What that Coca-Cola ad tells us about Americanism

Americanism would have us believe that diversity is what makes us great. Or, more properly, this kind of diversity makes us great, the kind that celebrates the equal value and worth of different ethnicities, languages, religions, and sexual practices. But, as Hamlet would say, there’s the rub. For the creed that unites all of these diversities is itself a unified, totalizing, and exclusive claim. It’s the creed of Americanism. These diversities can only be celebrated when they are subordinated to a more fundamental claim, one that elevates America into a comprehensive religious ideal.

Or to use the traditional Christian language, Americanism turns America into an idol, a rival claimant for the allegiance and affections of men and women. And as I noted earlier, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus will suffer no rivals. As a Christian, I cannot elevate a creature to the status of Creator. I dare not bow the knee or lift my soul to another.

So then, let me tip my hat to Coke. They brilliantly showcased the fundamental questions facing us as a people. For evangelicals like me (as well as believers in other traditional faiths), the question is: if being a good American requires us to embrace and celebrate the full diversity on display in Coke’s advertisement, is it possible for us to remain good Americans? Or must we humbly dissent from the Americanist creed and in so doing be branded as bad Americans?

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