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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. MAV

    Doesn't the recent school killings say something that the devil is real? I agree with Scalia and he is brave enough to say it out loud. You should read the bible where Jesus ordered satan to leave the body of a person who was possessed. Its the same thing, if you use his name with faith to protect you from evil, God will give you protection.

    October 8, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      God didn't protect all those dead children, did he? I guess he was too busy in Africa giving AIDS to babies.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • PAT

      I want Satan to make me pregnant.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:09 am |
      • RG

        OK, meet me downtown at 3PM today

        October 8, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • JJ

      "Doesn't the recent school killings say something that the devil is real?". No, it says that mentally ill people should not have access to guns. You are delusional. Your claims are demonstratively false.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Frank

      MAV
      Those killings say that we don't do enough to identify and support people with mental illness in our society.

      Your insistence that demonic possession has something to do with it may be further evidence of that.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • CamDen1

      Wow, where do I start? No, a mass killing proves nothing about the existence of anything. Also, you claim that having faith in god will protect you. Well, I'm pretty sure most those innocent little children that were killed were not devil worshippers so why didn't god save them? If a mass shooting proves there is a devil (which it doesn't), then it also proves there is a God who does not care enough to stop it. Bullets don't stop to ask if you have faith. Your idea of proof of the devil is that something bad happened. I can't even say that is kindergarten logic. In the dark ages and before that, religion served a purpose. There was no real science to fill in the questions about the world and life. If the crops failed, it was because God was angry with them. If the crops did well, God favored them. They didn't know about soil richness, weather patterns or what happens when hot air meets cold air or how the earth rotates and the sun rotates and how it all scientifically plays into their crop. When it flooded, it was God sending a message. when they saw a shooting star, it was an angel. Basically, man used God to fill in the gaps of knowledge. As knowledge expands, the need and use of a god diminishes. We don't need God and the Devil to rationalize that the shooter had mental problems and access to firearms, a lethal combination. Leave your witchcraft in the twentieth century. We don't need it anymore.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  2. amisc1970

    If the devil is, as Scalia says, "a real person", then he isn't a person that is the like rest of us mortals since he has been around since before even Jesus. If the devil is a fallen angel, then it means God was unable to prevent evil from coming into existence, which or didn't know the results of allowing it to happen; these question God's omnipotence and/or omniscience.

    October 8, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • noone

      Or God's a total D-bag and actually wanted evil in the world.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  3. PAT

    It's a good thing this is America and this man's belief in the supernatural has no control over my life.

    October 8, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Considering the power Supreme Court judges wield, it certainly has the potential to, while not control your life, certainly influence it.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Yeah, like appointing President Bush's idiot son president when he lost the vote.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  4. GrowUp

    This man is delusional and dangerous.

    October 8, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • nclaw441

      Growup, can you illustrate your claim of Scalia's purported delusion?

      October 8, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        He believes fictional characters are real. That's certainly a delusion.

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

        Read the article again...Carefully this time...please

        October 8, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  5.  Prrof of Satan! part two - demonic possession of a Vice President!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hijRhGh8j0g&w=640&h=360]

    October 8, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Tony Manero

      Scalia should speak ill of Dick Cheney; Cheney prefers being called Darth Vader than Satan as it is more PC.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  6. E089847

    "The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist." -Charles Baudelaire

    October 8, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      "Guinness makes you drunk." – Brendan Behan

      October 8, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "It is time to get drunk!
      So as not to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk; get drunk without stopping
      On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish."
      – Charles Beaudelaire

      October 8, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Religion may be the Opium of the Masses, but it affects some people like PCP." – L. Watt-Evans?

      October 8, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  7. historygeek6

    Chaos and Cosmos. If the Cosmos are predicated on random chance...no God. If the Cosmos are all obeying the same specific rule of order...God.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Tony Manero

      The funding of science seems to be an utter waste over these centuries.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:06 am |
      • nclaw441

        Science and religion need not be inconsistent. My belief is that truth, true religion and science will ultimately merge.

        October 8, 2013 at 9:11 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Yeah, if only true religion weren't an oxymoron.

          October 8, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • WASP

          science the pursuit of knowledge of everything around us and how it all interconnects.
          religion the pursuit of magical explaination for everything around.

          i would say they are as different as ice cream and pickles.

          October 8, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • WASP

      the cosmos isn't abiding by god's law and it wasn't an "accident"; the universe is abiding by the "laws" of energy interaction. basically put everything in the universe is seeking balance, thus pulling and pushing identical and opposing forces to and fro in the attempt to achieve balance.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  8. Right for life

    II Corinithans 4:4 The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Yes, I'm thankfully blind to religious dogma.

      October 8, 2013 at 8:59 am |
      • nclaw441

        Dave, does that mean you give no thought as to whether or not God exists?

        October 8, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I thought about if for about two minutes when I was thirteen, realized the whole thing was retarded and haven't looked back since.

          October 8, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Tony Manero

      The funding of science seems to be an utter waste over these centuries.
      And somehow people like Michele Bachmann who hears God doesn't seem credible.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • me in austin

      to bad he doesn't blind the morons who believe this sillyness.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:17 am |
  9. m

    doesn't he worship the devil?

    October 8, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  10. Ken

    I can't believe this nutjob has any say in how this country is run.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • DeWaine

      Glad you are not one of those in position to make a diffirence...

      October 8, 2013 at 9:08 am |
      • DeWaine

        difference

        October 8, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  11. Cassarit

    How about that. CNN gets to mock a supreme court judge for believing in God.
    CNN and their colleagues in presswhoring have no idea how bad things are going to get for them.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Why? Did they wake up in Iran or something?

      October 8, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      FBI take note: "CNN and their colleagues in presswhoring have no idea how bad things are going to get for them." We got a live one here, folks.

      October 8, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Watch out CNN!
      The End is NIGH!
      Any day now, Jesus will come back to wipe the walls with the dirty souls of unbelievers.
      The 7 headed dragon from the Book of Revelation will destroy your heathen headquarters with mighty torrents of water!
      Swarms of locusts with the face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of a scorpion with decimate Ted Turner's backyard marijuana crop!
      Yep. Aaaany day now.......

      October 8, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • skyleb

      Too bad its not Hassan Rouhani or CNN would be swapping spit with him.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • JJ

      Oh...not another threat of hellfire from a Christian!

      October 8, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • uos_spo6

      Belief in God is indicative of ignorance on one or more levels. That's not to say a person can't be religious and very intelligent and well schooled, but subscribing to the idea of divinity or a herd driven religion in itself is a separate kind of insanity that degrades the emotional connection and rationalization patterns of an individual.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  12. WS

    Physicists Francois Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs of Britain won the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery of the God Particle.

    So, now knowing this, will you all finally go to church on Sunday?

    October 8, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I will if they start worshipping effigies of particle physicists instead of some skinny dude with thorns on his head and a rag covering his balls.

      October 8, 2013 at 8:47 am |
      • OK fine

        The Large Hadron Collider as the new Vatican, cool, now they can tear down the old one or turn into a hospital, immigration center and homeless shelter, their mythical jesus would like that.

        October 8, 2013 at 9:00 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Personally, I'd turn it into an upmarket bordello.

          October 8, 2013 at 9:02 am |
        • OK fine

          The old crowd would probably be alright with that if it was a bis&xual bordello.

          October 8, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Jon

      Here we go, another uninformed person taking a slang term for an unknown particle at face value and running all the way to the bank.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • WS

        Just kidding around, Jon.

        October 8, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      The Higgs Boson is not God, has nothing to do with religion, and will never demand a burnt offering. It may, however, get us antigravity and cheap energy.

      October 8, 2013 at 9:03 am |
      • OKfine

        The God damn particle because it was so hard to find over 30 years and billions of dollars but well worth the search. What new marvels come from this even if it is just expanded knowledge is great for humanity.

        October 8, 2013 at 9:17 am |
        • WS

          I'm not saying you're wrong but what good can come from it? Will diseases be cured?

          October 8, 2013 at 9:18 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          The practical applications of such a discovery are unimaginable at such an early stage. It's like asking Faraday about the practical applications of electricity. As the building block of the observable universe, it could potentially lead to any number of incredible applications, such as light-speed travel.

          October 8, 2013 at 9:23 am |
        • Bible Clown©

          Would you like a flying car that never runs out of gas? Probably not going to be next week, but stuff like that may be on the horizon somewhere.

          October 8, 2013 at 9:29 am |
        • OKfine

          You may want to look into a product like graphene a 2 dimensional surface that is only one atom thick or go to CERN and discover practical applications from their discoveries. The space program made many new products possible was the exploration worth it, same principle, discovery.

          October 8, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  13. Bible Clown©

    I believe in the Devil. I've seen his Food Cake.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  14. El Flaco

    Scalia is crazy.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  15. skyleb

    Soon, those who do not identify Obama as savior will be considered 'of the devil'.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Becky

      lol. Obama is no savior. He seems to have some kind of connection to the devil, how deep it goes is yet to be seen.

      October 8, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Sure pal, you go on believing that. I've never heard anyone left of moderate call Obama a savior or messiah, but every conservative calls him the Messiah. It's a great example of 'defeat psychology.' They want to believe they were beaten by a supernatural force, or by a man who was far more than a mere man, instead of admitting that "let old white rich guys run your life" isn't what most Americans want today. . I actually believe that in 50 years some Republican low-infos will be praying to Obama as the Savior; we may be witnessing the birth of a new religion.

      October 8, 2013 at 8:50 am |
      • skyleb

        Obamabots worship the master by actions not words clownboy 😉

        October 8, 2013 at 8:55 am |
      • Anonymous

        Oprah is a conservative now? You know Oprah is the one who started the whole Obama-messiah thing right? Hillary actually mocked Obama as being the "second coming" during the 2008 campaign as well. Ah good times those 2008 elections were.

        October 8, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  16. Jesus was a space alien

    Satan is on the supreme court...Justice Scalia

    October 8, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  17.  

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA3aiZkZTZ0&w=640&h=360]

    October 8, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  18. Matt

    How do you get to be a judge on the Supreme Court with such radical, and psychotic ideas? Step out of the dark ages.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Sid

      you get on the bench because of your legal views not your religious ones; unless you are conservation perhaps??

      October 8, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • GOLON MOHAMMER

      obama became president and believes in satan.

      In an interview with the evangelical periodical Christianity Today, Obama stated: "I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life.

      funny how no liberals say obama is not qualified despite the fact he thinks he has eternal life like a vampire, prays to magick men in sky.
      and believes in satan

      October 8, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Bill Peterson

      You get appointed by people who enrolled in the Flat Earth Society. Scary stuff.

      October 8, 2013 at 8:40 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Well, they do have some persuasive arguments.

        October 8, 2013 at 8:45 am |
  19. janet

    Tee-hee, funny – Scalia looks like what I had always pictured Satan to appear as in human form. Really, they could have used him instead of Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate".

    October 8, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Worst movie ever.

      October 8, 2013 at 8:32 am |
      • OK fine

        Dave
        Second worst, And Justice for All, Pacino at his over the top best.

        October 8, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  20. capnmike

    It is incredibly frightening that we actually have so many people in our government who believe this kind of nonsense and baloney. There isn't any "god", nor is there any "devil"...these are fairy tales were invented by humans. Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are just as real. The human race needs to grow up and toss the enormous scam of religion in the trash where it belongs.

    October 8, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • GOLON MOHAMMER

      i am one of those atheist who believes in the god gene theory, somewhere down the line the belief in the supernatural became beneficial to the survival of humans.

      The God gene hypothesis is based on a combination of behavioral genetic, neurobiological and psychological studies. The major arguments of the hypothesis are: (1) spirituality can be quantified by psychometric measurements; (2) the underlying tendency to spirituality is partially heritable; (3) part of this heritability can be attributed to the gene VMAT2;[1] (4) this gene acts by altering monoamine levels; and (5) spiritual individuals are favored by natural selection because they are provided with an innate sense of optimism, the latter producing positive effects at either a physical or psychological level.

      According to this hypothesis, the God gene (VMAT2) is a physiological arrangement that produces the sensations associated, by some, with mystic experiences, including the presence of God or others, or more specifically spirituality as a state of mind (i.e. it does not encode or cause belief in God itself in spite of the "God gene" moniker).

      evolution only cares about reproduction not if humans are making sense of the natural world. the less religious have fewer children this is a fact, while muslims and catholics have lots of children, there is strong evidence that the god gene increases reproduction

      October 8, 2013 at 8:23 am |
      • Pfft!

        More likely that you "god-gene" is the result of believers killing off the non-believers. There is your evolutionary pressure mechanism.

        October 8, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Sid

      there is more evidence to prove the historical existence of Christ, the Son of God, than there is for the existence for George Washington or Shakespeare; if a person does not believe in God then he is blind to our surroundings

      October 8, 2013 at 8:37 am |
      • MarkinFL

        Keep on telling yourself that. The rest of us will get on with reality.

        October 8, 2013 at 8:41 am |
      • Andy

        There's more evidence for the historical existence of Christ the son of a carpenter.

        October 8, 2013 at 8:49 am |
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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.