Starbucks Cups, Merry Christmas, and the Death of Cultural Christianity

This weekend there is a new fake outrage on the internet - red Starbucks cups. That’s right, there are hundreds of stories on internet news sites saying that Christians are upset about a company changing its holiday cups from red with designs to plain red.


I could write a whole blog post about how social media escalates things. (I mean seriously, the prom-posal is a thing now.) I could write a post about how a company like Starbucks has done things that actually are offensive to Christians. I could write a post about how wishing me “Happy Holidays” is not offensive. (If I start actually writing blog posts again, I may actually do that.)

I will, instead, take this opportunity to write about the death of cultural Christianity. For pretty much the entirety of the 20th century, being American was equal to being “Christian.” Not really of course, a Christian is someone who has placed his faith in the death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of his sins and decided to follow him. But being American was equal to being a Cultural Christian.  What do I mean by “Cultural Christian?”  Essentially I mean that in our culture there is a strongly positive association with being Christian. For example, if you were to go out on Sunday morning and ask someone who hasn’t been to church in 15 years what religion she is, she will say Christian. What she means is not that she has placed her faith in Christ, but simply that if she was going to go to church, it would be some sort of Christian church. Why would a person claim this association with Christianity? Because it is culturally desirable.

There are many things that go hand in hand with cultural Christianity, most of which are seen in the sorts of things that people lament losing. Christmas themed cups and civic Christmas decorations, public prayers, and store cashiers who wish you a blessed day among them. Except for some pockets of the South, all this is going away. Cultural Christianity is dying.

A dirge for Cultural Christianity?

There are some things I will miss with the death of Cultural Christianity. Mostly this falls under that category of self censorship. It seems obvious to me that as it has faded, civility in general has faded as well. Profanity is common even in advertising now, and what is considered acceptable behavior would have been offensive a generation ago.

But mostly I do not regret the death of Cultural Christianity. I am glad that there is no longer confusion about being from the USA and being a Christian. It makes it easier to tell people about Christianity if they don’t think they already are one. It makes the next great awakening possible.

Salt and Light?

Now the hard part, Do I actually tell anyone about Christianity? Do I make a regular effort to share that Jesus changed my life, or tell others why following Jesus is worth it? Do I live in a way that makes me seem different from all those people who simply believe that being from Kentucky makes them a Christian? Do people even know that I am a Christian? These are the questions that need answering if the next great awakening is going to happen. Christians must share the gospel message.

In the meantime, my family's restaurant will continue to give out plain white cups…even through December…I hope no one boycotts.