Comments about ‘Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Caffeine and controversy’

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Published: Friday, Sept. 7 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Huntsville, UT


Coffee and Tea both have proven health BENEFITS. Red wine does too. Oh my.

Please explain how that squares with the WoW.


I get what your mom was trying to do, but I'm sorry, throwing out Coke to "avoid the appearance of evil" is nuts. Coke isn't evil. Like you said, the WOW has always been pretty clear on that. Heck, even coffee, tea or booze aren't evil by themselves...it's a sin for us Mormons to drink them because we made specific promises to God not to, but they aren't specifically evil all by themselves. That isn't pious, its silly.

If drinking a coke, something that has nothing to do with the guidance actually given to us, sets off those "evil alarm bells", then I think your own moral compass needs to be reevaluated a little.

I've always loved Cherry Coke. If a confused person asks "why are you drinking that??", it gives me a teaching opportunity about the principles behind the WoW. Also, it's delicious.


Thanks, Carmen. I feel the same way. The WofW doesn't have to say that Krispy Kreme Donuts are bad for me...I'm not stupid enough to down them regularly (even though I would like to). It's better for me to just stay away from them because having them makes me want them (and other sugars) more.

I got in the habit of drinking Mountain Dew in college. I experience the cravings for it and the headaches if I didn't have it. I broke myself of that HABIT and have not looked back. My kids all know that we don't "dew" caffeine and they always ask for the non-caffeinated drinks when we do have sodas (which is rare). I feel that I have taught them well and that it will be a great health benefit for them long-term to not have carbonated and caffeinated drinks in their body. Our family will definitely not be changing our ways regarding our avoidance of caffeine. It is a choice we have made for our good health.

Mr Dana

I have always been amazed at certain ideas and comments by Latter-Day Saints that misrepresent what we factually believe and what members make up. First off, the Word of Wisdom is narrow in its scope of what we cannot drink or take. Drugs and alcohol are not only addicting but can also destroy and damage us emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Many people use these substances to medicate and monitor their emotional swings. Whether to calm their nerves, manage their depression, or celebrate life, their reliance and use of these substances are a plague on individuals, families and society. On the other hand, coffee and tea are not EVIL nor does drinking items that look like them have the appearance of EVIL! They are items the that have been identified as the Hot Drinks we are to avoid. I have witnessed an LDS person quickly hiding a Starbuck cup of hot chocolate for fear of a "General Authority" seeing her. Ridiculous behavior! Caffeine? Chocolate cake is loaded with it! The part we avoid living is the second part of the Word of Wisdom. Avoiding soda's does not make us "Righteous" loving our God and our fellow man does!

Gales Creek, OR

I am a 66 year old woman, LDS, no caffiene since my conversion. My sister is not LDS and is nearly my age, but younger. She has had a myriad of health problems that I have been blessed to not have. No one can tell me that drinking caffiene is good for you. And as far as touting coffee, red wine and anything else that is against the WofW, spare me. I choose to follow the spirit of the law, use common sense AND avoid the appearance of evil. Your mother was right - I believe we should never walk so close to the line between good and evil that it would be easy to fall onto the wrong side - President Kimbal said something like this. What good could possibly come from drinking soda? The closer we can adhere to the gospel standards, the better life we will have. No question. If anything, I wish I would have been more strict with myself and my children. Disclaimer: I have used cola when sick and think that is acceptable. Thank you for this article.

Wilsonville, OR

The Word of Wisdom says absolutely nothing about drinking crankcase oil, but I would not do it!


Bottom line is that people need to think about what they put in their bodies/temples and consider the effect that is has on the body and spirit, i.e. their soul. There's genetic predispositions, allergies, etc. that would make some food or drink OK for one and not for another.

For those who operate like RanchHand, beware of 'pop' science that 'proves' things to be abstained from as being beneficial. A scientist in our ward told us the health benefit of wine comes from the enzymes in the drink, not the alcohol. There's just as many studies that show the adverse effects of coffee and tea, then what do you do? It all boils down to what you believe, the Word of the Lord, or what?

Loyal Reader

I've started paying closer attention to the signals my body gives me, and caffeine has become a non-issue. I don't drink anything carbonated because my body doesn't like suffering the side-effects of artificial ingredients. Case closed for me.

Humble, TX

Back in the late 70's a letter came out from the President of the Church stating that it was okay to dring decaf coffee. That was soon recinded. The Word of Wisdom was meant as a guide for all members, not a law upon which adherance to was required for a temple recommend or a position in the church. My mother a Relief Society President drank coffee all her life and so did her LDS neighbors. It did not make her any less of a great provider to the needy in the ward nor did it affect her solid convictions that the Church was true. Tne spirit and intent of the Word of Wisdom is for our own personal health and should not be used as law that proves the faithfullness of its members. It should be revised and stated as a health guide only.

Netun Yahoo
Burley, ID

Amazing to me that after what the WofW is clarified as by the Church, people come out of the woodwork defending why they drink a Coke, Mountain Dew, or Pepsi. Others come out humming "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go Dear Lord" extolling their err on the side of caution. Heaven forbid while some are humming, they are on their way to another doctor to fill their psychotropic prescriptions to put them to sleep at night and to wake them up in the morning. And, oh my, we need to help our poor ecclesiastical leader who in the moment of passion, had a little minor mishap with a neighbor counterpart. But, by dang, they only drank spring water! The High Councilors wife wouldn't be caught dead with a Dew in her mitts.....but she wouldn't be caught dead associating with one who did. I'm all worked up now this early in the morning, but I'm signing off to get me one of those new Pepsi NXT Mango drinks. It's waiting for me in my fridge. You ne'er do wrongs can pop you an Excedrin when nonone is looking!!

Centerville, UT

At the time the Word of Wisdom was revealed, there were no sodas, caffeine or otherwise. What was commonly consumed, and therefore addressed, was coffee, tea, and alcohol. Yes, there are other substances in those beverages that make them unhealthy, and there are substances that some claim are beneficial (although the benefits derived from coffee, tea, or wine are not only derived in that form, and can be obtained through other foods), caffeine causes: A fast heart rate,anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping,nausea, restlessness, tremors, urinating more often, reduced bone density,fibrosystic breasts,and more. Stopping caffeine abruptly may cause withdrawal symptoms, such as:nausea, vomiting, tremors and headaches, all of which are symtoms of withdrawal.

We are to avoid any substance that leads to addiction. "It is a slothful servant that must be commanded in all things". I do not have to have every line item spelled out for me. The Word of Wisdom is an amazing guide to healthy living. My family and I have chosen to take advantage of it's teachings by learning more and following it to the fullest. I believe our health will be blessed by doing so.

New York, NY

So, no coffee or tea, but eating a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts is acceptable, being morbidly obese is acceptable, taking anti-depressants is acceptable....what absolute nonsense.

Medical Lake, Washington

Many have labeled the Word of Wisdom as a 'health code'. But it is much more than that. My sister lived the W W to the letter and died of cancer at age 46. Much more importantly, the Word of Wisdom helps us to remain separated from the world. Go into a crowd of people who offer you a cup of coffee and you turn them down -- most will assume you are LDS. By the same token, refusing a pork sandwich is a tip off you might be Jewish -- a peculiarity which has kept them united as a group through their long history of being scattered and mingled with other groups.

To testify that simple obedience to the Word of Wisdom will remove all health problems is near sighted. We all will face challenges in this life. But obedience to the Word of Wisdom will bring me closer to the spirit and keep me identified as being LDS; which in turn will help me not to get lost in worldliness. Some may think us odd, but being peculiar can have its advantages.

Saint George, UT

What is interesting about all the people who say things like "the WOW doesn't say anything about not drinking crankcase oil..." is that this pet "commandment" is created out of thin air. I am willing to bet those same people that have taken caffeine as their gospel hobby break the speed limit everyday; roll through stop signs, gun through a yellow light (or red light); take enough prescription pills to kill a small animal. What kind of television do you watch? Do you have a garden; a year supply; read and pray everyday, and on and on and on? There are so many things we should be doing, that we are not, that we have specific counsel on. Why do we feel the need to add things that just aren't there. So please, feel free to drink or not drink caffeine. But, please, realize that it makes not one bit of difference, other than to you.

Netun Yahoo
Burley, ID

I walked this morning and was not weary and I even ran and did not faint. I had a Coke in both hands and I even though I didn't see a destroying angel, I made it back home.

Bill McGee
Alpine, UT

The WoW SPECIFICALLY endorses the drinking of beer (the mild barley beverages verse.) Strong drink at the time referred to distilled alcohol (whiskey, vodka, rum) and mild drinks referred to brewed beverages (beer, ale). There was even a third category for fermented drinks (wine.) Joseph Smith had a glass of wine the day of his martyrdom. Copious amounts of wine was drunk at the dedication of the Nauvoo temple (IN the temple, no less, with drunken dancing every night.) Brigham Young and many of the apostles regularly drank beer - there is an interesting talk given by a couple of the apostles on the health benefits of Danish beer. Our current non-scriptural interpretation of the WoW is from Heber J Grant, who supported the prohibition movement - quite likely for political purposes. Our current gymnastics over the WoW (no Coke, what qualifies as an herbal tea?, is there a rule for green tea?) is based on a complete failure to understand this principle. BTW, hot drinks originally referred to medicinal tea - coffee and strong British black tea were an afterthought. It's all tied up in 19th century ideas about balancing "vital humours" and the affects of food temperature on health.


The Word of Wisdom doesn't cover a lot of things specifically. It is more an attitude regarding the care of ourselves. This "change" isn't really a change at all. The WoW has always been specifically about Coffee, Tea (beverages made from the Tea plant), Tobacco, and Alcohol. But, we have been counseled to be wise in our use of drugs, for instance. And so, while I may take a prescribed medication, I try to make sure that I don't become addicted to that medication. Caffeine is a drug, a stimulant. And as a drug, I would use it for what it does, knowing it for what it is. It is not something to use daily lest I develop a reliance/addiction to it. God has made us to be masters over ourselves, and has granted us our agency. I, for one, will fight to maintain that agency, by avoiding addictive behaviors and substances. Including caffiene taken casually.

  • 8:34 a.m. Sept. 7, 2012
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Bountiful, UT

Most LDS do not abide by the Word of Wisdom. Meat is not eaten sparingly.

It was presumptuous to assume that caffeine was the reason that coffee and tea shouldn't be drunk.

Given the current research touting the health benefits of coffee and tea, I suspect now that the word of wisdom means what it says.

HOT drinks are not to be drunk. This would include hot water and hot chocolate and hot coffee and hot tea.

claremont, ca

Since we are going to appeal to what the revealed scriptures say, is beer okay to drink since "All grain is good for the food of man . . . and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain."

claremont, ca

Since we are going to now appeal to what the revealed scriptures say, is beer okay to drink since "All grain is good for the food of man . . . and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain." (D&C 89:15-16)

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