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Austin Cline

Scalia's Scary America

By July 9, 2005

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has declared that monotheists should be accorded a special status in American politics, laws, and culture. He can't defend a privileged status for Christians, but the thinks he can defend one for monotheists generally (Christians, Jews, and Muslims specifically). If widely accepted, it would have a terrible effect on America.

Robyn E. Blumner explains that Scalia’s argument is profoundly flawed because, even if we believe it, this argument doesn’t justify posting one version of the Ten Commandments instead of the many others:

Scalia seemed rhetorically unprepared when Justice John Paul Stevens informed him that the Decalogue comes in different forms depending on one’s faith. The Kentucky counties chose to display the King James version. But Jews and Catholics have their own. By choosing one form over another, Kentucky was violating the very denominational neutrality that Scalia claimed to support.

His answer to this inconsistency was to punt. “I doubt that most religious adherents are even aware that there are competing versions with doctrinal consequences (I certainly was not),” Scalia wrote. He then claimed that due to the context of the postings, no viewer could “conceivably” believe that the government was taking religious sides.

Oh, no? Then why didn’t the good people of Kentucky choose the Jewish version?

Scalia has looked out upon the nations of the world where the government endorses certain religious ideas and not others - Saudi Arabia, China, Sudan - and decided that the United States should join in. Our national religion should be monotheism, and all those who don’t agree should just shut up and thank their lucky stars that they’re allowed to stay at all. What a scary, un-American place it would be, living in Scalia’s America.
[St. Petersburg Times]

Antonin Scalia’s America is just the sort of America that would please the Christian Right. It’s an unprincipled nation where judges make up law based upon their personal preferences while deriding others for allegedly doing the same. It’s a bigoted nation where certain religions are treated as being more deserving of respect. It’s a discriminatory nation where certain religions are treated as being more deserving of government endorsement or funding.

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