Starbucks, “The Way I See It” Campaign

Have you heard or read about Starbuck’s “The Way I See It” campaign. It’s been news now for almost a year, yet recently it has made resurgence in its offensiveness.

The Seattle Times reports:

Starbucks says it was hoping to inspire old-fashioned coffee-house conversations when it introduced a campaign this year featuring the words of notable Americans on its coffee cups.

“The Way I See It” campaign does not set out to take a political stand but rather to encourage discourse, Starbucks spokeswoman Audrey Lincoff said.

“If you think back to the history of the old coffee houses, before the Internet, these were places to converse,” she said. “That’s part of what the coffee culture has been for a century or more.”

Lincoff said the company does not characterize the personalities quoted on its coffee cups as liberal or conservative, but rather as a diverse group of artists, musicians, educators, activists and athletes.

That sounds innocent, doesn’t it? Yet there is more. Note this “diverse” quote printed on one of their coffee cups:

“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.

If that does not offend you, perhaps this quote will:

“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.” – Bill Schell, a Starbucks customer from London, Ontario, Canada.

You must give Starbuck’s credit, however. They did include a Rick Warren quote on one of their paper mugs:

“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.

Of course, this quote was met with some complaints from the public. Check out these two responses:

“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, California.

I did not know coffee cups could preach!

Again, here is another objection:

“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

So, what is your response? I have a few.
First, why can’t Starbucks just sell coffee? Wait, I know why. Starbucks has an agenda, and so do many other of today’s businesses. It is not enough to sale a product; to be successful you must also promote a worldview. If the church is going to remain relevant, we better wake up and smell the coffee (pun intended!). Businesses today have two purposes—make money for the owners all the while promulgating their political views.

Next, this is a great marketing ploy. Imagine the number of people who will purchase some Starbucks coffee just to see what is printed on their cup. It would be interesting to see how this attempt affects their sales. Note also that I am prompted to write something about it in my blog. The campaign must be working because it is stirring quite a buzz.

Also, what do you think would happen if Starbucks printed something derogatory about Muslims, Allah or Mohammed? I think the answer is obvious: the ACLU would be in an uproar. Or better yet, what do you think the ACLU would do if a company promoted God and His Gospel on its containers in stores? Let me answer my own question. This would be offensive, of course. Once again, the church better wake up. There is a new persecution sweeping America, and the bulls-eye is fixed on Christianity. It’s kosher to denigrate Christianity or those who have faith in God.

I write all that to ask, how should we as believers respond?

I have three answers.

First, we should not be surprised. This trend is only going to increase the more debase our society becomes. There are a growing number of individuals who have disdain for God and for God’s people. Put away your shock and realize the world we live in today is a world that is against God and anti-Christian.

Second, I do not think protests work. I do not think it is effective for us to boycott Starbucks, and that is what some Christian leaders are encouraging other believers to do. Instead, we should use these adulterated opportunities to engage people in conversation about the truth. I, for one, would welcome the opportunity to discuss with someone why I believe in the Eternal, Omnipotent, Holy and Sovereign God. Who knows, they may just be born again by God’s Holy Spirit during the discourse.

Finally, we should not be afraid. Sometimes we Christians sound fearful whenever controversy arises. Jesus promised that persecution would come. Today our persecution is verbal. Tomorrow it may be worse. Whatever forms our persecution takes, we must respond with courage and faith. Let’s never be afraid to express our faith as well as our disagreement with those who try to disparage what we believe.

I am curious to hear your thoughts.


3 Responses to “Starbucks, “The Way I See It” Campaign”

  1. 1 mandi
    May 17, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Thank goodness I am not a coffee drinker. However, this does make me want to pop in and strike up a conversation based on this statement. I actually think this could be an innivative approach to introducing the gospel. I agree that protest does not always work and it sometimes turns the table on Christians. When a curve ball is thrown my way, I just try to keep my eye on it and do the best I can to hit it out of the park! Now fastballs are another story……

  2. 2 C. Howell
    May 21, 2007 at 11:20 am

    You’re right. This is not surprising. I’m thankful they are including comments from people like Rick Warren. Joel Stein’s comments simply reflect what most people (even Christians, to my horror) actually think heaven is like. Generally, the church is vastly undereducated about heaven. I’m convinced a better understanding of heaven (which includes our eternal relationship with God, heaven’s spiritual and physical aspects, and our rewards and responsibilities) would dramatically chnage how we live our very short lives. We would live with greater purpose and faith, allowing far fewer distractions from what God has called and designed us to do.

    I agree that Starbucks has given us an opportunity to engage people in conversation about what is on the cups. After I respectfully listen to someone else’s views, hopefully they will listen as attentively to what I believe.

    Good word.

  3. 3 stardust30
    April 22, 2008 at 4:29 am

    “Also, what do you think would happen if Starbucks printed something derogatory about Muslims, Allah or Mohammed? “
    Well if your behaviour is similar to this of muslims then your religion is the same as the mulsims. Maybe you can do the same atrocities as fanatics of islams do! Burn some coffee’s shops and tell people that God’s hand told you !

    “the world we live in today is a world that is against God and anti-Christian.”
    The world that you live was NEVER Christian (and never will be..). Do you believe that there was an era that all people were christians(all over the planet I mean) ? When was it? To believe that every people should believe in your religion is a little bit tragic.. Of course there are million people that believe in their Gods and people who don’t need to believe in any. So, why would anyone fight a non-existing God? That would be paranoid. Would you insult a God that you don’t believe?

    “Finally, we should not be afraid.”
    To afraid of what? Starbucks just shows all the opinions of the people that are customers and it’s doing well. If this opinion is not like yours I don’t see a reason to be afraid. Logical and reasonable people discuss and find solution through dialog. They don’t fight, insult, kill, burn when they disagree –because they are not animals.
    I don’t understand why a different opinion than yours is so dangerous..

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