By: James Gottry
Yesterday morning, the Internet told me that Starbucks hates Christmas. Because they have a red cup. And the red cup doesn’t have snowflakes, Christmas trees, or Santa Claus, and it certainly doesn’t have the baby Jesus.
I must confess – I had no idea before today that Starbucks is anti-Christmas. Perhaps because I don’t drink coffee and therefore don’t worship at the altar of the triple grande, half-caff, extra foam frapalicious whatever, and hadn’t seen their red cups. Or perhaps because Halloween was nine days ago, Thanksgiving is almost three weeks away, and I haven’t even started to think about Christmas music yet. But I must be in the minority. After all, an American friend currently working in Germany was one of the first to alert me to the Starbucks brew-haha, so it appears the news is reaching far and wide.
Before I even heard why people were mad about the red Starbucks cups, I saw a defense of the red Starbucks cups. From a Christian. In fact, plenty of my Christian friends were quick to jump on social media and distance themselves from the "Starbucks ruined Christmas" meme. As my friend in Germany noted, we should be quick to point out that we aren’t all suffering from a “misguided persecution complex.”
That’s all well and good. But what bothers me is when we as Christians are so quick to jump into the fray to condemn more flimsy claims of persecution, but are so hesitant to do so when Christians really are being targeted for their beliefs. Folks like Barronelle Stutzman, a 70-year-old grandmother and floral artist in Washington, who faces the loss of her business, savings, and even her home, because she told a longtime customer and friend that she would be unable to design floral arrangements for his same-sex wedding ceremony. Or Blaine Adamson, the owner of a promotional printing company, who turned down a request to print a t-shirt that conflicted with his faith and then was hit with a discrimination complaint. Or Kelvin Cochran, who built a 30-year career and climbed the ladder to the highest fire administration post in the country, only to be fired for expressing his Christian beliefs in a self-published book that encouraged men to follow the biblical plan for sexual morality.
It seems our rationale is this: I'll speak on social issues if my stance aligns me with the masses—if it will generate Likes and Shares and Retweets and other virtual adulation. If, however, my social engagement will prompt Unfriends, Unfollows, and unkind remarks, I’ll stay silent, under the protection of some vague and unfounded notion that Jesus wasn’t political. As a result, compared to the indignation generated—on both sides—over a little red cup, the response to the plight of these Christians has been so many silent nights.
Maybe instead of seeing red over the Starbucks cups, we can start seeing clearly about what really matters. And maybe, just maybe, we can start talking about that instead.