SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued a warning to members that coffee is prohibited no matter how fancy the name, that vaping is banned despite the alluring flavors and that marijuana is outlawed unless prescribed by “competent” doctors.
The new guidance in the August issue of a church youth magazine does not include fundamental changes to the religion’s health code, but the clarifications are significant and seem to reflect growing concern about young Latter-day Saints’ adherence to the rules.
The article says it aims to clear up issues that could be confusing for young people within the religion’s “Word of Wisdom,” a set of rules about what foods and drinks are good for members and what substances they should avoid.
The rules prohibit alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs and coffee and tea. They are based on what church members believe was a revelation from God to founder Joseph Smith in 1833. The faith’s rejection of coffee has long generated curiosity and more than a few jokes, including a scene in the biting satirical Broadway musical called “The Book of Mormon” where dancing cups of coffee appear in a missionary’s nightmare.
The new instructions about coffee make clear there’s no gray area allowing coffee-infused drinks and allude to the wide variety that could tempt members of the faith widely known as the Mormon church.
“Drinks with names that include cafe or caffe, mocha, latte, espresso, or anything ending in -ccino usually have coffee in them and are against the Word of Wisdom,” the article said.
The guidance will dash the hopes of some members who hoped the church would loosen the rules.
“This is the church clearly responding to higher levels of noncompliance to the Word of Wisdom than we’ve seen in previous generations,” said Patrick Mason, a church member and a religious scholar at Utah State University.