(by Christopher Fredrickson)
On my Twitter feed and Instagram feed I have noticed many of my Christian friends up in arms over the Starbucks "Red Cup" making no reference to Christmas. Now I am going to look at this situation from a compassionate, objective angle. Though I do not celebrate Christmas myself, and though I do indeed believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah, I also used to work for Starbucks and....I'm not particularly a fan of their coffee. So lets look at the back story on this whole outrage.
The outrage was brought about by former pastor Joshua Feuerstein who found it deeply offensive to his Christian faith that he himself holds to. Mr Feuerstein has since protested outside his local Starbucks and had entered the Starbucks with his gun strapped to his side. However, he has not acted violent in anyway or is that a part of his agenda. His agenda for the gun at his side is to also protest Starbuck's anti-Second Amendment stance. And basically, that is the story. Since doing this, Mr Feuerstein has gotten massive attention by the mainstream media and the blogosphere, which has led to outrage by many conservative Christians over the plain "red cup".
Now, there are some facts we need to also understand. First of all Starbucks is a secular company, who serves individuals of many different faiths and individuals of no faith. Starbucks is also a private company, and is not receiving 501C3 tax status given to non-profit "ministries". Starbucks has never claimed to be a "Christian company" and has always been a company that has embraced the counterculture not people of any particular faith.
Secondly, I worked at Starbucks last year when in early November the red cups would roll out and Starbucks would have their various holiday products. These products ranged from the "Holiday Blend", "Christmas Blend", "Pumpkin Spice Latte" to cups with snowmen and reindeer and snowflakes. There were certain products offered for people who held a deep conviction for the term "Merry Christmas" and for those who "just want their coffee". Starbucks balanced it very well in my opinion. Now, since this whole fiasco with Mr Feuerstein, the impression being given is that Starbucks once had "Christmas cups" and now they don't, now they are plain red cups, thus Starbucks is anti-Christmas and anti-Christian. When the fact is, for years the cups have been a plain red cup and not anything suggesting they held to a pro-Christmas or even anti-Christmas stance. Suggesting there is a change in the stance of the company as being anti-Christian is dishonest at best.
Now, as an objective individual I also must make note that I am not particularly a fan of Starbucks coffee, their coffee beans I find to personally be a substandard product. Their espresso is burnt, and I would much rather get my coffee at an independent establishment where I would pay around the same price, sometimes more, and receive a better cup of coffee or specialty drink. I find Starbucks to be impersonal compared to independent coffee shops as well. So do not think I am pro-Starbucks. Working for many years in the coffee industry and using some of the best products available on the market such as Batdorf and Bronson coffees, Monin and Ghiradelli syrups etc I was horrified when I worked at Starbucks seeing how the products were made, with fully automatic machines and the quality of the product being used. I would have never have used such products in my coffee shop.
The success of Starbucks is attributed not to the quality of their product but rather their marketing. And I find it funny as a Jew who doesn't celebrate Christmas, the only product I like of their's is their Christmas Blend. Starbucks has broken the mold in terms of marketing by working closely with many other industries, including the music industry. Ray Charles' last album ever recorded, by the way, was a Starbucks exclusive that you could only buy there the first few weeks of distribution. And it featured amazing duets with the likes of Diana Krall and Elton John. So in 2004, when that album came out, you better believe I got a cup of coffee at Starbucks because I went there to get that CD.
In terms of Mr Joshua Feuerstein's second amendment protest by bringing his gun clipped to his side, I personally find it irresponsible and childish. I am a pro-second amendment conservative republican, I voted for President Bush twice, I voted for McCain and for Romney in the presidential elections I was old enough to vote in. I have always been strong on conservative republican positions, as well as the religious right. But, I also find that Mr Feuerstein is also acting like a caricature of the religious right in his actions. And I find this action by him with the gun to his side clip to be not heroic but rather foolish.
Those of you who know me, know I am a deeply religious Messianic Jew. I could have written this article on the reason's why Mr Joshua Feuerstein is wrong on a theological level but I chose to take the position of objectivism and not by my religious conviction and observance. Because Mr Joshua Feuerstein is not of the same faith as myself, and I am not of the same faith as 99% of the rest of the American population. So this is where my objectivism has to come in.
I am a supporter of Donald Trump and Ben Carson personally, but I find them to both be wrong on this issue stating that the red cup, this year is an attack on religious Christian values. I think that if I wanted to open a kosher butcher storefront in the United States, that I have the right to do that. If a Christian wanted to open an Easter egg shop they have the right to do that. I find it comforting that I can go to my local grocery store and find certified kosher meats and other products to put in my kitchen. The stores are not bound to do that for people of my belief but the fact is they do, and I am more apt to shop at those places because they do and because I know what I am getting. I make the choice where I get my coffee and where I shop for other things I may want or need. That choice is up to me, and it is an amazing freedom we have. If a person is upset over the plain red cup thinking for some reason it is an attack on their Christian faith, then I would suggest going some place that uses the same cups all year round or one that may do an in your face Christmas cup. That is your choice and your freedom. If this is a major concern for you and you feel as a Jew that Starbucks should cater to the Jewish holidays then, stop going to Starbucks, the same is true with Christians or those of any other faith. But outside protests are ridiculous at best.
I do not believe there is a war on Christmas in this country like most do. Just like I don't think there is a war on Hanukkah or Pesach or Yom Kippur. Have you ever seen a Jew protest that a local grocery store or department store being open during our holy days? Or the fact that we cannot find Hannukah things during that time of year, but Wal-Mart has an overflow on Christmas decorations? Absolutely not. I think, to my Christian friends, this is something important to realize.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism