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."

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. Nogods

    Science has made more progress in the last 100 years then the prior 150,000 years combined. The world that gods and devils occupy grows smaller every passing day.

    October 14, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • dorianmattar


      I just hope humanity can survive the next clash between christians and muslims or that Science beats them to the punch.

      October 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The world that alleged gods and alleged devils might occupy grows smaller every day.

      October 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  2. Nogods

    Is religion the root of all evil, or just most of it?

    October 14, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Irony

      Evil is a religious concept.

      October 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
      • corridorwatcher

        Evil should always be used as an adjective not as a noun. There aren't any free floating evils. Why do you insist on giving it physicality? An evil man is worse than a bad man. It is a character trait made especially by god to identify evil people, so that the people without evil can righteously stone to death the evil people. But stoning should not be reserved to those who have not actually done something, but freely given to save the souls of those just thinking bad thoughts

        October 25, 2013 at 1:07 am |
        • dorianmattar

          That was a brain twister!


          October 25, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  3. ploj

    These snimal s approve of the demon snake sammy

    October 14, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • sam stone

      big, big, big lawsuit

      got jeebus filing the paperwork?

      October 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  4. ploj

    Athies worship themselves

    October 14, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Christopher

      And what form does that worship take, exactly? For that matter, what form does your worship of your god take? Sacrifice any animals lately? No? Then how exactly are you showing worship to your god? Quit throwing words like worship around if you don't even know what they mean.

      October 14, 2013 at 11:15 am |
      • ca185023

        worship is giving reverence to the one who made you. you have created machinery and different things and branded them as having been made by you but selfishly deny the one who created you any acknowledgement just because you cannot see him towering over you. God is spirit and they that worship him must do so in spirit and in truth. it is sad to live in this world and not have an encounter with the creator. i suggest you what videos from this site and that might help your understanding. http://www.emmanuel.tv. I will pray that you have an opportunity to have an encounter with the lord. it might be transformational. the fact is that the money and comfort has created a sense of security that makes us feel in control of our lives and so gradually deny the existing of the creator. unfortunately we completely lose sight of the fact that we will die that death remains a mystery to us hear. i suggest you ponder about death and what happens after that. you definitely just dont decay and end there.... alot more happens after that and that is not in the science books neither would you find it leaving a life that denies the existence of the creator. you can only get to know the deep things of God when we make an effort to know him. as he said. there would be a certain category of worshipers in the current generation who will worship him in spirit and in truth and those are the kind of people he wants.
        i wish you God's mercy and grace and pray that he finds you worthy to call to his kingdom

        October 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
        • Ryan

          When I come across a creator, I'll let you know...

          October 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      fvck off, troll

      October 14, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • dorianmattar

      We don't worship anything or anyone.

      We we do have higher self esteem.

      So i guess we love ourselves more, and appreciate life and animals more since we know this is all we have and all cone from the same tree of life.

      October 14, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
      • james

        Atheists believe in the tree of life? That is new to me so where was this except in the Book of Genesis?

        October 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          The tree of life is traced thru our genes going back at least 3 billion years to single cell organisms. The latest mathematical calculations put life's beginning in meteors over 10 BILLION years ago.

          Do a google search in images for – genes tree of life.

          The book of genesis is COMPLETELY wrong in EVERY single thing it says.

          It only takes the very first verse to fall apart.


          1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

          Correct answer: Neither the Heavens not the Earth where created for hundreds or millions of years.

          2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

          Correct answer: Since there was NO sun, and NO earth, there was NO water?

          and this is just the 1st day!

          EVERYTHING in it is WRONG.


          October 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • james

        and you think we are foolish?

        October 14, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          You believe in foolish things.

          Do you believe that Muslims are foolish?

          October 14, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • james

          and dangerous.

          October 15, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • raaronjones

      I know I exist and would rather "worship" my own principles

      October 21, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • raaronjones

      I know I exist and would rather "worship" my own principles based on making the world a better place to live, perhaps reading Tropic of Cancer on a new couch with good air conditioning, instead of the "New" Testament in a dirt hut.

      October 21, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • corridorwatcher

      I do not. Where do you people get these piles of male bovine fecal boluses.

      October 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  5. frank

    More and more, living an hour away from the border of the U.S. and its complete madness is making me nervous. Unbelievably primitive.

    October 13, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • Oh stop

      You put your shoes on one foot at a time just like the rest of humanity.

      October 13, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  6. Regarding Satan

    "Satan" is a word meaning adversary. Anything can be "satan" if it's bringing adversity.

    October 13, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  7. Atheists are wrong about Jesus and ancient religion

    What if Atheists are wrong?[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88GTUXvp-50&w=640&h=390]

    October 13, 2013 at 6:07 am |
  8. morovia

    yes but what if the judge *is* Satan and all he wants, as Satan, is for everyone to be unhappy?
    wouldn't that make sense?

    October 12, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • barney

      You are atributing to the rise in atheiests
      Anyone that dosen't know history,doesen;t know religion

      October 13, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
      • Comment

        Atheists are the one's who gave us all the idea that religion is fantasy, therefore no history needed, no rules, no boundaries, and no limits need be applicable. Satan can be whatever he or she wants it to be.

        October 14, 2013 at 4:17 am |
        • Observer


          Thoughtless comment. If you aren't bright enough to come up with any good morals without a 2,000-year-old book to do your thinking, you have my sympathy.

          October 14, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          Furthermore, if Observer can't figure out what is right or wrong without a book telling him, then how does he know that it is right or wrong?

          Observer, without YOU making the final judgment on what is right or wrong, you have NO morals, because by definition you are not capable of making a moral decision, therefore you are immoral.

          This is what happened to the muslims in 911. Since they counted on the book to tell them what was right, they made the wrong decision and ended up on a suicide mission.

          Hey, that kind of rhymed! lol

          October 14, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
        • Observer


          Believers aren't nearly as stupid as you think they are. Most of them are bright enough to figure out it's not a good idea to go around killing everyone since you will likely be a target yourself soon.

          Speak for yourself. If you need help to reach that decision, don't expect that others are as ignorant.

          October 14, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
        • Comment

          Observer. All I said was that satan is pretend, now you think I have no morals and killed someone? Really. If you saw my boring life you'd be very disappointed.
          But I digress I can imagine a devil as anything I want: red with horns, tall with wings, a candy and soda pop combination you name it it's up to me isn't it?

          October 15, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  9. Douglas

    Celibate and loving it!

    This the new trend for those struggling with sin.

    Extend the hand of fellowship to those ready to reject and jettison fornication!

    October 12, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • Spectrophiliac

      Dude. Seriously?

      October 13, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • sam stone

      Wow, Doogie is not getting laid

      That explains a lot

      October 13, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Maybe if you stopped acting like an ass Dougie, you'd be able to find a decent boyfriend. You're not sinning by being gay, the book that tells you this is outdated and lies to you. Join the 21st century or stop using computers designed by people who support LGBT (Microsoft, Apple, Google)...you're being a hypocrite by using these products and calling LGBT a sin. It is your hell, you will apparently be enjoying it (hypocrisy is also a sin).

      October 14, 2013 at 5:50 am |
  10. eric stone

    Well if we ever needed more evidence that our country is run by 16th century Church Inquisitors, here it is.

    October 12, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      Imagine a scenario where a terrorist says, "God told me to do it, the devil was telling me not to, but God told me to do it."

      I wonder what this idiot would say to that?

      October 12, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
  11. Ufo

    You atheists only hate religion because the MIB is paying you too, and the MIB is paying you too because the aliens *that are already here by the way... are scared to death that when they land the religious people will confuse them with demons. It's all exopolitics and as for Darwin..nonsense..it was aliens. Don't believe me? Wait and see.

    October 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • The black mailbox

      "I don't care who you are, where you're from, what you did as long as you love me..."


      October 13, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • fookinGod

      the aliens you were talking about here on earth is the religion that you belong.

      October 13, 2013 at 11:27 am |
      • Dave

        How are aliens a religion? Scientology?

        October 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      The aliens are afraid of Rowdy Rody Piper. I've seen "They Live." I know how this plays out!

      October 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • cswalker21

        "I came here to chew bubble gum, and kick a$$. And I'm all out of bubble gum."

        October 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  12. Anti-Zealot

    Satan and God both share a common name "Mental Illness".

    October 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Ufo

      Yep it was all swamp gas

      October 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  13. Hot pink heels

    Atheism? And here I thought the devil desired Prada.

    October 12, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  14. DODO


    October 12, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  15. Observer

    At the end of the day atheism is an unhealthy filth.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      At the end of the day, it is better to know the truth than to live a lie.


      October 11, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
      • Observer

        There are two amazing Truths posted in the original post !!

        October 11, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • gamerfromjump

      Faith grew out of various tribal filthistans.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
  16. Observer

    (Gen. 7:21) “And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and ALL HUMAN BEINGS”

    Tough luck, kids.

    Tough luck to other living things, too.

    October 11, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Observer

      Faith once again is showing his lack of morals.

      October 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
      • Observer

        And I speak as one who has no morals so I know what i'm all about.

        October 11, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  17. Bill Bob

    How did this idiot get into law school?

    October 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      The same way Obama did.

      October 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
      • tallulah13

        By that, I guess you mean he applied.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  18. CoughCoughHack

    Religious interpretation disregards the details, So I think that rather than the devil being a real being, He is what we create when we do not take the time to apply logic, reason, and perspective on these stories of old. For example, The story of the flood was obviously false due to the fact that. A: A viewer could not have known the extent of flooding from a singular point. B: All the water on earth, even if all the ice was free and the oceans were thermally expanded to the maximum wouldn't be enough to flood the entire earth, C: Insects, Arachnids, and dozens of other species are also part of the animal kingdom and yet I find the probability or the scriptural designation of these also being collected not likely at all. And D: The racial demographic of the post-flood epoch is a little too diverse for the Arkonauts to have procreated it from a very limited genetic base.
    Is this story literally true or are the reasons the church is diminishing really just because it was inflated with hot air and now that it’s had time to cool it lost all of its lift. They without any doubt missed the original point of the divine investment and left off chasing after easy street and infinite rewards. They will have neither as they were incapable of understanding the purpose and path given from the very start and didn't seem to care enough to pursue the truth without personal bias.
    It’s just a shame that people want to try and push the responsibility for their behavioral negatives into an acceptable and pre-forgiven state while at the same time rejecting personal responsibility and disregarding self-correction as a non-essential . It seems to me that the devil becomes more apparent every day.

    October 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Billy

      "the divine investment"
      "incapable of understanding the purpose and path given from the very start"

      lol – here we go with the "objective truth" spam again

      October 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  19. Bride of the Demon-Possessed Toaster


    October 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  20. MAX

    we will replace him with dambo

    October 11, 2013 at 12:54 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.