Can You Be Patriotic without God? Budweiser Seems To Think So.

Photo by odelia / 123RF

Budweiser is gearing to become America’s beer—literally. In its newest marketing campaign, Anheuser-Busch, the company that created the lager 140 years ago, announced that it will temporarily rebrand for the summer and into the election season. In an overzealous display of patriotism, Budweiser will replace its name on all beer labels with “America” and spice up other parts of the packaging with phrases like “Liberty and Justice for All” and “Indivisible Since 1776.” The campaign is aptly called “America is in Your Hands.”

Even though the Belgian-Brazilian owned Budweiser already dominates the US market, it seeks to solidify its #BestBuds status by capitalizing on American patriotism. According to Budweiser VP Ricardo Marques, “We are embarking on what should be the most patriotic summer that this generation has ever seen, with Copa America Centenario being held on US soil for the first time, and Team USA competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.” So why drink craft beer and other Anheuser-Busch competitors when you can drink America, right?

But there is something important to note about the campaign: Anheuser-Busch perceives the possibility of American patriotism without god. Of the images released, not one beer label mentions the big man in the sky. Instead, excerpts from the “Star Spangled Banner,” the Pledge of Allegiance (pre-1954), and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” will replace text on the can. The temporary Budweiser labels will even be adorned with our old de facto national motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” not “In God We Trust”—the motto adopted by Congress during the McCarthy era.

It will be interesting to see if consumers take notice of Budweiser’s secular slogans. Regardless, it comes as a pleasant surprise for humanists. Through our defense of a secular America, humanists face criticism of being “un-American.” Religion and dedication to country are often mistakenly entwined. Candidates for the presidency make a strategic decision to include “God bless America” in their closing statements, while some police units feel it necessary to adorn their cruisers with “In God We Trust.” To see a major marketing campaign, purposefully or not, exclude god from the conversation is like an ice cold beer on a hot day—refreshing.  So this summer, those who want to order a taste of America with their side of freedom fries must accept it without a god.

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