Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a conservative Christian audience Wednesday that secular arguments about the public role of religion were “absurd.”
“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion,” Scalia told a crowd at Colorado Christian University.
He said many Europeans nations demonstrate that’s one possible way to run a government, the Washington Times reported, but he said the U.S. system was not set up to promote secular values.
“If the American people want to do it, I suppose they can enact that by statute, but to say that’s what the Constitution requires is utterly absurd,” Scalia said.
As Right Wing Watch reported, Scalia’s comments came the same week many religious conservatives have called on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse herself from abortion-related cases over recent public comments.
Scalia told the group, which included lawmakers and other public officials, that Americans honored God in the pledge of allegiance and in “all our public ceremonies.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Scalia said. “It is in the best of American traditions, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. I think we have to fight that tendency of the secularists to impose it on all of us through the Constitution.”
However, he said “no principle of democracy is more fundamental than what has become known as the separation of church and state” and warned that a religious preoccupation with government would “destroy the church.”
But Scalia sharply criticized recent court decisions finding government must be neutral “not only between religions, but between religion and non-religion.”
“That’s just a lie,” Scalia said. “Where do you get the notion that this is all unconstitutional? You can only believe that if you believe in a morphing Constitution.”
The Supreme Court’s longest-serving justice said his job was basically stress-free, because he believes the Founders’ original intent can always be determined and then applied to any case.
“If I had the other view of the Constitution – that it was an empty bottle, which was to be filed by my court, and it was my responsibility to decide … all these massive ethical questions — if they were all my call, I couldn’t sleep at night,” Scalia said. “Some of my colleagues have said, ‘Oh, we agonize a lot.’ I don’t agonize at all. I look at the text, I look at the history of the text – that’s the answer. It’s not my call.”