The conservative justice told an audience at Colorado Christian University that the legal battles over whether God can be referenced in the Pledge of Allegiance or prayers can be held before city hall meetings were indicative of a larger fight for religion in public American life.
"I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over non religion," Scalia said.
"That's a possible way to run a political system. The Europeans run it that way," Justice Scalia said. "And if the American people want to do it, I suppose they can enact that by statute. But to say that's what the Constitution requires is utterly absurd."
Scalia, who tends to interpret the Constitution as literal, rather than a living document, found fault in an interpretation that insisted the state be neutral distinguishing between religion and non-religion.
"That's just a lie. Where do you get the notion that this is all unconstitutional? You can only believe that if you believe in a morphing Constitution," he said.
There is one mention of religion in the Constitution -- Article Six says "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" -- and one in the Bill of Rights, in the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."