Governor Steve Beshear
Say you’re the Governor of Kentucky. Say you’re trying to prop up the faltering economy of your state, and a new company that will employ 250 of your constituents is opening for business. Say they invite you to the ground-breaking ceremony. You’re all over it, right? Nothing like a little ribbon-cutting and job-creating to inspire some confidence in your voters! What if the company providing those jobs happened to be based in India? What if the ceremony included Hindu prayers and customs?
Democratic Governor Steve Beshear decided that supporting the creation of jobs was worth a few sticks of incense, but his Republican opponent David Williams found this to be quite un-American of him. “I think his grandfathers wouldn’t be very pleased with Steve Beshear,” said Williams. He 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.”
Republican Candidate David Williams
Don’t even get me started on the mystification of other faiths. Let’s not pretend that Christianity doesn’t have some of it’s own weird mythological crap, we just happen to find that stuff a little more familiar, and therefore a little less intimidating. The real problem, for me, is that Williams said this:
“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…”
“Participating in polytheistic situations.” Sheesh. Being present and supporting the economic contributions of a particular community is not exactly repeating the shahada or attending a Yeshiva. We would never question a governor attending a kick-off event where a Christian prayer was repeated by the business owner. I would think that the acknowledgment of communities of faith besides your own is a necessary and positive quality in a governor. If you believe (which Williams clearly doesn’t) that America has room for peaceful people of all faiths, and that the diversity they bring to a region is a boon for the strength of the area, then attending events such as this is a no-brainer.
And before I wrap this up, I should emphasize that attending Yeshiva or being Muslim should obviously not nullify one’s political aspirations here, although we know it does. One of the things I liked most about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was his vocal support of judicial candidate Sohail Mohammad, and his vocal opposition to Muslim bashing:
“The guy’s an American citizen who has been an admitted lawyer in the state of New Jersey, swearing an oath to uphold the laws of New Jersey, the Constitution of the State of New Jersey, and the Constitution of the United States of America, and has never been accused of doing anything but honorably and zealously acquitting the oath he took when he became a lawyer, licensed to practice in this state. And so this Sharia Law business is crap. It’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealin’ with the crazies.”
There’s a line in a late season of West Wing, when Alan Alda played a Republican presidential candidate being questioned about his church attendance:
“I don’t see how we can have a separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government. And I want to warn everyone in the press and all the voters out there if you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians, you are just begging to be lied to. They won’t all lie to you but a lot of them will. And it will be the easiest lie they ever had to tell to get your votes. So, every day until the end of this campaign, I’ll answer any question anyone has on government, But if you have a question on religion, please go to church. “
It’s one of my favorites, and if I were to ever run for office and my lack of religious affiliation posed a problem (one of many, I imagine… not the least of which is all the sex writing I do around here…), I would print it on some motherfucking bumper stickers. ….which would be hard to read, but you get the point.
Related Post: A few politicians who I do admire…
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