Holy Brigham Young (University)! Caffeinated sodas allowed on Mormon church school’s campus

BYU’s director of dining services says change is backed by administrators and reflects shifting preferences and more frequent requests, not financial considerations.

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune The statue of Brigham Young at BYU is seen in this photo from September 2013.

Don’t cue the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and no, Brigham Young University is not on a slippery slope to tapping kegs of light beer in its cafeteria.

But, yes, the LDS Church-owned school has decided to end its more than half-century ”caffeine-free” policy on the Provo campus, at least when it comes to soda.

Linked sometimes to a long-running interpretation — or misinterpretation — of Mormonism’s “Word of Wisdom,” BYU had banned caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea and other than caffeine-free soft drinks) since the mid-1950s.

That health code, which appears in the faith’s scriptures (Doctrine and Covenants Section 89), prohibits “hot drinks” — defined by top LDS leaders as tea and coffee — as well as alcohol and tobacco, but does not specifically bar caffeine, church leaders reaffirmed in 2012.

It, however, took BYU, the flagship school of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at least five years to acquiesce. On Thursday, Dining Services Director Dean Wright indicated increased requests for caffeinated soft drinks had prompted the policy change.

“We have already started adding caffeinated soft drinks to the inventory of beverages we sell on campus,” he stated. “Although we are now offering canned and bottled caffeinated soft drinks, it will take longer to change out our fountain equipment.”

BYU, however, will not offer supercaffeinated “energy drinks,” and it will still offer caffeine-free versions of soda products on campus, Wright added.

Those soda products will, under a longstanding contract, continue to be provided by the Coca-Cola Co.

As for coffee or tea, hot or cold, forget it. This is just about the sodas, says BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.