POLITICS

Antonin Scalia: Capitalism Requires 'Traditional Christian Virtues' To Succeed

09/09/2013 12:02 pm ET | Updated Sep 09, 2013
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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made an appearance at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas on Friday, where he claimed that the success of capitalism was deeply tied to the nation's religious values.

"While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism ... it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is," Scalia, a devout Catholic, said during his speech, according to the Houston Chronicle. "For in order for capitalism to work -- in order for it to produce a good and a stable society -- the traditional Christian virtues are essential."

Scalia went on to suggest that expanding government involvement in charity came at the expense of the power of Christian churches.

"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," he said. "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."

During a later question-and-answer session, the Chronicle reported that Scalia railed against the Constitution's establishment clause, which declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

"The most disreputable area of our law is the establishment clause," he said, responding to a question about "the greatest miscarriage of constitutional justice" during his tenure. "A violation of the establishment clause that does not affect someone's free exercise -- there is no reason why you should have standing."

Scalia has long believed that the establishment clause shouldn't disqualify religious beliefs from being given a voice in the public square, including in schools. In one of his more notable opinions on the issue, Scalia argued in Edwards v. Aguillard that the constitutional clause shouldn't be used to forbid legislators from acting "upon their religious convictions." In his dissent, Scalia defended the constitutionality of Louisiana’s Creation Science Act, which held that any public school curriculum that taught evolution must be accompanied by creationism.

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