Mormons in Idaho

Weighing in with a whopping 23% of the state’s population, Latter-Day Saints make up the biggest religious denomination in Idaho, beating both Evangelicals (22%) and Catholics (18%). This statistic came as a surprise to us; during our journey through Idaho, we didn’t notice much Mormon influence at all… that is, at least, until we reached the southeastern corner of the state.

Mormons in Idaho Temple

After Utah, Idaho has the country’s second-highest percentage of Mormons. Their predominance in the eastern part of the state isn’t too surprising; Utah is just below the border, and Mormon missionaries began arriving in Idaho as far back as 1860. Cities such as Idaho Falls and Rexburg are almost entirely Mormon, with temples that dominate both religious and political life.

There’s no denying that some friction exists between the LDS and non-LDS factions of Idaho, whether it’s anti-Mormonism, or discrimination against non-Mormons. There has been a history of laws in the state targeting the LDS, including now-antiquated ones which barred Mormons from voting and holding public office. But the tyranny of the majority is a two-way street. Without thinking, I ordered a coffee in Rexburg. It was the worst coffee I’ve ever had in my life; cold and watery, at least three days old with a pile of grinds in the bottom. Coffee in a Mormon town: not recommended.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Diane

    I’ve been to the Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It is very beautiful, but the “tour guides” that insisted on escorting us through the church museum seemed odd to us. I regret not having the time to go through the Family Search Center while there, since I do genealogical research. P.S. Don’t you know it against their beliefs to drink caffeinated beverages? Is it any wonder their coffee sucks? lol

    1. Angela Ellis

      I find it interesting that they do not “drink” caffinated beverages, yet consume caffinated foods.  Number one on the list is chocolate.  Depending on the quality of the chocolate, the level of caffine.  There is a major flaw to their philosophy.

      1. eran

        They do not use drugs. Is caffeine a drug? If so, there are probably many of them that do not consume it (e.g. me), as people cannot be expected to be told what to do in very case. Second, they do not have rules against caffeinated beverages, but see point #1 in any case.

        BTW, you got me curious, so I did some reading:

        USDA Food Composition Database.

        Dark Chocolate (60-85% cacao solids)
        1 ounce (1/4 Lindt chocolate bar) = 23 milligrams

        Cocoa Powder
        1 tablespoon = 12 milligrams

        Dark(ish) Chocolate (45-59% cacao solids)
        1 ounce (3 dark chocolate Hershey Miniatures) = 12 milligrams

        Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Frosting
        1 slice (1/12th cake with 2 tablespoons frosting) = 9 milligrams

        Milk Chocolate
        1 ounce (4 milk chocolate Hershey Kiss ….

        (size = drink size)

        Coffee drinks Size in oz. (mL) Caffeine (mg)
        Brewed 8 (237) 95-165
        Brewed, decaf 8 (237) 2-5
        Espresso 1 (30) 47-64
        Espresso, decaf 1 (30) 0
        Instant 8 (237) 63

        So 8oz of coffee is comparable to 1 – 2 very dark chocolate bars. So what about smaller amounts, like chocolate cake? Should we ban orang juice too for having alcohol?

        “It was found that orange, apple and grape juice contain substantial amounts of ethanol (up to 0.77 g/L). Furthermore, certain packed bakery products such as burger rolls or sweet milk rolls contained more than 1.2 g ethanol/100 g.”

        1. Yo Mamma

          Biology lol

      2. Yo Mamma

        The coffee restrictions are not for caffeine. They sell coke and other caffeine drinks in BYU cafeterias. Coffee is the combination of the heated beverage containing the strong coffee and some property of tannin acid that coupled with very hot can cause many ailments. Also at the time coffee was banned it was connected to the men gathering and drinking alcohol and chewing and smoking tobacco. All were banned for many obvious and non obvious reasons.

  2. Tatiana

    Calgary recently got a temple, our first, and they graciously opened it to the public for a month of tours before the official dedication. It was a really neat and somewhat weird experience. First, the crowds were HUGE. I had no idea that most lay Mormons rarely get to see their own temples, and many would take the tour multiple times. Them plus all the curious locals made for a 40 min wait before you even got there. The tour commenced with a quick video of the history of the church, the Mormon migration to Alberta, the meaning of the temples, etc. etc. Then children would slip little shoe protectors over your feet. Then there was a very organized but rushed tour through the temple, the pool on oxen, the dressing rooms, the wedding chapel thingie, the cheesy gold and crystal gilded room that allegedly resembles Heaven and all. However, there were TONS of rooms that were not open, unlike a church, a temple is more like a maze with hallways. The tour guide had tears in her eyes over the importance of the temple to the church. Overall it was a neat experience, it definitely helped to diffuse most negative feelings towards the large construction, and it was gracious of them to open it to the public, as well as a good PR move.

  3. zdv

    That picture of the geese on the waterfall is amazing!

  4. noelle

    angela-  they dont drink caffinated drinks (but eat caffinated foods) because of the provision against “strong drink”.  most interpret that as alcohol and caffinated drinks.  Theres nothing said about caffiene specifically and avoiding caffinated food.

  5. Marc Rogers

    They do not seem to be against all caffeinated drinks, just coffee. I have seen them drink sodas with caffeine in them. But they really have a thing against coffee. Somewhere in desert West of Salt Lake City we stopped at a fast-food place for burgers and some coffee to help with the long drive across Nevada only to be told they did not have any coffee brewed. We said we would wait while they made some. Again they balked, telling us that they would have to make a full pot of it and the part we didn’t buy would go to waste. We agreed to pay the cost of the entire batch and only then, very reluctantly, did they make the coffee. They were open about the fact that they found making the nasty brew offensive but they did finally make the coffee for us. So coffee lovers beware when travelling through Mormon country. Their prejudice against it is for real. They love cocoa, however, so if you are a hot chocolate lover you are in luck!

  6. RealNV

    There’s no doubt that Mormon’s (and people in general) behavior can vary by region, and even ward. But I have never met a Mormon who has practiced what is preached, in Nevada. They are not supposed to have caffeine (coffee or tea), but in the alternative will slug down soda. And as a substitute for alcohol… Nyquil. For medicinal purposes of course. And this skewed behavior seems to be more prevalent in Carson City. Have met a lot of women who have left “the church” there as well. That’s my exposure and observations only. Your experience may differ.  

  7. Lucy

    Thought about retiring there until I saw that Idaho Falls, ID was 50% LDS…I thought Idaho was a redneck state and liked guns, hunting and had a high percentage of skin heads…all that I can handle…but I cannot handle the LDS…they are very prejudice against non-mormons…worse than skin heads 🙂

  8. Eran


    As a sociologist, I think the general rule is, if someone is a minority (of any kind), they are likely

    1. To be discriminated against
    2. Feel like they are being discriminated against, whether or not that is actually happening.

    As a white person/American in other dark-skinned countries, I would say that I was clearly being discriminated against, but maybe not; hard to say for sure.

    Anyways, I have lived in dozens of states, and find the Latter-Day-Saints, like some other religious groups, to usually be on the kind/warm side.

    1. Paul Phillips

      You must be privileged because if you are not, they can very well affect your life and well being. They are very well networked and spread gossip.

      1. Yo Mamma


  9. Rick

    The LDS church is a false church, definitely not Christian. Islam is closer to Christianity than the LDS.

  10. Jackie Graves

    Yes, i try to follow Jesus Christ and am Christian. Not perfect for sure.
    As far as caffiene etc it is not by way of commandment…Every person has choices…

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