If he’s refferring to the Holocaust, is he claiming that Nazi Germany had separation of church and state? The same Nazi Germany that had the power to appoint priests? That incoporated the German Protestant church directly into the government? That plastered references to God’s will all over their medals and propaganda? That claimed, with not a small amount of truth, to be doing the work of Martin Luther? That had the Nazi appointed Ludwig Mueller spend his time trying to unite all Protestant churches in Germany under Hitler? The same Nazis who’s anti-Semetic propaganda included themes like this: “When you see a cross, then think of the horrible murder by the Jews on Golgotha…”
You can certainly argue that Christianity isn’t responsible for Nazism, but you can’t reasonable argue that Hitler’s Germany was some sort of secular nation devoted to a separation of church and state. In fact, it was the precise nightmare of the founders: an example of how mixing church with state horribly corrupts both.
Scalia also found time to claim that the founders never mentioned anything like separation of chuch and state: a claim that only makes sense if you don’t count Madison or Jefferson, who both discussed the importance of a separation of said powers.
I happen to think that Scalia gets a bad wrap: that he gets labeled as a bigot because he stands up for some pretty compelling lines of legal reasoning. But his grasp of history seems frighteningly bizarre and misinformed for a man who claims to take his judgements from his understanding of hat original meaning of the Constitution was. I want to take the guy seriously, but what sort of twisted nutcase could say things like this?
Well, the “founding fathers” plus “currency” statement only shows up in paraphrase, so he may have been trying to demonstrate a continuum of religious connection through the years rather than elaborating on the thoughts and actions of the founding fathers.
On the other hand, Scalia frequently makes historical* references that are inaccurate, so for a guy who claims to want to uphold “original intent,” one tends to wonder how accurate are his claims that he knows the original intent.
In his list of religious actions of this country, I find it noteworthy that he ignores the riots against Catholics, leading to arson and murder, for wishing to use their Douai-Rheims bibles in classes instead of the KJV or the state laws that prohibited Catholic priests from wearing clerical garb in public. You’d think that a Catholic who wanted to appeal to history would recognize how SoCaS protects people of various religious beliefs rather than tearing down those protections now that he thinks that his group has been accepted.
(He has also gotten his science wrong, but that is for a different thread.)
Okay, so can we find any transcript of his remarks that he didn’t have confiscated to confirm that suspicion Bricker? This is the AP here: can we find a retraction of their quotes and characterization? This isn’t the first time that Scalia has raised the point about In God We Trust and linked it to the founders.
Well, even if there isn’t any evidence that he was misquoted, it’s still possible that there’s a race of magical gnomes whose sole purpose is to tamper with media transmissions to make Scalia look bad! Can you prove otherwise!!?!?!?!
I think he is pretty well informed on many things outside his area. He is certainly one who I think says things for a reason, and is scrupulous in ensuring his clerks do not make errors. I disagree with much of his legal analysis, and certainly with his moral blueprint for the nation. But this isn’t someone with the knwoledge base and intellectual ability of a Chief Justice Berger, for example.
You know, in an odd break from it’s WW II themed programming, the History Channel tonight showed a program on Ben Franklin, and the biographers of Franklin all agreed that Franklin viewed religion more as a means to gain access to people in power than he did a belief system. It was Franklin who put the words “self-evident” in the Declaration of Independence, where Jefferson had put “sacred.” Also, Franklin gave money to all the churches in Philidelphia, and donated money to the first synagoge in Philidelphia, and when Franklin was buried, his funeral procession included every religious leader in the city. So I think that you’d have to include Franklin in the ranks of the Founding Fathers who’d prefer seperation of church and state.
Scalia doesn’t seem to have studied his history very well.
A person can be ignorant of particular things, willfully or no, without being in general “ignorant.” Scalia certainly ACTS ignorant of some basic facts about history, and at the very least misleads people in order to make his points. The problem is that he’s also a very smart guy, which I think reduces my willingness to believe that he is merely ignorant of the subject he’s talking about.
I think Scalia’s point was that, during the Holocaust, Jews were quite safe (and often SOUGHT refuge) in countries that had one Christian sect or another as its state religion. And if that was his point, he’s quite correct.
To put it simply and crudely, it’s quite possible for a country to have a state church AND religious freedom (England does, the Netherlands used to, Sweden did, etc.). It’s also possible to have no state church and no religious freedom (pretty much any communist nation).
In short, support “separation of church and state” if you wish, but don’t assume or pretend that nations with such separation are automatically more free than those that don’t.
Except not. The Nazis completely co-opted the Lutheran church in Germany, and the church didn’t object much. To think that there was anything like a strict separation of church and state in Nazi Germany is to be completely ignorant of history.
Okay, pop quiz: it’s 1937, you’re a Jew living in Germany, you see the handwriting on the wall, and you want to get away. Assuming you have a choice, where do you flee- to the Soviet Union (which has no state church) or to England/Sweden/the Netherlands (each of which DOES have a state church)?
Of course, “state church” is not the only measure of entanglement between church and state. While the Netherlands and Sweden have/had small subsidies (and specific taxes) to support their state churches, Britain does not have church taxes–and none of those countries continued to permit their state religions to dictate legislation or policy. On the other hand, the U.S.S.R. had explicit laws governing (basically forbidding, but where allowed, restricting) religion. There was no separation of church and state in the Soviet Union, so the comparison has little to do with Scalia’s claim.