Editorial: We’ve got bigger beans to roast: why I don’t care about the Starbucks ‘controversy’

 -  -  50

Christmastime is a time for peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Well, until they mess with our Starbucks cups, apparently. Here’s the story: this Christmas season, Starbucks made its annual redesign for their coffee cups. Generally, they add some holiday flair to their drinks: from hand-drawn reindeer and snowflakes to cartoons of kids having fun in the snow. It usually contains a nice message, such as a “Be Merry,” or a “Happy Holidays.”

But this year, the worldwide coffee phenomenon went somewhere different: a plain, two tone cup that goes from a bright Christmas red to a deep red chestnut. No “merrys” or snowflakes to be found.


Here’s the “controversy:” Joshua Feuerstein, a former pastor and self-proclaimed social media personality, posted a video shortly after the cups were released. “I think in the age of political correctness we become so open-minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head,” he said in an online video he posted. “Do you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand-new cups? That’s why they’re just plain red.” he said as he held up one of the crimson controversial containers. Feuerstein went on to boast that he had 'tricked' Starbucks by saying that his name was “Merry Christmas” so they had to call it out when his drink was ready. He also intentionally wore a Jesus Christ t-shirt into the store and brought a handgun to exercise his Second Amendment rights. So those are the facts, and now Christians are being urged to pick a side and fight. On the one hand, we have Christians who agree with Feuerstein and are taking part in his #MerryChristmasStarbucks campaign. Some are even pushing for Christians to boycott Starbucks altogether. On the other hand, we have those who think that Feuerstein is nuts and don’t want anything to do with him. “Christians are outraged because it means that "Christmas" isn't being shared with everyone by Starbucks,” wrote Michael Schaffer, Servant Leader with Missio Dei: Mission of God Ministries, on his Facebook page, “Christian Memes” on Friday. “I'm outraged because Christians are the ones who are supposed to be doing that, not a corporation that doesn't have Christian values in the first place. I go to Starbucks to get coffee, not a theological seminar.” So where do I stand? Do I have to pick a side? Because honestly, I almost literally could not care less. Seriously, why is this an issue? Have we ever, ever, been told to expect the secular world to follow our ideologies? Ever? I’m fairly certain that Paul’s main message was that the world will do the opposite of what we want them to do. If I had to pick a side, I’d have to side with those who think that Feuerstein has taken the entire ordeal just an espresso shot too far. "Tricking," and I use those quotes intentionally, since it really wasn’t that tricky at all, a major corporation into saying the name of your favorite holiday doesn’t sound like a Christian thing to do. I don’t see Jesus walking into a market in His day and saying His name was “Pentecost” just so people would hear the name of a feast day. And then there’s the intentional offense of Starbucks. In his video, Feuerstein states that he wore the Jesus t-shirt “just to offend (them.)” Aside from the fact that Starbucks as a corporation probably gives barely a gumdrop about what’s on their customers’ shirts, doesn’t that sound just a tiny bit immature? Like the grown-up equivalent of “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!” Look, I understand that the Gospel will offend some people, and I’m not saying we need to censor the Gospel to keep from offending people. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles did at all. They told it like it was, and still is. However, I don’t think that gives us the right to do things, things that aren’t even related to preaching the Gospel, mind you, just for the sake of offending someone. Frankly, if an atheist wore a t-shirt that proclaimed that God doesn’t exist, I wouldn’t agree, to be sure. But I also wouldn’t care. But if that same atheist came up to me and said that he or she wore that shirt just to offend me, and then tried to convert me to atheism, well, what do you think my reaction would be? Are we really advancing the kingdom of God when we’re ranting and raving and claiming persecution when Starbucks refuses to put reindeer on our cups? It’s the same outrage that happened a few years ago when “Happy Holidays” became the mainstream yuletide greeting instead of “Merry Christmas.” Christians were up in arms about it, aggressively yelling “Merry Christmas” at everyone they passed without having a single merry bone in their body. It became less of a Christmas greeting and more of a Christmas war cry. When Christians get up in arms about anything that remotely resembles people trying to censor Christianity, it makes us look like we’ll get offended at just about anything. Think about our history: Jesus was crucified, Peter was crucified upside down, Steven was stoned and Paul was shipwrecked, whipped and thrown into prison multiple times. And we’re getting upset over a cup? For the sake of Christians’ credibility, don’t go into a frenzy every time something comes along that remotely offends us. We’ve got more important things to worry about than whether Starbucks agrees with us on what to call the 25th of December. Do I side with Starbucks? Not really, since I do miss the holiday decorations. There’s something about snowflakes being everywhere that puts me in the Christmas mood. But Starbucks claims that their new cups are a “blank canvas” for customers to make their own decorations. I respect that. So do I side with Feuerstein? No, not at all. He’s taken this whole thing way too far, and Christians who agree with him are missing the major problem: that the world doesn’t know the Gospel and that, as Schaffer said, it’s our job to rectify that. And we don’t do that by bringing a handgun into a coffee shop. I guess where I fall is in a third category: the one that just wants to sip their peppermint mocha without being bombarded with bitter coffee controversy. Because, honestly, when it comes to people’s eternal destiny, we’ve got bigger beans to roast.


bookmark icon