The holiday season has barely begun, but a battle over the meaning of Christmas is already underway. The fight centers on nondescript red and green cups released by Starbucks in the past week, which have inspired a holy war between conservative Christians and the coffee maker.
On one side, those offended by the holiday cups claim that Starbucks is not just erasing Jesus from Christmas but hate him, the Washington Post reported. On the other side, Starbucks insists that the cups were meant to be inclusive of all people and act as a blank slate on which everyone can share the meaning of the holiday.
But for Arizona pastor Joshua Feuerstein, Starbucks’ move represents too much open-mindedness, so much so that “our brains have literally fallen out of our head.”
Feuerstein posted the now-viral Christmas rant on Facebook Thursday, which has since inspired others to post anti-Starbucks comments and pictures all over social media.
“Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus… Do you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups? That’s why they’re just plain red.”
To protest the removal of Jesus, the pastor encouraged “great Americans and Christians” to force company employees to write Christmas messages on the cups instead of their names. That’s what he did, according to his post. He went into the café, ordered a coffee, and when they asked his name, said it was “Merry Christmas,” effectively tricking them.
Feuerstein also went into Starbucks wearing a Jesus Christ T-shirt “just to offend” and a gun, because he said the company also “hates” the right to bear arms. (They have stated in the past that it doesn’t want guns in its stores but doesn’t ban them.)
For the pastor and his equally-miffed supporters (including conservative politicians in England, who called the holiday cups “political correctness gone mad,” the Independent reported), they are symbolic of the “larger war on Christianity,” Feuerstein said.
“The policemen of political correctness have demanded that the silent majority bend its knee to a vocal minority… Americans are drawing a line in the sand and refusing to remain silent any longer.”
Now that Joshua has said his piece, Starbucks has come forward to explain the holiday cups. According to CNN Money, they have featured “symbols of the season” on its cups in the past, including reindeer and ornaments. But this year, they chose to strip the holiday cups of imagery and go with as simple “ombré” design that “mimics a blank canvas” and “welcomes all of our stories.”
Jeffrey Fields, vice president of design and content, called the holiday cups a “bright and exciting” holiday red, which includes “a bright poppy color on top that shades into a darker cranberry below.”
“Creating a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity is one of the core values of Starbucks, and each year during the holidays the company aims to bring customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season. Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”
One commenter (and Starbucks employee) on the pastor’s video pointed out that Starbucks’ holiday cups have never included explicitly Christian themes or imagery, E! News reported. She recalled snowflakes, scarves, and snowmen, “but they haven’t said the word Christmas on them since I’ve worked here. We even have a Christmas blend coffee.”
— Ron Burr (@arrpeebee) November 7, 2015
— Bill McNulty (@planningminion) November 7, 2015
Conservative media site Brietbart has called upon the company to redeem itself next year by printing Bible verses on their holiday cups. Meanwhile, another commenter — siding with Starbucks — said that keeping the holiday cups blank makes them neutral and more inclusive.
“You are offended that they don’t say Merry Christmas, but Jewish people would be offended if it only said that, not Happy Hanukkah. So they are leaving them blank so they can’t offend anyone.”
What do you think? Are Starbucks’ holiday cups offensive to Christians?
[Image via Starbucks]