Lack of Faith Fueling Anti-Immigrant Sentiments, Incivility, John Kasich Says

Former Ohio Governor John Kasich on NBC's "Meet the Press," August 12, 2018. | (Photo: Screengrab, Meet the Press)

Ohio Governor and former Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich has stated that he believes the decline of religious practice in the United States is fueling rising incivility.

In an interview with NBC's "Meet The Press" that aired Sunday, Kasich commented on a host of issues regarding the current political climate.

In particular, Kasich was asked his opinion of Fox News analyst Laura Ingraham's recent controversial remarks bemoaning the apparent changes immigrants were making to the United States.

"In some parts of the country it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore," said Ingraham. "Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they're changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like."

While saying he didn't want to turn the program into a "religious hour," Kasich remarked that he felt that a fundamental problem in America was that many "have not come to understand what faith is."

"Loving your neighbor, elevating others sometimes in front of yourself, putting yourself in other people's shoes. And when we don't do that, we lose the essence of our country," said Kasich.

"When my father and my uncle talked about the Great Depression, everybody pulled together and what we're seeing now is people pulling apart rather than coming together."

Kasich described this coming together as "an element of religiosity," adding that "we need the compass back," noting that he believes this moral compass "comes from on high."

Kasich's positive views of immigrants may put him out of step with a slim majority in his party. According to a Public Religion Research Institute poll published July 17, 50 percent of Republicans said that increasing numbers of non-white race and ethnic groups immigrating to the U.S. will have a "mostly negative" impact. Fifty-two percent of white evangelical Protestants agreed. Only 31 percent of the full sample thought the same. 

Kasich also spoke about his concerns over the direction of the Republican Party due to the rise of President Donald Trump, who defeated Kasich along with over a dozen others to become the GOP nominee in 2016.

"The Republican Party has never been for protectionism. The Republican Party doesn't support a notion that families shouldn't be held together. The Republican Party never supported the notion that we should ring up debt and put our kids so much in debt by doing things that are not responsible," argued Kasich.

"The Republican Party has never believed that we should walk away from our allies who have helped us keep the peace since World War II. These positions, they don't even resemble the Republican Party."

Kasich's comments come at a time when many have expressed concern over an apparent rising tide of political incivility, from Trump administration officials being denied service at restaurants to violent Alt Right protests.

On Sunday, white supremacists held a "Unite the Right" rally near the White House. The event was organized by Jason Kessler, a former Barack Obama supporter and Occupy Wall Street activist.

Kessler had organized the first "Unite the Right" rally last year in Charlottesville, Virginia. The event garnered national headlines due to its violent nature, with one white supremacist driving his car through a group of counter-protesters, murdering one person and injuring dozens of others.

Multiple counter-protests and rallies were held in response to this year's "Unite the Right" event, including a United Methodist Church organized gathering called "United to Love."

Hosted by the UMC Baltimore-Washington Conference, the "United to Love Rally" and gathering was held at the National Mall on Sunday.

"The United to Love Rally is an alternative to the hatred, but it will also be much more as people come together to claim and share God's love, peace and justice," the conference stated.

"We feel compelled to raise a prophetic voice challenging the climate of distrust and fear, shifting the conversation to our common future."

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

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