Hindu Americans Shocked by Kentucky State Senate President's Intolerant Remarks

Washington, D.C. (November 1, 2011) - The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) strongly condemned what it called a “blatant attack” by a Kentucky legislator against the state’s Governor, Steve Beshear (D-KY), for participating in a Hindu religious ceremony last week at an area business. Journalists began contacting the HAF office in Washington, D.C. early today and shared the full statement by Kentucky gubernatorial opponent and State Senate President David Williams (R-KY) which claimed that Gov. Beshear’s participation in a groundbreaking ceremony, or bhumi puja, to inaugurate a new manufacturing facility in Elizabethtown that is slated to bring 250 jobs, was not “in line with what a governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky ought to be doing,” and that his actions were tantamount to “idolatry.” Williams also stated that as a Christian, he would not participate in Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu prayers, and hoped Hindus would open their eyes and “receive Jesus Christ as their personal savior.”
"The words of Sen. Williams are not only an affront to Hindu Americans, but all Americans as he conjures up the lowest sentiments of exclusion and bigotry. ” said Suhag Shukla, Esq., HAF’s Managing Director and Legal Counsel. “He’s shown he’s ignorant and intolerant -- two qualities that we hope Kentuckyians will reject at the polls.”
Williams, who trails Beshear by a nearly 2-1 margin in the polls, further criticized the Governor for sitting cross-legged with a “dot on his forehead,” and described the ceremony as “polytheistic,” disparaging “Hindu gods.” Gov. Beshear’s campaign issued a statement calling the State Senator’s remarks “pathetic and desperate.”
The ceremony for the new factory took place last Friday and was attended by company executives, community leaders, and several state and local officials, including Elizabethtown Mayor, Tim Walker, who participated with Gov. Beshear in the bhumi puja. The facility signifies a $180 million investment by FlexFilm, a company based in India that manufactures a wide range of plastic film packaging products.
"While it is necessary to condemn Senator Williams’ intolerant comments, it is equally important to congratulate Governor Beshear and Mayor Tim Walker for respecting America’s religious diversity by participating in the ceremony,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF’s Director and Senior Fellow for Human Rights. “Their actions epitomize our nation’s great traditions of religious tolerance and pluralism, and they should be celebrated.”