Lunatic conservative Christians have momentarily run out of things to stamp their feet and pout about, and so they’ve decided to become incensed about the fact that the new holiday-themed paper cups being offered by Starbucks don’t have snowflakes printed on them.
Since 1997, the coffee Goliath has offered a unique holiday-themed paper cup design each year. Past cups have been printed with arty illustrations of reindeer, tree ornaments, poinsettias, and Santa Claus. This year, Starbucks holiday cups offer a more minimalist design: a bright red cup, with no other illustration or ornamentation other than the company logo.
Jesus freaks are livid.
“I’m officially banning Starbucks from my life,” wrote student pastor Nate Weaver of Sarasota, Florida’s Crosspointe Christian Church, in a gone-viral post on Facebook over the weekend. “With the CEO of the company telling those who support pro-life that they don't want their money and now the red holiday cups with nothing that might tie to Christmas on them because they want to be politically correct,” garbled Weaver, in a vaguely grammatical slam against the coffee giant.
Andrea Williams of the U.K.-based organization Christian Concern had a more lucid, although equally ridiculous, complaint. “This is a denial of historical reality and the great Christian heritage behind the American Dream that has so benefitted Starbucks,” Williams told the Breitbart News Network the other day. “This also denies the hope of Jesus Christ and His story so powerfully at this time of year.”
Other religious nut jobs in the UK are fuming. British politician David Burrowes took a middle-ground position with a lame statement on Saturday. “The Starbucks coffee cup change smells more of political correctness than a consumer-led change,” Burrowes said in a press release. “The public has a common sense grasp on the reality that at Christmas time, whether you have a Christian faith or not, Britain celebrates Christmas.”
Perhaps needless to say, the loudest squawking about Starbucks' nervy red cups came from our own backyard. “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,” former Arizona pastor Joshua Feuerstein seethed in a Facebook video which, at press time, had upwards of 10 million views. The erstwhile God hawker is, according to the bio page on his website, “an American evangelist, internet and social media personality” who has “been the guest on television and syndicated radio talk shows, such as TBN,” which isn’t a talk show, but rather a radio network.
Feuerstein’s video offers additional cleverness: He boasts that he “pranked” Starbucks by telling the barista that his name was Merry Christmas, thus forcing the minimum-wage counter clerk to write that Christly holiday greeting on his cup. (In my mind, he just bought a cup of coffee from Starbucks; does that mean they win?) Feuerstein encourages all other good Christians do the same, in protest of Starbuck’s godless ways, but stops short of recommending that God lovers emulate his other naughty trick: He carried a concealed firearm with him, in opposition of Starbucks’ apparently anti-religion policy against firearms.
That’ll show ’em!
It remains unclear how the red cups, which Starbucks began using at the end of October, are anti-Christmas, a fact that’s not lost on pretty much anyone who isn’t bent on proselytizing. Backlash against the outrage began almost at once, mostly via social media. A Facebook page devoted to the issue stomped and heaved with its own indignation, while in the real world, professional Christians began rolling their eyes.
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“We are so incensed by any perceived omission of our personal faith from the public sphere that we go on a rampage,” wrote the United Church of Christ’s Reverend Emily Heath in an op ed for Huffington Post. “This year we didn’t even wait until Advent to start claiming persecution.”
Seattle-based Starbucks has remained calm. “We wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories,” said the company’s vice president of design and content Jeffrey Fields. “We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s a more open way to usher in the holiday.”
Because the controversy is so ludicrous, some are theorizing that the joke is on us—that this is just a skillful marketing scheme created by Starbucks itself. But the latte leviathan needs no help selling macchiatos. The whole mess smacks of the sort of ass-sore conservatism that marks contemporary evangelical Christianity. It’s not like Fields and company replaced its trademark mermaid with a sketch of Beelzebub, or that its previous holiday cup designs ever featured a crucifix or a likeness of the Virgin Mother of God. How is a snowflake or a cartoon snowman more Christian than the simple, inclusive design at the heart of this latest freakout by religious zealots? Does this mean Christians have finally abandoned their mewling over how Christmas isn’t about Santa and Frosty and gift-giving, but all about honoring the glory of Christ? Suddenly, it would appear, snowflakes equal loving the son of God.
Frankly, it’s the Solo Cup Company that should be up in arms about Starbucks’ all-red holiday cup, which looks like a wholesale lift of Solo’s trademark disposable design. This year, instead of waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, we can instead count the days until Solo calls foul on our favorite purveyor of frappacinos. In the meantime, Christians who require religious validation from an interglobal coffee chain might take a holy moment to reconsider the sturdiness of their relationship with God.