The Coffee Conundrum

I understand that sometimes we all have to take a stand on the issues.

But we need to know that we are standing on facts, not fiction.

Starbucks has recently attracted the wrath of Christians over what CEO Howard Schultz said at a recent shareholder’s meeting. Or allegedly said. The way someone passed the story along to me is that Schultz said he didn’t want to do business with Christians.  On the face, that is a little offensive. I always tell my kids not to believe hearsay and especially don’t repeat it, but to research the facts for themselves. And not to believe everything they read on every website. Following my own rules, I dug deeper.

Ironically, the first news article I found was not at all about the Starbucks CEO telling Christians to stop shopping his store, but rather about a preacher who is telling Christians that we aren’t Bibically correct if we do. Starbucks openly supports same-sex marriage and he doesn’t think that Christians should patronize a business that takes this position. Back to that in a second.

Pressing on with my quest to discover what Mr. Starbucks said that should so deeply offend me, I continued my research.

I watched the video of the CEO at the shareholder’s meeting where he supposedly spoke these words and I never heard them. A couple of people did ask him about the company’s position on same-sex marriage and the possible financial fallout. Schultz gave polite respectful answers.

You can read more about it here and watch it here.

He did say:

“It is not an economic decision,” he said. “The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity…If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,” said Schultz.

I just like to be clear on the facts before I decide to give up caramel frappes.

  • A Christian preacher wants us to boycott Starbucks because of their stand on same-sex marriage.
  • CEO Howard Schultz did not say he wanted Christians getting their caffeine fix elsewhere.
  • He did tell investors that they are free to seek other investment options.

Maybe I would boycott Starbucks if he point blank told me to get lost because I’m a Christian. He didn’t. Telling me that I’m free to pursue other investment options if I don’t support their social policies is different. That’s something I already knew.

Will I boycott them because they support same-sex marriage and I don’t? I’m not sure. Where does Target stand on this issue? Or on abortion or on gun control or on save the whales? What about Wal-Mart, Kohls or Apple, heaven forbid.

Am I forced to find out the political views of every company before I order a double cheeseburger?

Sure, our boycotts could hurt a company financially, but the company employs real people. Real people who depend on their jobs to feed their real families. Kicking caffeine won’t put the CEO in the soup kitchen or collapse his empire, but it could create a crisis for a hardworking single mom.

And does a boycott really work or does it just give the company free publicity and rally their supporters?

Christ came to set us free, not chain us down with restrictions. As a Jesus follower I would like to be known by what I am for, not what I’m against. I am for loving people as we are commanded. All people, not just people who agree with me and whose lifestyle I agree. We are supposed to be the light of the world and help pull people out of darkness. Does this protesting preacher attract lost people to Christ or repel them?

Christians are ambassadors of the Truth. We should make sure that it is truth we are repeating and when we do, we are instructed to speak it in love…not hate.

For other reading on the topic, I enjoyed this blog post from Duane Scott, Scribing The Journey. Here’s an outstanding quote from it and one I would like to end on.

“No amount of boycotting will accomplish what true kindness can. Instead, it does the opposite. It tells the world we are capable of hate.”

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