Scalia says Satan is ‘a real person’

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As the Supreme Court begins its new term Monday, the devil is not on the docket – but the Evil One apparently is on the mind of Justice Antonin Scalia.

New York magazine has published a fascinating new interview with Scalia in which the outspoken jurist tackled a number of topics. But none seemed to surprise Scalia's interviewer, Jennifer Senior, more than his views on Satan.

The interview was conducted on September 26, the 27th anniversary of Scalia's swearing-in as a justice on the high court.

After Scalia and Senior discussed heaven and hell (he believes in them; she doesn't), the justice said in a stage whisper, "I even believe in the devil."

"You do?" Senior replied.

"Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, come on, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that," Scalia said.

Written By: Daniel Burke
continue to source article at religion.blogs.cnn.com

39 COMMENTS

  1. the devil…is possessing people and whatnot

    lol, care to elaborate on what ‘whatnots’ are/do?

    …asked if it’s frightening to believe in the devil

    Scalia totally evaded that question with gibberish.

  2. The good thing is that Scalia can’t openly rule cases based on his religious delusions. The bad thing is that it colors his thinking (or lack thereof) even when he is casting his opinions as based only in the law.

  3. When you consider that Satan only ever killed a few people and only then because he was ordered to do so by God, compared with his boss who all but wiped out life on Earth with his Flood and plenty of other smitings, Satan appears to be the good guy !

    I’m sure Scalia knows a lot about the law, but belief in the devil – dear oh dear !!

  4. In reply to Antonin Scalia:

    Satan is a real person!

    I recently saw a local high school production of “Damn Yankees.” Hint to Judge Scalia: If you’re looking to find him and bring him to trial, first try checking the phonebook. Anyone with the last name “Applegate” is suspect.

  5. He also pointed out that Christian and cretin come from the same root, saying that Christians like himself were supposed to be stupid. He also tipped the election to George Bush then ruled that his logic was so flawed it could never be used as precedent. I find it odd he made it through the confirmation process, but then so did Clarence Thomas and John Roberts.

  6. Is this devil invisible? Is he omnipresent? (If not that greatly limits the damage he can do).
    Milton portrays him as a much more honourable being than Jehovah.
    Peter Cook and Dudley Moore portrayed him as charming, but compelled to betray.
    The notion in the 1600s was he very good at sex.
    The notion in the 1970s was that he has a very deep voice.
    Disasters befall people independently of how carefully they follow Christian dogma. That suggests the devil, if he exists, is lazy.

  7. I don’t really care if the guy believes in the devil as long as the decisions he makes are logical and based on the law. I prefer to judge some one more on their actions than their words.

    • Why do you rate Scalia? He practically broke the law in handing Bush his first election victory, he is a reactionary ultra-conservative who, among other things, consistently misinterprets separation of Church and state, and he is clearly an irrational biblical literalist in many respects.

      And I don’t understand how his expression of a literal belief in Satan is being self-deprecating. Seems like the height of arrogance to claim to have special knowledge of invisible persons. Or do you think that he is kidding about his beliefs?

      In reply to #12 by Stevehill:

      >

      To be fair, I quite rate Scalia, and reckon he’s just being a bit self-deprecating here.

      • And I don’t understand how his expression of a literal belief in Satan is being
        self-deprecating. Seems like the height of arrogance to claim to have special
        knowledge of invisible persons. Or do you think that he is kidding about his beliefs?

        I think you may have missed Scalia’s reference to The Screwtape Letters, or may not understand it. The Screwtape Letters is a popular and humorous book from the 1940s in which C.S. Lewis satirizes British society from a Christian perspective.

        Lewis narrates this satire as a series of letters from a senior demon manager, Screwtape, to his demon underling, Wormwood, who does the actual field work of corrupting people. If you read the book, you will immediately notice that Scalia’s is tipping his hat to it with loving irony. Scalia’s whole language about demons, about the devil leading people away from god, using more subtle ways than he used to “because he’s smart”, comes straight from the book. So to answer your question: yes, Scalia was kidding at least in part.

        Today’s reaction to the interview among liberal American journalists doesn’t expose Scalia’s weirdness as a believer so much as these journalists’ cultural ignorance.

        • In reply to #27 by thomas_1969:

          Today’s reaction to the interview among liberal American journalists doesn’t expose Scalia’s weirdness as a believer so much as these journalists’ cultural ignorance.

          No, it exposes his weirdness.

  8. Frightening, absolutely frightening that a man with such an irrational view of life sits in judgement in the highest court. Such has been the terms of religion throughout history, what is frightening is that they flourish today in an enlightened democracy

  9. While I agree it’s an interesting interview, I’m mystified why the Satan stuff became the headline.

    [Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

    You do?
    Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

    If the exchange that’s starting here shows anything, it shows that Scalia likes to provoke, and that he has a sense of humor and hyperbole. To make that the centerpiece of the interview, which it wasn’t, strikes me as kind of lame.

  10. Scalia presents one of the greatest challenges in refraining from ad hominem when contemplating the supremes. And that’s saying something in light of some of the stunts they have pulled off in recent history including but not limited to granting person-hood to corporations and the presidency to Bush.

  11. Once again, I am amazed that people are surprised when they find out that devout Catholics believe in Catholic doctrine. Personally, I would like those who are religious and in positions of great responsibility to be as clear about their beliefs as possible. By all means, let Scalia explain his evidence for the existence of an invisible demon, and how this belief influences his behavior. If his evidence is “it’s in the Bible” and/or “because that’s what the Church says”, then he needs to be grilled over this in the same way he would grill counsel arguing in front of his court.

  12. “He’s making pigs run off cliffs,” Scalia says.

    No, sorry, that was the hero god-man Jesus who put devils into 2000 pigs and made them jump off a cliff into the water and drown, not the Devil. So the Bible tells us.

    • In reply to #23 by ArloNo:

      “He’s making pigs run off cliffs,” Scalia says.

      No, sorry, that was the hero god-man Jesus who put devils into 2000 pigs and made them jump off a cliff into the water and drown, not the Devil. So the Bible tells us.

      Mark 5:11-13

      Steve

    • In reply to #24 by Fujikoma:

      Doesn’t even realize that ‘Satan’ is really an angel of obstruction (or to cause problems) sent by the christian god… Elaine Pagels wrote an interesting book on Satan.

      That is a great little book. So much about Satan we assume comes from the bible was actually added later by theologians and even novelists (Dante, Milton). There is almost nothing about Satan in the old testament and very little even in the new.

  13. A telling quote:

    “I still think it’s Catholic teaching that it’s wrong. OK? But I don’t hate the people that engage in it. In my legal opinions, all I’ve said is that I don’t think the Constitution requires the people to adopt one view or the other,” Scalia said.

    The initial answer, the first and foremost answer about Homosexuality is that it is an abomination to the Lord. Then he goes on to show how even handed he is in his position. I would consider that as a problem, since he is using Catholic morality as his foundation, and then retrofitting the law to fit that position.

    I also do not think that his rant about people who do not believe in the devil are out of touch with real America was tongue-in-cheek.

    “You’re looking at me as though I’m weird,” he answered. “My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the devil! Most of mankind has believed in the devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the devil.”

    /facepalm

    • In reply to #28 by Egross:

      The initial answer, the first and foremost answer about Homosexuality is that it
      is an abomination to the Lord. Then he goes on to show how even handed he
      is in his position. I would consider that as a problem, since he is using Catholic
      morality as his foundation, and then retrofitting the law to fit that position.

      I consider your line of argument a problem because you start with your interpretation of what Scalia does, and then retrofit your interpretation as something that is wrong with Scalia.

      Scalia’s dissents in the Supreme Court’s gay-rights cases isn’t religious; it’s textual. Scalia adheres to a literal and narrow interpretation of laws, including the US constitution. While there is much to criticize about this policy, there’s nothing particularly Catholic about it. (For details, see A Matter of Interpretation, where Scalia defends his approach against a number of distinguished critics.)

      Hence, you would be right to accuse Scalia of retrofitting if he departed from his stated textual policy to produce an outcome he wants. A good example of this is his support of Bush v. Gore. That opinion relied on a super-broad interpretation of citizen Bush’s 14th-Amendment rights, which Scalia always frowns on. But no special Catholic pleading is necessary to reach Scalia’s opinion in this year’s gay-marriage cases. The US constitution, if interpreted narrowly, does not require that the states permit gay marriage.

  14. I have never ever seen an infant who looks so old; tragic!

    He is joking of course; because if he isn’t he needs to realize that the devil can read his mind so speaking sotto voce won’t cut it.

    Ooooh, he’s in deep do do.

  15. This is also the guy who, in his LEGAL opinion, doesn’t think torture amounts to “punishment”, in any way. Let that sink in…

    So, the fact of his thundering stupidity is not exactly news. But the depths of it have clearly not yet been fully plumbed.

  16. Holy Cow…..I hope no atheists end up in this guys court….nothing like religion to cloud your judgement !
    “many more intelligent people than you and me believe in the devil” ….he said….speaking of his own intelligence !
    Oh really – now that must make it true eh ?…… and a classic double bluff -”the devil has made people think there is no god or devil”….
    Oh yeah sure – they’re both hiding under harry potters invisibility cloak….

  17. I’m pretty much with Harris on the whole “conversational intolerance” thing – people like this should just be ridiculed for believing in such superstious, mythological nonsense here in the 21st century. No apologies – it’s just dumb.

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