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Alcohol, coffee and why the FLDS drink them

Published March 1, 2013 10:34 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Our stories about the group who has broken from the FLDS ran in the newspaper and online Sunday. Since then, the most-common question I've received wasn't about William E. Jessop's policy toward underage marriage or whether the residents of Short Creek will start to dress a little more modern.

No, the most-common question has been something like this: "Wait, so the FLDS drink?"

Yes, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have traditionally been allowed to consume coffee and alcohol. Some online resources say otherwise, and you never know what Warren Jeffs is going to ban next. But, a decree from Jeffs withstanding, some of Milwaukee, Kentucky and Ethiopia's best is OK.

When I first met Allie Steed and twins Heidi and Helen Holm last year, they walked into the room carrying cups of hot, caffeinated beverages. (See the attached photo.)

The Merry Wives Cafe & Coffee in Hildale lives up to its name, and serves beer, too. There's a coffee stand, Espresso Creek, a few hundred yards away in Colorado City, Ariz.

And when William Jessop met some Tribune reporters and a photographer last month, he and his wife Joanna split two bottles of wine with my wife and me.

Why do the FLDS drink alcohol and coffee when Mormons from the more-famous Salt Lake City-based church do not? This came up at dinner.

The FLDS split with the other Mormon church before it began a strict adherence to elements of the "Word of Wisdom," that faith's health code that prohibits alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee. And the FLDS leadership has never seen fit to enforce the code, or at least, not yet.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle