Savannah Hulsey Pointer, FISM News
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito made a surprise keynote address at Notre Dame’s 2022 Religious Liberty Summit in Rome on Thursday of last week speaking to the global issue of religious freedom.
During his first public appearance since Dobbs v. Jackson, Alito defended the court’s recent decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, revoking federal protections for abortion and turning the legislation on the issue back to the states.
“I had the honor this term of writing, I think, the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders, who felt perfectly fine commenting on American law,” Alito said.
“One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But he paid the price,” Alito joked, referencing Johnson’s resignation earlier this month.
In addition to Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also spoke out against the Supreme Court decision, but Alito breezed past the pair and focused instead on the comments Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, made to the United Nations.
“But what really wounded me, what really wounded me was when the Duke of Sussex addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decision whose name may not be spoken with the Russian attack on Ukraine,” Alito sarcastically told the crowd.
Despite the worldwide criticism, Alito was undeterred in his defense of the Dobbs decision and alluded to how the verbal, and attempted physical attacks, on the justices are part of a greater attack on religious liberty worldwide. He used the opportunity to urge Christians around the world to stand up for their beliefs.
“Christians were torn apart in the Colosseum,” Alito stated. “Nero is said to have used Christians as human torches,” he added, seeming to make a geographical point as well as an ideological one.
“More Christians are killed for their faith in our time than in the bloody days of the Roman Empire,” Alito went on before pivoting to attacks on other faiths, including attacks like the Holocaust, the slaughter of Yazidi in Iraq, and the attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt as well as Hindu-Muslim conflict in India, and China’s “unspeakable treatment” of the Uyghurs.
The Supreme Court justice also spoke to the fact that religious groups spearheaded the drive to abolish slavery and pointed to the immense contributions Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was ordained as a minister, made to society by drawing on his faith.
“If religious liberty is protected, religious leaders, and other men and women of faith, will be able to speak out on social issues,” Alito said. “People with deep religious convictions may be less likely to succumb to dominating ideologies or trends, and more likely to act in accordance with what they see as true and right. Civil society can count on them as engines of reform.”
According to Alito, religious liberty is what promotes domestic tranquility and promotes the kind of culture that allows people to flourish, due in part to the charitable nature of religious people and faith groups. However, the justice was quick to point out the challenges to religious liberty that lie ahead.
“Religious liberty is under attack in many places because it is dangerous to those who want to hold complete power,” he said. “It also probably grows out of something dark and deep in the human DNA — the tendency to distrust and dislike people who are not like ourselves.”
Alito ended his speech by encouraging Christians to stand firm in their faith, saying, “The Cultural Revolution did its best to destroy religion, but it was not successful. It was not able to extinguish the religious impulse. Our hearts are restless until we rest in God. And, therefore, the champions of religious liberty who go out as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves can expect to find hearts that are open to their message.”
Alito’s full speech can be viewed here: