After claiming last month that the Supreme Court shouldn’t be in the business of inventing new minorities so they can get “special protections,” Antonin Scalia is on the lecture circuit once again. The 77-year old Supreme Court justice on Friday spoke to an audience at a private religious library in Texas, sharing with them his belief in the importance of “traditional Christian virtues.”
Speaking at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Justice Scalia told the audience that capitalism is tied to religion much more than socialism is, and that the larger the government gets, the the worse off Christianity is.
Scalia said that “in order for capitalism to work — in order for it to produce a good and a stable society — the traditional Christian virtues are essential.”
The Reagan-appointed jurist and devout Catholic did not specify any particular “Christian virtues.”
He explained that he “would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism,” but, he said, as reported in the Huffington Post and the Houston Chronicle, “it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is.”
“The governmentalization of charity affects not just the donor but also the recipient. What was once asked as a favor is now demanded as an entitlement,” Scalia claimed. “The transformation of charity into legal entitlement has produced donors without love and recipients without gratitude.”
“It’s not my place or my purpose to criticize these developments, only to observe that they do not suggest the expanding role of government is good for Christianity.”
But is Scalia actually suggesting that capitalism is greedy and not in keeping with “traditional Christian virtues”?
“Scalia obviously realizes, as many neo-liberal/neo-conservatives do not, that Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ is not working to prevent the power of large corporations to wipe out competition and gain virtual monopoly control over certain commodities and services,” writes Roger E. Olson at Patheos:
And the gap between the rich and the poor is steadily growing with the poor becoming poorer, the middle class thinning out, and the rich and super-rich getting richer and more powerful. Any reflective Christian who is not blinded by Social Darwinism or ideology or greed has to see, as Scalia apparently does, that this kind of capitalism stands in desperate need of correction. But he hopes that correction will come from Christian values. What does he mean?
Of one thing we can be sure.
It is truly shocking that a Supreme Court justice, like Scalia, who claims to be a “texturalist” — someone who believes only the words in the Constitution, and not any interpretation of them can be used to determine case law — would specify one religion over another, or claim that that religion in particular is at risk by a particular “size” of government.
The AP reported that the event was originally open to the press, but at the last moment the library “reversed course Friday and banned access.” The library posted on their website that video would be available “in a few weeks.”
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.