It’s not even Thanksgiving, yet media outlets have been bombarding readers and viewers with the controversy surrounding Starbucks’ newest “holiday” cup—or, rather, its lack of a holiday theme. The company is known for its seasonal drinks released around the holidays, usually served in a cup with vaguely Christmas-related decorations.
This year, however, Starbucks went for a minimalist design and opted for a plain red cup. Many Christians who feel that the company’s decision is part of the “War on Christmas” met this decision with outrage. Those enraged by the plain red cup took to Twitter, using hashtags such as “#MerryChristmasStarbucks.”
Many companies in the past few years have been leaning toward political correctness and opting for more holiday-ambiguous marketing. Previous Starbucks’ cups designs have included designs of Santa Claus, ornaments, or snowflakes. Essentially, they have fallen short of full-on Christian decorations. The move to a completely plain cup, however, has suggested a disassociation with Christmas to many outraged individuals.
Reactions have varied, but some conservative Christians have expressed that the plain red cup is a direct attack on Christianity. Evangelist and social media personality Joshua Feuerstein created a recent viral video where he rants that Starbucks “wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand,” and that the company “hates Jesus.” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump even suggested boycotting the company.
Many other people, however, feel that the company’s design choice is just that and not a political statement. The hashtag “#ItsJustACup” has trended on Twitter, often followed by lists of other current problems that people should be focusing on such as racism, world hunger or homelessness.
The most alarming part about this entire controversy is the fear by many Christians that their religion is under attack. Many feel that Starbucks was trying to distance itself from Christianity in favor of political correctness—which is exactly what a non-religious corporation should be doing in 2015.
A large amount of the backlash Starbucks received stems from this rejection of “political correctness.” It’s confusing to think that people would be against such a benign concept, claiming that we are “too open-minded,” as Feuerstein stated in his video.
In modern times, it simply isn’t wise for a company to affiliate religiously. The fear that Christmas is disappearing is simply nonsensical. Christmas completely dominates commercialism from October to January as we are bombarded with Santa Claus and Christmas trees everywhere we look.
Another flaw in this fear is that Starbucks’ previous cup designs were simply not Christian, as they featured snowflakes, ornaments and sleighs. Now, had the cups previously depicted portraits of Jesus Christ himself, these arguments would be somewhat justified.
The dominance of explicitly Christian ideals and imagery may, in fact, be disappearing from the commercial world as companies try to embrace the immense diversity of religious identities that exist in our country. Christmas, however, is not going anywhere. And out of this argument, Starbucks was the only winner due to the immense amount of publicity the controversy has created. At the end of the day, it’s just a cup.