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There’s nothing Christian about fretting over Starbucks cups

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Seeing red.
This article is more than 2 years old.

With fewer than 50 days left until Christmas, the loyal foot soldiers battling annually against corporate America’s alleged  ”War on Christmas” are out for blood. This year, the tedious contingent—which makes up for its lack of actual support with a strident social media game plan—has a new target: Starbucks’ minimalist new holiday cup design.

Yes, the ubiquitous coffee chain has decided to get rid of the “busy doodles and kitschy quotations” that have adorned its seasonal cups in years past. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories,” Starbucks VP of design Jeffrey Fields said in a statement posted online. “Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays. We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s a more open way to usher in the holiday.”

How incredibly anti-Christian of them!

Writing for Breitbart UK, Raheem Kassam chastised the chain for what he sees as yet another example the Christmas season becoming more and more secular; a “cleansing” of Christian iconography spearheaded, presumably, by coffee-swilling zealots from the West.

“It’s not just about a cup. The cup is symbolic of a larger war against Christianity in this country.”

Kassam’s column was follow closely by a video from former pastor and current social media “personality” Joshua Feuerstein. In the video–which has been shared close to 500,000 times on Facebook and viewed almost 15 million times—Feuerstein encourages fellow Christians to give their names as ”Merry Christmas,” thereby forcing local baristas to utter a Christmas greeting.

“It’s not just about a cup,” Feuerstein told 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.”

Writers with more patience and more time than I have since spilled considerable ink explaining why the whole brouhaha is both overblown and ridiculous.

“Rhetorical bluster about coffee cups distracts from the real, difficult questions of religious liberty and freedom of expression,” notes Emma Green over at the Atlantic, adding that there is “irony in seeking validation of one’s religious identity from corporate America.”

Starbucks, it goes without saying, can do whatever it wants with its holiday decorations. This is a company that serves millions of cups of sugary-sweet concoctions around the world every day—it should not be attempting to foist the customs of one demographic group onto a diverse customer base, just because that group is noisy and likes to misquote the US Constitution. This isn’t political correctness, it’s capitalism.

These types of fake controversies distract from the meaning of Christmas and distract from the incredible things Christians do every day.

And here we get to the real problem I have with this whole charade. Growing up in a Protestant family, Christmas for me is as much about celebrating the birth of Christ as it is about gifts and holiday lights. I love Christmas Eve, always one of the most beautiful services of the year in my church, when the sanctuary is bedecked with holly and spruce boughs and we finish the evening with a candlelit rendition of “Silent Night.”

Indeed, I am generally quite proud of my faith, a set of guiding principles I believe to be fundamentally rooted in tolerance and generosity of spirit. I think religion can and should be a force for progress.

But inane incidents like this one cheapen my Christian identity. So, for the record, do the homophobes who try to use the Bible to discriminate against LGBT Americans and the CEOs who use their outdated belief systems to deny employees adequate medical coverage.

These types of fake controversies distract from the meaning of Christmas and distract from the incredible things Christians do every day. The Joshua Feuersteins and Pat Robertsons of the world need to stop pretending they speak for me (and the millions like me) who aren’t spending our days yelling at bemused agnostics and “sticking it” to Howard Schultz. There is no conspiracy to get rid of Christmas. Political correctness is not threatening to overpower Christianity. Jesus doesn’t care about coffee cups.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

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