Element, Vol. 2, Issue 2, Fall 2006, 23)

  5. Thanks for doing the research on this and sharing in a useful format.

  6. Thank you! I was born in the Church--attended Primary, Young Womens, four years of Early Morning Seminary, even attended BYU. I drink Pepsi from time to time and sometimes over-do it, but I was never aware that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had any policy regarding caffeinated sodas like Pepsi. I know caffeine is not mentioned in The Word of Wisdom. It seems like it is really just a guess that caffeine is what hot drinks like coffee and tea are referring to. I have never been asked about drinking sodas in any of my interviews with my Bishop in the 24 years I've had my temple endowments. Only recently has this issue come up in our home. I have a daughter attending a private Methodist college where she cheers. As an athlete, she is very health conscious and many people have approached her (since she doesn't drink sodas of any type) about the consumption of caffeinated sodas being against our religion. I told her it wasn't--but decided to research what the formal policy was. You've concisely stated my findings. I suppose if I were as close to perfect as a prophet or apostle I would do a lot of things different. It alarms me however, what a slippery slope this subject is and really not relevant to the "eternal things." I believe this is a "pet topic" and Elder Oaks has warned against such obsessions that can lead us from the true path of righteousness. I think it is spreading misinformation to nonmembers to say that drinking caffeinated sodas is against our religion. When teaching about The Word of Wisdom in all of our Church Manuals, it is never mentioned. Most leaders (apostles and prophets) have been vague and one wonders why? I love Spencer W. Kimball cause the man always meant what he said. He was a straight shooter. However it worries me that some members seem to extend The Word of Wisdom to great extremes(vegetarianism even) to make themselves more superior to other members. These superficial measures of a members' dedication to the gospel rarely pan out. I've seen seemingly "good members" do some crazy things and judging folks by whether they drink sodas is a poor measure of a man.

  7. An interesting article from The Salt Lake Tribune, "OK, Mormons, drink up — Coke and Pepsi are OK."

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