Culture, Science & Faith

Starbucks' Christmas Roast

There's the war on Christmas and there's the "war on Christmas."

Kelly Bartlett · Nov. 13, 2015

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and already the anti-PC police are out in full force. But there’s the war on Christmas and there’s the “war on Christmas.” The distinction is important.

On Nov. 5, self-described “evangelist” and “social media personality” Joshua Feuerstein posted a rant on Facebook complaining about Starbucks taking “Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups.” Believing that employees weren’t allowed to say “Merry Christmas,” he pranked Starbucks by ordering a coffee and when they asked for his name, he said it was “Merry Christmas,” which the barista dutifully wrote on his plain red cup. “So guess what, Starbucks, I tricked you into putting Merry Christmas on your cup,” he boasted. Hoping to start a “movement,” he challenged everyone to take their “own coffee selfie” at Starbucks and share it using the hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks. To further “offend” the coffee chain, he wore his Jesus Christ T-shirt into the store “because they hate Jesus” and carried his gun because they “hate the 2nd amendment.” Ho ho ho!

Feuerstein did his best to drum up angst; the first three comments on his Facebook post were his own — a hashtag reminder, a link to his own website and tags to possibly sympathetic conservative media. (He’s no stranger to manufacturing controversy, either, having tried to get a bakery to make a cake with a message against same-sex marriage.) But did Feuerstein sabotage his wish for a boycott by triggering a buying spree as consumers charged to Starbucks to get an unadorned cup for themselves to share in the outrage?

The media was happy for some controversy to add to its round-the-clock coverage. Even Donald Trump joined the fray, saying, “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don’t know. … If I become president, we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” Perhaps Trump wanted to join the bandwagon he thought evangelicals were on so as to boost his cred with that voting bloc. (Then again, why did he go after Ben Carson so personally and call Iowa voters — largely evangelicals — “stupid”?)

But the herd mentality shifted direction as quickly as buyers’ remorse hits Americans when they see their credit card bills in January. Soon all red broke loose on social media as the folks who weren’t offended by the poppy-colored cups quickly outnumbered those who were, spawning their own anti-movement, placing the festive red cup in everything from tweets to memes as users jockeyed for least offended. Sure, Feuerstein’s video went viral, but of the 16,000,000 hits, how many viewers scoffed at this caffeinated method of evangelization: tricking baristas into saying Merry Christmas?

Starbucks — not exactly the most conservative company to begin with — never had Christ on the cup. Instead, they had previously ushered in the holiday season with different colored cups and designs such as snowflakes and reindeer. “In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” the company explained. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.” It’s a free market; Starbucks could put a blue dreidel on their cups if they choose. Jesus, was, after all, Jewish.

Comedians such as Stephen Colbert joined the holiday fun: “We’re about to enter the season of getting angry that there’s not enough talk about Christmas.”

Unfortunately, Feuerstein’s fauxrage obfuscates a real assault on Christmas, as crèches are removed from the public square and religious songs banned from school concerts. Perhaps the greatest assault, however, is the commercialization of Christ’s birth — the Advent calendar is replaced by shopping sales. Consumers are shuffled from Halloween jack-o-lanterns directly to Christmas trees bedecked with ornaments and holiday sales with a slight nod to Thanksgiving as the day before Black Friday.

There is a real war on Christians, too. Barack Obama’s government battles The Little Sisters of the Poor in court and removes “So help me God” from military oaths. Meanwhile, the government funnels millions of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion.

Around the world, the Islamic State persecutes and beheads Christians, Syrian refugees flood Europe, and Christianity in the Middle East could be purged within a decade — all while Obama frets about “terrible deeds” done by Crusaders a thousand years ago in their quest to regain the Holy Land (after it was invaded by Muslims).

Feuerstein isn’t giving Starbucks a bad name; by battling colored cups, he’s making Christians look unfocused and whiny. With all this free publicity, the coffee emporium is well on its way to a very merry and profitable Christmas.

Don’t let a Grinch steal your Holly Jolly Christmas. Enjoy your coffee and your cups. And most of all, appreciate your freedom, family and faith.

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