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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."

MORE FROM CNN: How to argue about religion online

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. If I had a hammer... I'd whack you in the morning

    Dumbest ever FcukN judge who I've never had the pleasure to spit on.

    October 7, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  2. Well

    If it's the devils job to convince me he doesn't exist, I think he deserves an award.

    October 7, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  3. Poodlepuff

    It's nice to know that in a case concerning non-Christians, justice Scalia will be completely impartial. He is the model of someone without spiritual prejudice unless you don't believe in his faith based fairy tales.

    October 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  4. neil

    Scalia is a idiot... How can this man sit on the Supreme Court of the United States... It is time he retires

    October 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      The man has a lifetime job! with benefits! There's a better chance of him and Newt Gingrich making a baby than him leaving.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Mark

      And the President too. He believes Jesus loves us!

      October 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  5. Mark

    "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."

    Most of mankind also believed the Earth was flat until a few hundred years ago. It's scary this man is still on the court.

    October 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Mike

      Standard Appeal to Tradition/Popularity fallacy.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Ben

      ...and we've only just "discovered" dark energy and dark matter since the 1990's ! Don't churches teach anything??

      October 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  6. Pat

    The Devil makes pigs run off cliffs? Judge Scalia has that completely wrong. As I know the story, it was Jesus who exorcised a demon named Legion out of a man and into a herd of pigs. Those possessed pigs then stampeded off a cliff and fell into a large body of water, where they drowned. It's one of Jesus's better-known miracles.

    October 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I'm glad that pig suicides have stopped. Bacon jumping off a cliff upsets me dearly.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Ben Dover

      Cooooool!

      I really find it sad that I wasn't born two thousand years ago when the gods were real...(although a Christ worshiper might have put me as a baby, into a post hole, so that their god would hold the building up during an earthquake)

      October 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  7. pera Jovanovic

    Maybe he is maybe he is not real. You can't say Catholic Justice dude is a whack job, because nobody knows if afterlife is real or not, till you get to see what happens if and when you actually die and live this world.

    October 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  8. Christian Commander

    Kill everyone. God will know His own.

    That's your smug christian thought of the day 🙂

    October 7, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  9. Hey, I like that!

    One day the gods of Man will be gone, and we will be old enough not to need new ones...

    October 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  10. Wholly Mary

    What a WHACKJOB! Die soon please, the devil will be happy to get you.

    October 7, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  11. crosscountryman

    Lukewarm believers who are neither hot nor cold are the ones that Jesus said, GOD would spit them out of his mouth. Many, many so-called educated Amerikans have fallen victim to this middle of the road appeasement at any price, that they neither accept Chirst's Divinity or believe in fundamental Christian Doctrine that there is a Heaven or Hell! We'll see who has the right ticket for he Salvation Train when it arrives for final boarding to Heaven~

    October 7, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • sam

      How did we get into god's mouth? Gross.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        That sounds like a BJ.

        October 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Erica

      Technically, all that is required to be Christian is to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior. That's it. The rest of it is window dressing. By living up to Jesus' standards in how to treat not just yourself but your fellow man, you are more likely to get into heaven than any bible thumper I've ever met.

      Jesus didn't storm up to people's doors and demand that they convert. He preached on a hillside outside the cities. When he was in the cities, he only went into homes in which he'd been invited. Perhaps more Christians should live by his example.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Hey! You!

      Never met a Christian who wasn't positive he wasn't going to Heaven.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • Hey! You!

        *Hell*

        October 7, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
      • Hey, I like that!

        Amen!

        October 7, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      After columbine shootings, people prayed to god that the shootings would stop.
      After virgina tech shootings, people prayed to god that the shootings would stop.
      After the Arizona mall shootings, people prayed to god that the shootings would stop.
      After the newtown shootings, people prayed to god that the shootings would stop.

      Either god doesn't care, enjoys people being slaughtered or doesn't exist! Take your pick.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
      • cosmicsnoop

        He doesn't care. That's what so many people have such a hard time with. You were put here to experience life, that's it. We've all been "good", "bad", "evil", "rich", "poor", whathaveyou. You, hopefully, evolve a little more in every life time. That's all it is folks, it doesn't have to be so hard. God was bored and created life to experience himself. We live in a dualistic dimension. There cannot be light without dark, good without evil, etc. There's plenty of info out there besides mythology. The idea of Hell is so assinine and a complete contradiction of God.

        October 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      interesting that you desire eternity with a being from whom you feel you have to be saved

      sort of a spiritual stockholm syndrome

      October 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • MGM

      And we Christians are going about our ways because physically, mentally, emotionally we do not have a problem and so who cares about GOD. If this is in everybody's thought, we are drawn by the current. The current is immense today than any other year. They are here and there previously but were thought it is just a business and they are very quiet, 2013 came and wow they are everywhere and for those who did not receive the grace or just let it stale during baptism, they are drawn to it easy. The beginning is in any place having YOGA. Believe me, it starts from there. They do not have to put up a church but there means of attracting people is undeniably perfect. In Sedona, Arizona, they are attracting firemen now.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • MoveForward

      Your use of the Amerikans shows you have a fascination with Nazism. Your pseudo Christian rant shows you have a tenuous grasp on reality. Get help.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  12. AvdBerg

    The devil is a reference to the natural spirit of mankind (John 8:43-45). For better understanding of the spirit of darkness that controls all of mankind, we invite you to read the article 'Who is God and who is Satan' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    We also invite you to read 1 Cor. 2:14. It explains why mankind in his natural state is unable to hear or understand spiritual truth

    All the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9, and what mankind must do to be reunited with the true and living God.

    October 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Observer

      Peddle your hypocrisy elsewhere.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Sarah

      Shiva, Bhrama, Vishnu is the true holy trinity. All false god followers of the christ man will pay their dues to Ravana in the 4th plane of the underworld.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  13. Bob in MD

    Wow. My opinion of Scalia just went way up! (And I've never much cared for him.)

    October 7, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Good thing no one cares about your opinion.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
      • Bob in MD

        I know. Even I don't care for my opinion!

        October 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
        • Mark

          Me too. I don't even like myself!

          October 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
      • Wholly Mary

        Doncha know sarcasm when ya see it?

        October 7, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  14. Pat

    Judge Scalia is wrong when it comes to atheists. No true atheist would ever believe in Satan for one simple reason. Saran is deity, a god, and no atheist believes in any god whatsoever.

    October 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Who is Saran?

      October 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
      • Observer

        Ken,

        He makes a wrap.

        October 7, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
      • sam

        God of the Wrap.

        October 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        Would that include condoms?

        October 7, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
        • Observer

          Saran was the Trojan God of Condoms.

          October 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
      • ML

        Saran Wrap. Now that stuff is Evil.

        October 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
      • jacksonkat

        The god of all things wrapped of course!

        October 7, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Say what?!
      Are you so dumb?
      I think Scalia is right!
      Satan is not a god! He is an angel albeit an evil one (a demon).
      That is to say believing or not believing in him is not fundamental to Atheism!

      October 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  15. joe

    I read the whole article about the conversation with Scalia. I find it very telling that the Devil comments are the ones CNN is focusing on out of an eight page article. Love him or hate him Scalia is worlds wiser then ever single person here.

    October 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      That's why he's been on the losing side in the most important decisions.

      October 7, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Hey! You!

      Roger B. Taney was Chief Justice at the time of the Dred Scott decision. Would you consider him wise as well?

      October 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • sly

      Ho ho ho – a guy who thinks some being makes pigs run off a cliff is smarter than us?

      Ha ha ha ... that is funny. No friend, the guy is senile. Nuts. Wacko.

      Almost all of you religious folks are just f-kin wack jobs!

      Now... if we could only train the pigs we could get all you lemmings to run of the cliff. There would be more food for all of us on Earth.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  16. frederick

    God didn't create man. Man created God and the Devil

    October 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • guaraya

      Good thing you've enlightened us all, and straightened out our thinking!

      October 7, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
      • NickZadick

        If only you meant it!

        October 7, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
        • Mark

          What about our president? He believes in Jesus

          October 7, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  17. Haha

    He's right, the devil's real, but the Bible describes him as a fallen angel, not a person. He's also right about the more people embrace atheism and are blind to this the more it favors the devil. Look at all the Gen Y atheist and what they say. You would think that their philosophy would be that of Frederick Nietzsche, but on every point they line up with Aleister Crowley and Anton Lavey. They are Satanist. It shouldn't be a surprise either, Laveyan Satanism advocates being an atheist 

    October 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I'm as religious as a rock. I'm married, have two kids, never drank, smoked or did drugs. Have been working since I was 16 (I'm now 51) Do you still think I'm influnced by satan?

      October 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
      • NickZadick

        no...but you sound boring ....as a rock!

        October 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
      • John

        Sure thing, because I could make lots of money betting that you've lied at least once in your life.

        October 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          I didn't say I was pure.

          October 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        I've had my thrills. I wouldn't call myself the life of the party.

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

        No because he has you where he wants you.. So no need to try.

        October 7, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Is this Tiger's girl Lindsey Vonn?

          October 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Observer

      Haha,

      Do you believe EVERY word of the Bible or are you just another hypocrite who picks and chooses?

      In other words, do you support slavery and discrimination against women, gays, and the handicapped like the Bible does?

      October 7, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Pat

      Really? Then if an theist claims to believe in LeVeyan Satanism, that atheist is no true atheist. A real atheist believes in no god whatsoever, and it doesn't matter which god they are.

      October 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • Thezel

      The Devil is at work with the atheists. He doesn't care as long as the stay away from God. And he's laughing more and more all the time at the work he's accomplished in the Home of the Free, free to leave God because the Devil has convinced many that God doesn't matter and you should think for yourself. Just like Eve... Sorry Satan, you may win the battle but you've already lost the war. Thank You Jesus!

      October 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        Please tell us how god has made your life better! Do you ever have bad days? Please enlighten us!

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

        I am an atheist and can assure you that your fictional made up man doesn't work for us...he works for you!

        October 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  18. stevetall

    Oh-oh. Time to put this clown out to pasture. No wonder the Supreme Court has been so loopy lately. This idiot should be spending a lot less time worrying about the afterlife, quit doing "the devil's business" disguised as a Supreme Court Justice, and get back on this plane of existence. Of course, I'd be worried about the devil, too, if I was as contemptible as Scalia is.

    October 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  19. truthsayer

    With Thomas and Scalia in the Supreme Court we are DOOMED

    October 7, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  20. ScaliaIsANutJob

    This is the kind of NUTCASE we have in the Supreme Court? We are so screwed.

    October 7, 2013 at 5:45 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.