US Catholic Faith in Real Life

When the 'war on religion' hits the fridge

By Kira Dault | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The latest scandal in the "War on Religion" section is not related to the current president of the U.S. Nor is it about Christmas, or any religious holiday, for that matter. Instead, it's really hitting home for Americans.

This time, it's about beer.

Sam Adams beer created a 'patriotic' commercial for the July 4th holiday that borrows a few lines from the Declaration of Independence. Go ahead and watch the commercial. For reference here is the text of the Declaration of Independence.

What you have undoubtedly figured out by now is that, while there are many phrases from the original Declaration that are absent the actor/bar tender's speech, the phrase "by our Creator" is noticeably not there.

This has not gone over well with many internet commenters. Twitter lit up with indignant Tweeters prepared to boycott Sam Adams beer. Fox News ran a little segment in which they claimed that the "terrorists have won."

Not everyone feels so strongly about the commercial. It is, after all, just a beer commercial. But there is something here that I think is worth comment, and that is that the entire advertising industry (and this commercial does it particularly well) sets out to equate things like "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" with a particular product that actually has nothing to do with those things.

Since his election to the pontificate, Pope Francis has been pretty forcefully critical of capitalism. In one particularly memorable phrase, he offered a scathing critique of the "cult of money." He claimed that "A new, invisible and at times virtual, tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules."

The irony of the Sam Adams commercial is that it is a part of the cult of money. It is part of a system that sells each of us a product and tells us that it is that product that will make us free. As Catholics and as Christians, we know this to be false. (Jesus himself gives us the key to freedom. Here's a hint: It's not beer.) And yet the internet lights up with outrage when the Declaration of Independence is paraphrased. (By the way, "by our Creator" were not the only words left out.)

The last line in the commercial claims that "we bow to no king." But in light of the warning from Pope Francis, can we be so certain of that?

Image: John Trumbull [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Video: 'Independence' by Sam Adams Boston Lager via YouTube