Pop quiz: Coke is OK
by Alex Beam, Boston Globe, 1/16/2003
Several Globe readers questioned my friend Joseph Kahn’s reporting from the recent Mitt Romney inaugural, where he described the incoming governor’s fondness for Vanilla Coke. Impossible! several readers said; a church-attending Mormon would never drink a Vanilla Coke-or any caffeinated beverage, for that matter.
In the interests of accuracy and broadening understanding among the world’s great religions, I conducted an inquiry.
“The Church’s health code,” spokesman Dale Bills e-mailed from Salt Lake City, “called the Word of Wisdom, is contained in a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The revelation prohibits the use of tobacco, alcoholic beverages (‘strong drink’) and ‘hot drinks’ … The only official interpretation of the term ‘hot drinks’ as used in the revelation is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term means tea and coffee.
“On questions not specifically addressed by Church teachings, members are expected to exercise wisdom in applying the principles of good health. Soft-drinks containing caffeine fall into the ‘exercise wisdom’ category. They are not specifically restricted, but many Church members voluntarily avoid them.”
A spokeswoman for Romney confirmed that the governor (1) does not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes; (2) does not drink tea or coffee; (3) does drink Vanilla Coke; and (4) doesn’t really want to address religious questions.