Brigham Young University has ended a decades-long policy barring caffeinated soft drinks from its campus.
To those unfamiliar with the practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that may not seem like a big deal. But to Mormons, students and alumni, the decision is so earth-shattering that some on social media have come to the conclusion that the end of the world must indeed be near.
BYU, which is owned by the Church, will now serve sodas on its Provo, Utah, campus as a result of increased demand, perhaps due to clarifications over what drinks can be consumed by members of the Church. The school decided against selling caffeinated soft drinks in the mid-1950s, and did not receive requests to do so until recently, according to a post on BYU’s Dining Services website.
Members of the Church follow a dietary code called the Word of Wisdom, which prohibits the consumption of beverages like alcohol and “hot drinks,” which have been interpreted as coffee and tea. But in a 2012 post correcting news reports on the subject, Church officials said the guidelines had been misinterpreted to suggest that it bans the consumption of all caffeinated beverages, including soft drinks. “The Church revelation spelling out health practices does not mention the use of caffeine,” officials wrote at the time.
The clarification spurred discussion within the Mormon community, since some practitioners view drinking any caffeinated beverages as forbidden — a practice that was further perpetuated by outsider stereotypes of the religion. That confusion was furthered by BYU’s longstanding decision not to sell caffeinated beverages, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. But prohibiting the sale of those drinks was “not a university or a church decision, but made by dining services, based on what our customers want,” a school spokesperson told the Tribune in 2012.
Now, some soft drinks are already for sale on campus, with more on the way, the school said. To some, that’s cause for celebration. To others, it’s unbelievable.
But for as much chatter as the decision caused, to a man who excitedly shared a GIF in honor of the news of a wrestler shaking up and down, on Twitter, BYU responded, “Terrifying. Maybe lay off the soda for a bit.”