— -- The sight of red cups being handed out at Starbucks usually signifies the “most wonderful time of the year” is underway, but this year’s holiday season at Starbucks is already being marred by a red cup controversy.
While red cups of Starbucks past have featured holiday symbols like reindeer and ornaments, this year’s cup is plain.
When the cup was unveiled earlier this month, the coffee chain described it as having a, “two-toned ombré design, with a bright poppy color on top that shades into a darker cranberry below.”
“Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays,” Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of design and content, said in a news release announcing the cup. “We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s a more open way to usher in the holiday.”
Ever since the 2015 cup was released in U.S. and Canada stores Nov. 1, Starbucks customers have taken to the Internet to say they do not like the cup's “purity of design,” as Fields called it.
Joshua Feuerstein, who identifies himself as an “American evangelist, Internet and social media personality” on his website, posted a video on Facebook about the Starbucks cup that has been shared nearly 500,000 times.
In the video, the Arizona-based Feuerstein says he told baristas in a Starbucks that his name was Merry Christmas so they would write Merry Christmas on the red cup.
“I think in the age of political correctness we’ve become so open minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head,” Feuerstein says in the video. “I decided instead of simply boycotting, well why don’t we just start a movement.”
“I’m challenging all great Americans and Christians around this great nation, go into Starbucks and take your own coffee selfie. … Let’s start a movement and let’s call it, I don’t know, hashtag Merry Christmas Starbucks,” said Feuerstein, who also said in the video that he wore a Jesus Christ shirt and took a gun into Starbucks with him, "since you [Starbucks] hate the 2nd amendment.”
A spokesman for Starbucks told ABC News that every year since the red cups made their debut in 1997, the cups have told a story through their design. With the plain design, according to the spokesman, Starbucks is giving customers "a red cup that mimics a blank canvas."
"Over the past few years, our customers have been showcasing their work on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and we even held a contest to support this creativity," the spokesman told ABC News in an email. "This year’s design is another way we are inviting our customers to create their own stories on our cups."
In response to Feuerstein's video, the Starbucks spokesman wrote, "Our core values as a company is to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity. Each year during the holidays we aim to bring our customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season and we will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world."
Tuesday will mark the official launch of the holidays at Starbucks in the United States as their stores nationwide "turn red."