He told the audience at Archbishop Rummel High School that there is “no place” in the country’s constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence.
“To tell you the truth there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from?” he said. “To be sure, you can’t favor one denomination over another but can’t favor religion over non-religion?”
The Constitution’s First Amendment protects the free practice of religion and forbids the government from playing favorites among the various sects, Scalia said, but that doesn’t mean the government can’t favor religion over nonreligion.
That was never the case historically, he said. It didn’t become the law of the land until the 60s, Scalia said, when he said activist judges attempted to resolve the question of government support of religion by imposing their own abstract rule rather than simply observing common practice.
If people want strict prohibition against government endorsement of religion, let them vote on it, he said. “Don’t cram it down the throats of an American people that has always honored God on the pretext that the Constitution requires it.”
That’s just wrong. Here’s the First Amendment, written by James Madison in 1789 and passed in 1791 (my emphasis):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Madison was at most a deist, and there’s no indication of religious belief in any of his writings. He was, however, a good friend of Thomas Jefferson, who was again at most a deist, but more probably an atheist/agnostic. And Jefferson’s own views on religion clearly influenced Madison’s.
Three years before the First Amendment was written by Madison, and five before it was passed, Jefferson’s own law, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, had been passed. (Jefferson actually wrote it in 1777 and introduced it to the Virginia legislature two years later). That statute, by the way, was one of three of his accomplishments that Jefferson wanted engraved on his tombstone. The other two are his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and his founding of the University of Virginia; his Presidency isn’t mentioned. What’s clear is that Madison’s First Amendment is based on Jefferson’s law.
It is clear in the Virginia Statute, as well as in Jefferson’s own writings, that he held nonbelief to be just as privileged as other beliefs. Here’s the conclusion of the Virginia Statute (my emphasis):
. . . .Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
Scalia noted that Thomas Jefferson, who first invoked the idea of a “wall of separation between church and state,” also penned Virginia’s religious freedom law, founded a university with dedicated religious space and, in writing the Declaration of Independence, regularly invoked God.
Such deference for a higher power has been consistent ever since, Scalia said.
Has Scalia read the fricking Declaration of Independence? (The Constitution, by the way—the document to which Scalia says he adheres—does not mention God ONCE.) There are two mentions of goddy beings in the Declaration, the first being the rights that come from “The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”, which is a dubious way to invoke a deity—indeed, it could be seen as pantheism. The other mention is this: men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. . .”. That’s a pretty watery statement, probably designed as a rhetorical flourish, and hardly shows Jefferson “regularly invoking God.” If you want to know what Jefferson believed and what Madison intended in the Constitution, look at their personal histories and statements of belief. You won’t find anything about a personal God, and their laws were clearly designed to protect nonbelievers as well as believers.
Oh, Scalia said more:
Citing a quotation attributed to former French President Charles de Gaulle, Scalia said “‘God takes care of little children, drunkards and the United States of America.'” Scalia then added, “I think that’s true. God has been very good to us. One of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.”
That is a severe case of faith-based delusion. Why isn’t God so good to Muslims, who do him (in the form of Allah, peace be upon him) even more honor? And clearly God has been best to Scandinavia, where most people are atheists but societal well-being is far higher than in the U.S. Clearly, God loves those best who deny Him most.
Scalia should not be sitting on the Supreme Court. He’s not only addled by faith (remember his belief in Satan?), but he’s violating his own originalistic philosophy when it’s convenient for him to do so. That is judicial activism. Let’s hope that he’ll be off the bench within the next decade, giving Hillary Clinton an opportunity to replace him with someone sensible.