It says something that a man like John Kasich is struggling, and Donald Trump is surging.
There’s good reason to believe, however, that the most religiously driven candidate of all is a man who is remarkably un-theatrical about his beliefs—who even vows, “I don’t go out and try to win a vote by using God. I think that cheapens God.” That would be John Kasich. There is no easy way to measure how deeply a person believes, of course, or to what degree a politician is driven by faith. But the Ohio governor has gone to Bible study with the same group of men every other week for the past 20 years. He has attended an Anglican church in Ohio for decades because, as he wrote in his book, Every Other Monday: Twenty Years of Life, Lunch, Faith, and Friendship, he likes receiving Communion every week, a practice uncommon in other Christian denominations. When Vice President Joe Biden’s son Beau died last year after a battle with brain cancer, Kasich quickly expressed sympathy, offering a prayer on Meet the Press: “I’m going to pray for [Joe] because he’s had a lifetime of tears. God bless you, Joe.” (Cruz, in contrast, trotted out an old joke about the vice president just days after Beau’s death.) The irony here is not just that the most pious Republican candidate has been largely overshadowed in a campaign for which Christianity is a major calling card. As Kasich makes what could be his last big campaign push to win Ohio’s primary on Tuesday, his devout faith might actually be hurting him. The governor’s faith appears to drive his politically moderate stances on immigration, climate change and gay marriage—positions that alienate him from mainstream conservatives whose support Kasich needs to have a chance at the nomination.
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