For Starbucks-loving coffee drinkers, the coffee chain’s release of its red holiday cup is a sign that the season is officially upon us. But this year’s red cup is stirring controversy with some Christians who have accused Starbucks of waging a “war on Christmas.”
Let me explain how a simple red cup has angered a vocal group of Christians.
Starbucks said its red cups, which have replaced its standard white cups during the holiday season since 1997, have featured a different festive design each year, including snowflakes, carolers, snowmen, nutcrackers, mittens, pine trees, vintage ornaments and reindeer.
But Starbucks’ 2015 holiday cup is a simple two-toned ombré design with shades of dark cranberry and the standard holiday red. There are no snowmen, no tree decorations and no snowflakes.
“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” said Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of design and content. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
Fields said the idea for the cup design was to give people a sense of calm during what is too often a hectic time of year.
“We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it,” Fields explained.
As a former graphic designer, I love the simplicity and elegance of the cup design. But it’s that simplicity that has some Christians calling foul, accusing Starbucks of hiding the religious meaning behind Christmas.
“This is a denial of historical reality and the great Christian heritage behind the American Dream that has so benefited Starbucks,” Andrea Williams of the U.K.-based organization Christian Concern told Breitbart. “This also denies the hope of Jesus Christ and His story so powerfully at this time of year.”
I’m not sure how the snowmen and reindeer featured in the past convey a religious message, but that hasn’t stopped people like former pastor Josh Feuerstein from taking to social media to proclaim that Starbucks is attacking Christmas.
“Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,” Feuerstein wrote in a Facebook post that has garnered 160,000 likes from readers and more than 461,000 shares.
In an accompanying video post, Feuerstein urges Christians to prank Starbucks by ordering a drink at the coffee chain, then telling baristas that their name is Merry Christmas so Starbucks workers have to write it on the cup before serving it.
“So guess what, Starbucks? I tricked you into putting ‘Merry Christmas’ on your cup,” Feuerstein proclaimed in the video, after (ironically) purchasing a Starbucks coffee.
Feuerstein’s opinions are obviously not shared by all Christians, as evidenced in a blog piece for The Huffington Post by the Rev. Emily Heath, who said it’s ridiculous for Christians to be outraged over a plain red Starbucks cup.
If we are outraged, we should be outraged at a world where violence is rampant, where children still starve, where people are displaced from their homes, and where veterans are homeless on the streets. We should be taking Jesus’ command to love every child of God seriously. And we should stop wasting our time complaining about coffee cups that don’t acknowledge his birthday.
What do you think about Starbucks’ holiday cup? Do you see the red cup as an attack on Christmas? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.