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. Nogods

    And to think, this delusional nut job is one of the most powerful men in the world.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • jane

      It's the atheists' fault. Women made their case. Blacks made their case. LGBTs made their case. Atheists yet have to demand their rights. Could anybody in government capacity today utter a sentence like "jews/blacks/women may not be devil's minions, but they certainly favour the devil's desires"? Why is such blatant bigotry only acceptable when directed at atheists? Because atheists are spineless, that's why.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:50 am |
      • Mary Banilow

        So women, blacks and Jews used to be spineless?

        October 8, 2013 at 2:06 am |
      • HotAirAce

        Relax jane. The rate of change is increasing. In a few years the rabid Babble Humpers will die off and they won't be replaced by indoctrinated from birth believers. In a generation or two, believers will be treated like astrologists, their predecessors on the evolutionary tree of mythology.

        October 8, 2013 at 2:07 am |
  2. mike

    In the infancy of our species, we lacked explanations for why things were the way they were. Why do people suddenly shake and convulse and seem to lose conscientiousness or randomly (and seemingly without control) just shout vulgar things? In the Old Testiment, these would have been attributed to a demonic possession. Now we've grown up (a bit) as a species, and have realized that these instances are actually cases of epilepsy and Tourette syndrome. It was soon after the concept of the devil was developed that he was used to scare you into going to Church, and putting money in the collection plate. Its not that the devil is doing less, we just grew up and realized what we used to believe was true was actually not the truth at all.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • dewie

      Amen bro. How true. Now we understand perfectly y that demon possessed punk shot to death a bunch of little kids.

      Keep up your advances, dude.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:53 am |
  3. jane

    How can any reasonable person expect that some nutcase bigoted lunatic who thinks 10+% of americans are "devil's minions" is qualified to serve americans at the highest legal position of power? It's no different than having a KKK member or neo-Nazi at the supreme court. It's no different than a president saying blacks are not citizens or women are devil's minions. That atheists are not in the streets every day until these lunatics are off the positions of power is a testament to how toothless they are as an oppressed and vilified minority.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • dewie

      O Janey, I hear u honey. Better get out now b4 u and urs r rounded up and put in internment camps like dellie did to 125,000 american citizens during ww2.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:56 am |
  4. Mirosal

    ok lket's see now .... the devil is real because he's in the bible, and the bible is true because the bible says it's true - ummmmm, yeah ok ... his logic is just like his physical shape .... prefectly round

    October 8, 2013 at 1:36 am |
  5. fsmgroupie

    1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • Jerry

      1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman since they are heirs with you of the grace of life

      October 8, 2013 at 3:03 am |
      • Draco

        Show honor to your slave. Doesn't that sound fun!

        October 8, 2013 at 3:05 am |
        • Jerry

          Not a slave. A wife who the husband is commanded to love and honor

          October 8, 2013 at 3:06 am |
        • Draco

          A wife who is commanded to be subservient and obedient, like a slave.

          October 8, 2013 at 3:18 am |
      • cedar rapids

        Ephesians 5: 22-24

        22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
        23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
        24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

        October 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  6. fsmgroupie

    Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord

    October 8, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • Jerry

      Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

      October 8, 2013 at 3:00 am |
      • Draco

        That makes it okay with you? As long as the husband doesn't thrash the woman, she should be a slave?

        October 8, 2013 at 3:03 am |
        • Jerry

          husbands are commanded to love their wives

          October 8, 2013 at 3:03 am |
        • Draco

          And to subjugate them. Brilliant. You keep cherry-picking to obfuscate the inhuman part.

          October 8, 2013 at 3:06 am |
        • Jerry

          Not a slave and not subjugation. Husbands are commanded to love and honor their wives.

          October 8, 2013 at 3:08 am |
        • Jerry

          You keep cherry picking to fabricate an inhuman part

          October 8, 2013 at 3:09 am |
        • Draco

          The inhuman part was fabricated by the writers of the Bible. We didn't invent the previous line that you are desperately trying to divert attention away from.

          October 8, 2013 at 3:17 am |
  7. fsmgroupie

    Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee

    October 8, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  8. fsmgroupie

    Exodus 22:18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Jerry

      As Obama would say: http://t.co/pRDW03mL6p

      October 8, 2013 at 3:31 am |
  9. kotchi

    Wow...this guy is a supreme cort justice and believes in the devil, dear sir please explain to me where humans came from because if you believe in the bible there were 2 to begin with. They had 3 sons. One of them killed another one. That leaves Mom ,Dad and 2 young boys to create the entire human race. If you believe that I'm glad you'll never have to decide anything to do with me including whether ducks are heavier than witches....

    October 8, 2013 at 1:26 am |
  10. fsmgroupie

    deuteronomy 23:1 He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:24 am |
  11. Ronald Reagan

    Satan is a real person. His name is Antonin Gregory Scalia. Wish I did not have Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia when I appointed him.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  12. fsmgroupie

    Psalm 137:9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  13. Strange coincidence?

    Ever notice that right-wing power-freaks all look like Porky Pig on the third day of a raging meth binge? Scalia, Rove Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, O'Reilly . . . the list goes on and on.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • kotchi

      Hilarious Satan...

      October 8, 2013 at 1:28 am |
    • Observer

      Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity also have something in common: no college degrees.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:30 am |
      • Jerry

        College degrees like journalism, woman's studies, art history, journalism, parks recreation? Degrees like those?

        October 8, 2013 at 3:28 am |
        • Observer


          Yep. And none of them could accomplish that.

          October 8, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  14. Sue

    Why would anyone be surprised that a serious Catholic believes what the Bible teaches?

    October 8, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • devin

      Oh,it has nothing to do with surprise, it's pure animosity.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Tom N. Jerry

      It's the fact that he so readily disregards the Constitution in favor of Vatican-directed superstition that is so bothersome.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:22 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Lots of Catholics don't believe many things in the bible....What is suprising is his simplton appraoch...ok...not surprising...dissappointing.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:29 am |
  15. Pharty

    Christ! why can't they state which deity the article relates to! I have an encyclopedia of every mythology but I need to know where to look for the love of god Man!

    October 8, 2013 at 1:11 am |
  16. Skull

    Amazing how he has to bully the interviewer and resort to dogma (conservative dogma, not Christian). Scalia's greatest deception was to convince people he is an intellectual.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  17. Susan

    I am Catholic, but this interview is disturbing on so many levels. Scalia seems to have the maturity of a 12 year-old boy.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:06 am |
  18. Nothankou

    JMO, NOTHING good can ever result from basing your only life on things that are not real. I would rather get it right WHILE IM ALIVE and its not that hard to figure out. According to the genealogy of jesus, the first human was created around 6000 years ago we KNOW that is not true therefore we KNOW THE BIBLE IS NOT THE WORD OF ANY GOD.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:05 am |
  19. fsmgroupie

    All the fat is the Lord's. - Leviticus 3:16

    October 8, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • Ort

      Quran (3:56) – "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."

      October 8, 2013 at 1:05 am |
      • Zap!

        God just loves a good game of hide and seek.

        October 8, 2013 at 1:09 am |
      • Observer

        (Deut. 13:6-10 “Suppose someone secretly entices you — even your brother, your son or daughter, your beloved wife, or your closest friend — and says, ‘Let us go worship other gods’— gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known. They might suggest that you worship the gods of peoples who live nearby or who come from the ends of the earth. But do not give in or listen. Have no pity, and do not spare or protect them. You must put them to death! Strike the first blow yourself, and then all the people must join in. Stone the guilty ones to death because they have tried to draw you away from the Lord your God"

        Same old, same old.

        October 8, 2013 at 1:14 am |
      • fsmgroupie

        2 Chronicles 15:13 Whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman

        October 8, 2013 at 1:17 am |
  20. Mary Ann

    Thank you Justice Scalia.....now lets hope others follow in your footsteps' Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said about an elderly lady, whose answer to a young man about not believing in hell or the devil was; "I BET YOU GONNA BELEIVE IT WHEN YOU GET THERE!" And this is exactly what I have to say to all of you unbelievers, and most of all I pray for your conversion of heart! The devil is waiting on the sidelines, for all those souls, who refuse to repent, and those who mock Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is never too late to come home.....Jesus is waiting for you...

    October 8, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • Mel

      I just drew a little picture of Jesus, I'm praying on it, and now I'm peeing on it.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Oldster

      Fultie's little angel pal Skippy was the best! And as much of a fantasy as the rest of the stuff...

      October 8, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • MoodyFoodie

      OK for argument's sake ...do you really think Jesus died so that you could be smug and tell people they are going to hell??? And are you a Christian just because of fear of hell? What kind of faith is that? This is not helpful.

      October 8, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      God loves us so muc he gave us his only son....and created hell just in case we don't love him back.

      Swell god you have there....

      October 8, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • Maxwell's Demon

      Threatening people with something they don't believe in is childish and pathetic.

      October 8, 2013 at 2:05 am |
    • sam stone

      Mary: You do knowthat people cannot logically fear retaliation from beings in which they do not believe, don't you?

      Can you?

      Your proxy threats are just so much christian blah, blah, fvcking blah

      October 8, 2013 at 5:40 am |
    • sam stone

      mary ann: jeebus is waiting for you. do you have a firearm, or tall buildings where you live?

      October 8, 2013 at 5:50 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.