My take on the Starbucks red cup “controversy” is different than most, so buckle up. This blog post will probably make people touchy, but I’m going to do my best not to cause any freak outs. If you’re prone to freaking out, I ask that you drink two glasses of wine before reading anything past my disclaimer statement, which is:
Christians definitely shouldn’t (and from what I gather, DON’T…) care if a Starbucks cup features snowflakes or not.
Given that disclaimer, you should be aware that this post is not a bunch of words explaining why Christians shouldn’t care about The [Plain] Red Cup and making fun of the ones who do—which is basically the only take I’ve seen on this subject. Just a friendly warning.
As Aaron put it when I explained to him my idea for this post, “So, you’re complaining about the people complaining about the people complaining about the red cup?”
Summary of Red Cup Gate 2015: A random dude posted a video on Youtube about the fact that Starbucks is serving coffee out of plain red cups this winter, instead of its usual red cups with drawings of snowflakes, snowmen, sleds, etc. Somehow, he decided that meant that Starbucks is firmly anti-Christian (since only Christians love all things wintery…?). A few hundred people agreed with him. Now, a few hundred thousand people have decided to tell him and his agreers that they’re idiots.
I, personally, haven’t seen a single person on my newsfeed say that he or she is offended by The [Plain] Red Cup. From what I gather, a very small sect of people have jumped aboard that crazy train. Because yes, it is rather crazy to say that removing holiday symbols from a red cup is a form of persecution…especially since literally none of those symbols were directly related to Jesus. More on that later, though. In terms of what I’ve seen online, the only opinions I’ve actually read are not posted by offended Christians, rather they are posts making fun of Christians who were offended (who again?) or Christians defending themselves with funny memes. Has no one stepped back to realize that, just like the majority of Muslims are not terrorists, the majority of Christians are not elitists? Why was it necessary for this to become an attack and defense situation?
We’ve GOT to stop radically grouping people together. Not all frat boys disrespect women. Not all lawyers lack integrity. Not all pageant girls are dumb. Not all basketball players cheat on their wives. Not all Republicans are old fashioned. Not all Democrats are bad with money. Not all skinny people have an eating disorder. Not all fat people are unhappy. The list goes on and on and on.
From a Christian’s perspective, the only thing I find frustrating about the Starbucks ordeal is that it’s one more way Christianity is being discredited for the sake of inclusion. I do not understand why inclusion and Christianity are seen as mutually exclusive. [I’m not saying that a plain cup is discrediting Christians. I’m saying that the initial complainers, and even more so—the responses to those complainers, are discrediting Christians. Who gives 2 flips about the cup itself?] If our society wants inclusion, why can’t kids say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance at school if they want to, and omit it if they don’t? Why exclude the children who want to include God? Why can’t Christians believe the Bible without being made fun of? Why does a stigma surround people with deep biblical convictions? Why are people allowed to strongly believe that there is no God, but people are not allowed to strongly believe that there is a God? This is just as marginalizing as the other way around.
I know the argument is that non-Christians don’t “shove” their beliefs down other people’s throats. Well, I see post after post about things that are against my beliefs on Facebook…a whole lot more “shoving” of things I don’t believe down my throat than I see Christians doing. Also, stating beliefs is not “shoving.” It’s just being true to personal faith (unless it’s directly attacking another group of people). On that note, I also know the argument that atheists or other religions’ beliefs don’t harm people of differing lifestyles like Christian beliefs supposedly do. But those things that harm other people’s lives have nothing to do with Christianity. Old-school Christians aren’t racist—racists are racist. Christians aren’t homophobic—homophobes are homophobic. They may relate those bigoted stances back to Christianity, just like Jihad-extremists relate violence back to Islam, but that’s just God-awful (pun intended) interpretation…not that the religion itself is bad. See the difference?
Back to The [Plain] Red Cup. Yes, Christmas is a Christian holiday at its roots. But I do not believe that the holiday is celebrated widely because Christians are asserting their dominance in our country (at least, not anymore). Far more people associate Christmas with Santa Clause and vacation now-a-days than they do with Jesus. Right or wrong, that’s just how it is. Therefore, anything with snowflakes or Christmas trees or even a manger is not some big slap in the face to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, etc. Those symbols are just little representations of a season that is supposedly a family and fun-filled time of year—for all.
I don’t think Starbucks removing Christmas/winter symbols from their cups was some extraordinary step in their company towards inclusion…because they were never exclusive to begin with. They’re not all of a sudden an open, modern company who supports everybody. I’m pretty sure they already fit that bill…just with a few extra snowflakes. The cup doesn’t represent all of these things the media is now making it represent. It’s just a new design (a boring one, to be honest) that probably costs them less money, but they’re spinning it to be a “blank canvas for whatever people want to associate with the holiday season.” You’re not fooling me, Starbs. You just don’t want to pay for artists and ink. Solid spin by the marketing team, though. Many props.
So instead of making fun of Christians for “their” stupidity and elitism, yet again, why don’t we all stop jumping on trains that never should have left the station. There will be a new controversy that annoys us to death on our newsfeeds each week unless we stop creating divides for no reason. Yes, the small group of Christians that got offended in the first place created the initial divide, but the divide is about 20,000x deeper due to the influx of cheeky responses.
Although I don’t have the time or energy to delve into many of the little points I made in this post, please know that I understand that other people interpret things differently than I do, and that they’ve have had unique experiences shaping their reactions to this controversy—experiences to which I cannot easily relate. This blog is written and shaped by my own interpretations and experiences, so if you don’t understand or disagree with anything I said, please feel free to ask me (nicely) what I meant or why I feel the way I do. I think that’s what we should all do when we don’t see eye to eye, instead of making assumptions and trivializing opposing perspectives. 🙂