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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. sly

    What's wrong with this Satan guy? I've never seen anything about Him, never seen a picture. I hear he is a pig-farmer or he drives pigs over cliffs or something ... doesn't sound that bad. Never knew any bad pig farmers.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  2. Reality # 2

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As do BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan) (As does Scalia).

    October 7, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • berlin11

      The sooner we, people, stop believing in absolute non-sense (religion) the sooner we will become a peaceful and reasonable world. Its down right firhgteneg to know there are supreme court judges as blind, hate filled and ignoarnt as this man. Yikes.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  3. hiruu

    It has been my experience, and many from people in my own family, that those who are MOST devout, are some of the most bigoted people anyone will every meet...I love them o pieces, but they are not capable of seeing things from their dogmatic perspective. Some of it is their age, but damn, they are all fire and brimstone.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Wife's family were appalled to discover I was an atheist and yet have no issue spouting racist comments and advocating violence in suggesting various countries should just be nuked etc.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
      • Reticuli

        The "just nuke them" sentiment seems pretty common from religious types here.

        October 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
        • HZD

          What, you mean to tell me that the belief blog comment section has a lot of trolls? I am shocked, shocked, I tell you.

          October 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  4. Sigideba

    Great, another grown adult that dresses in costumes and believes in magical invisible friends and enemies. It puts my mind at ease to know that we have such mentally stable adults in powerful positions. Just like Sharia law in Saudi Arabia... What a joke.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
  5. TCO

    Good for Scalia for not backing away from the truth. And shame on CNN for writing the article in a mocking tone that is design to draw criticism.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • devin

      But this is what CNN does, it's their defining mark.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      The best you can claim is good for him not to back away from his beliefs. Truth however?, that is a different kettle of fish.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Wxactly what part of what Scalia said can be demonstrated as "true". Your definition of truth is suspect.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • Pseudotriton

      tell me you're just trolling, pleaaaase

      October 7, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
  6. DB

    I believe in God, and God has different names. But as I get older, I firmly believe the devil is on earth under different names also and sometimes he is right there in your own family, so beware.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      I bet it's uncle John. Always thought he was a bit shifty. Though aunt Ruth does have horns. Hmmm.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • berlin11

      the only thing im affraid of is how ignorant and brainwashed devout religious people are

      October 7, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • devin

      Prepare for incoming.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • ooo

      There are enough REAL things in the world to be scared of. Don't be adding more supernatural ones unnecessarily, for christ's sake.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
      • yo yo

        Well said!

        October 7, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  7. Vintral

    If you're believing in God because you're trying to hedge your bets, I imagine you're not going to gain anything even if you happen to be "right". I'm sure he'd know that you didn't really believe, and only choose to pretend you will just in case.

    And thus, you'll end up in the same boat as Atheists anyways. Except they slept in on Sunday.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • ooo

      Yea... Never heard a good response to this argument yet...

      October 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  8. mason

    Scalia is a perfect example of how indoctrination instills irrational delusion in humans.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  9. Craig

    Those people who are betting on God have already lost if they use their belief in an imaginary friend to justify their bigotry, racism, and self-importance. If they're wrong, then they've made the lives of others miserable while they were here. If they're right, the God that Jesus describes is going to be rightly upset with them on judgement day. Most of what the "Christian Church" claims to stand for isn't supported by the things that Jesus claimed were important.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  10. dick

    Please get my friend another Scotch. He's on a roll.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
  11. Bob from Accounting

    Freedom of Religion, yes, but you will be persecuted for it.

    Honestly, what moral justification does CNN or the commenters here have by singling out the Judge's beliefs? Do you not see the hypocrisy in slamming others for their lack of tolerance but fail to show any respect when it is the beliefs of those that disagree with you?

    You will reply with "so some people calling themselves Christians did bad stuff" and "blah blah blah imaginary friend" but that is not what I am asking you. Where do you get off by claiming to be tolerant when you clearly are not so here?

    October 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      And yet it was Scalia who started it by asking the interviewer if they were so out of touch

      October 7, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • berlin11

      There is no such thing as the Devil and there is no such thing as Santa Clause and or the easter bunny. Get a GRIP ON REALITY. People are brain washed by their parents as youngsters and grow up believing anything they read or are told. No difference between how Extreme Islamic Muslims and US bible thumpers believe to their fault, in their religions. Both are completely out to lunch. There is no such thing as fairy's either. And guess what?? Jonah was never swallowed by a big fish and spit out on the shore, perfectly intact.

      Time to wake up people. The ignorance that still exists is alarming. It's no wonder the world is filled with so much unnecessary non sense and hatred.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I can't believe you are so blind. This man is a judge presiding over the highest court in the land. His judgments must be in accordance with the Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion, not tainted by his own religious beliefs. I wonder how many of his rulings will be challenged now that he has so openly shown his prejudice against atheists.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
      • HZD

        He is prejudiced against atheists because he disagrees with them and thinks they are wrong? Would an atheist be disqualified for thinking that religious people are wrong? Please. We need a man who knows the law and has the integrity to maintain its rule. His religious views are irrelevant.

        October 7, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
        • Sigideba

          Right, the anti-gay judge isn't basing his opinions off religion... He belongs in Saudi Arabia where Sharia law runs it. He is basing his dissents (operative word being dissent) off his belief in a magical man in the sky. If you can't see that then I don't know what to tell you.

          October 7, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      He is a public figure that can have a huge impact on many others, including the two groups he singled out. What's worse is he is appointed for life, unless he is impeached and convicted by Congress, which has never happened. He should have known to keep his beliefs to himself, especially his comments about atheists and gays.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • Sigideba

      It's pure science. If you told me 2+2=5 I would call you out just the same. Religion is not sacred and deserves to be ridiculed, just like Santa Claus and Zeus.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Calling out ridicuous beliefs is not persecution. If my neighbor believes he is Napoleon am I persecuting him by telling him he is delusional?

      October 7, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Maxwell's Demon

      1. Christians are /not/ persecuted in the US.
      2. Tolerating bigotry is a betrayal of the very concept of tolerance.

      October 8, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  12. TYSTYUTYUTYUTYU234234

    POLITICS PAYNG TO PATOLOGY SUITS TO PRODUCE ALZEIMER AND CANCER IN LATINO AMERICA.

    AND UNIVERSITYs SAY IRRADIATION DOESENT PRODUCE (CANCER).

    DO YOU KNOW WATH MOMENTUM IS, DNA DAMAGE.

    WE ARE 12 HOURS AT DAY IN A RADIO TERAPHY EXPRESS AND OUR BIOLOGICAL INFO SELL BY AGENCIES.

    SOME BODY SAY SOMETHING.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  13. The juice

    Is it possible that the only trickery being played by such a truly evil force, is to convince half of humanity that there is a God and that they should fight and kill in defending the notion of its mysterious existence? Everyone should ask themselves, does religion do more harm than good? It's purely a tool for social control, and always has been. That evilness we speak of exists in the proselytizers and our nature of blind faith to their message that results in so much death and inequality, etc...etc...

    October 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  14. Augie80

    For all those denouncing religion as fantasy, please remember something Rick Warren said. It is a fact that there either is or isn't a God. We are all betting our lives one way or the other. Those of us betting on God have nothing to lose if we are wrong and everything to gain if we are right. Those betting against God have nothing to gain if they are right and everything to lose if they are wrong.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Former "Fundy"

      Yeahh, okay, and an all-knowing "god" wouldn't see right through such thinly veiled "bet"..?? What you're saying is absurd, and pathetic.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Unless you are betting on the wrong god in which case you are just as s crewed as the rest of us.
      Better worship them all to be safe.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • George

      The problem, of course, with your scenario is that there are plenty of possible gods from which to choose, so you can't even be assured of picking the one that might actually exist.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • berlin11

      What a ridiculous and desperate statement.

      If there is a God, then even the non beleivers will be fine. Isn't God forgiveing of all? lol

      Wow what a silly statement. Another silly attempt at preaching and brainwashing.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • S-3B Viking

      Ahhh...yes, the classic "Warren Wager"...

      Rick! You should trademark it! Hurry!

      October 7, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, Rick Warren just "borrowed" that concept. It's called Pascal's Wager. The problem, of course, is that humans have worshiped literally thousands of gods, so there is no way of telling which god is the correct one. If there is indeed a god, the chances are slim to non-existent that this god would be the christian god.

      If you are so afraid of the supernatural and unproven, then you should probably pray to every one of those gods. Just in case. You wouldn't want to pick the wrong one.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • ooo

      @Augie80,
      Please google "Pascal's wager".

      October 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Kevin

      Rick Warren is a moron. He only considers that there is either his god or no god, he does not consider that it could also mean that his god is wrong and any number of the other 100,00+ gods could be right. Do you believe in them all or just a HUGE hypocrite?

      Pascals Wager fail

      October 7, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • Sigideba

      Pascals wager, come on dude, you can do better than that. Why not believe in all gods, including Zeus, just be safe?

      October 7, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • Pseudotriton

      I'm not sure who Rick Warren is, but what you said there is known as Pascal's Wager, and has been debunked long time ago. It's based on a false dichotomy of god vs. no god, as there literally exists thousands of different concepts of deities, with the Christian "god" being but one of them. Lame logical fallacy.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • Maxwell's Demon

      Pascal's wager is a horrible reason to worship. If an insincere worship is sufficient to mollify a god that exists and a sincere lack of worship condemns someone, then that god is a petty tyrant unworthy of worship anyway.

      October 8, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • sam stone

      Pascal's Wager, Augie, look it up sometime

      October 8, 2013 at 5:47 am |
  15. Angelo Cabral

    Thats an interesting perspective but I think we've exhausted the talk on religion in this country.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You are certainly welcome to drop out of the conversation, but it's far from over.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  16. Pastapharian

    Speechless. When will these !diots be cleansed from the gene pool?

    October 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  17. !?!wut!?!

    It's pretty scary when a Supreme Court justice - with that much power - believes in non-existent demons. Scary indeed!

    October 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  18. Dany

    Please tell me this is a Joke.

    October 7, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
  19. Socrates

    So what is science and what has it ever "proved?"

    October 7, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The systematic application of reason to the natural world. It has proved useful

      October 7, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
      • Socrates

        Try to be more specific.

        October 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Take a science class.

          October 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
        • Lee

          Gravity. Biology. Makeup of planets and stars. DNA. Cloning. Creating vaccines. That the world isn't flat. That we are not the centre of the solar system and that in fact the sun is. What matter is made up of. That gasses escaping from corpses means its decomposing not coming back from the undead. And that people with tuberculosis were.frequently taken for vampires. Just to name a few. Don't forget carbon dating and all the treasures archaeology gave us.

          October 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
      • Socrates

        Besides, what are these procedures and why do we need to follow them?

        October 7, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
        • Socrates

          tallulah13 – I've taking plenty of them. Just looking for one example of what science "proves."

          October 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
        • tallulah13

          If you are curious, take a class. It's pathetic that a person who is using a computer on the internet pretends to be helpless and ignorant.

          October 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Science has proven that with the proper aerodynamics, life and thrust, we can build machines that fly. It has proven that our universe is comprised of things smaller than the eye can see. Pretty much everything in the modern world is a product of science.

          I don't know what you are trying to get at, but you have at least convinced me that you are not a very interesting person.

          October 7, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
        • Socrates

          tallulah13. – Response 1 – "Take a class." Response 2 – "Take a class." I can tell that you are wise well beyond the 6th grade education that you received. It's evident by your mastery of the copy and paste procedures used in your last response.

          Proverbs 26:4 and 26:5 – Right up your alley buddy!

          October 8, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • bostontola

      Proofs are for mathematicians not scientists.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • berlin11

      There is no such thing as the Devil and there is no such thing as Santa Clause and or the easter bunny. Get a GRIP ON REALITY. People are brain washed by their parents as youngsters and grow up believing anything they read or are told. No difference between how Extreme Islamic Muslims and US bible thumpers believe to their fault, in their religions. Both are completely out to lunch. There is no such thing as fairy's either. And guess what?? Jonah was never swallowed by a big fish and spit out on the shore, perfectly intact.

      Time to wake up people. The ignorance that still exists is alarming. It's no wonder the world is filled with so much unnecessary non sense and hatred.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Soctates,

      Is the irony of you sharing this thought on a computer over the intenet beyond you?

      October 7, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
      • Socrates

        First of all, try to spell correctly. Secondly, Pseudotriton stated my point exactly. There is no such thing as proof in science. Science is the knowledge of a subject. Our interpretation of what we know about a subject is always changing based on the world around us. Just as Scorates.

        October 8, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Pseudotriton

      There's no such thing as "proof" in science. Instead, you make the most logical conclusion based on the most reliable evidence and sound reasoning. What science does NOT entail is blind faith in anything without a shred of tangible evidence.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  20. hiruu

    ROFLOL...and people talk about the Ayatollah being in Charge in Iran. Remember what Keyser Soyze said...yup...we are lulled into believing things, but deep down, religious fanatics are running this government!

    October 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I believe what you meant to say is that religious fanatics are ruining this country.

      October 7, 2013 at 11:04 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.