Starbucks’ plain red holiday cups rile some Christians online

WASHINGTON — The familiar red cups that Starbucks uses to mark the holiday season have gotten some people outraged — not for what they say or depict, but for what they don’t.

The annual red cups have never read “Merry Christmas,” at least going back several years, but their illustrations have on occasion depicted of reindeer, Christmas-tree ornaments, evergreen trees and such. This year’s model is a plain red cup, and that’s got some Christians riled.

Joshua Feuerstein, who describes himself as an “American evangelist, Internet and social media personality,” got the ball rolling by saying on Facebook of Starbucks, it hates Jesus.

He added that he “pranked them” by giving his name, to be written on the cup, as “Merry Christmas.” The barista evidently complied without incident.

“So guess what Starbucks,” he says in the accompanying video. “I tricked you into putting Merry Christmas on your cup.”

He went on to challenge “all great Americans and Christians across this great nation” to do the same, and post photos of the results with the hashtag #merrychristmasstarbucks. Many have.

Feuerstein adds, referring to Starbucks, “they HATE IT!!!!,” but the company says in a statement that messages such as Feuerstein’s are the point of the cups, calling them “a blank canvas” that allows “our customers to tell their Christmas stories in their own way.”

“Our core values as a company is to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity. Each year during the holidays we aim to bring our customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season and we will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world,” the statement adds.

Several commenters on Feuerstein’s posts questioned the logic of protesting a company’s actions by buying its products.

Feuerstein was in the news earlier this year after he recorded a video of a phone conversation between himself and a Florida baker in which he asked the baker to make him a sheet cake reading, “We do not support gay marriage.”

After she refused, he posted the video, reportedly leading to threats against the baker. Feuerstein eventually pulled the video from YouTube. Recording conversations without consent is a felony in Florida, and the baker was considering charges.

Christmas is Dec. 25. Hanukkah is Dec. 6-14; Kwanzaa is Dec. 26-Jan. 1.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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