Starbucks has come under fire from Christian groups after the popular coffee chain decided to remove all references to Christmas from its seasonal red cups.
According to a report from Breitbart, every year around Christmas time, Starbucks changes the color of its cups from white to red, usually with a festive design to usher in the season.
This year, however, the chain opted out of festive imagery and instead have a plain red cup: "Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays. We're embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It's [a] more open way to usher in the holiday," the chain said in a statement.
Several Christian groups have taken offense to the new design, arguing that it represents growing secularism and a widespread "War on Christmas."
"What is it about Christmas that Starbucks are afraid of celebrating?" Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute asked. "Haven't they heard it's the most wonderful time of the year, and the season of good will to ALL men? They should get involved and stop being scrooges."
Added Andrea Williams of Christian Concern, "This is a denial of historical reality and the great Christian heritage behind the American Dream that has so benefited Starbucks.
"This also denies the hope of Jesus Christ and His story told so powerfully at this time of year."
Reactions online were even more heated, with one person writing: "It's OK to have a 'War on Christmas' ... but you can't say anything about Islamic Terrorism."
Added another: "They'll destroy everything that they can get their hands on... even a simple cup of coffee."
This is not the first time the coffee chain has been accused of promoting anti-Christian sentiments under the guise of being "open, inclusive and forward-thinking."
In June, the company's chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz, praised the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide, stating, "Today's Supreme Court ruling supporting marriage equality makes me proud to be an American, and especially proud of Starbucks legacy of advocating for equality and inclusion for all our partners for the last 44 years."
Following the decision, Starbucks flew the Pride flag atop its Seattle headquarters - a tradition it started the year before during the annual Pride Week parade celebrating gay rights.
In October of 2013, Starbucks also added coverage of transgender reassignment surgery to the company's health benefits. It had already covered prescription drugs for hormone replacement therapy and mental health care. In 2014, a year later, Starbucks removed the financial cap on surgery benefits, according to its website.
Starbucks has also boasted about receiving a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's 2015 Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees.
In turn, some Christian organizations have boycotted the popular chain: one group started DropStarbucks.com, hosting a petition that 71,196 have signed.
"We are urging customers across the globe to 'Dump Starbucks' because it has taken a corporate-wide position that the definition of marriage between one man and one woman should be eliminated and that same-sex marriage should become equally 'normal'. As such, Starbucks has deeply offended at least half its US customers, and the vast majority of its international customers," the petition reads.
"In taking these actions, Starbucks has declared a culture war on all people of faith (and millions of others) who believe that the institution of marriage as one man and one woman is worth preserving."