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October 7th, 2013
12:31 PM ET

Scalia says atheism 'favors the devil's desires'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - 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. He is one of a record six Catholic justices on the Supreme 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.

Senior asked Scalia if he's seen evidence of Satan's work recently.

"You know, it is curious," Scalia answered. "In the Gospels, the devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore. ... It’s because he’s smart."

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Scalia said the Devil has gotten "wilier" and convinced people that he and God don't exist. The justice added that he doesn't think that atheists are Satan's minions, but that disbelief in God "certainly favors the devil's desires."

Senior asked if it's "frightening" to believe in the devil, which seemed to annoy Scalia.

"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."

Scalia, whose son, Paul, is a Catholic priest in Arlington, Virginia, also said Pope Francis is "absolutely" right about the church needing to concentrate more on mercy and outreach than on fighting the culture wars.

MORE FROM CNN: American Catholics agree with Pope Francis on ending culture wars

"But he hasn’t backed off the view of the church on those issues," Scalia said. "He’s just saying, 'Don’t spend all our time talking about that stuff. Talk about Jesus Christ and evangelize.' I think there’s no indication whatever that he’s changing doctrinally."

Finally, Scalia said he has not "softened" his views on homosexuality.

"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.

MORE FROM CNN: Church and state, executive power on Supreme Court docket

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Courts • Culture wars • Devil • Pope Francis

soundoff (3,730 Responses)
  1. Nathan

    The devil is a real person...one of the 9 most powerful people in the legal system, ladies and gentlemen!

    October 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  2. The Pope

    If you want to see pigs run off cliffs, Antonin, all you have to do is watch TPr's.

    October 7, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  3. dr weiss

    poor man.....born 600 years too late....he'd have done well as an Inquisition judge....

    October 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  4. Jason D

    How can a man believe in god and be a true catholic but then doesn't care when the poor die, doesn't care when the rich influence the democracy of the people...to stop the rights of people on masse to sue, breaking the rights of the many for the rights of the few...the few who happen to be rich and influential

    October 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  5. Jessica

    Why are we surprised? He's Catholic.... and he's an idiot... perfect combination

    October 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I think they're talking about you on the next article

      October 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        What an astoundingly cogent reply, Bill!! You've outdone yourself.

        October 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  6. drefromla

    This qualifies as the scariest thing I've red in a long time. How is this man in a position of power and judgment??

    October 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Veritas

      Completely agree. I had thought the SCOTUS judges were highly educated and intelligent persons, and now that I've read this I have lost all trust in the US judicial system.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        You should probably lose confidence in the places you were educated

        October 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  7. Don

    First we acknowledge that a corporation is a person; now; we give the same right to the Devil. WOW!!

    October 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  8. abaddon

    satan is my boss.

    October 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  9. NickZadick

    How can such imbec1les get voted into office?

    October 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    •  Either

      you're a Poe or you haven't taken government class yet

      October 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
      • NickZadick

        I'm not from your country...thank the invisible fairy man in the sky!

        October 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
      • NickZadick

        and thanks! didn't know what poe meant...word of the day!

        October 7, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Reality Check

      You are joking, right?

      October 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • rp74012

      You must have flunked your basic junior high school government class!! SCOTUS justices are NOT elected you idiot!!

      October 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
      • NickZadick

        It actually is more ridiculous then... a president nominating a man who believes in fairy tales...I was uninformed...HE is an id1ot!

        October 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Veritas

      Reagan appointed him. Figures...

      October 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
      • rp74012

        "appointed" is the key term here for Nick!!

        October 7, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Ajax

      Justices are nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate, they are not elected by the voting public.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  10. SkepticalOne

    It disturbs me that someone capable of believing that nonsense is a member of the supreme court. How do you feel about evidence Justice Scalia?

    October 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Responding to the Pride

      Hate to burst your bubble, but six of nine justices are Catholic–some appointed by conservatives, some by liberals. They probably all believe that God exists–is it really a stretch to believe then that Satan exists?

      October 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  11. wordclock

    Satan does exist. He created a religion called Christianity and fooled people into worshiping him in the form of Jesus. Every Christian is a Satanist without even realizing it. It's because Satan is smart.

    October 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • NickZadick

      It's all fictionnnn mannnn!

      October 7, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • loki

      I guess you could not be Satan because He is smart and you appear to be an idiot.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  12. Dave

    What do I care? I'm a dyslexic athiest. I don't believe in DOG.

    October 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      And I'm an agnostic dyslexic insomniac, who lies awake at night wondering if there really is a dog.

      October 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Patrick

      I am an agnostic who suffers from both dyslexia and insomnia. I lie awake in bed night after night wondering if there really is a dog.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
      • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        You, too, Tap?

        October 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  13. Charles Justice

    There is no beginning or ending, there is just always. Every thing that is here now has been here always. The shape and consistency of the universe is what changes.

    October 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • DJ

      says the person created in the middle

      October 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Veritas

      That is something I can believe in. Most likely the universe is expanding and contracting in cycles and has always existed. Time is relative anyway.

      October 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  14. Vik100

    Take God out of the equation and we get "modern" America... headed to NOwhere and slave to its own corruption and sins.

    October 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Pat

      Take theists out of the equation and you get a civilized modern society of intelligent people.

      October 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Veritas

      There is some truth to that, and that is how religion was invented in the first place: to control the poor masses and get them to do what was useful to their masters by using the carrot of eternal life vs eternal suffering. Ingenious when applied to uneducated simple minds.

      October 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • aimhere

      @Vik100,

      Morality does not require a God.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • John

      A Muslim and a Christian, what's the difference? They both believe in, and act evil. They call it by different names. Christians call it the devil. Muslims call it Christians.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  15. Rob

    "the devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore. ..."

    It actually happens even today, it's just that the herd don't realize this until they jump off the cliff by which time it's too late for them.

    October 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Handel

      How can you tell if someone is demon possessed?

      Quote scriptures and you can see them frothing!

      October 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
      • devil is very much alive and busy

        Typical responses to scriptures-gnashing, gnawing, frothing and fuming.

        October 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
      • John

        Nah, all you need do is identify all the Christian pedophiles.

        October 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  16. Pat

    Perhaps Scalia's brilliant legal mind can explain how one is considered mentally ill if they think there is in invisible man living in their closet but considered sane if they think the invisible man lives in the sky and watches them.

    October 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  17. tarheel1110

    If the devil is a person, he is likely named Boehner

    October 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  18. TX JIM

    Confess much Justice Scalia?

    October 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  19. Veritas

    Senior asked Scalia if he's seen evidence of Satan's work recently.

    "You know, it is curious," Scalia answered. "In the Gospels, the devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore. ... It’s because he’s smart."

    Scalia said the Devil has gotten "wilier" and convinced people that he and God don't exist. The justice added that he doesn't think that atheists are Satan's minions, but that disbelief in God "certainly favors the devil's desires."

    This mentally ill person is on the SCOTUS????? I have now sadly lost the last shred of trust I had in the US system of government. I was proud to be an American before, but now there is mostly only shame left 😦

    October 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  20. Kirk H

    It seems Satan has fooled many who have commented here. He's doing a good job.

    October 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mario Marquez

      Unfortunately so. INB4 everyone jumps on the bandwagon to flame some one on their personal views.

      October 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
      • Pat

        It's not just personal views, it's the bigoted out of touch with reality views by a Supreme Court Justice, get it?

        October 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • Mario Marquez

          So you're saying that because CNN took a portion of their interview, and only focused on his personal beliefs, makes him a bigot? Sure... that makes perfect sense because everyone in legislature is not allowed to have personal beliefs, or share them when asked.

          If some one of a different belief, were to state that they do not believe in god, or were to believe in a different god the very same thing each and everyone on here is doing, would happen to that person as well. Don't you see the issue with this? Regardless of relgious beliefs?

          These people are in office to represent people. Some represent athiests, some represent christians and some use those two beliefs as a way to further their personal agenda, whether rightfully done or not.

          My argue isn't about the valdility of any persons claim, it's more so about everyone's inability to accept some ones OPINION.

          October 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
        • G to the T

          Do you think it's Scalia's OPINION that the Devil exists or that he KNOWS the Devil exists. Once you KNOW – I don't think it's an opinion anymore. It's a claim to the nature of reality and should be judged as such.

          October 9, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Pat

      Who created him and keeps him around, the one you get on your knees for?

      October 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Veritas

      I have not listened to Satan per se, but Santa Claus told me a few things about you.

      October 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
      • LeRoy_Was_Here

        You no fool me! There ain't no Sanity Clause!!

        October 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Kirk is that you??

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igui2YoHXs8

      October 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
      •  

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igui2YoHXs8

        October 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.