October 17, 2012
Justice Scalia On Church And State
Justice Scalia spoke recently at Washington’s Catholic Information Center. The details are in the National Catholic Register. One of the topics that came up was the religious makeup of the Court, which now stands at six Catholics and three Jews. He chalks it up to a decline in religiosity:
“The fact that the Supreme Court consists of — what now? — six Catholics and three Jews: I would like to believe that it’s because of more religious toleration, but I think it’s actually because of indifference.”
Justice Scalia is consistent with the latest Pew Report on religion and public life:
The Landscape Survey confirms that the United States is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country; the number of Americans who report that they are members of Protestant denominations now stands at barely 51%. Moreover, the Protestant population is characterized by significant internal diversity and fragmentation, encompassing hundreds of different denominations loosely grouped around three fairly distinct religious traditions - evangelical Protestant churches (26.3% of the overall adult population), mainline Protestant churches (18.1%) and historically black Protestant churches (6.9%).
While those Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in numbers as a result of changes in affiliation, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes. While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic. These losses would have been even more pronounced were it not for the offsetting impact of immigration.
Justice Scalia’s expressed views on the separation of church and state seem downright moderate:
Scalia went further, drawing on the evidence of the Gospels to support the notion that the church and state hold authority in separate realms. Christ’s words and actions, he said, make it clear “that the state is not the source of man’s power, nor of his religion. … Its focus should not be with the hereafter, but with the here: ensuring a safe, just and prosperous society.”
“My message is: Don’t place your hope in politics,” Scalia said. “That is not your salvation. … Certainly, good government should abide by the natural law. And, as the Catholic Church teaches, natural law prohibits certain things, such as abortion, that Catholics in public life can oppose.”
The rest of the article is worth reading. [MG]