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My name's Clifford Stumme, and I explain the deeper meanings of popular songs. Let's have a conversation about what you think about the songs and go deeper together. Feel free to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

#merrychristmasstarbucks Is a Symptom of Pointless Conservative Christian Self-Martyrdom

#merrychristmasstarbucks Is a Symptom of Pointless Conservative Christian Self-Martyrdom

You may have seen the pictures or videos Conservative Christians are spreading around the Internet of the words "Merry Christmas" handwritten on Starbucks's redesigned red Christmas cups. The phenomenon was started by Joshua Feuerstein, a former evangelist and current antagonist of "political correctness." He realized that Starbucks had redesigned its cups to remove festive Christmas tree branches and ornaments, and had made its cup much more simple, with a sleek, red design.

Starbucks_Red_Holiday_Cups_2015
Starbucks_Red_Holiday_Cups_2015

Feuerstein claimed that Starbucks employees are no longer allowed to say "Merry Christmas" on the job (and a real-live Starbucks barista has debunked this claim in the comments below--thanks, Judi). He concluded that Starbucks was making war on Christmas and filmed this video:

[embed]https://www.facebook.com/joshua.feuerstein.5/videos/689569711145714/[/embed]

Feuerstein says in the description of his video: "Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus ... SO I PRANKED THEM ... and they HATE IT!!!! #share Use #MERRYCHRISTMASSTARBUCKS."

I did some quick research and found what Feuerstein found: Starbucks through its VP of Design & Content claims that β€œIn the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs . . . This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

[Tweet "Christians, lets give gifts of love not passive aggression this Christmas. #drinkcoffeespreadlove"]

This leads me to conclude what Feuerstein concludes: Starbucks is being more inclusive of holidays and what people celebrate this time of year.

What Feuerstein doesn't seem to acknowledge is that (1) Starbucks is an international company that markets to people both in America and elsewhere who do not celebrate Christmas and (2) that even if Starbucks was run by Christians (which recent decisions by the company suggest it isn't) wishing people Merry Christmas does not directly spread the Gospel. As it is, Christmas is almost completely taken over by consumerist capitalism. Any blow to Christmas in America is a blow not directly to Christ, but maybe more likely to Wal-Mart or <insert toy company>.

What is Feuerstein doing wrong? There are five things I'd like to talk with him about if he'd be willing to contact me:

  1. He's trying to impose Christian morals on a secular company. Christmas is a celebration of Christ's birth that holds spiritual meaning for Christians. The rest of the world celebrates other things on December 25th and certainly the least festive thing is to try to make people feel guilty or stupid for not acknowledging your holiday.
  2. He's confusing a greeting with the holiday. Christmas is larger and bigger and will happen whether a company recognizes it or not.
  3. He's taking the battle to a company rather than to the hearts and minds of people. As we've seen in the past few months, Starbucks tends to serve as a stomping grounds for flashy, dramatic conservative Christian performances of antagonistic faith. It is a great place to demonstrate how you stand up to the "liberals of the world," and because Starbucks wants your money and for you to like them, they won't fight back. They don't care. These people are still buying coffee. And, incidentally, while Starbucks is demonstrated at, friends and neighbors who could be being loved or given truth to about the Gospel are being ignored.
  4. He's equating Christianity with conservatism. Conservatives are right about a lot--I identify as one--but Christian does not equal conservative and certainly doesn't equal American or gun-owner. When Feuerstein flashes his gun and challenges "all great Americans and Christians" to "prank" Starbucks as though they are the same thing (probably something he could clarify but which his syntax implies), he's completely wrong.
  5. Feuerstein isn't convincing anyone. By accusing Starbucks of hating Jesus in his video description, he's vilifying them and using flashy click-bait tactics to spread his video. His tactics encourage disagreement and win-lose situations.
Twitter Pic Starbucks Quote
Twitter Pic Starbucks Quote

What should we be doing? 

If you're an American and a Christian worried about the growing absence of Christ in public businesses or institutions there are three things that we can do that won't make the situation worse:

  1. We can stop martyring ourselves with no cause and stop "fighting back" with flashy, viral, passive-aggressive demonstrations. Losing a Christmas greeting on a cup is very small battle compared to the battle for the one neighbor you've been meaning to tell about Jesus but haven't gotten around to talking to yet. Starbucks isn't persecuting us and even if they were, our marching orders from Christ himself are simple: "Turn the other cheek."
  2. Do extraordinary acts of love. It's not about winning arguments or using brute shows of force. By the way, if Feurestein is correct in saying that tens of thousands of Christians have visited Starbucks in the last 20 hours and done this, that's at least $100,000 worth of business he's sent to his opponent. Starbucks is laughing all the way to the bank. And if Feuerstein's sarcastic, flippant, aggressive attitude is indicative of the attitudes of those working with him, Starbucks employees probably aren't being convinced of the extraordinary love of Christ.
  3. Stop equating Christianity with America or conservatism or gun rights. Civilizations come and go. They are mortal in the truest sense as C. S. Lewis points out in The Weight of Glory. Human souls are eternal. If we were expelled from America, lost all of our guns, or couldn't vote for Republican candidates anymore, we Christians would still be Christians, and we could still follow Christ. The rest of that can melt away. (Admittedly, such a situation sounds terrible, and it'd be difficult for me to let go of some of those things peacefully, but Christ is in me perfecting me so that I truly can cling to Him when I lose everything else.)

That's all I've got to say, and I'd love to chat with Mr. Feuerstein if he's available. I'm sorry to my regular readers for deviating from my pop song analyses. Have a wonderful day everyone, and let's love people well.

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