In what has become something of a yearly tradition, Starbucks late last month unveiled the latest design for the company’s holiday-themed cups.
“Since 1997 Starbucks has served its holiday beverages in a unique cup, starting with a jazz-themed design in jewel tones of deeper reds, greens and blues,” the company explained in a release. “Every year since, the cup has told a story of the holidays by featuring symbols of the season from vintage ornaments and hand-drawn reindeer to modern vector-illustrated characters.”
This year’s cups, however, have no “symbols of the season.”
“We have anchored (this year’s) design with the classic Starbucks holiday red that is bright and exciting,” said Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of Design & Content. “The ombré creates a distinctive dimension, fluidity and weightedness.”
In other words, it’s just plain red. And some people aren’t happy, pointing to the cups as evidence the famously liberal coffee giant is waging yet another battle in the ubiquitous “War on Christmas.”
Conservative website Breitbart.com posted an article declaring in its headline, “Starbucks red cups are emblematic of the Christian culture cleansing of the West.”
“What is it about Christmas that Starbucks are afraid of celebrating?” The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert rhetorically asked in an interview with Breitbart. “Haven’t they heard it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the season of good will to ALL men? They should get involved and stop being scrooges.”
Starbucks released several statements indicating that the company is indeed searching for the most politically correct cup design imaginable.
“(We want) to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories,” the company said in a release. “It’s [a] more open way to usher in the holiday.”
But it also seems to be more than a little ridiculous to decry the red cups as Christian persecution and boycott-worthy. After all, there’s real Christian persecution taking place in the world, and there are also thousands of Christians working at Starbucks and trying to make ends meet.
One such individual took to Facebook to vent his frustrations.
“As a Christian and a store manager at Starbucks I find this ridiculous,” said Brian Hill. “The cups are red because it’s Christmas. And no one has ever even hinted at the idea of not saying Merry Christmas.”
The pushback against the cup design reached a climax when Joshua Feuerstein, the internet’s version of a televangelist whose proven time and again that he’s more interested in “going viral” than sticking to the facts, posted a Facebook video with an amusing idea.
“I decided instead of simply boycotting, why don’t we start a movement?” He said. “So when I went in and I asked for my coffee, they asked for my name and I told them my name is ‘Merry Christmas.'”
Starbucks baristas are taught to write each customer’s name on their cup right after they order, so, in Feuerstein’s words, “Guess what, Starbucks? I tricked you into putting Merry Christmas on your cup.”
His video has now been viewed over 11 million times and the hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks was trending on Twitter over the weekend.
Symbolic responses can send a powerful message. When government officials threatened to keep Chick-Fil-A out of their cities because the chain’s owners expressed their personal belief in Biblical marriage, Christians all over the country flooded the stores in a public show of support. Religious liberty is worth fighting for. Political correctness is also worth pushing back against, which I’m sure is what many of the #MerryChristmasStarbucks crowd is shooting for.
However, the real antidote to political correctness is not faux outrage, but rather engaging in a free and open debate of ideas with people holding a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. Additionally, I’ve never heard of anyone coming to salvation because of a witty or snarky Twitter hashtag campaign.
So how about this:
Why don’t we ask somebody we disagree with — or somebody the Lord has placed on our heart — to go grab a cup of coffee this Christmas season? Maybe even at *gasp!* Starbucks. Stepping out on a limb like that may not get a bunch of ego-boosting “likes” and “comments” on social media, but it’ll do a heckuva lot more to actually combat political correctness, and you may even make a new friend or Christ-follower.
And isn’t that the actual point? If it’s not, we’re the ones with a problem, not Starbucks.
(A loosely-related read that is worth your time: The Gospel is Not Clickbait)
— Cliff Sims (@Cliff_Sims) November 9, 2015