My friend Jonathan Merritt shared a video in his most recent piece for the Washington Post that has gone a little bit viral. It’s basically this guy claiming to be a Christian who is ranting outside of his local Starbucks about the evils of the company removing ‘Merry Christmas’ from their coffee cups. So his solution: when they ask you your name at the counter, tell them it’s “Merry Christmas.” this way they have to write it on the cup anyway, which he claims is tricking them.
Oh, and he claims that all “good Americans and Good Christians” should do the same to make a statement of unity.
Finally, to reaffirm his convictions, he also wore his “Jesus T-shirt” into the store, and also proudly sported his handgun because, in his words, Starbucks “hates the Second Amendment.”
There’s so much depressingly wrong with this. I’m not sure where to begin. And for any who need a case-in-point example of why I feel like I needed to write my next book, “Not That Kind of Christian: Loving God Without Being an A**hole,” this video pretty much says it all.
Let’s break down a few of the issues here as I see it:
- Starbucks is a private company, and as much as the protester in the video (no, I’m not naming him or re-posting the video) seems to value free speech, he seems to go a little blind to the fact that this right extends to those who disagree with him. And honestly, true free speech will only ever really work when we’re willing to stand up and defend the right of those we disagree with and their right to speak freely. To that point, I support with Starbuck’s decision not to put “Merry Christmas” on the cups and his rant about not liking it. I just happen to think he’s a dick about it.
- Please, please PLEASE stop conflating being a good Christian and a good American. This is not a Christian nation. Jesus wasn’t an American. We’re not the center of the universe, and once we realize this and live as if we’re not, we might have a chance at claiming a bit of the humility that Jesus modeled (and we seemed to lose).
- Also, for the love of all that’s holy PLEASE stop commingling your Christianity and your right to bear arms. Jesus promoted nonviolence. He ordered his disciples to sheath their swords, even when they tried to protect him. Never, EVER in scripture is there any evidence of him striking anyone. And no, he didn’t beat people with the whip of cords in the temple. It says he drove them out; it doesn’t say he resorted to violence. You’re reading into the story what you want to see. And if he believed we were justified in using violence in any situation, he would have said so, and there would have been no need to perfect/fulfill the law of “eye for an eye.” And yet he did. So if you want to carry your gun, fine. Bout don’t drag the Gospels or Jesus into it.
- If we cared half as much about living in a more Christlike way as we did about our superficial coffee cups and T-shirts to claim our right to announce our faith to the world, we might actually be making a difference that changed peoples’ hearts about how they think of Christians. Where are these Christians working for a fair living wage for retail and factory workers, child care providers and other manual laborers? Where are they when we need to halt the human-imposed effects of global warming? What are they doing to ensure the coffee is grown and harvested in ways that care for the planet and those who work to bring us that coffee? Yes, I’m sure they’d understand that we’re more concerned about what’s printed on the cup. Meanwhile they’ll keep working in poverty, praying the next monsoons don’t bring yet another mudslide that covers their village forever.
Care about something that matters, and then do something about it. Otherwise, just be quiet. You’re embarrassing yourself, and continuing to perpetuate the perception (rightly earned all too often) that American Christians are self-righteous, superficial, tin-eared fundamentalists who care more about their rights to carry a gun and say what they want than making the world more into the image of the divinely inspired kingdom of God.