Todd Hartley: I’m with Stupid |

Todd Hartley: I’m with Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

For a long time now, many people, particularly those who spend a good portion of their lives and paychecks at Starbucks, have wondered why Mormons don’t drink coffee. To the millions of caffeine addicts in our society, the thought of starting a day without a hot mug of bitter, teeth-staining liquid from some war-torn banana republic is incomprehensible. How on earth, the thinking goes, does the state of Utah ever get itself up in the morning?

The truth of the matter, though, is that coffee is not expressly off limits for Mormons. In fact, if one bothers to read section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ” and let’s face it, who among us hasn’t? ” one will see on line 9 that “hot drinks are not for the body or belly.”

(Of course, one will also see on lines 7 and 8 that “strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies,” and “tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle.”)

Over the years, many Mormons have taken the prohibition against hot drinks to mean that coffee, tea and all caffeinated liquids are taboo, and they have encouraged their fellow church members to abstain from such beverages. This, to them, seems as much in keeping with God’s will as does showering with vodka or giving a cow a big wad of Red Man if it has a runny nose, and really, it’s hard to argue with that kind of logic.

Why, though, would God find fault with coffee? After all, He made coffee beans, and everything He made is necessarily a good thing, with the notable exceptions of marijuana plants, poppies, onions and Ann Coulter, all of which should be eradicated. Besides, coffee seems so harmless; why would the Almighty go to the trouble of prohibiting it?

Well, finally, thanks to a team of researchers from England’s Durham University, we have a definitive answer to that question: Coffee should be banned because drinking large amounts can cause you to see ghosts or hear strange voices in your head.

The study questioned 200 students about their caffeine intake and found that those who drank more than seven cups of coffee a day were three times as likely to hallucinate as those who drank just one. Presumably, they were also three times as likely to be edgy and irritable and have bad breath, but the study neglected to mention that.

In the spirit of full disclosure, it should be noted that the study didn’t bother to ask the students about their use of other substances that might be contributing to their hallucinations. It’s possible that all the heavy coffee drinkers also ingested a lot of LSD, but as the study was done on students in England and not in Berkeley or Boulder, I think we can safely rule out that possibility.

The trouble, though, is that now that we know that coffee can cause people to hallucinate, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that kids will start abusing the stuff. I can already picture groups of 16-year-olds sneaking out late at night to gather around coffee makers pilfered from their parents’ kitchens and swill java until Joe DiMaggio’s ghost appears in the room. Parents, don’t let this happen. Be proactive; lock up the Folgers in your liquor cabinet and hide the key well.

News of the Durham University study only came to light earlier this week, so as yet there has been no serious discussion regarding what to do about the inevitable coffee abuse it is sure to encourage. We should do everything we can, though, to stay ahead of this problem. We should immediately create a minimum drinking age for coffee and make Starbucks register all its customers and their purchases so we can spot problem drinkers before they become a danger to society.

If, however, these measures prove to be insufficient, I think we need to consider something more drastic. There should be a law stating that if someone drinks more than five cups of coffee a day they’ll be forced to convert to Mormonism and shipped off to Utah.

That’s harsh, I know, but we can temper it. I say when they arrive in Utah we give them a free cow and a tin of Skoal to keep the beast healthy. Heck, that’s almost reason enough to give up coffee in the first place.

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