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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. sam stone

    stanky. pack your bags, bozo!!

    October 8, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  2. tony

    The Scotus members should all be investicgated to see where their family wealth comes from.

    October 8, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  3. sam stone

    stanky. pack your bags, bozo!

    October 8, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  4. GOLON MOHAMMER

    oddly enough, the same people who make fun of this probably voted for OBAMA.

    who has stated he has the same powers of a vampire. (eternal life)

    believes a zombie saved him from his sins.

    asks people to pray to sky fairys after theater shootings.

    took his oath of office on a 2000 year old fairy tale book which he believes in.

    the democratic national convention voted not to mention god.

    he overruled it and they were spouting bible verses right and left at the DNC like it was a convention of ancient goat herders.

    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.

    HOW MANY OF YOU MAKING FUN OF THE BELIEFS OF THE CATHOLICS ARE DEMOCRATS AND VOTED FOR OBAMA?

    ARE NOT HIS BELIEFS JUST AS STRANGE????

    obama even used lincolns bible to take his oath, a fairy tale book he used

    October 8, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Frank

      It's politics. It wouldn't be very easy to get elected in the US if you didn't declare belief in Jesus, were a professed pacifist, hated guns and hunting, disliked professional sports, and a bunch of other things. Don't take any American politician's stand on any of these things as automatically sincere.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Yep

      October 8, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Apple Bush

      IF he didn't say and do those things, he wouldn't be in office. Atheists don't win elections.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • Robert Brown

        Correct, no athiest allowed.

        October 8, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • John

      I have no problem with anybody's personal beliefs, until they stand on those beliefs and make public policy out of them. Keep it out of government.

      October 8, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  5. sam stone

    stanky. pack your bags, bozo

    October 8, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  6. Jim

    Scalia is one of the only justices that says things that make sense.

    October 8, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • UD

      He is a turd.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      True. No other judge would have the balls to discuss the SuperDevil, who carries a jar around with him which makes people commit adultery. True judicial honesty right there.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Frank

      If he believes in the devil as a judge would he entertain the "devil made me do it" defense?

      October 8, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  7. Grampa

    No, Satan doesn't exist. But Scalia does and that's bad enough! Thanks a lot Reagan for appointing this complete fool.

    October 8, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Jim

      Welp you said it so it must be true! Grampa knows all.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:13 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Well, it sure beats "the Bible says it so it must be true".

        October 8, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  8. Montecristo

    For those searching for evidence that God exists, read the Miracle Detective by Randall Sullivan, a former editor of Rolling Stone. It is written from the standpoint of an agnostic and not someone who is trying to convince anyone of anything. Very well written. Here is the link http://www.amazon.com/The-Miracle-Detective-Randall-Sullivan/dp/0802141951/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381240989&sr=8-1&keywords=Miracle+detective

    October 8, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  9. GOLON MOHAMMER

    funny how tolerant liberals call conservatives insane and mental for believing in satan and jesus.

    but every democrat in office is a christian and believes the same thing.

    heres is obama talking about how he has eternal life like a vampire.

    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.

    name one democrat in office that does not believe in jesus

    October 8, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • John

      Believe in Jesus all you want – that's not the issue. Basing social policy on those beliefs is the issue. Keep your beliefs out of my life. Liberals, generally, are able to do this. Conservatives, generally, are unable to do this.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        True, liberals base their policies on the belief that I don't own my own labour and that I owe something to poor people and non-white people.

        October 8, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • Trevor

        Everyone has "beliefs"...you just seem to think that the ones you don't agree with are somehow "shoved down you throat"... Hate to break it to you, but the world is broken full of selfish and self-centered "beliefs" that dominate our culture and are completely at odds with people who follow Christ...WELCOME TO THE CLUB!!

        October 8, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • John

          Beliefs born of critical thinking, logic, and science are acceptable and should be used to better society. Beliefs born of stories in a book, that has nothing verifiable behind its conclusions, should be rejected, or at least, kept to one's person and not forced on others.

          October 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  10. sam stone

    jimmy carter is a devout reborner dm. lol

    October 8, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  11. Bob

    Scalia is a first class nut.

    October 8, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  12. Twist

    Scalia is a total failure. Every one of his legal rulings needs to be eradicated. His Christianity is worse for him than a bottle of gin. His family sucks too!

    October 8, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • sam stone

      amen twist.where is stanky?

      October 8, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Dustinsc

      "His family sucks too." Was that reallly called for? I'm willing to bet you have, at best, only read a handful of Scalia's opinions and that you would change your mind if you had read any of his 4th amendment opinions.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • WS

      Why does his family suck?

      October 8, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  13. TONE

    So are the children of satan including himself, and the teabaggers in congress.

    October 8, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  14. ggaetaniblog

    "Most of mankind has believed in the devil, for all of history." Is he serious? The majority of the people throughout history were not even Christian. Ooops. Catholic doctrine does not teach that.

    October 8, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Frank

      Most of mankind doesn't believe in the devil even now. Christians, Muslims and Jews do not make up the majority of the world's population.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:07 am |
      • GOLON MOHAMMER

        christians muslims and jews do infact make up a majority of the population.

        October 8, 2013 at 10:09 am |
        • Bible Clown©

          Most people on earth are not Christians, sorry.

          October 8, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Ann

      Most of mankind throughout history also believed in witches, evil spirits causing illnesses, dragons, etc. We've learned. Too bad he hasn't.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Jim

      Study more history. He is dead on. Also, you don't have to be "christian" or "catholic" to believe the devil exists.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:11 am |
      • tony

        He exists and his name is Scalia

        October 8, 2013 at 10:12 am |
      • ggaetaniblog

        Enlighten me with some facts.

        October 8, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  15. LP

    It is sad that people no longer believe in what they cant see or touch or hear. The whole point of spirituality is believing in something that cant be proven hence why you need to BELIEVE. It is like we are losing our imaginations...what fun is the world without believing in magic and fairy tales and heaven? I am going to live my life believing in all kinds of things whether they exist or not because that is my choice. If you choose not to believe I guess that is your choice too but dont call us stupid because we are able to dream things that you cannot.

    October 8, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I can't tell if this is a joke or not.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:03 am |
      • GOLON MOHAMMER

        people love to troll atheist, i pretend to be a christians a lot of times to troll atheist and watch them get all worked up.

        October 8, 2013 at 10:05 am |
      • ME II

        Poe's law strikes again.

        October 8, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  16. or......

    "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."

    or he doesnt exist...

    October 8, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  17. Jim

    Travel to Rawanda 12 years ago you could have shaked the devils hand, unfortunatly for you they would have hacked it off including your legs and head. Evil does exist call it what you may.

    October 8, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • ME II

      People can do "evil" things, no question, but evil as a separate thing or enti.ty is difficult to accept.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  18. tony

    If Satan is aral person, then Scalia has given him the right to buy US elections. Thanks!

    October 8, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  19. Ed

    Atheists are not exactly tolerant of other views. They often freak out at the mere mention of Christian doctrine for example.
    Often in my life when talking to one, the atheists arguments consist mainly of insults and a self righteous indignation. They have to go back many centuries to the crusades for example to find Christian "sins". They ignore completely the tens of millions murdered by modern atheist regimes such as the recent ones in Russia & China. The Chinese saga apparently still continues on a smaller scale, with nary a comment from the secular West!

    October 8, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • tony

      You ignore the 250,000 innocentas massacred by your Red Sea-parting god in the recent Tsunamis

      October 8, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • GOLON MOHAMMER

        atheist stalin murdered 60 million innocents in his purges

        October 8, 2013 at 9:59 am |
        • UncleBenny

          Yeah, for political reasons. Show me where Stalin said he was promoting the principles of atheism when he murdered his people. You're suggesting that if he had been raised a Christian that he wouldn't have done these horrible things? Oh, wait – he WAS raised a Christian and in fact spent several years in seminary.

          October 8, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • GOLON MOHAMMER

          stalin killed people who believed in god

          October 8, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • fumota68

        ignorants blindfolded by your father, the father of lies, devil is a liar. 🙂

        October 8, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • A_T

      That is a rather ignorant post. Atheists (as I am one) are generally quite tolerant of other's views. As with any group there is always a fringe (those that want displays taken down and such) that most of us do not agree with. Christians are highly intolerant as are Muslims. Merely the suggestion that you do not believe in their 'god' often brings on an incoherent tirade of threats of hell and other ignorant suggestions. I'd suggest you mind your own dish rack before you look for spots on others.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:00 am |
      • GOLON MOHAMMER

        christians are very tolerant, 87% of americans are christians, where is all this intolerance?

        as an atheist i dont see it.

        do you realize after 9/11 not one muslims was killed in the USA by christians in retaliation?

        thats pretty tolerant, i guess christians are not as blood thirsty as the leftist like to make believe.

        October 8, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • brads2sense

          thats because they retaliated against the Sikhs thinking they were Muslims!

          October 8, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • WASP

          @golon: yeah sooooo understanding of christians. truly do some research before you open your mouth and insert your foot.

          " Whether traveling, driving, working, walking through a neighborhood or sitting in their homes, Arabs in America — citizens and non-citizens — are now subject to special scrutiny in American society. The violence, discrimination, defamation and intolerance now faced by Arabs in American society has reached a level unparalleled in their over 100-year history in the US.

          In the seven days following September 11, Arabs and South Asians reported 645 “bias incidents and hate crimes.”(1) According to the Council on American Islamic Relations, the post-September 11 anti-Muslim backlash has been characterized by a higher degree of violence than in prior years, and includes a number of mur-ders.

          October 8, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I'd agree with you more if you said 'some' atheists. Some atheists are pr!cks, others aren't. It's pretty much the same with everybody. Some people are pr!cks, others aren't.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • WASP

      @ED: " Christian "sins".

      we need only go to the second world war, hitler was a christian. he provoked his soldiers with "god is with us".
      we can look in the daily newspaper to find "christian sins" everyday. not too many atheists beating and starving their children because they "were possessed by the devil", or denying their children medical attention due to "faith healing".

      russia and china were attempting to get rid of their number one threat to power; religion.
      religions number one threat to a totalitarian regime is the ability to unify people against a target depending on what the reigious leader deems a threat to his power.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • brads2sense

      The athiests you've been talking to must not be very smart. Christian nations have committed more murder, slavery and misconduct than any in the world. Crusades, yes, but also the wars between Spain, England, France, Germany, Greece, etc. going way back up to the present. Therefore, if the Devil exists, the Christians have followed his ways more often than not. But, with the advent of science and knowledge, most everyone knows that the Devil is a projection of man's hate and God a projection of his own good. But to believe they are actual people is pretty backwards.

      October 8, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Frank

      You can "tolerant" other people's right to express their views, but nowhere in the Constu itution does it say that any views are exempt from criticism.

      Besides, isn't every church sign declaring Jesus as the only "way" just as intolerant of nonChristian faiths? Funny how they never see it that way,

      October 8, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  20. GOLON MOHAMMER

    funny how tolerant liberals call consevatives insane and mental for beleiving in satan and jessu.

    but every democrat in office is a christian and believes the same thing.

    heres is obama talking about how he has eternal life like a vampire.

    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.

    October 8, 2013 at 9:54 am |
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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.