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Mormon missionaries sometimes walk a fine line with the Word of Wisdom

Published March 31, 2017 8:46 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In an international church, and faced with varying customs and conditions, the Word of Wisdom can present Mormon missionaries with their share of, well, awkward dilemmas as they strive to heed the LDS health code.

Here are some examples:

Wayne Fagg • We used to substitute various Fanta drinks, some with caffeine, for water when there was none potable, for use in the sacrament when I served in Peru from 1980 to '82. We were encouraged to drink Coke regularly to "help" rid us of microbes.

Sherrie Gavin • In Australia, alcohol in Christmas pudding is an essential ingredient, and I know no non-American Mormons who make Christmas pudding who shirk it.

Andrew Hall • Among Japanese Mormons, caffeinated cola drinks are widely seen as against the Word of Wisdom [though they are not]. Most members are aware that American members largely do not follow this interpretation, and they do not ask about cola drinks in temple recommend interviews. But they often say, "This is how we do it in Japan."

Andrew Brown • Members in Argentina could drink Yerba maté; missionaries couldn't. I have since drunk maté with an [LDS general authority] while he regaled me with stories of general officers of the church who had tried it and enjoyed it.

Jennifer Skousen Sudweeks • Masala chai in India. Sometimes it's made with just spices, and sometimes it has black tea in it. It's hard to tell because local blends don't have the ingredients on the pouch. You actually buy it from a bulk bin, and they scoop it into a bag for you. Some members avoid masala chai altogether, and some claim they can tell the difference by the smell, which is probably true. White tea is also confusing. It's a different plant altogether from green or black tea here. So some members think it's OK since it's basically herbal tea. Others lump it in with black tea. There are also some who drink green tea because it's not fermented, and that is what they believe is wrong with black tea.

Sariah Toronto • In Russia, in the early 1990s, missionaries and members would buy kvass, a fermented beverage made from rye bread. I do recall seeing bottled kvass at Mormon functions. When visiting in people's homes, if they did not have herbal tea on hand, we would be served "children's tea" — jam (usually from berries) mixed with hot water.

Lisa Kay Carmack Palmer • Airag is fermented mare's milk and traditionally provides much nutrition in Mongolia. The [LDS governing] First Presidency was specifically asked if this drink was against the Word of Wisdom. The answer was that they did not feel inspired to add this to the list of proscribed substances.




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