Red Cup Controversy Rages: Christians have far more poignant reasons for taking a stand

From hundreds of thousands of Facebook users to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, everyone, it seems, has an opinion about Starbucks’ new red cup design for the holiday season.

The uproar began when many in the Christian community bemoaned the lack of Christmas imagery in the coffee retailer’s plain red design.

The common corporate decision to exclude overt Christian imagery in holiday decorations upsets many Christmas-celebrating Americans across the country year after year. Yet this Starbucks red cup design is attracting more outrage than usual. Feathers have been so ruffled that even presidential candidates are talking about the crimson transgression.

“Did you read about Starbucks?” Trump asked of the controversy earlier this week. “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks, I don’t know.”

But if Christians decide to boycott Starbucks, there are two poignant political reasons more compelling than a red cup.

The Christian community is among the most outspoken groups concerning two of the most hot-button social issues in the United States: the protection of the unborn, and traditional marriage. Starbucks has been a long-time supporter of Planned Parenthood and marriage equality.

When the coffee company was under scrutiny by Christians earlier this year for its beliefs on marriage equality, CEO Howard Schultz told the supporters of traditional marriage that if they were unhappy with the company’s political stance, they could “sell (their) shares in Starbucks and buy in another company.”

Even more recently, with the Planned Parenthood scandal firing up the American public, Starbucks refused to change its policy on matching donations to the organization made by its partners or employees.

Moreover, it doesn’t seem that this year’s plain red cups are focused any more or less on Christmas than the past six Starbucks designs were.

The 2014 cups were red with abstract snowflakes around the famous green Starbucks emblem; 2013’s had snowflakes and ornaments adorning the same red background; the 2012 design included a winking snowman; in 2011, characters were shown playing various winter sports; in 2010, carolers were shown singing and the text “stories are gifts” was printed on the cup; and in 2009, little ornaments had “I wish every day was a holiday” printed on them.

Meantime, Dunkin’ Donuts has now unveiled its holiday cup design, receiving much praise from the Starbucks Christmas complainers in the process. The design depicts the word “joy” printed in red in the center of an abstract-looking wreath.

With the release of the Dunkin’ cup, social media users are returning to their online arguments. Starbucks supporters claim #ItsJustACup while the defectors chime in with #MerryChristmasStarbucks. Many of those against the red cup decision are visiting Starbucks anyway — and when customers are asked what name to put on their cup, many are simply replying, “Merry Christmas.”

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