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Supreme Court's Scalia Cites C. S. Lewis in Confessing Belief in the Devil

What outspoken Justice, 'The Screwtape Letters', and survey data suggest about Satan today.
Supreme Court's Scalia Cites C. S. Lewis in Confessing Belief in the Devil
Image: Courtesy of Fellowship for the Performing Arts
A scene from The Screwtape Letters, currently on national tour.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's candid interview with New York magazine covers a lot of ground: gay rights, media echo chambers, Seinfeld, and how little he cares about his intellectual legacy. But what surprised his interviewer, Jennifer Senior, the most was his belief in "the Devil."

This actually isn't the first time Scalia has publicly raised the question of Satan. But after discussing heaven and hell, Scalia leaned toward Senior and whispered, "I even believe in the Devil." "You do?" Senior responded. "Of course!" said Scalia, explaining that all faithful Catholics do the same.

After a few more exchanges, Senior asked, "Isn't it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?" Scalia was shocked by Senior's incredulity:

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.

Citing C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, Scalia explained that the Devil has gotten wilier since Bible times. Instead of making pigs jump off cliffs, possessing people, and whatnot, he's "getting people not to believe in him or in God."

Is Scalia right? A 2009 Barna survey claimed that most American Christians do not believe that Satan exists. LifeWay Research found in 2010 that 4 in 10 millennials believe Satan is not a real person but just a symbol of evil. In September, a YouGov poll on exorcism found a slight majority of Americans (57%) believe in the Devil, especially African Americans and women.

CT previously noted when Scalia raised the question of Satan before the U.S. Supreme Court. CT has also published articles related to Satan, including a cover story on whether American Christians are possessed or obsessed with demons.

CT also spotlighted a survey of more than 700 self-professed exorcists on how they drive out demons.

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