UPDATE: From reader Eric G., a link to a CBS News article about the "60 Minutes" interview with Clarence Thomas, which fills in some gaps in the New York Sun article discussed below, including this: "Thomas says the [confirmation] hearings brought him back to his Catholic faith and he
couldn’t have gotten through them without the support of his wife
Also note this March 2007 Business Week article/interview (mentioned in the comments section by Glenn Chen), in which Thomas says the following about his time at Holy Cross Seminary as a young man:
Was it a loss for Holy Cross to rely more on lay professors?
Yes. They're not Jesuits. They lost the religiosity. A priest is a priest. A nun is a nun. For me, it's better. It's a Catholic school. It looks more identifiably Catholic when you have religious people running it. I think it's a loss. I liked it the way it was. I was not a practicing Catholic when I went there. I had left the church. But I just feel strongly that it's a Catholic school. I'm a practicing Catholic now, in part because I went to Holy Cross.
A reader (thanks, Paz!) just sent me a link to this October 1st New York Sun article about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The piece is, of course, about politics and some of Thomas's recent remarks about the Anita Hill situation:
In an extended interview on CBS News's "60 Minutes," broadcast last night and tonight, to accompany his memoir, "My Grandfather's Son," out today, Justice Thomas explained why he believes he was accused of sexual harassment by a female colleague, Anita Hill. "The issue was abortion," he said.
He fiercely defended his description of the Senate confirmation hearings, at which Ms. Hill presented her allegations, as "a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves."
"If someone just wantonly tries to destroy you, if somebody comes in and drags you out of your house, and beats the hell out of you, what is it? … I think most well meaning people understand it for what it was. It was a weapon to destroy me, clear and simple," he said.
Perhaps more surprising, at least to those of us (myself included) who thought that Thomas was a practicing Catholic, is this admission, which, if reportedly accurately, indicates that Thomas hasn't been a practicing Catholic for nearly four decades:
Justice Thomas said he had hoped to become a Catholic priest but left the seminary when, on the day Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead, he was confronted with racist beliefs that changed his views forever. A fellow student said: "‘Well, that's good. I hope the S.O.B. dies.' And that was it. That was the end of seminary. That was the end of the vocation. That was the end of, for all practical purposes, my Catholic faith." [emphasis added]
A website devoted to the history of the Supreme Court has this about the incident described by Thomas:
Because his grandfather wanted him to become a priest, Thomas left his black parochial high school after two years to attend a Catholic boarding school just outside Savannah. The only African-American in his class at St. John Vianney Minor Seminary, Thomas suffered from the bigotry of many students, but managed to excel academically. At lights out a classmate would tease, "Smile, Clarence, so we can see you, " he later recalled. In 1967 Thomas entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in northwestern Missouri to prepare for the priesthood. The prejudice he encountered there convinced him to quit a school that did not practice what it preached. The last straw was a fellow student's delight at hearing the news that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been slain.
The bio concludes: "Age forty-three when appointed, Thomas is the youngest member of the Court. Gregarious, with a hearty laugh, Thomas enjoys lifting weights, watching basketball, and smoking cigars. Although born a Baptist and raised a Catholic, he now regularly attends an Episcopal church."
As far as I can tell, it is commonly believed that Thomas is Catholic and is a practicing, devout one at that. But if what he said is true, why has that been the common perception? Strange.