Starbucks sticking by ‘anti-God’ coffee cups


Coffeehouse giant Starbucks is standing by its campaign to put thought-provoking messages on its coffee cups despite a national uproar and threat of boycott over a message some felt was “anti-God.”

Controversy erupted this week after a customer became steamed reading a quote that stated:

“Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.”

The quote was written by Bill Schell, a Starbucks customer from London, Ontario, Canada, and was included as part of Starbucks’ “The Way I See It” campaign to collect different viewpoints and spur discussion.

One reader, Ken Peck of Lakeland, Fla., has since purchased a coffee with another message he felt was a slam against his Christian faith, and snapped a photograph of it.  Ken Peck of Lakeland, Fla., was not thrilled when he purchased this Starbucks cup with a message he felt was anti-Christian

The message reads:

Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can’t wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They’re basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell. — Joel Stein, columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

“There’s absolutely no reason to put that out on a cup,” Peck told WND. “From a marketing standpoint, it blows me away. I don’t put a picture of Christ of my business card.  Peck says the issue has energized him to push for a boycott of Starbucks in favor of other local coffeehouses in Polk Co., Fla.

“Everyone I’ve shown the cup to has been flabbergasted, whether they have a faith in Christ or not,” he said.  Seattle-based Starbucks, meanwhile, is making no apologies about the God-related messages, nor its campaign.

“We are committed to this program,” Starbucks communications manager Tricia Moriarty told WND, noting that quotes about matters of faith make up only a small fraction of the printed quips.

“We cover topics such as theater, film, the environment, food and sports,” Moriarty said. “The cups are not pro- or anti-religion per se.”

When asked if there were any scenario that would prompt the company to remove a certain cup from its campaign, she said she could not comment on a hypothetical situation, saying only, “Certainly, we have no plans to remove any of them.”

Some cup messages that could be viewed as “pro-God,” including:

The Way I See It #92:
You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He wanted you alive and created you for a purpose. Focusing on yourself will never reveal your purpose. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Only in God do we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. — Dr. Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

The Way I See It #158:

It’s tragic that extremists co-opt the notion of God, and that hipsters and artists reject spirituality out of hand. I don’t have a fixed idea of God. But I feel that it’s us – the messed-up, the half-crazy, the burning, the questing – that need God, a lot more than the goody-two-shoes do. — Mike Doughty, musician.

In fact, the message from Warren even prompted some complaints that Starbucks was pushing faith in God onto its customers.

“I fully believe that it’s an inspirational and thought-provoking comment, but I am not a Christian, and I don’t appreciate having God’s Plan preached to me via my coffee cup. It’s one thing to read about someone’s point of view, but it’s quite another to read a blatantly religious statement informing me that my purpose is to serve God.” — Denice Paxton, Santa Ana, Calif.

“It is when Mr. Warren lets the reader know that they are nothing until they have accepted God as their creator that I find offense with. … Despite the disclaimer that his comment may not align with company policy, I am disappointed that such a powerful organization would allow these thoughts to be disseminated. Jeers to you, Starbucks, for allowing Mr. Warren to be one of your series commentators.” — Lisa Tennenbaum, San Francisco
On Monday, WND asked its readers in its daily poll: “What do you think of the so-called ‘anti-God’ message on Starbucks coffee cups?”

With more than 7,600 respondents, there was a virtual tie for the No. 1 answer:

I will do my best to avoid buying anything at Starbucks in the future. 27.64% (2,104 votes)

It’s leftist garbage from a leftist company based in a leftist city. 27.36% (2,083 votes)

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4 Responses

  1. The Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid people actually being exposed to the ideas and opinions of others … sheesh.

  2. What a tragedy to know a place where many people are served each day will lead patrons into the hands of a “roaring lion”. The lion I speak of is one who seeks those he may devour. His victims are those with no regard for the God who created them, or Christ who can save them. I really wish Starbucks would stick to coffee and maybe a nice poem or words of encouragement, but leave the spiritual matters to those equipped to handle such things.
    By the way, if you don’t mind could you stop by my blog and check it out. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  3. I think people are reading into that phrase a little too much. It sounds more like a joke than a serious jab at Christianity. But the marketers of Starbucks should have been more considerate to religious views. Being in marketing myself and also being a religious minority in America, I am always touchy about religious opinions being pushed on me and it becomes a little ridiculous and disrespectful to be putting messages whether pro or anto any religion on a cup of coffee. If Starbucks wants to reach the largest target market possible, keeping things neutral and leaving religion off their cups is the best way to capture the largest sales profit possible.

    This is definately another strike against the company for me. Other than having to pay $4 for a cafe mocha, the company also decline a couple of years ago to send coffee to soldiers in Iraq who personally wrote the company asking for their products. A couple of young men might just die tomorrow and you don’t want to send a cup of coffee because you disagree with the reasoning for the war? That’s horrible. One more strike and I might be striking myself.

  4. Why be more considerate to religious views? Religion is just another aspect on life in which every person is free to hold and express their viewpoint on. Are you advocating that religious people be shielded from any sort of public criticism, satirical or serious?

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