Starbucks and the Real War on Christmas

Pick a battle with a real enemy

Posted Nov 10, 2015

The latest incarnation of "The War on Christmas" is allegedly the decision by Starbucks to go with plain red holiday cups this year, in order to be more inclusive with respect to their customer base. Starbucks' vice president of design and content explains, “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.” Apparently a few want only their story to be told.

In some ways, this reveals how social media and the instantaneous news cycle can make a story seem larger than it really is. I live in what is considered a part of the Bible Belt, and have many connections with conservative Christians both in person as well as online. I do not know of one single person who is upset about this. Not one. And at least according to one poll, this is fairly representative of the country.

Maya G.
Source: Maya G.

I am not going to reference by name the "evangelical pastor and social media personality" who ordered a cup of coffee at an Arizona Starbucks, while legally carrying a gun, and said his name was "Merry Christmas" so that they'd put this on a cup. I must admit, I would expect to find this story at The Onion. A pastor goes into an establishment with a loaded gun and "tricks" them into putting this message on a cup? Happy birthday, Jesus.

If we are concerned about Christmas in our culture, perhaps a reminder about some of the actual teachings of Jesus and his followers will be useful, especially given the fact that many of them lived in a fairly diverse culture, and their faith in general was not the faith of those in power.

  • "Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" Matthew 25:37-40
  • "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
  • "The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes." Martin Luther
  • "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17

The real war on Christmas occurs when the excesses of capitalism devastate individuals and their families. The real war on Christmas is revealed by the fact that if one family out of every three churches in the United States adopted a foster child, there would be no more orphans in our country. The real war on Christmas is revealed by the fact that there are millions of children in the United States and around the world who are victims of human trafficking. The real war on Christmas is revealed by those who abuse the welfare system, and by those who would do away with it because of such abuse, thereby doing great harm to those who are in genuine need of a safety net.

If your faith is threatened by a red cup that no longer has a wreath on it, I'm sorry. Maybe it would make you feel better to use your own cup, and buy some Christmas blend coffee from Starbucks to put in it. But please stop co-opting the Christian faith for your culture war. Most of us want nothing to do with it.

I'm on Twitter: @michaelwaustin