OTHER NEWS ITEMS
SCALIA: FAITHFUL LIVE FOR CHRIST
Supreme Court justice urges Christians to live
By PENNY BROWN ROBERTS, Advocate staff writer
ADVOCATE, Baton Rouge Louisiana, January 23, 2005
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said
Saturday that people of faith should not fear being viewed by "educated circles"
as "fools for Christ."
The justice -- in Baton Rouge to address the Knights of Columbus Council 969
centennial celebration without charging a fee -- told a largely Roman Catholic
crowd of 350 at the Holiday Inn Select that there's nothing wrong with
"To believe in traditional Christianity is something else," Scalia said. "For
the son of God to be born of a virgin? I mean, really. To believe that he
rose from the dead and bodily ascended into heaven? How utterly ridiculous. To
believe in miracles? Or that those who obey God will rise from the dead
and those who do not will burn in hell?
"God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians
as fools ... and he has not been disappointed."
Scalia praised "traditional Catholics" who say
the rosary, go on pilgrimages, kneel during the Eucharist and "follow
religiously the teaching of the pope," adding that "intellect and reason need
not be laid aside for religion. It is not irrational to accept the testimony of
eyewitnesses who had nothing to gain. There is something wrong with rejecting a
priori (deductively) the existence of miracles."
The outspoken conservative justice -- known for his views on religion in
America -- didn't shy from them during his visit to south Louisiana Saturday. He
didn't discuss any specific issues before the high court, but did tell those in
attendance they had "no greater model" for their faith than St. Thomas More.
The Catholic martyr and considered the patron saint of lawyers, repudiated
Martin Luther and refused to endorse King Henry VIII's plan to divorce Katherine
of Aragon or recognize the king as the supreme head of the Church of England.
More was found guilty of treason and beheaded in 1535.
"I find it hard to understand people who revere Thomas More but who themselves
selectively oppose the teachings of the pope," said Scalia, widely cited as a
potential nominee for the position of chief justice when William Rehnquist
leaves the bench.
"If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have
your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to
suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world."
President Ronald named Scalia to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia in 1982. Four years later, Scalia was nominated and unanimously
confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, taking the seat vacated when was elevated
to the court's top post.
The Catholic justice -- raised in the New York City Borough of Queens, and the
father of nine children, one of them a priest -- has become an anti-abortion
hero to many in the American political right and a leading conservative voice on
He has described himself as an "originalist," following the Constitution as
written by the Founding Fathers, rather than interpreting it to reflect the
In November, while speaking to an interfaith conference at a Manhattan
synagogue, Scalia made headlines by saying that a religion-neutral government
does not fit with an America that reflects belief in God in everything from its
money to its military.
More than a year ago, he removed himself from the Supreme Court's review of
whether "under God" should be in the Pledge of Allegiance after mentioning the
case in a speech and complaining that courts are stripping God from public life.
Last year, Scalia cast one of two dissenting votes in a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling
that states may deny taxpayer-funded scholarships to divinity students. And in
2000, he stood with a majority of the court in upholding the constitutionality
of taxpayer funding for parochial school materials in a Jefferson Parish case.
Louis McHardy, a Baton Rouge native who is retired executive director of the
Nevada-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, called Scalia
"one of the nation's heroes."
"His message to me is that our constitution is all-encompassing," said McHardy,
who attended Saturday's banquet. "It takes into consideration all points of
Rev. Miles Walsh, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church and Knights of Columbus
chaplain, said Scalia's address convinced him that the justice is "committed to
the transcendent principles he believes in."
The Knights of Columbus Baton Rouge Council 969 was founded in January 1905 by
30 men who were charter members. The organization founded the LSU Catholic
Center, and over the years has supported orphanages, mental health facilities