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Governor's race heats up over Hindu prayer ceremony

By: Andy Cunningham Email
By: Andy Cunningham Email

During an event last Friday to mark an Indian company's arrival in Elizabethtown, Governor Beshear took part in a Hindu ground-blessing ceremony, which is considered a traditional service in India.

But one of his challengers, Republican nominee David Williams, attacked Beshear, claiming he took part in idol worship.

"He's there participating with Hindu priests, participating in a religious ceremony. They can say what they want to. He's sitting down there with his legs crossed, participating in Hindu prayers with a dot on his forehead with incense burning around him. I don't know what the man was thinking," said Williams.

Beshear's campaign fought back, saying the governor was proud of the job creation in the central Kentucky city, and denounced the attack from Williams.

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

On Wednesday afternoon David Williams responded.

"To be clear, I very much support economic development and strongly believe in freedom of religion. What I cannot understand is why Governor Beshear has a long pattern of opposing outward displays of the Christian faith such as Christmas trees, prayers before high school football games, and posting the 10 Commandments but apparently has no problem personally participating in displays of non-Christian religions," said Williams.

"I see nothing wrong with a governor attending a religious gathering and respecting other cultures. But for him to engage and participate in a Hindu religious ceremony where prayers are being offered to gods in which he does not believe is not only disrespectful of Hinduism but stands in direct opposition to his own expressed Christian faith which recognizes but one God. It also flies in the face of his previous record of stamping out religious displays in governmental settings, which all happened to be Christian in nature," Williams went on to say.

Gatewood Galbraith's running mate and Independent Candidate for Lt. Governor, Dea Riley said they do respect the rights of all to express their religion, but went on to say, "Certainly Gatewood and I would have handled it very differently. We would have remained observers rather than participants in the ceremony."

The company Flex Films, will eventually bring 250 jobs to its Elizabethtown location. Mayor Tim C. Walker said.

"I am shocked that David Williams would suggest that participating in a welcoming ceremony for a new company - one that is bringing hundreds of new jobs -- is disrespectful," Walker said in a statement.

"Here in Elizabethtown, we were very happy that Flex Films is locating here and I was pleased to participate in the blessing ceremony. It did not compromise my faith, and it's despicable to suggest that we should not welcome this company and their investment."

The president of a national group --- The universal society of Hinduism --- is calling on David Williams to issue a public apology for his comments before next week's election.

WKYT Anchor and Political Analyst, Bill Bryant said, "This has been a hard fought contentious Kentucky campaign. There have been a lot of issues in the mix and it's probably no surprise here in the final stretch of the campaign, that religion now entered the discussion as it often does in Kentucky races."


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