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Gary Younge
Starbucks to serve up God with a skinny cappuccino

The cups will carry a religious quote from the Rev Rick Warren, the author of the blockbuster self-help book The Purpose-Driven Life. Mr Warren said he had had the idea after seeing a quote on one of the store's cups on evolution by the paleontologist Louise Leakey.

His quote reads: "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 real 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."

Starbucks has printed 63 quotes from writers, performers, academics and politicians on its cups over the past year as part of a campaign called The Way I See It. This is the first one that is explicitly religious. Last month a contractor for Baylor University, a Baptist institution in Texas, removed cups carrying a quote by the author Armistead Maupin saying: "My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long ... life is too damn short."

While the religious inscription may be a first for Starbucks, packaging goods with a message from God has been done before. For the past 30 years Alaska Airlines has put prayer cards on food trays. The California-based fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger has long carried verses from the Bible on its wrappers.

When the founder of the clothing chain Forever 21 and XXI saw them he included a quote from John 3:16 on his shopping bags, declaring: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The quotes were "evidence of faith", a spokesman, Larry Meyer, told USA Today.

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