… and it is a direct hit.
These year, I am not going to mock the War on Christmas. I’m going to join it. This time, I’m fighting for Team Pagen.
The sight of red cups being handed out at Starbucks usually signifies the “most wonderful time of the year” is underway, but this year’s holiday season at Starbucks is already being marred by a red cup controversy.
While red cups of Starbucks past have featured holiday symbols like reindeer and ornaments, this year’s cup is plain.
When the cup was unveiled earlier this month, the coffee chain described it as having a, “two-toned ombré design, with a bright poppy color on top that shades into a darker cranberry below.”
Joshua Feuerstein, an evangelical pastor and a social media and internet personality, posted a rant on Facebook declaring that Starbucks had removed Christ and Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.
An interesting claim, because the older cups had snowflakes.
Feuerstein said he “pranked” the store by ordering his coffee and telling the barristas his name was Merry Christmas, which they wrote on his cup. He also wore a T-shirt with an image of Christ on it. He flashed a small pistol he said he carried into the store in defiance of CEO Howard Schultz’ request that customers not bring firearms into the stores even in states that permit open-carry.
The outrage spread over the internet with the help of conservative websites like Breitbart News, who called it part of the “war on Christmas” and said political correctness had gone over the line.
But still, I think Starbucks first shot was a good one. Maybe we can win the War On Christmas this year.
And to end this post, here’s a response from a Christian on this issue:
What is Feuerstein doing wrong? There are five things I’d like to talk with him about if he’d be willing to contact me:
- He’s trying to impose Christian morals on a secular company. Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth that holds spiritual meaning for Christians. The rest of the world celebrates other things on December 25th and certainly the least festive thing is to try to make people feel guilty or stupid for not acknowledging your holiday.
- He’s confusing a greeting with the holiday. Christmas is larger and bigger and will happen whether a company recognizes it or not.
- He’s taking the battle to a company rather than to the hearts and minds of people. As we’ve seen in the past few months, Starbucks tends to serve as a stomping grounds for flashy, dramatic conservative Christian performances of antagonistic faith. It is a great place to demonstrate how you stand up to the “liberals of the world,” and because Starbucks wants your money and for you to like them, they won’t fight back. They don’t care. These people are still buying coffee. And, incidentally, while Starbucks is demonstrated at, friends and neighbors who could be being loved or given truth to about the Gospel are being ignored.
- He’s equating Christianity with conservatism. Conservatives are right about a lot–I identify as one–but Christian does not equal conservative and certainly doesn’t equal American or gun-owner. When Feuerstein flashes his gun and challenges “all great Americans and Christians” to “prank” Starbucks as though they are the same thing (probably something he could clarify but which his syntax implies), he’s completely wrong.
- Feuerstein isn’t convincing anyone. By accusing Starbucks of hating Jesus in his video description, he’s vilifying them and using flashy click-bait tactics to spread his video. His tactics encourage disagreement and win-lose situations.
What should we be doing?
If you’re an American and a Christian worried about the growing absence of Christ in public businesses or institutions there are three things that we can do that won’t make the situation worse:
- We can stop martyring ourselves with no cause and stop “fighting back” with flashy, viral, passive-aggressive demonstrations. Losing a Christmas greeting on a cup is very small battle compared to the battle for the one neighbor you’ve been meaning to tell about Jesus but haven’t gotten around to talking to yet. Starbucks isn’t persecuting us and even if they were, our marching orders from Christ himself are simple: “Turn the other cheek.”
- Do extraordinary acts of love. It’s not about winning arguments or using brute shows of force. By the way, if Feurestein is correct in saying that tens of thousands of Christians have visited Starbucks in the last 20 hours and done this, that’s at least $100,000 worth of business he’s sent to his opponent. Starbucks is laughing all the way to the bank. And if Feuerstein’s sarcastic, flippant, aggressive attitude is indicative of the attitudes of those working with him, Starbucks employees probably aren’t being convinced of the extraordinary love of Christ.
- Stop equating Christianity with America or conservatism or gun rights. Civilizations come and go. They are mortal in the truest sense as C. S. Lewis points out in The Weight of Glory. Human souls are eternal. If we were expelled from America, lost all of our guns, or couldn’t vote for Republican candidates anymore, we Christians would still be Christians, and we could still follow Christ. The rest of that can melt away. (Admittedly, such a situation sounds terrible, and it’d be difficult for me to let go of some of those things peacefully, but Christ is in me perfecting me so that I truly can cling to Him when I lose everything else.)
That’s all I’ve got to say….