Starbucks holiday cups prompt internet outrage

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(Graphics by Michelle Krichevskaya and Kaitlin Tamosiunas | The DePaulia)

Starbucks has historically used Christmas iconography to decorate their cups during the holiday season. Apparently, some Christmas-celebrating coffee drinkers have really enjoyed these annual cheery cups. But this holiday season, the company debuted a new, red ombre design with the Starbucks logo in the middle. Starbucks has prefaced this decision with a message explaining that the new cups offer “a more open way to usher in the holidays.” This decision by Starbucks is clearly an effort to make the holiday season more inclusive. By removing Christmas iconography, such as Christmas trees and candy canes from their cups, Starbucks is looking to expand the appeal of the holiday season beyond those that celebrate Christmas.

It’s important to note that Starbucks is still selling the many Christmas items on their website such as ornaments and the Starbucks Christmas Blend. This information further proves that company’s decision to make the cups red was made for business reasons and not to insult Christians.

Considering that the iconography used by Starbucks on past cups included strictly commercial Christmas symbolism, many Christians have had no problem with the decision. However, a number of Christians are outraged. These people aren’t viewing this decision as a measure of expanded customer inclusion but rather as a blatant attack on Christmas. One such Christian, Joshua Feuerstein, an Evangelical Christian from Arizona and self-proclaimed social media personality, is at the helm of the outrage against Starbucks. The retired pastor has taken to Facebook with one of his usual camera phone video rants filmed in front of a Starbucks exclaiming that, “We have become so open-minded that our brains have literally fallen out of our heads”  because he believes that “Starbucks removed Christmas [iconography] from their cups because they hate Jesus.” He then goes on to explain that he has and will continue to order his coffee under the name of ‘Merry Christmas.’ He sees it as his way of “tricking” Starbucks employees into putting Christmas on their cups and “urges” other Christians to employ the same trickery and to share pictures of them doing so on social media. He argues that such a “movement” would help Christians stand up to their supposed persecution.

StarbucksCupGreenIronically enough, this does not include boycotting, but continuing to buy their coffee. He ends the video by flaunting his pistol that he carried inside of the Starbucks because they “hate the second amendment so much.” Regardless of all of this foolishness, the video has received a concerning amount of support through several hundred thousand shares on Facebook and over 15 million views. Feuerstein conveniently excludes that Starbucks is still carrying Christmas-themed merchandise from his Facebook rant as mentioning as it would both invalidate his whole video and prove that Starbucks actually does embrace Christmas.

The support that this video has received is a reason for concern. It is important that companies are allowed to make decisions that may be fueled by secular beliefs or transmit a secular message without being deemed as intolerant or hateful. Feuerstein has a poor track record with this as he also made a rant denouncing Starbucks’ decision to endorse gay marriage.

There is an important question that viewers need to ask whenever watching videos from people like Joshua Feuerstein: Why is this person saying the things that they are saying? In the case of Feuerstein, a quick look at some of the other videos he has posted on his account reveal that he is very openly opposed to the current progressive direction that this nation is taking. Conservative in all of his positions, it becomes obvious that his tirade against Starbucks isn’t an attempt to speak out against some supposed oppressors but rather a knee-jerk reaction to progressivism from a hardcore conservative.

Joshua Feuerstein’s videos all revolve around denouncing progressivism from the legalization of gay marriage to any attempted forms of gun control. Any of his calls to action must be approached with reasonable doubt, and for Christ’s sake — no pun intended — this is the same man that endorsed taking up arms and starting a nationwide revolution when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage a few months ago.

StarbucksCupBlueThough his methods are manipulative and questionable, Feuerstein’s fear mongering did bring him the attention he desired as he ended up appearing on CNN to discuss his views on Starbucks with CNN’s Brianna Keilar and Sirius XM’s Pete Dominick. He again went on a rant in which he not only claimed that Christians are being persecuted, but that President Barack Obama pretended to be a Christian in order to be elected. CNN ultimately muted Feuerstein’s microphone from feeding into live conversation. Keilar explained that Obama is indeed a Christian and Dominick, who can be clearly seen trying to hold back laughter, carefully deconstructed everything Feuerstein had to say. He denounced him for his homophobic bigotry and questioned his intolerance as a Christian.

Whether one is a Christian or not, there is no coherent argument that can be made to suggest that Starbucks is attacking Christmas with its new cups. Religious folks are not being persecuted against when secular legislature is passed or when a company makes a secular decision. It needs to be understood that when a private corporation makes a decision that may disagree with the views of a particular religion, it is not an attack on the religion but rather the celebration of the American right to a freedom of religion — and that includes the freedom to be secular.