David Williams slams Beshear over Hindu ceremony

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Republican gubernatorial nominee David
Williams criticized Gov. Steve Beshear on Tuesday for participating
in a Hindu ceremony that marked an Indian company's entry into
Kentucky, bringing with it 250 jobs.

Williams said he would have attended but not participated in the
ceremony in Elizabethtown. The Republican also suggested that
Beshear - the son and grandson of Baptist preachers - engaged in
idolatry, or the worship of idols, with his role in the event.

"He's sitting down there with his legs crossed participating in
Hindu prayers, with a dot on his forehead, with incense burning
around him," Williams told reporters during a campaign stop a week
before the Nov. 8 election.

Beshear's campaign said the governor was proud of the job
creation in the central Kentucky city and denounced the attack from
Williams, who has trailed Beshear by wide margins in polls.

"These are pathetic and desperate remarks by a candidate facing
devastating poll numbers," said Beshear campaign spokesman Matt
Erwin.

Williams and independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith are
challenging Beshear, a Democrat seeking a second term.

A state government news release last week said Beshear took part
in a ground-blessing ceremony with community leaders and officials
of Flex Films, which plans to build its first U.S. manufacturing
plant in Elizabethtown, a $180 million investment. The company
makes polyester chips, specialty films, laminates and inks and
adhesives to packaging and printing machines.

The news release referred to the blessing ceremony as a
traditional service in India for new homes, businesses or other
facilities. It said that state and local officials participated in
the ceremony in a show of partnership with the Flex Films
executives.

The News-Enterprise of Elizabethtown, which first reported on
the ceremony Sunday, said Beshear and Elizabethtown Mayor Tim
Walker were among a small group of people who sat cross-legged and shoeless on cushions while a priest chanted Hindu prayers.

In photos and a video that accompany the story, the governor,
wearing a suit and tie, is shown seated on the floor among 12
others. A larger crowd is shown watching from seats along the
perimeter.

Williams said Beshear's participation "doesn't seem to be in
line with what most Kentuckians would approve of."

The Republican challenger said his refusal to participate in
such an event shouldn't be construed as a sign of disrespect.

"I've been in many countries, in Buddhist temples and Shinto
shrines, and they'll say clap your hands and it summons the gods,"
said Williams, who is Methodist. "I did not do that because that
is idolatry. And that's what he (Beshear) participates in when he
does that."

This is the second straight Kentucky campaign in which religion
has become an issue.

In last year's U.S. Senate race, Democrat Jack Conway ran a TV
ad that focused on allegations that Republican opponent Rand Paul
was affiliated during college with a group that mocked Christianity
and worshipped a god he called "Aqua Buddha." Paul, who went on
to win the election, called the ad false and denounced it as gutter
politics.

Beshear's administration offered a generous package of tax
incentives for a biblical theme park that would include a full-size
replica of Noah's Ark. Originators of the park said they chose
Kentucky for the site because of the state's offer of tax
incentives worth more than $40 million.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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