When the going gets tough in politics, the boxing gloves often come out. This is especially true at the end of a campaign when candidates find themselves desperate to gain traction. Enter the Kentucky gubernatorial race. According to recent polls, Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY) is leading his Republican opponent, state Senate President David Williams, by a roughly 2 to 1 margin
Now, just one week before the election, Williams is launching an attack against Beshear. The rhetoric surrounding it, rather than focusing upon policy, rails against the fact that the governor participated in a Hindu religious ceremony. TPM has more:
This past Friday, Beshear attended a groundbreaking ceremony in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for a new factory run by FlexFilm, a company based in India that makes materials for packaging, printing, insulation and other purposes. The plant represents a $180 million investment, and is expected to create 250 jobs in Kentucky.
The ceremony apparently included the Hindu practice of bhoomi poojan. The News-Enterprise wrote about the traditional Indian blessing, claiming that a haze was created by incense and a ceremonial fire. The ceremony, which lasted over an hour, included a Hindu priest, who chanted prayers throughout.
Watch a news report that describes the event, below:
It was Beshear's participation in this that set Williams ablaze on the campaign trail. In a stop in Shelbyville, Kentucky, he attacked the governor, claiming that his presence at the Hindu prayer was inappropriate.
“He’s there participating with Hindu priests, participating in a religious ceremony,” he said. “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.”
Williams' main objection seems to be that, as a Christian, it is inappropriate for Beshear to participate in another religion's celebrations and faith customs. In addressing the situation, he also said:
"If I’m a Christian, I don’t participate in Jewish prayers. I’m glad they do that. I don’t participate in Hindu prayers. I don’t participate in Muslim prayers. I don’t do that. To get down and get involved and participate in prayers to these polytheistic situations, where you have these Hindu gods that they are praying to, doesn’t appear to me to be in line with what a governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky ought to be doing.”
In Williams' view, Beshear's participation was disrespectful to Hindus and that participating in such a blessing is "idolatry."