Friday, December 10, 2004


The man in line to become Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court had some interesting things to say about separation of church and state a few weeks ago; a shame that the media didn't report more widely on these controversial remarks:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Monday that a religion-neutral government does not fit with an America that reflects belief in God in everything from its money to its military.

"I suggest that our jurisprudence should comport with our actions," Scalia told an audience attending an interfaith conference on religious freedom at Manhattan's Shearith Israel synagogue.

This coming from a self-described originalist, i.e. someone who believes the constitution should only be interpreted as it was written, not in any contemporary context. You only have to go as far as the first item on the Bill of Rights to get Scalia the only answer he should need :

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.

But this part of Scalia's speech displays an even more dangerous ignorance:

In the synagogue that is home to America's oldest Jewish congregation, he noted that in Europe, religion-neutral leaders almost never publicly use the word "God."

But, the justice asked, "Did it turn out that, by reason of the separation of church and state, the Jews were safer in Europe than they were in the United States of America? I don't think so."

I guess when you're raised Catholic like Scalia was that they don't teach you about the Catholic church being complicit in the Holocaust. I wonder if any Jewish leaders in the synagogue where Scalia was speaking brought this up. And for the life of me I have no idea what the thinking behind his argument was.

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