Religious Liberty and the Neolithic Mindset of Justice Scalia

Jan 13, 2016

by Ronald A. Lindsay

Early humans believed in gods that could become angry and that bestowed or withheld favors based on the deference they were shown by humans. Humans needed to propitiate these gods, usually by sacrificing something valuable: depending on the culture, a prized heifer, a prisoner of war or one’s own child.

One can understand why early humans held such beliefs. They were ignorant of the causes of natural disasters or of disease outbreaks. If an earthquake or epidemic occurred, someone, some agent, had to be responsible, and as these events were beyond human powers, the gods had to be responsible. And just as we can sometimes soothe the anger of a fellow human by offering a gift and asking for forgiveness, so too one could placate an angry god by the appropriate show of deference and submission.

In more recent times, other forms of deference have replaced ritual sacrifice (for the most part). Instead of cutting the throat of an animal, people take part in worship services, engage in prolonged prayer, or otherwise manifest their deference to a deity. But the root idea that there is a god or gods who bestow favor based on the respect or honor we show them has persisted, at least in the minds of some.

And one mind in which this idea has persisted is the mind of Justice Antonin Scalia.In an address to a Catholic high school in New Orleans on Saturday, Justice Scalia stated that Americans needed to “honor” God because doing so was the way to ensure that God would continue to be good to the United States. Scalia specifically attributed American victories in the Revolutionary War and at the Battle of Midway to God’s favor, which Americans achieved by honoring him.

Justice Scalia is certainly not unique among Americans, and clearly not unique among humans in general, in holding that God responds with favor to those who show him deference — and with disfavor to those who do not. Of course, this is not to say that such a belief is rational or justified. To the contrary, it seems to me that any deity who demands worship and attention doesn’t deserve to be worshiped. But if some people think that supplicating a deity will increase their chances of getting what they want — fine. This doesn’t particularly concern me.

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37 comments on “Religious Liberty and the Neolithic Mindset of Justice Scalia

  • @OP – Scalia specifically attributed American victories in the Revolutionary War and at the Battle of Midway to God’s favor, which Americans achieved by honoring him.

    Ah! The Christian God of “Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men”!

    . . . . or should that be war-mongers with god on their side?

    Anyway: – Faith-head cognitive dissonance can accommdate both simutaneously!

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  • 2
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    @OP – In an address to a Catholic high school in New Orleans on Saturday, Justice Scalia stated that Americans needed to “honor” God because doing so was the way to ensure that God would continue to be good to the United States.

    Yeah that’s it judge, use your position of authority to teach those impressionable high school teens about the Big Brother in the Sky who is sooo good to America. Because we all know how America is in such great shape these days right?… Except….

    The Citizens United ruling (on which you seated BTW) has enabled big corporations to give unlimited political contributions and has seriously damaged democracy.

    Wall Street’s stealing and cheating caused the economic collapse of 2008. No one was indicted. They still up to the same antics and have since made record profits (again) and another collapse is likely in the more or less near future.

    Income inequality is at a record high. The minimum salary is less than half what is considered a living wage. The middle class is dying and many people have to work 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet.

    University and college graduates begin their professional life already financially crushed by student loan debt.

    There’s a mass shooting every day of the year. Over 8000 deaths by shooting in 2015. Cops have shot over 1100 civilians, many of whom were unarmed. The NRA gun lobby prevents any sensible gun laws from getting passed in Congress.

    The NSA can and does spy on everybody. No warrants required…. Privacy?… What privacy?

    Etc, etc…

    Scalia specifically attributed American victories in the Revolutionary War and at the Battle of Midway to God’s favor, which Americans achieved by honoring him.

    Yes and of course, the soldiers and officers doing the fighting, suffering and dying, those were just incidental… The real heavy lifting was done by God obviously.

    It’s amazing to see how “true believers”, even those with a high level of education, can say things so incredibly removed from reality, so thoroughly insane and most of all, so deeply narcissistic. This man is nothing more than a self-centered, overgrown grease sausage trying to sell his naive, soap-opera notion of American exceptionalism. What an insufferable, self-aggrandizing, useless schmuck.

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  • 3
    justasec says:

    If god showed favor to those who honored him, you’d have thought that the side with “Gott Mitt Uns” on its uniform belt buckles would have done better in WWII!

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  • justasec
    Jan 13, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    If god showed favor to those who honored him, you’d have thought that the side with “Gott Mitt Uns” on its uniform belt buckles would have done better in WWII!
    Nazi artifacts of Christian influence – (Mementoes, Badges, Paintings, etc.)

    Not only do we see religion’s influence in the words and deeds of Nazis but they also expressed their religion through their artwork, mementoes, and symbols. Unmistakably, Christianity served as their religion of their expression. The following artifacts provide further evidence of Hitler’s (and Nazi Germany’s) Christianity.

    Hitler Youth Day Badge 1933

    I wonder if Pope Ratzinger wore one of those in his Hitler Youth days?

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  • 7 out of the 9 Supreme Court Justices are Roman Catholics. THEY make the decisions that will rule our lives.

    Ans that is CALLED “Religious Freedom.” It would be worse under Shia “law.”

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  • The American myth is beginning to collapse, America is not great it never was, look what we did to Native Americans, look what we did and are still doing to Blacks, look what it did to immigrants, look at the history of religion in America, America is a backward, poorly educated ignorant country, the only way the religionists can be defeated is by cutting them off at the root, through their history of intolerance, their anti-science, and the line of pure BS they spew out to the ignorant, the frightened and the guilty. It is an never ending battle…

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  • It’s in the best interests of the ruling elite to keep the majority of the population ignorant – i’ve seen the same thing in other countries that suppress progress – especially education – so that they can keep their cushy life styles. Thailand for one – they suppress modernisation of the writing system to ensure the education of Thais is as difficult as possible – keeping millions in poverty so the best they can hope for is to become sex workers and keep the booming sex tourism business going.

    The US are the masters of it though – since the 70’s it’s been all down hill.


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  • But what are American atheists and secularists doing about it?

    In Turkey, a cleric has just announced that women cannot wear trousers with buttons or a zip at the front. These need to be at the back otherwise they look too much like men and that is a sin. Few have posted it on FB with appropriate wording but that is under a dictator. People are scared. What goes on in America? A few tweats are not enough as the outrage should be tenfold for a free country.

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  • Well there you go then. God will not favour you for long in that case. You have people who read the koran every minute they can trying to take over the world and all you can do is watch Breaking Bad over and over. Erdogan says that just one drink means you are an alchoholic so even your one bud is at risk. 🙂

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  • I love films but maybe I am growing up because my old favourites are beginning to leave a bitter taste. I have to really really suspend reality in order to watch old British films where playing with a straight bat is the order of the day and, American heroes on the other side. Since my sons schooling when we became good friends with rich Jewish tailors to royalty, I even get effected by the superb Jewish costumes in some ‘family’ films. An ugly warted witch with exquisitely tailored (usually green?) robes leaning over a bubbling caldron.

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  • Nikkorman
    Jan 13, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    How can this asshole be a supreme court justice? Absurd !!

    It is probably due to the US appointment system!
    Supreme Court justices have a great deal of power for another reason, too: They are appointed for life. That means that they never have to face re-election, and they don’t have to make sure that their decisions please the president who appointed them. The average justice serves for 14 years and retires at age 71

    The president nominates justices to the Supreme Court, subject to majority approval by the Senate. There are no rules spelled out in the Constitution regarding the qualifications of judicial candidates, so technically, the president can nominate anyone he or she wants.

    However, there are certain traditional attributes that viable candidates for a spot on the Supreme Court should have if he or she is to have any chance of Senate approval.

    Every Supreme Court justice has been a lawyer, and for the last 150 years they have all been graduates of accredited law schools. John Marshall, considered one of the greatest justices to ever serve on the Supreme Court, only attended law school for a few weeks. He studied law as a teenager by borrowing law books from a nearby lawyer

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  • Hollywood versions: movies I refuse to watch :

    American Sniper
    United 93

    On the other hand, Hollywood does better when it’s able to claim it’s purely fiction, try

    The Long Kiss Goodnight
    the pilot episode of “The Lone Gunmen”

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  • Well what can I say. A sad reflection on what could be a much greater nation than it currently is.
    The fact is he’s not the only one by a long way as pointed out by cbrown.
    The worst part is that he flaunts his obvious bias against the constitution in such a public manner. As far as he is concerned nothing is wrong with his world veiw. But he’s clearly not qualified to do the job.

    Are the other six RC justices just as bad as him?

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  • By Scalia’s principle, Islam WILL take over the world. Who but Muslims are more “Pious”?

    Who else prays FIVE times a day, follows the dictates of their ‘holy’ book so closely;
    whose diet, dress, sharia law, etc. governs every aspect of the lives of the True Believers?

    Yet there are millions of non-thinking Americans just like him…

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  • Perhaps Justice Scalia could offer an explanation for “God’s” plan back in 1755 in Portugal, when on the 1st November, All Saints Day, an earthquake struck Lisbon followed by a tsunami and subsequent fires all of which caused enormous destruction and a death toll estimated at between 10,000 and 100,000 of its citizens – many of whom were probably killed while praising the same God in many of the churches and cathedrals there….
    As Epicurus the Greek philosopher so succinctly put it over 2000 years ago:
    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent,
    Is he able but not willing,
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing,
    Then why call him God?

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  • In pondering the nature of the theistic delusion I’ve come to the conclusion that its most reprehensible quality is arrogance. The arrogance to think that your imaginary deity somehow favours your own country over any other. The arrogance to claim that your book of holy drivel contains anything of revelationary importance when it’s all nonsense written by bronze age goat herders. The arrogance to dismiss the findings of the tens of millions of scientists in the world about such things as evolution, global warming, the origin of this planet and the universe because of a few lines of unsubstantiated gibberish in Genesis.

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  • Presumably the God Scalia worships is the same one who sat by and did nothing whilst the, mostly Christian, German army besieged Leningrad for nearly 3 years as the, mainly Christian, inhabitants starved, and as all those Christian SS guards who carried out the holocaust. God must have been mightily honoured by all their prayers ? God must have so so pleased when the atomic bombs were dropped on all those non-Christians in Japan. But this Christian God is so even handed, he must have applauded the successful Japanese raid on Pearl Harbour, and the British bombing of Dresden and Hamburg. We mustn’t forget how God must also have blessed Stalin’s purges, murdering millions.

    This so-called judge obviously can’t see beyond his own point of view, – scary.

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    Antonin Gregory Scalia (Listeni/skəˈliːə/; born March 11, 1936) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the longest-serving justice currently on the Court, Scalia is the Senior Associate Justice. Appointed to the Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia has been described as the intellectual anchor for the originalist and textualist position in the Court’s conservative wing.[1]

    Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and attended public grade school and Catholic high school in New York City, where his family had moved. He attended Georgetown University as an undergraduate and obtained his LL.B degree from Harvard Law School. After spending six years in a Cleveland law firm, he became a law school professor at the University of Virginia. In the early 1970s, he served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, first at minor administrative agencies, and then as an assistant attorney general. He spent most of the Carter years teaching at the University of Chicago, where he became one of the first faculty advisers of the fledgling Federalist Society. In 1982, he was appointed as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Ronald Reagan.

    In 1986, Scalia was appointed by Reagan to the Supreme Court to fill the associate justice seat vacated when Justice William Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice. Whereas Rehnquist’s confirmation was contentious, Scalia was asked few difficult questions by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and faced no opposition. Scalia was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, becoming the first Italian-American justice.

    It seems that US judges do not need to be particularly well qualified legally, – even as a non-statutory tradition.

    He attended Georgetown University as an undergraduate and obtained his LL.B degree from Harvard Law School.

    For comparison, my daughter working in the UK as a lawyer, has an LL.B degree, a post graduate LPC qualification, an international business diploma, and would still need additional qualifications to become a judge.

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  • Antonin Gregory Scalia (Listeni/skəˈliːə/; born March 11, 1936)

    It would seem that his appointment had much more to do with political connections, than any legal capability, so he probably needs the “god-did-it-gap-filler” to cover his shortcomings.
    In any case – approaching 80, he is well past his “use-by date”, and should have been retired years ago!

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  • 29
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    But he’s clearly not qualified to do the job.

    It’s worse than incompetence Tim. His world view is in direct conflict with the First amendment of the US Constitution which he has sworn to uphold and defend. His stance borders on subversive and that is grounds for impeachment. Not to mention that his previous remarks on the devil being a “real person” should be grounds for psychological evaluation.

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  • 30
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    By Scalia’s principle, Islam WILL take over the world. Who but Muslims are more “Pious”?….

    Hah! Interesting twist. Just comes to show how weak religious claims are: they can destroyed by so many different approaches simply by using common knowledge and facts. Religious claims don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell (pun intended) in the face of critical thinking.

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  • When you’re winning, it’s clearly God’s favour.

    When the other side is winning, it’s not that they have God’s favour.

    It must be your side simply haven’t been praying hard enough lately.

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  • Religious Liberty and the Neolithic Mindset

    I see the Neolithic Mindset persists in the Anglican Church.

    The US Episcopal Church is to be barred from Anglican decision-making bodies over its stance on same-sex marriage and homosexuality, bishops say.

    A statement from Anglican leaders in Canterbury acknowledged “deep differences” over the understanding of marriage but said the Episcopal Church’s approval of gay marriage was “a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching” of the majority of Anglicans.

    It means the Church will be suspended from participating in the life and work of the Anglican communion.

    The decision was made by senior Anglican clergy at what was described as a “really tough” meeting, held in Canterbury, to heal Church rifts.

    Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said it “will bring real pain”.

    The decision dates back to the ordination of openly gay Canon Gene Robinson as a bishop of the Episcopal Church’s New Hampshire diocese in 2003 – a move that divided the global Anglican communion.

    The meeting in Canterbury, which started on Monday and brings together 39 Anglican primates, was organised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, amid ongoing disagreements in the Church over homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

    Before it began, more than 100 senior Anglicans wrote an open letter urging the Church of England to repent for “discriminating” against lesbian and gay Christians.

    The Church leaders added that the majority of those gathered at the meeting would “reaffirm” the teaching of scripture that “upholds marriage as between a man and a woman”.

    Ah! The wonders of “faith-thinking” which can produce “god-approved” opposing view-points when supposedly starting from the same basis!

    Perhaps the gays and lesbians along with their friends and families in backward jurisdictions, will see the abusing nature of religion, accept civil marriage, and stop supporting such organisations!

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  • Come on Reverend Richard Coles. Now is the time to take a stand. You have a platform like few others.

    Justin Whelby, this is the time to take the Church to schism (Rowan Williams blew it last time!). Chop off the gangrenous limb. Just be sure its the poisoned one.

    Your institution is not more precious than morality. It is certainly not fit for moral authorship.

    Church attendance still falling and now below 1 million. Your hope to stabilise it at least with those dependable bigots is setting your sights dismally low.

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  • 39 Anglican primates,

    Seriously? Primates? So these guys’ job title is the same as their Linnaean Order? What’s their boss’s title? Mammalia? HA!

    Ok, ok, just give me a break will ya’s? This is America. Who can I say that to here and not get a blank stare? 😉

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  • Poignant; in league with Serling, walking in other’s moccasins.

    Walt Whitman – behold(!) the utter, consuming bereavement of mothers losing fresh-faced sons.

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  • @OP – Justice Scalia is certainly not unique among Americans, and clearly not unique among humans in general, in holding that God responds with favor to those who show him deference — and with disfavor to those who do not.

    It seems that President Obama may now be able to change the balance of power for the better in the Supreme Court!
    US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – one of most conservative members of the high court – has died.

    Justice Scalia’s death could shift the balance of power on the US high court, allowing President Barack Obama to add a fifth liberal justice to the court.

    The court’s conservative majority has recently stalled major efforts by the Obama administration on climate change and immigration.

    Justice Scalia, 79, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

    He died in his sleep early on Saturday while in West Texas for hunting trip, the US Marshall service said.

    Justice Scalia was one of the most prominent proponents of “originalism” – a conservative legal philosophy that believes the US Constitution has a fixed meaning and does not change with the times.

    In 2008, Justice Scalia delivered the opinion on Heller v District of Columbia, a landmark case that affirmed an individual’s right to possess a handgun.

    Throughout his career, the outspoken justice has been a vocal opponent of abortion and gay rights, often writing scathing dissenting opinions.

    He was known for his sense of humour and colourful language, calling effort to defend President Obama’s healthcare reform law “jiggery-pokery” and “pure applesauce“.

    I have not encountered that particular “advanced legal terminology” before! 🙂

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