Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams criticized Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear Tuesday for participating in what Williams called a "Hindu religious ceremony" at a groundbreaking ceremony for an Indian company Friday.
Packaging film manufacturer Flex Film will open a plant in Elizabethtown, Ky., and Friday Gov. Steve Beshear took part in a "Ground Blessing Ceremony."
"While I can't say for sure that this is the first time that a boomy pooshim ceremony has been performed for a business on Kentucky soil, I can certainly say that I don't want it to be the last one," Beshear said. Beshear's office said the plant will bring 250 jobs to the area and a $180 million investment.
"He's there participating with Hindu priests, participating in a religious ceremony," said Williams Tuesday at a campaign stop, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. "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."
The News-Enterprise of Elizabethtown described the scene:
For more than an hour, guests observed the traditional Indian blessing through a haze created by burning incense and a ceremonial fire. A handful of participants, including Beshear and Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker, sat cross legged and shoeless on cushions while a priest chanted Hindu prayers.
Williams said he doesn't participate in other religions' "prayers," adding, "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."
He said that he had declined to participate in Hindu ceremonies abroad. "That would be idolatry," added the State Senate President.
Beshear is a huge favorite to win re-election in November and led by 31 points in an early October poll.
In the 2010 Kentucky race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Jack Conway attacked Republican Rand Paul over his affiliation with a secret society at Baylor University. In one incident, he and another member allegedly drove a woman to the countryside and made her worship a god called "Aqua Buddha."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referred to David Williams as the former mayor of Louisville. He is the current Kentucky State Senate president. Jerry Abramson, the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor, is a former mayor of Louisville.