Starbucks cups have some evangelical Christians seeing red
Some say Jesus Christ healed the sick and died to redeem humankind. Little is said about his views on the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Still, secular coffee maker Starbucks has come under fire from some Christians who say the company isn’t repping hard enough for Jesus on its recent understated holiday cups. The problem? Political correctness, according to one evangelical.
“I think in the age of political correctness we become so open-minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head,” Joshua Feuerstein said in a widely viewed anti-Starbucks rant on Facebook titled “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.”
Feuerstein, an Arizona-based evangelist and “social media personality,” according to his website, had a plan. He didn’t want a boycott. He wanted a movement.
“I went in,” he said in the video. “I asked for my coffee. They asked for my name. And I told them my name is ‘Merry Christmas.’”
“Guess what, Starbucks?” Feuerstein said. “I tricked you into putting ‘Merry Christmas’ on your cup.” Moreover, he challenged “great Americans and Christians” to do the same by making “coffee selfies” with Christmas messages on Starbucks cups.
Feuerstein’s message was quickly embraced by many. Posted on Thursday, his video had been viewed more than 11 million times by early Monday.
It’s not just about a cup. The cup is symbolic of a larger war against Christianity in this country.
“It’s not just about a cup,” he explained in an email to the Washington Post. “The cup is symbolic of a larger war against Christianity in this country. The policemen of political correctness have demanded that the silent majority bend its knee to a vocal minority.” He added: “Starbucks and others know that Americans are drawing a line in the sand and refusing to remain silent any longer.”
In the video, Feuerstein added that he wore a Jesus Christ T-shirt into the store “just to offend” - and also brought his gun with him, since Starbucks “hates” the 2nd Amendment. (Starbucks has expressed disapproval of guns in its locations in the past, but not banned them. Arizona is an open-carry state.)
“Choose to not be political correct, just correct,” Feuerstein said.
Some supported the message.
“Love it Joshua,” one commenter wrote. “AMEN AMEN. I will ALWAYS KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS.”
However, some commenters - a few claiming to be current or former Starbucks employees - said that the company has never endorsed explicitly Christian messages. And wouldn’t sending more business to a company to make a point just result in higher profits for the supposedly offending company?
“If you need a coffee chain to be your ambassador of Christ you need to re-examine your relationship w/God,” one Twitter critic wrote.
Starbucks certainly didn’t seem to anticipate this furor when it released its holiday-themed cups last week -- cups that, as the company made clear in a press release, are not really Christmas cups. No crosses. No Mary and Joseph. And definitely no Jesus. In many ways, the cups seemed designed to be unremarkable - unlike, say, the “Race Together” cups the company tried to push in the wake of unrest in Ferguson, Mo., earlier this year.
“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,” the company wrote in a press release. “Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”
Indeed, save for the shade, the cups looked pretty much like regular Starbucks cups. Well, if you got technical, as the company did, the cups were “a bright poppy color on top that shades into a darker cranberry below.”
“We have anchored the design with the classic Starbucks holiday red that is bright and exciting,” Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of design and content, said in a statement. “The ombré creates a distinctive dimension, fluidity and weightedness.” (For those in need of a definition of “ombré": “colors or tones that shade into each other - used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark,” according to Merriam-Webster.)
Except this year, the story is, in a way, not a story.
“This year’s design is another way Starbucks is inviting customers to create their own stories with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas,” the company said. Fields added: “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
Or maybe the story is sort of a silent story. Kind of like “Silent Night.” But definitely, definitely not “Silent Night.”
“We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it,” Fields said. “It’s a more open way to usher in the holiday.”
Breitbart.com wasn’t buying it.
“You can see what’s going on here,” Raheem Kassam wrote on the conservative website, offering a detailed rundown of the history of Starbucks Christmas cups. “More open? You mean, you’re trying not to ‘offend’ anyone. Frankly, the only thing that can redeem them from this whitewashing of Christmas is to print Bible verses on their cups next year.”
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.