Catholic John Kasich, who once walked into a bookstore and tried to teach the Judaism to a group of Jewish Talmudic scholars, has done it again. In what sounds like the beginning of a joke (and it sorta is) Kasich walked into a bookstore and saw a Harry Potter book on display.
This prompted an excursion into the bizarre that can only come from devout Republicans, and which expose the facade of moderation that surrounds people like Kasich, who during his campaign proposed a government agency to export Christianity to the Middle East.
According to the Concord Monitor, Kasich said,
“You know that Daniel Radcliffe has declared himself an atheist? I’m serious. What a weird thing. Why would a guy who has had all that success just, I mean, what the hell is wrong with him?”
First of all, it doesn’t matter what Radcliffe’s religion – or lack of it – is. That’s his own business. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion and Article VI, clause 3, the “No Religious Test Clause,” guarantees no religious tests. If an office holder’s religion doesn’t matter, how much less that of an English actor living in Manhattan?
Yes. Daniel Radcliffe is an atheist. He makes no secret of it. There are actually quite a few well-known atheists, and many more among the general public. It probably would come as a surprise to Kasich, but many of them probably wonder the same thing of the Ohio governor: “What the hell is wrong with him?”
And how strange that Kasich should think one (success) has anything to do with the other (religion). That’s Republican theology talking, not Jesus, who championed the poor; who said it would be easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to “enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:22-25).
In fact, at the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus showed how he felt about the worldly success Kasich is touting, when he said, “Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort” (Luke 6:24). Not exactly a prosperity gospel.
Kasich says he is a devout Catholic, but he clearly doesn’t have the same copy of the Bible I do.
What is troubling here, however, is the sense of privilege displayed by Kasich, certain of the rightness of his own religion as the only “true” religion. How could someone not believe what he believes? Many of us have friends or family members who think the same way, and have been exposed to the same sort of nonsense.
I once had a coworker exclaim that we “had to talk” when she learned I was not a Christian. Of course, when I mentioned my own Heathen beliefs, she was all too ready to say “We’re not going to talk about that.” No, certainly not; we’re only going to talk about your religion, aren’t we?
Sorry, it doesn’t work like that.
Republicans have been more than ready to attack others account of their own beliefs. That’s what the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act movement touted by Trump’s VP pick – another Republican governor, Mike Pence of Indiana – was about: legislating religion under the guise of protecting it in clear violation of the First Amendment.
Kasich tweeted that “Americans are looking for a positive vision for our country.” Apparently one where we ask, “WTF?” of people who don’t share our beliefs. That’s not the America the Founding Fathers envisioned. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his autobiography (1821) of his Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom (1785),
“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”
Which includes atheists like Daniel Radcliffe. If I, who has many gods, is not troubled that Kasich has but one, why is Kasich so vexed that Radcliffe has none?
John Kasich, who wants to send women back to the kitchen and tells them to stay away from parties where there might be alcohol, portrays himself as a moderate. He refuses to endorse Donald Trump, and sad to say, he was probably the most least extreme candidate of the 16 Republicans who entered the field. But that does not make him a moderate, and his bizarre and troublesome comments about Radcliffe’s atheism only serve to punctuate the extent of his extremism.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.