“But if by this name are to be understood certain endowments of mind which belong to the American people, just as other characteristics belong to various other nations, and if, moreover, by it is designated your political condition and the laws and customs by which you are governed, there is no reason to take exception to the name.” ~ Leo XIII (Testem Benevolentiae)
Americanism can be difficult to describe, namely since it’s been described as a “phantom heresy”, meaning that it is a term used to describe a thought commonly held among many Catholics in regards to the separation of Church and state, the importance of America in one’s life and the idea that democracy is preferable to a Catholic state. Many of the teachings affiliated with Americanism are rebuked in Blessed Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors such as an absolute separation of Church and state or the idea that puts natural virtues over supernatural virtues.
With the concept of Americanism comes the idea that America is spoken of in Holy Scripture as God’s chosen nation or as the city on the hill (famously quoted by Ronald Reagan). From this mentality stems the strongly and deeply held belief that America has the objective to bring democracy to the rest of the world rather than the Church bringing the Gospel to the rest of the world. In this ideology the Church is just one of many legitimate religious institutions which expresses divine truth of the Supreme Being rather than containing the unique truth revealed by Almighty God. This is imperialism.
Americanism can include the observance of Christian ethics, but lacks the call to be a member of the Catholic Church, receive the Sacraments and observe the precepts of the Church. As Budzisewski wrote regarding moralism , which is defined as the observance of morality apart from religion, those who espouse it do not see the issue between secularism and religion but whether a religion demands banning all vices or not. Its political equivalent could be neoconservatism.
This is one of the conservative screw-ups: all of history revolves around ‘Murica: ‘Murica is the only perfect country while all others are bad. If you question anything ‘Murica does then you’re not a patriot… or a Christian. This is because ‘Murica — besides Israel — is God’s chosen nation to tell others what to do, which has been disastrous for American foreign policy. Case in point: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, etc.