9e0b85281db37bebbf8ea2973bdbf22bBe careful to not let your remembrance of independence and freedom today turn into “Americanism” which is a heresy condemned by Pope Leo XIII (and four other popes). He wrote against these ideas in his 1899 encyclical Testem benevolentiae nostrae to Cardinal James Gibbons. Americanism is the belief in “American exceptionalism”, that America is somehow above the rule of natural law, or blessed by God more so than other nations, and is “the shining city on a hill” to lead the world. Extreme Americanism even goes so far as to claim that America’s Deist/Masonic founding fathers and the founding documents of the secular government were inspired by God, which comes right out of 16th Century Puritanism and is incompatible with Catholic theology and traditional biblical Christianity. Americanism borders on idolatry, as it views the state of America as the “embodiment of God’s Will”. The Catechism warns us that the state can become the subject of idolatry, a mortal sin against the First Commandment:

Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, ‘You cannot serve God and mammon.’ Many martyrs died for not adoring ‘the Beast’ refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God. ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church #2113

Keep in mind today that Independence Day is not a holy day, but is a secular remembrance specifically of the Declaration of Independence, which declared succession, rebellion and anarchy (“no rulers”) against tyrannical government, and indeed is arguably is one of the greatest libertarian documents ever written.

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 … Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it …

July 4 is not, however, a celebration of the Constitution (don’t confuse the two!), which ratified the federal government 10 years later; nor the American flag, which wasn’t widely celebrated until after the Civil War; nor even “the country”, but rather should be one of independence and liberty.

Speaking of which, I am now leaving to join my family for Independence Day festivities, and ironically must first drive through a federal government checkpoint and—without any reasonable suspicion of committing a crime—be forced to state my innocence of not violating immigration laws. You can see why I now call today a “remembrance” of freedom instead of a celebration of it.

Happy Freedom Day