An Interview That Should Scare the Bejesus (or Devil) Out of You: New York Magazine Talks to Justice Antonin Scalia

Richard Dawkins has labeled belief "delusional."  Most of us know that the Devil was a Judeo-Christian invention, a bugaboo to keep the flocks in thrall of dualistic dogma: behave yourself and J*H*V*H or Jesus will reward you with Heaven; fuck up and you will wind up in an eternity of hellish hotness or frigid cold, depending on the imagination of the cleric (and on that alone since no one has gone to the undiscovered country and returned to tell the tale). That a sitting justice on the SCOTUS believes in such nonsense suggests Dawkins not only was right, he pinpointed a genuinely frightening prospect: final arbiters of our nation's laws who are Donald Duck crazy. 

I am a new subscriber to New York Magazine.  I started my sub when I returned from a brief visit with my son in Brooklyn, but to be perfectly honest about it, the magazine, like all print media these days, must be having hard times: they made me an offer I simply could not refuse.  I do not feel I wasted my money, not if the last issue is any indication.  It contains a portrait of Joaquin Phoenix doing a new movie with the delightful director, Spike Jonze, and an extended and quite revealing interview with Justice Antonin Scalia.  I urge you to read the entire interview online at

In the meantime, let me say that with regard to women's rights and those of same sex couples, Scalia contradicts himself -- you'll see how -- and he is equally befuddled on the subject of interpreting the Constitutional "as written," punctuating his presentist arguments (that the 18th century has any similarity to the 21st) with admissions, repeatedly, that "times change."  But the most incredible (jaw-dropping, really) aspect of the interview is how closely he adheres to Catholic dogma.  A Sicilian, Scalia actually believes in the infallibility of the Pope, application of Catholic dogma to such things as abortion, and the existence of the Devil.  I warn you, this segment of the interview may have you not only seeing red but going out into the streets and screaming that the sky is falling in. Here, in all its astonishing stupidity, is the segment I am talking about:

You believe in heaven and hell?
Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?

Oh, my.

Does that mean I’m not going?
[Laughing.] Unfortunately not!

Wait, to heaven or hell?
It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell, just because you don’t believe in it. That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other.

But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it?
Of course not!

Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God.
I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, “Who am I to judge?” He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?

Can we talk about your drafting process—
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

You do?
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. 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.

So what’s he doing now?
What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the ­Devil’s work?
I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.

Well, you’re saying the Devil is ­persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.

What happened to him?

He just got wilier.
He got wilier.

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. 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.

Views: 907

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I'm certainly not a scholar on the history of the Supreme Court or the Justices, but I really don't recall hearing/learning/reading about any sitting Supreme Court Judge, past or present, who has been so freely outspoken in public, from media to personal appearances.  (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.) 

Justice Antonin Scalia has opened up a crystal clear window to the very heart of his beliefs and ideology.  As a result, we are witnessing first hand just how politically and religiously biased he is.  This is extremely disturbing, as it has an immeasurably negative effect on constitutional interpretation and fair opinions regarding social issues and equal rights.

The other Justices are much more restrained about expressing their personal views, letting their voting records speak for them.  Scalia has opened up a can of worms that seems to be a double-edge sword.  On one hand, I'm glad to get an inside view on what drives his beliefs.  But on the other hand I'm afraid he may be setting a precedent by further politicizing our judicial system.    

He is just possibly the worst justice we have had.  He parties with corporate heads whose companies have cases before the court.  His wife is a GOP political operative. He refuses to recuse himself when a party is involved with whom he has had some type of personal relationship.  He is an RCC pig.

James, there are some things I don't know and don't want to know. Scalia and his beliefs are one of them. Shame on me. I want to stick my head in the ground, and pretend people who have control over events in my life have my best interest at heart. 

DAMN! another bit of evidence that not all people use their brains for reasoning, nor do they stop making life miserable for others. If there is a devil, he/she/it comes in the likeness of Scalia and his ilk. Old mythologies are interesting to read, but let's get real, stories from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and all the other religions around the world have mythologies that explained complex events in terms that Stone Age people could understand. To hold on to those stories is childish! Their stories exist in the minds of people who fear life and want everyone else to fear it. 

Closing one's mind to new ideas and discoveries is not only the sign of immaturity, but of unhealthy dependence on false beliefs. It reveals a disease that spreads from one person to another, crippling individuals, families and societies along the way. Even polite talk with those who believe delusions turns out to be the most boring of experiences. Even though people have the right to their opinions, that does not mean I have any obligation to respect their opinions. In fact, I have an obligation to state my disagreement and let it go at that; there is no need to argue or discuss with such people because they have nothing to say that I haven't already heard, thought about and rejected because of the lack of evidence.

If Scalia and his ilk want to believe in the devil, go right ahead.  If I ever have to stand before such a judge, I would not withhold my scorn. I would fight any judgement against me as coming from a deranged human mind and fight on those grounds. 

The devil has not made me not believe religious, it is the people who believe such outrageous lies and the holy scriptures they use as justification. All one has to do is read the bible to become an atheist. 

I think it so important to know what the enemy is up to I even force myself to watch Fox News from time to time.

LOL FOX?? There is no God there is no Devil Imaginary Crap!!

. Some frigin people!!! Let People Live their Lives , Honestly , Responsibly. Loving and carring for each other. People are free!!! To think what they like. No need to get upset Shooting the finger is High school mentally. Not Something a mature adult does???

He's obviously an agent of his church out to scorn and do damage to democracy.  The Roman Cathollic Church has had the longest running battle with democracy of any religion. They are still fighting the Enlightenment in which they lost the divine right to rule to democracy which gave the power to the people. And they are still sore as Hell about it with a vendetta for all democracy which is now covert (it used to be overt.)  Avro Manhattan wrote a complete book about it in 1950 entitled "Catholic Imperialism and World Freedom." They were ferocious opponents of the abolition of slavery throughout the world; they tried to annul the Magna Carta, they tried to excommunicate anyone who read our Constitution. The supported every fascist dictator of Europe in the 1930s and 40s and only stopped when the Allies started to win the war.This is one bad organization. 

Wow Scarry stuff in this day and age!!!



A sadder development is the adoption of many of their positions by the fundamentalist Christian protestants and especially the evangelicals.  A good example might be the past head of the Texas School Board, a Bible thumping dentist who wanted Jefferson, Hume, and Locke taken out of the history books -- books that would go to ALL grade school students in public schools since the population of Texas is so large the state is used as the basis of such books.  Instead of the philosophical godfathers of American democracy, this geek wanted, e.g. John Calvin to go into the section on the roots of democracy, a blatant, dangerous lie, since the only contribution Calvin made was the phenomenally misanthropic notion that we are all born evil and that our role and purpose in life is to follow Biblical notions of what is right.  (Naturally, that includes slavery, but it does not included the love of one man for another and other "abominations.")  From Catholics, the evangelicals borrow their anti-abortion, anti-contraception and other ideas.  So even if Scalia were not Catholic, he would be dangerous because delusional.

The bible-thumping dentist is Don McLeroy.  I recently watched the 2012 documentary featuring him entitled "The Revisionaries".  It's outrageous that people of his mindset have such power and influence over educational standards.  What he and others like him are doing to children and youths is criminal.   

That's where I got my information, thanks.  That guy, if anything, is scarier than Scalia, just not quite so powerful.  He lost the election but it did not change the board all that much.  I was proud of our local member, Mary Helen Berlanga.  It was she who, hearing McLeroy blab off about taking Cesar Chavez out of the texts, picked up many books on her desk, histories of people removed from the prospective new texts, and tossed them into a waste basket, as if saying, "Sir, you are throwing out generations of American history...."


Thanks for this disturbing thread.  I agree with your assessments, but want to make a pedantic point not directly related to the topic.  It's regularly said that Texas has an outsized influence on textbook content because of its large population.  That's partly true, but California has a much larger population than Texas, and New York & Florida aren't behind by as much as California is ahead in that respect.  What gives Texas such influence isn't the number of people there, but the proportionately large and so politically representative number of flaming assholes there.  This is a small, but I think relevant distinction.

All the more reason I believe why the conservatives in government, prodded by the Tea Potty (so called because they are full of shit), are trying (as Gov. Hair argued at the debates) to abolish the federal department of education. This would allow "states' rights" determination of what goes into text books and we would soon see Californians getting a much different education than, say, Floridians. New Yorkers would demand science and history texts much different from those of, say, Louisiana. The racist idea of "separate but equal" would determine state-to-state educational opportunities. If curricular decisions are left up to the states, the voucher programs would replace public schools and the only children who would go to the latter would be the poor and disadvantaged, who, on McDonald's salaries, could not afford private education even with vouchers. (The conservatives would find a way to distribute vouchers in a disproportionate way, as well. The vouchers proposed by Paul Ryan and designed to replace Medicare are, for seniors, about $7,000 a year, which would not even pay the surgeon for, say, a gall bladder operation.) Creationism would rear its ugly head and be taught as an "alternative" to evolution and the quality of education in America overall would suffer. I do not think Texas has more arseholes than Florida, though you may be right about California and New York.




Update Your Membership :




Nexus on Social Media:


© 2018   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service