Christmas is incomplete without a controversy. This year, the kickoff debate involves Starbucks and their cup design.
For those who are unaware, since 1997 Starbucks has initiated the Christmas season by serving coffee products in their specially-designed, holiday-themed cups. Each year the cup has a different design. For example, the 2008 cup displayed a dove flying near an ornament, and then a wintery landscape to include a reindeer, some evergreen trees, and several snowflakes.
This year, however, Starbucks has opted out of the holiday-themed cups and are serving their product in plain, red cups.
This has some Christians outraged. According to a viral Facebook post written by former Arizona pastor Joshua Feuerstein, “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus.” To date, his post has almost fifteen million views. In addition, potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested we “boycott Starbucks.”
However, Starbucks Vice President Jeffrey Fields explained the company “wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
First of all, the symbols previously displayed on Starbucks cups weren’t strictly Christian. The symbols – snowflakes, snowmen, and reindeer – portrayed winter themes. Perhaps if they displayed a nativity scene or manger, we could claim they made a Christian statement.
The bigger issue, however, is what should we expect? Starbuck has never marketed themselves as a Christian company; why would we expect them to act like one? It appears we may be hoping Starbucks will be a spokesperson for Christianity and Christmas. If so, what does that say about us? Wouldn’t Christians be the more appropriate spokesperson for the Christmas message? Perhaps our efforts are misguided.
Those who are offended by the change feel it represents the slow removal of Christians’ rights in America. It is true the leash is tightening when it comes to Christian displays during Christmas. People avoid saying, “merry Christmas” for fear of offending someone. Nativity scenes are being removed. However, these are true violations of Christian rights. The Starbucks cups are not. To put it plainly, this is not a battle we should fight.
I’m afraid the Christmas message is lost in the hype. This is frightening because the world desperately needs to know it. There really was a Man born around 5BC in Bethlehem, who grew up and claimed to be God’s only Son. His birth was a miracle. During His life, He healed many and spoke of a world to come. He predicted His death, was crucified, and came back to life. He spoke of Heaven and how we each had an individual choice to make. This choice affected our eternal destiny. He ascended to Heaven and will return one day. God’s message of love for humanity is vitally important, yet it’s being lost in this pointless controversy.
Christmas will be Christmas, with or without Starbucks’ cups. More importantly, God will be God despite Starbucks cups. That, my friends, is what’s truly important.