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Coffeehouse giant Starbucks is standing by its campaign to put thought-provoking messages on its coffee cups despite a national uproar and threat of boycott over a message some felt was “anti-God.”

Controversy erupted this week after a customer became steamed reading a quote that stated:

“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.”

The quote was written by Bill Schell, a Starbucks customer from London, Ontario, Canada, and was included as part of Starbucks’ “The Way I See It” campaign to collect different viewpoints and spur discussion.

A WND story posted Sunday afternoon publicizing the cup became a hot topic on national radio shows this week including Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham.

One reader, Ken Peck of Lakeland, Fla., has since purchased a coffee with another message he felt was a slam against his Christian faith, and snapped a photograph of it.


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Ken Peck of Lakeland, Fla., was not thrilled when he purchased this Starbucks cup with a message he felt was anti-Christian

The message reads:


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.

“There’s absolutely no reason to put that out on a cup,” Peck told WND. “From a marketing standpoint, it blows me away. I don’t put a picture of Christ of my business card.”

Peck says the issue has energized him to push for a boycott of Starbucks in favor of other local coffeehouses in Polk Co., Fla.

“Everyone I’ve shown the cup to has been flabbergasted, whether they have a faith in Christ or not,” he said.

Seattle-based Starbucks, meanwhile, is making no apologies about the God-related messages, nor its campaign.

“We are committed to this program,” Starbucks communications manager Tricia Moriarty told WND, noting that quotes about matters of faith make up only a small fraction of the printed quips.

“We cover topics such as theater, film, the environment, food and sports,” Moriarty said. “The cups are not pro- or anti-religion per se.”

When asked if there were any scenario that would prompt the company to remove a certain cup from its campaign, she said she could not comment on a hypothetical situation, saying only, “Certainly, we have no plans to remove any of them.”

Starbucks provided WND with some cup messages that could be viewed as “pro-God,” including:


The Way I See It #92:

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.”

The Way I See It #158:

It’s tragic that extremists co-opt the notion of God, and that hipsters and artists reject spirituality out of hand. I don’t have a fixed idea of God. But I feel that it’s us – the messed-up, the half-crazy, the burning, the questing – that need God, a lot more than the goody-two-shoes do. — Mike Doughty, musician.

In fact, the message from Warren even prompted some complaints that Starbucks was pushing faith in God onto its customers.

  • “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, Calif.

  • “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

    On Monday, WND asked its readers in its daily poll: “What do you think of the so-called ‘anti-God’ message on Starbucks coffee cups?”

    With more than 7,600 respondents, there was a virtual tie for the No. 1 answer:

  • I will do my best to avoid buying anything at Starbucks in the future. 27.64% (2,104 votes)

  • It’s leftist garbage from a leftist company based in a leftist city. 27.36% (2,083 votes)

    On WND’s messageboard tied to that poll, readers added more of their sentiments, including:

  • “Paleeze! Isn’t it funny how every thing is considered hate speech unless it’s directed at the Christian God? Starbucks should try putting a derogatory remark about the Muslims [or] Allah and see what kind of response they get.”

  • “This is just another example of satanic leadership in an American corporation. It’s not the ship’s fault it’s off course. It’s the person or persons behind the wheel steering the ship. … It’s not necessary to attack God to help market a product successfully, but some human beings in the company thought it was a good idea. They are the ones to blame for the idea and implementation. Not the company itself.”

  • “The quotes were meant to spark conversation. If you’re a Christian, which I am, then converse about Christ. Starbucks never said you have to agree with the quotes, just talk about them. If you ask me, it sounds like the perfect opportunity to witness.”

    Are you a representative of the media who would like to interview the author of this story? Let us know.


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