October 7th, 2013
12:31 PM ET

Scalia says atheism 'favors the devil's desires'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

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(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. fsmgroupie

    The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree ... they shall be fat and flourishing. - Psalm 92:12-14 He that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. - Proverbs 28:25

    October 8, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • Zap!

      And he who putteth his trust in Jenny Craig shall be made thin and attractive. For verily, it is not good to be fat.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  2. Antonin Kaka

    And this ignorant guy has been in the Supreme Court for 2 decades?

    October 8, 2013 at 12:56 am |
  3. john doe smith

    C.S. Lewis said Satan's greatest deception was to deceive the world that he doesn't exist.

    I would really say take a trip to Haiti or demonic african villages and then tell me he isn't present. Also food for thought: Look up KONY, that internet sensation, importance on consulting demonic spirits for future revelation in his army. He literally called upon demons to give him advice on his enemies. However, some christians tore that down. Never heard that on Facebook I bet!

    October 8, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • Jesus

      I'm dead. Let me go.

      October 8, 2013 at 12:56 am |
      • Not So!

        Jesus is NOT dead! I saw him just a few days ago. He dresses humbly. He has dark hair and a medium brown complexion, as one would expect from his region of birth, speaks in a language I do not understand, and does an excellent job mowing lawns for reasonable prices. I am quite pleased in hiring the Son of God as my gardener.

        October 8, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'I would really say take a trip to Haiti or demonic african villages and then tell me he isn't present.'

      did you really just say 'demonic african villages'? too funny.

      October 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  4. Satan's other son

    R.E. Jesus comin' back...

    Arnold: "...if it bleeds...we can kill it..."

    October 8, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  5. Infidel

    Where are the Christian suicide bombers? Waiting for the "right" moment??!!

    October 8, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  6. Beeotch

    I think gods are for infantile minds but...

    whatever floats your boat I guess.

    But the whole soul thing is spot on riidiculous, I mean, has any Christian even looked at a C.A.T scan of a dying prayer-filled Human? (hint: not much going on!!)

    October 8, 2013 at 12:47 am |
  7. Same

    OH dear, I wet 'em!! 🙁

    October 8, 2013 at 12:45 am |
  8. Paorae

    I am a Christian and will never renounce my love for Jesus. I have a place waiting by his side for eternity. God's glory is beholden to all who fill themselves with His almighty love. Hallelujah.

    October 8, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • Johnny Noct

      Christians are so freaking clueless that they don't even know their own Bible says that many of them will not go to heaven, and that the elect are unknowable.

      October 8, 2013 at 12:49 am |
      • Paorae

        HE created all that is, all that was, all that will ever be. How can you not look around and not see is not done WORKS??!! Allah uwogba my friend, allah wuogbuea....just feel it in your heart (use FAITH)

        October 8, 2013 at 12:52 am |
        • Johnny Noct

          Nice one. Avoid your obvious blunder (which proves you never actually read the Bible) and start speaking in tongues.

          Keep it up. Looneys like you recruit more seculars than we atheists ever could.

          October 8, 2013 at 12:59 am |
        • Ian

          religion...gives me chills. society needs to get out of the dark ages. (and atheism isn't to blame for the recent lowering of moral standards in this country, lets blame parenting and the media for showing so much garbage...i'm looking at you miley)

          October 8, 2013 at 1:10 am |
      • john doe smith

        The elect are those who are those who voluntarily and willingly surrender to Christ Life. Calvinism paints a false god and you cant be saved by being elect. You can be saved by surrendering to Christ because God, the Father, chose Him, Jesus to be the elect for all men. We are all dead in adam but God chose man to be elect through Christ Jesus, so all who come to him and open their souls and spirits, not minds and theology books and take his life will be elect. Jesus doesn't chose the elect, nor does he "know" them, he freely welcomes everyone to come in and dine at his party if they surrender. Really seek him in your spirit and not in your theological studies if the spirit hasnt revealed to you that you are adopted in the Father because you died and he lives! Be blessed

        October 8, 2013 at 12:59 am |
        • Judy in IL.

          (and not just a little creepy.)
          ...read "fiction" much?

          – no souls, no heavens, no hells, no after lives, no god, no gods, no magic.....hee hee.

          October 8, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      At a certain level I really feel sorry for people like Paorae.
      He / She and individuals with the same belief will never understand nor experience life. They cannot appriciate the reality of humanity because they live their entire life for the AFTER life.
      They don't live in the present they live in the future ( life ) . Only problem ... there is no future ( life )
      I live for today ... I love today BECAUSE I cannot live / love after I'm dead.

      October 8, 2013 at 8:16 am |
  9. Sandra

    I get so sad reading articles like this!

    How do such obviously insane people get positions of power? I mean, a demon?? Really? I hate the Human race right now, you could probably find one in two Humans who think they did not evolve from a common Ape ancestor!! Twits!!!

    October 8, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Pan

      Logic is evident in just about any other topic of discourse...but this...this is believing in witchcraft and magic, scary!

      October 8, 2013 at 12:59 am |
  10. Thadrian

    ...the article was removed before I could read it...which god was he talking about? (I hope it's not mine)

    October 8, 2013 at 12:40 am |
  11. Johnny Noct

    "Scalia" is an Italian word which means "blithering nincompoop who believes in hobgoblins and has way more power than a dingbat ever should."

    October 8, 2013 at 12:40 am |
  12. Marion Morris

    A man whose job is to protect the individual from the tyranny of the majority thinks that the views of "mainstream America" should tyrannize, even if those views are totally unevidenced superstition.


    October 8, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  13. RapidOne

    Sounds about right... this is Scalia afterall, an often unreasonable shill for the Republican party.

    October 8, 2013 at 12:29 am |
  14. The greatest trick Zeus ever pulled was making people believe he didn't exist

    Stupid is as Scalia does

    October 8, 2013 at 12:28 am |
  15. redlace

    It's disappointing to see a person in such a position resort to "argument from authority." Logical fallacies are the last thing one expects from members of the supreme court.

    October 8, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • Johnny Noct

      Logical fallacies are the hallmark of the Roberts Court. They have all the integrity of a bowling team of used car salesmen from Alabama.

      October 8, 2013 at 12:42 am |
  16. jamessavik

    Believing in invisible beings with supernatural powers that manipulate mere mortals for unknown purposes will get you locked up... unless you are religious.

    October 8, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Arthur Paliden

      Then they get you elected an put in positions of authority.

      October 8, 2013 at 12:29 am |
  17. Bob 'rehoboth-beach foodie" Yesbek

    Of course there is a devil. I also know the color of his skin and where he lives. He is bl ack and lives on 1600 Penn Ave in DC.

    October 8, 2013 at 12:26 am |
  18. jamessavik

    Believing in invisible people that manipulate mere mortals for unknown purposes will get you locked up.... unless you are religious.

    October 8, 2013 at 12:24 am |
  19. C

    Scalia is an intelligent man. I'm sure he's well qualified in the technical legal sense to be where he is in our society. But, his gross, probably willful, scientific ignorance make him an embarrassment and probably a danger to those who think our country was founded on the principles of liberty, unfettered by the taint of religion. He's a great example of how childhood religious brainwashing can be very persistent, even in a capable mind. That any number of intelligent people have believed demonstrable falsities doesn't make them true. What a weak argument – surprised he made it!

    October 8, 2013 at 12:22 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.