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The Devil and Scalia

Antonin Scalia, Association Justice of the United States Supreme Court
Antonin Scalia, Association Justice of the United States Supreme Court

It comes as no surprise to any socially aware American that the gap between the religious and non-religious is widening.

The growing gap between the two was on full display in an interview with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia posted in New York Magazine last week.

At one point the conversation took a surprisingly theological turn and Scalia confessed his belief in Heaven, Hell, and the Devil to his suddenly flabbergasted interviewer, Jennifer Senior.

In defense of his view, Scalia told Senior that it’s the wily nature of the Devil to get people to not believe in him anymore. “He’s much more successful that way,” Scalia said.

Clearly, this portion of the conversation was not what the interviewer expected, nor what she was comfortable with. She asked, “Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?” Scalia’s answer is truly fascinating:

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.

Scalia’s answer is deafening.

A YouGov poll from just last month showed that 57% of Americans believe in Hell. Scalia pointed out that most of mankind historically has believed in the Devil. How is it then that a reporter can be so shocked by Scalia’s comments?

It was not long ago that the overwhelming majority of American’s believed there was a Devil. What has changed?

Undoubtedly, America has shifted in its religious and ethical stances over the past 5 years. The moral landscape of America is changing, evidenced clearly by growing American acceptance of homosexuality, cohabitation, and pre-marital sex.

But does this even matter? Is it of any consequence if there’s a Devil or not?

A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Likewise, I would submit that all of our theological conclusions reveal a great deal about us. With that in mind, what is being revealed about American society is grave.

Charles Baudelaire summed it up perfectly when he said, “The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.”

It seems that he has been successful.

The Devil desires humankind to be like him — fallen away from God. The apostle Paul tells us in his second letter to the church at Corinth that the Devil “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Americans would do well, not to disavow belief in Satan, but to embrace it. But we could do even better than that by embracing Jesus Christ, who in humility submitted himself to God, bearing the sin of the world. God’s opposition to Satan serves as an impetus to morality that will lead to human flourishing.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia shocked Jennifer Senior when he professed certain belief that there is a Devil. Sadly, her reaction, coupled with America’s sweeping decrease in belief in the Devil, suggests that he not only exists, but that he is thriving.


Follow Griffin on Twitter @GriffinGulledge