"All men are created equal," says the actor in an advertisement for Samuel Adams Boston Lager, which began airing about three weeks prior to July 4. "They are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Those familiar with American history might recognize the lines from the text of Declaration of Independence -- but it's not an exact quote. Here's how the original version reads: "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 most glaring difference? The reference to the "Creator," or God. The change miffed some Facebook followers of Boston Beer Company, which produces Samuel Adams. "Your beer isn't that good that you can trash the declaration," wrote one commenter. "If a company wishes to profit from the name of a Christian, they could at least attempt to uphold his values!" writes another. "No more Sam Adams for me!"
Boston Beer Company has defended the ad in a statement, explaining that the omission is in keeping with a code developed by trade group The Beer Institute:
“We adhere to an advertising code, established by the Beer Institute –- a beer industry trade organization -- that states, ‘Beer advertising and marketing materials should not include religion or religious themes.’ ... We agree with that, and we follow these guidelines and approach our marketing with the utmost responsibility.”
ABC News spoke with a spokesman for The Beer Institute, who said the group's guidelines have "evolved over time to meet the country’s evolving social, commercial and technological norms."
Some think the controversy is a bit overblown, including Boston Daily's Eric Randall, who notes that the actor in the video leaves out a few other words, too:
In fact, the full sentence, with words that don’t appear in the Sam Adams commercial bolded, is, “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.” But you don’t hear anyone bitching about “that among these are” going missing. That among these are, guys! That’s important, too!
All this hullaballoo reminds us of another debate -- the appropriateness of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The reference was only added in 1954 (the Pledge was written in 1892), but that hasn't dampened the fervency of those who believe it belongs there. In 2010, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled in favor of keeping the phrase, rejecting arguments that it violated the separation of church and state.