I have written before about the absurd dietary rules imposed by religions. The Mormons have their own bizarre prohibitions and one of those was supposed to be to avoid caffeine. Hence I was surprised to read in some news reports that Mitt Romney drank Diet Coke because by all accounts he is a devout Mormon with the rank of bishop, not just some ordinary guy in the pews (if Mormon temples have pews in their temples).
In response to an NBC special report on the Mormon church, the church put out a news release that corrects some misconceptions. It turns out that their prohibition was not against caffeine as such. What happened was that in 1833, Joseph Smith had a revelation in which god said to him that “The use of wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks is proscribed”.
‘Hot drinks’ seems remarkably broad but later church leaders interpreted it to mean just hot tea and coffee. So caffeinated soft drinks and even hot chocolate are fine. It is interesting that these are claimed to be ‘health’ guidelines not religious ones, though they are the result of divine revelation. God’s revelations seem to be always limited to the knowledge available in those times. He did not tell Smith what stand to take on transfats, for example.
The Mormon leaders were also upset that the TV show showed pictures of their sacred underwear. The church goes so far as to tell people how to report on the underwear.
Because of the personal and religious nature of the temple garment, the Church asks all media to report on the subject with respect, treating Latter-day Saint temple garments as they would religious vestments of other faiths. Ridiculing or making light of sacred clothing is highly offensive to Latter-day Saints.
I always find it amusing when religions lay down rules about how other people should talk about them. It is really a telling sign of the deep sense of entitlement that religions have. Sorry, Mormon bigwigs, you do not get to decide how other people talk about you or your underwear or any other aspect of your religious practices that strike them as funny. Mormon underwear can be as much a target for humor as (say) the funny hats that leaders of other religions wear.