Sippin’ Starbucks No More

4 ¼ min

The fate of Betsy Fresse, an evangelical Christian who refused to don a gay pride shirt in accordance with instructions from her manager in a Starbucks store in New Jersey is explained with remarkable concision in a recent Reuters article:

A former Starbucks Corp barista in New Jersey sued the coffee chain on Thursday, claiming she was fired illegally because she did not want to wear a ‘PRIDE’ T-shirt, which she said conflicted with her religious beliefs.

Betsy Fresse said her August 2019 dismissal from a Glen Ridge, New Jersey store, near her Newark home, for allegedly violating Starbucks’ ‘core values’ amounted to illegal religious discrimination under federal civil rights law.

This obstinate employee was apparently given an opportunity to reconsider, as NBC points out in Starbuck’s defense. Fresse received a call from Starbuck’s Ethics and Compliance Helpline after she initially eschewed the caring-sharing shirt. Since she failed to give the proper diversitarian response over the phone and in conversation with the manager, she was summarily terminated.

The fired employee thereupon sued, claiming her religious rights had been violated. To my knowledge the plaintiff was not rehired; nor was the manager who fired her disciplined; and finally Starbucks denied Fresse’s charges, insisting that it stands for “diversity,” and therefore could not conceivably have discriminated against a Christian former employee. The fault, we are left to believe, was Fresse’s appalling contempt for Starbucks’ perfectly reasonable “core values.”

Allow me to express my profound skepticism about Starbucks’ open-mindedness. Having frequented that company in the past, I could not help but notice the obtrusive reminders about the management’s politics, including cups and sugar packets adorned with leftist political platitudes. Starbucks’ CEO and founder Howard Schultz would hardly qualify as a politically detached individual. He is a socially over-the-top liberal Democrat, who according to a description in National Review is “suspicious of socialism, but woke — some might say performatively so — on immigration, LGBT issues, racial justice, and abortion.”

Starbucks spokespersons indicated that Fresse had been fired not because of her refusal to wear a gay pride shirt but because of her “comportment.” It seems this lady brazenly told her fellow-employees that God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman. This message, which presumably came in the wake of being urged to wear the LGBT-propaganda shirt, constituted behavior that Starbucks refused to tolerate.

Let’s imagine that the dissenter was a homosexual activist being forced to wear a shirt stating marriage is between a man and a woman. This assertion would not have caused the slightest scandal up until about 25 years ago, because it would have expressed what everyone across the political spectrum had always believed—or was expected to believe.

But those who, like Mr. Schultz and his media allies, are involved in a moral-cultural revolution are out to punish heretics, particularly powerless ones like low-wage evangelical employees in a coffee shop, the easiest victims to make examples of.

Would Mr. Schultz and his media allies have balked at an objection voiced by a gay activist who had been forced to wear a shirt defending traditional marriage? Would the protesting gay have been treated with the same contempt or consternation that Betsy Fresse evoked? You can bet your bottom dollar that would not have been the case. And we know why. Black Lives Matter and LGBT are top dogs in the woke hierarchy, whereas white Christians who talk about biblical teachings are holding bad cards. The high and mighty can kick them around with impunity.

But while Fresse waits to see the fruit of her lawsuit, there is a solution that might work better, and for which Schultz and other woke capitalist revolutionaries are most certainly not prepared. The little people with traditional beliefs should strike back by organizing mass boycotts against those arrogant plutocrats who scorn them and their pre-revolutionary values.

The woke Left calls for boycotts 24/7, such as those against states that did not put up transgendered restrooms fast enough to please the “LGBT community” or then-President Obama. Why can’t traditionalists imitate their enemies by embracing the same useful tactics? What would happen if the little people all over the country agreed to boycott Starbucks until Ms. Fresse’s job was reinstated with a raise and an apology from Mr. Schultz? This low-tax leftist may find he likes making money even more than beating up on the God-fearing.

There is much we can learn from the Left, starting with how to deal with the other side.


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Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried is editor in chief of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is also the Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years, a Guggenheim recipient, and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents.

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I spent my post-USAF service years living and working in the Peoples' Republic of Berzereley...incidentally resident in a flat across the street from Walnut Square , where Mr. Peet (of Peet's Coffees and Spices fame) had his original coffeehouse/store. The original 'Starbucks' partners (who were students at USF in the City) learned everything they knew about coffee from Mr. Peet as simple baristas there at Walnut Square and eventually quit, taking their knowledge with them to Seattle, where the rest of that particular story is history. From that day forward I have refused to drink anything branded and sold as a Starbucks product, for they have regrettably transmogrified from those humble beginnings into just another autocratic American mega-corporate power, gone amok. Thank you for citing this specific example of crass Starbucks hypocrisy. It is a perfect example of why American corporatism (of any kind) is ultimately such a self-defeating and repressive institutional instrument of adverse social control. I will continue to patronise independent coffeehouses in the same manner that I patronise independent booksellers...enthusiastically...and avoid Starbucks products like the viral plague on humanity that they are!


Shultz should learn a thing or three from the guys who own/operate ChikFilA. Solid evangelical christains, they maintain an open and friendly to all workplace environment, and do employ folks of all sorts of "preferences" and "procivities". A personal friend of mine owns/manages three stores I know a number of his employees, some of them leads. The workers there do not fit a sterotype, even in their uniforms. Some are flagrantly LGBTZIWQ whatever. As long as they do their work well, no one cares


Anyone who does business in these establishments are too stupid they are encouraging a leftist anti-American business, and also too stupid to buy a reasonably prices cup of coffee.


not to mention a drinkable cup. Charbux simply do not have the knowhow/technology to preent a drinkable cup. Even in their "experioence bar" in the new Seattle legacy ctore, the 'handmade" cup I had was not drinkable. Good job he comped me on it, as the $12 he wanted at firsts would have been a grave insult. I roast and brew far better in my sleep, every day.
I am gay and I wouldn't want to wear the "pride" t-shirt either. My sexuality is just one part of me, it is not my entire identity. So many 'gay activists' and wokeists need to get more of a personality. Don't let them know I am fine with the bakeries not wanting to write the gay wedding message on the cakes either. (Note, they didn't refuse to sell them anything, or write other messages.)


No, she should sue Starbucks and not go back to work there, or sue them and after settlement, use a clause in that settlement to force Starbucks to re-hire her and issue a written apology in the local newspaper, glowingly admiring the plaintiff for her superior social values and begging the community to forgive Starbucks for its anti-christian fascist bias.