red starbucks cup

It’s an old journalism tip (or really, just a good life tip).

You want to get to the bottom of some goings-on?


Follow the money.

Why? Because money talks. And sometimes she says some pretty obnoxious things.

So let’s do that with this utterly banal Starbucks red cup supposed “controversy”.

I thought something seemed suspicious on Sunday, when I first started seeing the red cup articles and memes pop up on my various social media feeds. My non-Christian friends rolled their virtual eyes at the Christians supposedly outraged by a simple red cup, while my supposedly outraged Christian friends insisted upon how much they were most definitely not upset.

It looked exactly like this:

people upset about starbucks cup



Where it all started: 

So if it is nearly impossible to find a member of the general public who is, in fact, legitimately outraged about the red cup, why are we even talking about this?

It seems we have Joshua Feuerstein, former televangelist turned self-proclaimed social media evangelist, to blame thank blame. He’s a machine gun-toting, prosperity-Gospel preaching “pastor” with a proclivity for vertical videos (which, regardless of content, are objectively awful).

In his one of his latest productions, Feuerstein proudly proclaims to his prolific followers that Starbucks “wanted to take Christ out of Christmas” and that’s why their cups are “just plain red.”

He also claims that Starbucks employees aren’t allowed to tell their customers “Merry Christmas.” Not so fast, Starbucks. Feuerstein has a plan.

The caption from Feuerstein’s post on facebook: “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus … SO I PRANKED THEM … and they HATE IT!!!! #share

Because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a little asinine, vindictive trickery.

Never mind that since the debut of the Starbucks holiday cup in 1997, the designs have only ever been vaguely seasonal and festive. A look at the cup designs since 2009 shows snowmen, snowflakes and children sledding, but no distinctly Christian iconography whatsoever. The claim that this is somehow a break from a traditionally Christian cup is completely unfounded.

And never mind that Starbucks does not in fact provide “a script or a policy around greeting customers. They are simply encouraged to create a welcoming environment to delight each person who walks through our doors,” a spokesperson told The Atlantic.

I know several Christians who do not go to Starbucks, or at least prefer not to, due to the company’s stance on other political issues. And they simply do it out of principle, without protest or display, because they understand how a free market works.

But Feuerstein clearly isn’t one of these conscientious objectors. Isn’t he the one who purchased a cup of their joe before making his supposedly infuriating discovery? And isn’t he the one actually encouraging other people to patron their local Starbucks?

So what could possibly be motivating him to make two (false) claims against a company, and to declare a “movement” against them, other than to up the number of followers on his social media, his primary source of income? Surely it’s not bad for business that Feuerstein’s video has garnered over 14 million views since its November 5 posting, and he’s increased his facebook following to nearly two million.

At the end of the day, the more fury Feuerstein is able to incite in his followers, the more attention he is able to draw to himself. And the more attention he gets, the more money ends up in his pocket. Which he could theoretically use to continue his oh-so-sneaky Christmas coffee prankery.

Just like Jesus would want.

Who else benefits? 

Starbucks has no incentive to stop the madness that has become the #Starbucksredcup controversy – after all, any publicity is good publicity, right? I’ve seen so many of their red cups in the past few days that I’m craving peppermint mochas in my sleep.

Based on my own colloquial analysis of the general public in my social media feeds, Starbucks certainly isn’t losing any customers to this scheme, given complete lack of authentic outrage. So, what better for them than to keep a stupid little story going that bombards people everywhere with visions of red (Jesus-less!!!!) Starbucks cups dancing in their heads?

Who loses?

Christians, of course.

This is bad PR for us, even if it’s based on the almost completely false perception that there are actual Christians out there who foam at the mouth at the sight of a plain red cup from the Bucks.

It’s just one more arrow in the quiver for folks who love to point out how unintelligent one must be in order to believe in great “myth” of Christianity. And it’s probably at least part of the reason that it’s stuck around in the cultural narrative for five. freaking. days. Seriously, this thing has become The Dress of the War on Christmas.

Jesus said we would be hated because of his name, but he should’ve also warned us that we would also be associated with the lamest, most painfully-eye-roll-inducing social media scheme this side of the 21st century.

We are well aware that we’ve got bigger, actual battles going on right now – our people are being beheaded and our churches are being bombed.

But red cup controversies?