Tempest in a coffee pot: Red cup doesn't mean someone hates Jesus

You can imagine my surprise recently when I woke up to find that all of Christianity’s problems had been solved.


When I went to bed the night before, terrorists very literally were marking Christians for death in the Middle East. Church attendance was plummeting across Europe. In America, too many televangelists served both God and mammon – heavy on the mammon.

But apparently all those problems, and more, have vanished.

How else can you explain the outrage among some Christians right now over Starbucks coffee cups?

Oh yes. You’d think more energy would be devoted to weightier issues. But the latest thing that has folks seeing red is that the coffeehouse chain’s holiday cups are red.

That’s it. No Christmas-inspired embellishments. Just solid red.

Before you read any further, I’ll give you the chance to calm down.

In past years, the cups were decorated a lot more festively – snowmen, Christmas trees, ornaments. But a self-described evangelist and social media personality named Joshua Feuerstein noticed the absence of snowmen, Christmas trees and ornaments on the cups this year.

So he took to Twitter Nov. 5 to say, “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Not the logical leap I would’ve selected, but there it is.


HE ALSO SPURRED a #MerryChristmasStarbucks campaign in which he urges Starbucks customers to do what he did. When you order coffee, the barista asks your name and they write it on your cup. But when Mr. Feuerstein ordered his coffee, he gave the name “Merry Christmas,” so Starbucks would have to put it on his bare cup.

“So guess what Starbucks, I tricked you into putting Merry Christmas on your cup,” he wrote.

This is fun free speech, and I genuinely like it. You also can tell the barista your name is Han Solo, to trick him into helping market the forthcoming Star Wars movie.

As the owner of a coffee maker and a thermos, I see the inside of a Starbucks maybe once a year. But that’s often enough to know that Starbucks hardly ignores Christmas.

When Mr. Feuerstein walked into his neighborhood Starbucks, he might have had to walk past the Christmas Blend coffee for sale and the Starbucks-themed Christmas ornaments for sale and the tree-shaped Advent calendars for sale and the gift cards that say “Merry Christmas” – just so he could stand defiantly at the counter because his coffee cup didn’t have a snowflake on it.

This is the company that’s supposedly declaring war on Christmas? If so, it’s sleeping with the enemy.

If a business chooses to go in a pro-Christmas direction, in a Christian way, it’s a business model I strongly agree with. Some of the most successful U.S. companies have wonderfully deep Christian roots.


SHOP AT A Forever 21 clothing store and you’ll find “John 3:16” printed on your bag. Eat at an In-N-Out Burger out west and you’ll find all kinds of Bible verses printed on the cups and wrappers. Scan Hobby Lobby’s mission statement to discover several respectful references to God. The founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics long held to a philosophy of “God first, family second, career third.”

And Chick-fil-A? The chicken chain so spiritually grounded it famously stays closed on Sundays? How many people’s prayers do you think were answered when they first introduced its chicken biscuit in 1986? I will always consider that a miracle.

Your typical Starbucks is going to be crammed to the rafters with Christmas stuff, just like the businesses that have the temerity to put tinsel and ornaments on the shelves alongside the Halloween candy. You want to get steamed at something this holiday season? The vulgar commercial exploitation of Christmas jumps on us earlier and earlier each year like a rabid animal. Protest that.

Please keep Christ in Christmas. It’s a season to reflect inwardly and with people who share the belief of how God gave us the greatest gift of His own Son. So you know what – I don’t care whether there’s an amusing caricature of a penguin on my Starbucks cup. And if you think a plain cup means somebody hates Jesus, you might want to switch to decaf. That kind of attitude only hurts how others view Christians.

Yes, there are people and businesses out there fighting to keep Christmas and its trappings out of the public square. That’s wrong.

But there’s an important difference between the mere absence of Christmas and the active suppression of it.



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