John Kasich’s message to Pope Francis: The environment shouldn’t be worshipped, ‘that’s called pantheism’

Appearing to accuse the pope of paganism doesn’t play well politically.

But that didn’t stop Ohio Gov. John Kasich last week when a liberal posing as a reporter at the conservative Road to Majority Conference in Washington asked him about the encyclical on the environment Pope Francis issued Thursday.

The question came from “The Undercurrent,” a liberal political news site that decided to hit the former altar boy Kasich with this month’s version of “have you stopped beating your wife?” (“War-against-women” Dems don’t have to worry about that one.)

Kasich, to his credit, tried a good-faith answer to the question, but still managed to hit the wrong note – and did no good whatsoever to his potential campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

“The environment was given to us by the Lord and it should be taken are of. It shouldn’t be worshipped, that’s called pantheism,” he said.

“The pope pointing out the fact that we need to take care of the environment is good. I don’t agree with his conclusion that all that is bad is because of free enterprise, because it’s lifted people out of poverty – and he cares about the poor and so do I.”

So now Kasich has a lose-lose situation, with headlines on the left at RealClearPolitics like “John Kasich to Pope Francis: The environment shouldn’t be worshipped — That is called pantheism” and on the right at Breitbart like  “Kasich to Pope: Environment Shouldn’t Be Worshiped, ‘That Is Called Pantheism.”

Twitter interpretations are no different.

Lost in the media coverage will be Kasich’s point about free enterprise and the capitalist system, which has lifted more people out of poverty than any other social system — including, with all respect, the one Francis leads.

Kasich’s real problem, of course, is that he basically came off like he was accusing the pope of a form of paganism Christianity has been stamping out for 2,000 years now. And he did that because he let himself be baited into a “do you agree with the pope” question. (Recommended answer: “Haven’t read the encyclical yet. Might this weekend, though.”)

Accusing the pope of paganism doesn’t play well politically.

Not for Republicans, anyway.

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