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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jessie Streater, November 10, 2001. Interview R-0165. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Mormon prohibition against tobacco and strong drink

In discussing her husband's relatively limited participation in church affairs, Streater explains that one of the reasons he tends to stay away is his smoking habit. Mormonism requires abstention from tobacco, as well as from alcohol and caffeinated sodas, Streater explains. She enjoys a Coke from time to time, though, and describes a church that does not strictly enforce these prohibitions.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jessie Streater, November 10, 2001. Interview R-0165. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BARBARA COPELAND:
That's wonderful. That's wonderful. And your husband is he, does he hold office in the church?
JESSIE STREATER:
No. No. He goes whenever he feels like he wants to go.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. Okay. But he does consider himself Mormon.
JESSIE STREATER:
Yes, he's a real shy closed in person and much more shy than my son. Sometimes he feels uncomfortable. So he doesn't go that often. But he will go and when we go visiting, he will go. It's because nobody knows him.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Did he belong to another tradition before converting?
JESSIE STREATER:
He was non-denominational.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So what caused him to, did you encourage him to convert or did he encourage you to convert?
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, as a matter of fact he encouraged me, and he was active for a good while. He has a few things that he needs to get rid of and he hasn't. It's really hard for him to do so and he feels, I think that's one of the reasons too that he feels uncomfortable. Smoking is one.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Okay. Okay. So tell me a little bit about that then. Some of the things requirements that the Mormon church establishes that would make you a member and some of those things that you have to get rid of that you, that a lot of people just take for granted and do every day. Tell me about some of those things.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, we feel that Word of Wisdom is a really important part of keeping your body, your temple clean. Coffee is not a good thing and cigarettes, tobacco is not a good thing because you know tobacco was used a long years ago for medicine for animals. You know of course tobacco causes cancer and all this other stuff. So and strong drinks are not a good thing for you. So we try to practice and keeping those things or whatever.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Now when you say strong drink, do you mean alcohol?
JESSIE STREATER:
Um hmm. All kind of alcoholic beverages and stuff.
BARBARA COPELAND:
So like Coca-Cola and hot chocolate and things of that nature also are banned.
JESSIE STREATER:
No, hot chocolate is not. But Coca-Cola has a lot of caffeine in it, but it also has potassium in it and if potassium is one of the things that you really need, then I feel it's not a problem in drinking a Coke. But anything, any dark sodas like that are really bad for the body.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Because I've had different members to tell me no, we're not supposed to have tea, coffee—
JESSIE STREATER:
Right.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Even hot cocoa and I said gee that's very interesting.
JESSIE STREATER:
Well, I didn't know about hot cocoa. But yeah. Even though I don't drink it. Maybe they think because of something in the cocoa bean or something.
BARBARA COPELAND:
I think chocolate might have caffeine. I'm not really sure. But I've just heard just various different versions of it.
JESSIE STREATER:
But you know each person has their own view about what's good for them and what's not.
BARBARA COPELAND:
Right. So now if a member feels that they can't give up smoking, then they do they still consider themselves a member until they can give up smoking, or do they consider themselves not a member or inactive because they smoke?
JESSIE STREATER:
No, they consider them a member, and they even also try to get help for you, counseling for you and al this. But again it all depends on the individual. You're going to do whatever it is you're going to do no matter what the consequences are.