I apologise for having started with this long preamble, but it seemed to me an appropriate way into a discussion about monotheism and idolatry. I wanted to illustrate two points: just how difficult really useful self-criticism is, and just how difficult and delicate a matter is the communication of genuine critical insight from another source outside ourselves. And yet there is no helpful discussion of idolatry that isn’t founded in these matters.
Christians have a word for putting earthly things in the place of God: idolatry. Furthermore, the Church has not hesitated to identify the danger of idolatry attendant to the modern state. Pope Pius XI said that nationalism is “an ideology which clearly resolves itself into a true, real pagan worship of the state—a Statolatry which is not less in contrast with the natural rights of the family than it is in contradiction to the supernatural rights of the Church.” In its section on idolatry (2113), the Catechism makes clear that “idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith.” The Catechism continues, “Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God,” and includes “the state” in a list of examples. Elsewhere, the Catechism warns against the “idolatry of the nation” (57).