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Kentucky governor criticized by GOP challenger for Hindu ceremony

November 2, 2011 |  6:55 am

Should the governor of Kentucky be praying to the Hindu gods?

That's the question being raised by the Republican challenger to sitting Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, who participated in a Hindu "ground blessing" ceremony Friday for a manufacturing plant operated by an India-based company.

The Republican, David Williams -- who was trailing Beshear by 29 percentage points in a recent poll -- has decided there was something untoward about it.

"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," Williams said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Williams added: "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, the president of the state Senate, later said he didn't mean to disrespect Hindus. Rajan Zed, a Hindu leader, called on Williams to apologize, noting that if Williams were to win the Nov. 8 election, "he would be the governor of all Kentuckians, including Hindu Kentuckians."

Beshear won election in this deep-red state in 2007 with a strong emphasis on his Christian faith and his small-town roots growing up in a Primitive Baptist Church. Once in office, his administration gave more than $40 million in tax incentives to a creationist Christian group to spur the construction of a Noah's Ark theme park.


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Photo: Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, right, joins others Oct. 28 in the traditional Indian ground blessing ceremony in Elizabethtown, Ky. The ceremony was part of the celebration of Flex Films (USA) investing and building a $180-million plant in Elizabethtown with the potential for 250 jobs. Credit: Ben Sheroan / The News-Enterprise