US & Canada

Brigham Young University ends Mormon ban on caffeinated soda

Sober-minded Brigham Young students annually celebrate #milktoberfest Image copyright brighamyounguniversity
Image caption Brigham Young students, who are still forbidden to drink alcohol, annually celebrate #milktoberfest

Brigham Young University, the largest Mormon college in the US, has decided to begin selling caffeinated sodas.

The surprise announcement marks a major cultural shift for the church-owned university which has been designated "caffeine-free" since the 1950s.

Students had been advocating for the change since at least 2012 after the church revised its policy on the stimulant prized by college students.

Mormons are still prohibited from consuming tea or coffee.

But following Brigham Young's policy switch, sales of fizzy drinks have already begun on the Utah campus.

"Consumer preferences have clearly changed," the university's dining services page explained in an online Q&A announcing the change.

Non-caffeinated sodas will continue to be offered, but not highly caffeinated "energy drinks".

In 2012 the Mormon church clarified its policy on caffeine, paving the way for Thursday's decision.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it is formally known, determined that a reference to "hot drinks" in religious texts only applied to tea and coffee, not all caffeine products.

The decision occurred around the time that Mitt Romney was spotted swigging a Diet Coke during his presidential campaign against Barack Obama, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Mormon worshippers are still prohibited from consuming alcohol or tobacco, and students at the predominantly Mormon school are famously required to abide by a strict "honour pledge".

Students must also regularly attend church services, abide by dress and grooming requirements and "live a chaste and virtuous life".

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