The EFM Feature

Thanks to Nancy, I keep getting e-mails about Postum. Well, now I know everything. Postum, marketed by Kraft, is “a delicious, naturally caffeine-free alternative to coffee or tea,” made from “a special blend of roasted grains.” And to market it, they enlisted this guy:

That would be “Mister Coffee Nerves.” I learned something today.
Another thing I’ve learned during this journey might be of interest to our evangelical readers. Apparently–contrary to my initial thought–there is a great deal of diversity within Mormonism as to what one can drink. The idea is that one should not consume “strong drinks” or “hot drinks,” but different people determine what that means differently. For instance, we had some Mormons in the house recently–for the first time–and after unthinkingly offering them some iced mint tea, I felt like a big idiot. But they explained to me that while none of them were interested in my wife’s mint tea, that wasn’t because it had caffeine–which I thought was the issue. It was that to some of them, it constituted a “strong drink,” and thus could not be consumed, and to others, tea is fine but they just plain didn’t want any.
Now, to be clear, I don’t agree that God has said anything about roasted grains as opposed to coffee or tea–I’m not endorsing this teaching. But I do think it’s easy for disagreeing camps to caricature the other as believing certain things that aren’t really true–such as “Mormons don’t drink caffeine.” And I’m thankful for the knowledge that the Lord is adding to my pea brain during this odyssey.
UPDATE: See how complex this is? From reader Michael:

The LDS.org Web site you mention specifically lists strong drinks as “meaning drinks containing alcohol.” With respect to tea, there is no disagreement among members either. In fact the Web site states, “The Lord also counsels us against the use of “hot drinks.” Church leaders have said that this means coffee and tea, which contain harmful drugs.” Although there are others present, the primary drug is of course caffeine in both cases. As a result we do not drink iced tea; however, a lot of folks drink herb tea (mint, chamomile, etc.). Can I am assume when you said “iced mint tea” you meant black tea with mint rather than “tea” made from mint leaves as is herb tea? I personally would not drink the former because it is tea, but would find the latter to be just fine; indeed, we serve that in our home along with the other herb teas available.
As to what your friends referred, there might well be differences of opinion among individual members having to do with whether one chooses to drink decaffeinated coffee, decaffeinated tea, or cola drinks that typically contain caffeine. A statement in a “Priesthood Bulletin” (an official publication that contains guidance for local church leaders) dated February 1972 said: “With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.” I also saw a quote from a previous president of the LDS Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, which said something like “While I won’t say that drinking cola drinks with caffeine is a sin, you won’t find them in my house!”

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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