Red Starbucks Cup

So, there’s this guy named Joshua Feuerstein. He’s a former pastor and current social media evangelist, and, if his website is to be believed, he’s done some commendable things. However, on Thursday he published this video that currently has 11 million views; 147,000 likes; and 431,000 shares. Given the content of the video, those numbers are disheartening, and since I’m a Christ-follower, it’s important to me that you know this:

Joshua Feuerstein doesn’t speak for me. 

There are more things I’d like to say about Mr. Feuerstein, but few of them are kind, and I don’t think Jesus would dig that. So, rather than take an arrogant, childish posture toward him—which is exactly what I’d be criticizing him for (along with those who’ve added their Hell ya! to his rant)—I’m going to (try to) leave him completely out of this and just talk a bit about Starbucks and Jesus.

Starbucks’ Mission and Values

Starbucks’ mission is incredibly compelling: To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time. The company’s values are no less inspiring: Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome. Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other. Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect. Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for the results.

This does not seem to be a company at odds with Christianity. But it wouldn’t matter if it were; they’re a coffee house, not a church. And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, you and I patronize a whole slew of companies that look nothing like Jesus: clothing manufacturers that exploit vulnerable populations; restaurants that serve gargantuan portions, much of which lands in a dumpster; development companies, and the banks supporting them, that are engaged in shameful, justice-averse gentrification; movie theaters that show films exactly the opposite of “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8).

But we’re going to get all “Starbucks hates Jesus” because their holiday cup artwork doesn’t include Merry Christmas? C’mon.

Just the Facts

Confession: I just typed a rebuttal to each and every bit of Mr. Feuerstein’s video, and it was all sort of snarky (especially about his use of “litrally”), and then I remembered I was trying to do the “say something nice or say nothing” thing, so I deleted all of it, which is a shame because it was hilarious. But it was mean. And that’s never funny, no matter what Amy Schumer says.

ANYWAY… I just need to address some fabrications before I move on:

1.Mr. Feuerstein claims Starbucks isn’t allowed to say “Merry Christmas” to customers. I checked with two Starbucks managers tonight, and that is 100% false. And even if it were true, that is not “religious persecution.”

2. Starbucks isn’t offended by Jesus tshirts. Starbucks gives exactly zero damns about your attire.

3. In the description of his video, Mr. Feuerstein writes, “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus…” Nope. No, they don’t. They also don’t hate Buddha or Mohammed or John Smith or any other religious leader. Or anyone at all, for that matter. And neither does Jesus. 

Political Correctness

Starbucks is being criticized for catering to the secular culture’s desire for “political correctness.” Let’s assume, for just one moment, that Starbucks actually did decide that including snowmen snowpeople (see what I did there?) and reindeer on their holiday cups could be offensive to some people-groups. Wouldn’t that include Christians? I mean, doesn’t it make more sense to be less offended now that secular symbols have been removed from the cups? But instead, we’re supposed to join Mr. Feuerstein’s “movement” to bring them back? I’m so confused.

Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks’ VP of Design and Content, had this to say:

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs. This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

So that’s it? The “welcomes all of our stories” bit? That’s what’s so politically correct our brains are “litrally falling out of our head”? (Okay, that was a dig. I tried not to. It slipped out.)

Why is Starbucks’ thoughtfulness toward people labeled as political correctness, which has somehow become an insult, instead of compassionate concern for human beings, which is what it actually is? 

Here’s a for-instance: Misogynistic jokes infuriate me, most women, and lots of men I know. If you decide to stop telling such jokes because you realize they’re disrespectful, that’s not political correctness. At the very least it’s courtesy, and at its best it’s love. 

And if you think political correctness is stupid because you think people are too easily offended, you should probably be extra aware of what offends you. 

Come to Me, All Who are Weary and Burdened

You know, I just can’t see Jesus marching into a Starbucks with a gun tucked under His tunic, a smirk on His face, and an agenda to trick an unsuspecting (and potentially very confused) barista into writing “Merry Christmas”on His cup. I think He might give His real name and ask hers. He’d invite her to sit with Him on her break, and He’d ask her to share her story. They’d laugh together or cry together. Maybe both. He’d offer her encouragement and remind her of the whole purpose of Christmas—that He’s with us now. That He’s for us.

If we’re to be Jesus in the world, then we, too, should be people to whom those who are weary and burdened can come for rest (Matthew 11:28). We should be safe. If we’re not careful—if we continue to produce and share videos like Mr. Feuerstein’s—we’ll no longer have even the opportunity to welcome and care for people. They’ll have given up on us.

And rightly so.

5 Comments

  1. Laura   •  

    Please correct the “than” in your last paragraph … Please use the correct “then”. This is a great article…don’t let people dismiss it because of an obvious error. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Kelley   •     Author

      Aaaaggghhhhh! Thank you for pointing that out!

    • Sharla   •  

      I think you missed the point.

      • Kelley   •     Author

        Sharla, I did? How so?

  2. Joy   •  

    I had my rant on Friday. It would not have mattered what color the cup was. How sad to take hatred and judgement and proclaim Christianity. If people don’t like Starbucks, Don’t go. Thanks Kelley for your great choice of words

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