Earlier today, I posted the following comment in response to one of the many responses I have seen to the Starbucks Red Cups this holiday season. If you don’t know about this latest skirmish on the “War on Christmas”, the skinny is this: Starbucks, this holiday season, is using plain red disposable cups with their green logo. Many Christians are up in arms about this, seeing it as yet another attack upon Christmas. One response going around (the one that I shared to start my commentary) seethed about the upset in a very good way, noting: “Because, seriously, do you think Jesus would rather we remember his birthday by putting it on a coffee cup that’s going in the trash? Or would he rather we remember it by no longer treating one another as disposable?” [By the way, that commentary is well worth reading]. However, much as I agree with what was said, I saw a deeper issue, and thus I posted the following:
I keep seeing this going around, with various messages: either from Christians upset at Starbucks, or people asking whether Jesus would care about a red cup. What I see, however, is a presumption that infuriates me. Why do we assume a business must venerate Christmas? After all, we’re in a country where there is freedom to practice your religion. In fact, we see devout Christians going to the courts for the right to practice their religion, even when it trods on the rights of others. We’re also in a country where there is no official national religion. So why are we getting upset at a business that might choose not to even tangentially observe a Christian holiday. I’m not insisting that the cups be blue and white. I’m not insisting that they be the colors of Kwanzaa. I don’t care what color they are (I use a refillable mug). Starbucks has as much right to make their cups devoid of holiday symbolism as In-n-Out has of printing bible verses on each cup (which they do). The hidden “Christian Privilege” in this country is amazing. Observation of any religious holyday is a personal matter, not something to plaster on cup. … or be upset if it isn’t there.
The subsequent discussion has been far ranging, with many agreeing, and many not seeing the Christian privilege in this country. If you don’t see it, try looking at things from the someone who is not Christian, and especially who is not of an Abrahamic faith (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) or Atheist. In fact, the number of likes and the discussion surprised me — I have no idea who reads what I write. But there is a strong notion in this country that businesses are expected to do something to observe Christmas and that everyone is expected to hold “Christian” values — and that expectation bothers me in a country that is so proud of its heritage of having freedom to worship. [Of course, that emphasis is actually new. Just look at the history of Catholics in America. I never knew that at one time, the most popular novels were exposes written by nuns.]