For those of you that missed it, Starbucks is the latest front in “The War on Christmas/Christians!“. This is a little crazy to me, refusing to provide special treatment to one group of people does not constitute discrimination or hatred. I think most Christians (and other reasonable people) realize this is a bunch of bullshit as well. This controversy is mostly just a result of the age we live in, where every person is able to spout craziness and some media outlets will pick up on it. We live in a day where money flows to websites that get the most views, and that encourages people to say outlandish things, whether they believe those things or not, and it encourages media outlets to share those things and fire up both sides of the debate. Basically, there is money to be made in keeping people angry and divided.
I don’t think there is really a “War*” on Christmas or Christians, though our culture is undergoing a shift. For much of American history Christians have held disproportionate power in politics and culture. That is starting to change. It isn’t some sort of explicit war, it is just a reflection of America truly becoming a place where all people are treated equally. Equality means that no group gets special treatment, and right now Christians have serious special treatment in the US. For example, they are the only religion that has a national holiday in US, though it is highly secularized. I can’t imagine Christians would be comfortable with equal treatment be given to Pagan, Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim holidays… especially Muslim holidays.
Christians are also disproportionately represented in the Federal government. It is hard to pegged down accurate religious beliefs about the early Presidents, and many of them may have been atheist or deists, but publicly every single US President has been Christian. And, without a doubt, every recent President has been very publicly Christian (yes, even Barack Obama). The same disproportionate representation exists in Congress. 70.6% of the US identifies as some form of Christian (as of 2014) but over 93% of the House of Representatives and nearly 90% of the US Senate.
What we are seeing today, with a move towards secularism and the loss of power many Christians are use to, is not a “war” on Christians or Christmas. It is a our cultural and political representation starting to shift towards a true representation of the United States. It is a growing minority who is tired of being forced to live in a country where their religions beliefs are not represented. Business, including Starbucks, are seeing the value of being inclusive of all people, instead of just betting on the “bigot money” (as Dan Savage calls it). If you are only willing to support businesses and people who put your religion above everyone else then you are going to find yourself in a shrinking company, and a pretty ungodly company, despite what people in that group might say.
* Side note: As a veteran I get really annoyed with how easily the word “War” gets thrown around. Are Christians being shot in the street because of their belief? Are their children being taken away from them? Does the government arrest people for displaying their iconography? That is what a war is, war is the violent destruction of an enemy. Calling anything happening in the US right now a “war” on Christians or Christmas does a disservice to veterans who have fought and to religious people around the world (including Christians) who are facing real persecution. If you are whining about a red cup from Starbucks but don’t care about people being killed for their faith then your priorities are pretty fucked up, and really un-Christlike.