On Heaven and Hell, God, and the Devil:
You believe in heaven and hell?
Nino Scalia: Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?
Nino Scalia: Oh, my.
Does that mean I’m not going?
Nino Scalia: [Laughing.] Unfortunately not!
Wait, to heaven or hell?
Nino Scalia: It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell, just because you don’t believe in it. That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other.
But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it?
Nino Scalia: Of course not!
Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God.
Nino Scalia: I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, “Who am I to judge?” He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?
Can we talk about your drafting process—
Nino Scalia: [Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.
Nino Scalia: Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.
Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
Nino Scalia: If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.
Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
Nino Scalia: You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.
Nino Scalia: It’s because he’s smart.
So what’s he doing now?
Nino Scalia: What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.
That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the Devil’s work?
Nino Scalia: I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.
Well, you’re saying the Devil is persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Nino Scalia: Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.
Nino Scalia: What happened to him?
He just got wilier.
Nino Scalia: He got wilier.
Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
Nino Scalia: 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.
I hope you weren’t sensing contempt from me. It wasn’t your belief that surprised me so much as how boldly you expressed it.
Nino Scalia: I was offended by that. I really was.
Excerpted interview with Justice Scalia; ‘Nino’ reportedly was his nickname; or so my father told me while recounting his junior attorney at Jones, Day.