Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia isn't afraid to make known his views on controversial issues like gay marriage and abortion, which is why his faith-based comments during a candid interview with New York Magazine were perfectly within his character.
The conversation about heaven, hell and Satan began when writer Jennifer Senior asked Scalia if he ever considers the legacy he will one day leave. Responding that he isn't too concerned about what people will think once he's dead and gone, the justice went on to share his theological views.
This most fascinating portion of the interview began when Senior asked if he believes in the afterlife. Scalia answered affirmatively and turned the question around, asking the reporter, "Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?"
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks as part of a lecture series at Tufts University, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, in Medford, Mass. Scalia, who has served on the nation's highest court since 1986 following a nomination by President Ronald Reagan, spoke about interpreting the U.S. Constitution. (AP)
To his surprise, she said she doesn't. But that didn't stop him from noting that her non-belief won't necessarily exempt her from going to one of those places after she dies.
"It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell, just because you don’t believe in it," he told Senior. "That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other."
But rather than espousing a holier than thou mantra, Scalia acknowledged that no one knows the definitive fate of other human beings.
"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 continued. "He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?"
At that point, Senior was apparently ready to move on from the theological discussion, but Scalia's unprompted admission that he believes in Satan -- and that the Devil is a real person -- sparked additional dialogue.
"Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?" she asked.
"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," Scalia responded. "And that doesn’t happen very much anymore."
But Scalia said the Devil is still very present in today's world, but that he fulfills his mission in a very different -- and cunning -- way than he did in the past.
In this Nov. 9, 1990, file photo U.S. Supreme Court justices pose for a group portrait at the court in Washington. Clockwise from top left are Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, David Souter, John Paul Stevens, Thurgood Marshall and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. (AP)
In the modern era, Scalia said he believes Satan tries to get human beings to reject God. This refusal allows Satan to then separate people from the Almighty.
Senior, though, said that this worldview would have implications for non-believers, asking whether the justice is certain that this mission to instill non-belief is truly the "Devil's work."
Scalia noted that he didn't say "atheists are the Devil's work." When pushed further and asked if it's possible that there are other reasons that non-believers might reject God, he was candid.
"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," he said. "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."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at the University of New Hampshire School of Law annual dinner celebrating its 40th anniversary at the Wentworth by the Sea hotel in New Castle, N.H., Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP)
Senior continued, asking Scalia whether it was frightening to believe in the Devil's existence -- and the justice was, at that point, unable to contain his surprise over her questioning and demeanor.
"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?" he asked. "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!"
Senior apologized if she offended him and the interview progressed into other intriguing areas, including homosexuality, the television programs he watches and the Supreme Court more generally. Read the exchange in its entirety here.
(H/T: TheBlaze Blog)