I am often surprised at how touchy the religious are about references to God in popular culture. If you don’t approach the Almighty with the proper reverence and respect you are lambasted for being insincere about their faith. If, on the other hand, you avoid the subject to prevent getting mired in a religious quagmire the you are guiltyof intentionally ignoring their faith all together.
For those of you unable to view the video the thirty-second spot shows a bartender in a pub pouring a glass of Sam Adams while declaring (no pun intended) the following:
“Why name a beer after Samuel Adams? Because Samuel Adams signed the Declaration of Independence. He believed there was a better way to live: all men are created equal. They are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Smooth, flavorful, we bow to no kings. Samuel Adams Boston lager: declare your independence.”
Seidl points out there is a bit of phrase missing from the part about unalienable rights. He offers the full quote for context: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The implied complaint seems to be that the Boston Beer Company was afraid or disinterested in adding the idea of a Creator into their advertising. Just one more soulless corporation aiding the enemy in the war on Christianity. But is that really the case?
My first thoughts upon reading about this “controversy” is that there is a lot of language crammed into thirty seconds. The commercials text is an abbreviation of the greater quote most likely for time than for substance. More importantly the commercial is implying that in the same way that the Founding Fathers knew that man had unalienable rights to life, liberty and property the Boston Beer Company knows that man has an unalienable right to smooth and flavorful beer. I’m not sure that the comparison is equally respectful when man’s “unalienable right” to smooth, delicious Sam Adams comes from God.
Most importantly I think it is highly respectful of Sam Adams to not inject the concept of a creator into this advertisement. Alcohol, especially the “common man’s” beer is most often frowned upon by religions blaming it for all sorts of societal ills. To even vaguely imply in a poor metaphor that man has an undeniable right to beer, but more importantly Sam Adams beer, seems much more insulting. Having any company suggest that good theists drink a certain beer would be seen as opportunist and impious, certainly.
Which ends up being the case as Seidl posted an update showing a response to a reader from Sam Adams saying that the inclusion of religion in advertising violates the Beer Institute’s guidelines. The guidelines clearly state that no reference to religion should be used in advertising.
All in all I think Sam Adams made the right call and Jonathon Seidl is making a mountain out of a molehill. I would think the pious among us would want a solid separation of God and beer.