Salt Lake City, Utah. After passing by less than 3,000 votes, Proposition 9, which outlaws the sale of all caffeinated beverages, roasted coffee beans, and teas, has sharply divided the Salt Lake community. Coffee drinkers and Starbucks employees have twice staged marches and demonstrations at the Salt Lake City Mormon Temple in protest of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ efforts in support of the Proposition.
Herb Heffernander, an employee of the local coffee shop, Awesome Beans says more protests are planned. “We’re just so mad that they would take this away from us,” says Heffernander. “It’s only motivated by religion and it’s splitting families apart.”
However, the strife is not limited to LDS church members and coffee drinkers; divisions are surfacing among the Mormon faithful.
“Doctrine and Covenants 89 simply states that ‘hot drinks are not for the body or belly’ and doesn’t clearly identify coffee or caffeine,” says Mormon Bishop Franklin Plopshelf. He also suggests that tea should be viewed in light of Joseph Smith’s revelation about herbs, which are for the use of man.
Many Mormons who supported Proposition 9 say it’s about the spirit of D&C 89. “Coffee is destroying this nation,” states Linda Low, a Salt Lake resident who worked on the Yes on 9 campaign. “It’s an abomination.” Low argues that Bishop Plopshelf is more concerned with the image of the church and it’s ability to reach out to the younger generation rather than a strict adherence to scripture.
The Local Coffee Roasters Association of Main Street has vowed to challenge the Proposition in court and more protests are expected. A claim of election law violations against the LDS church as also been filed by the Association, claiming that the church overstepped it’s tax exempt status by entering the political arena. The church has made no comment.