This Week in God

First up from the God Machine this week is an odd religio-political story in Kentucky, which is drawing some attention in the closing days of the state’s gubernatorial campaign.

Polls show incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear (D) very likely to win a second term on Tuesday, which has made state Senate President David Williams (R) rather desperate to find an unexplored weakness in the governor. This week, Williams thought he’d found one.

Apparently, a week ago, an Indian company named FlexFilm held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new factory in Kentucky, bringing with it $180 million in state investment and 250 new local jobs. Not surprisingly, the governor was on hand for the event.

But the groundbreaking ceremony included a Hindu blessing and ceremonial fire, and this led Williams to throw a fit.

Williams … told reports: “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.”

And Williams wasn’t done yet!

Williams said he was not showing disrespect to Hindus with his comments. “I think you disrespect other peoples’ religion when you go down there,” he said.

He said he has visited countries that had Hindu ceremonies but declined to participate. “That would be idolatry,” he said.

A day later, Williams went further, insisting the governor was “disrespectful of Hinduism” and believes in “stamping out religious displays” that are Christian. As if that weren’t quite enough, the Republican gubernatorial nominee said Christians should invite Hindus to “love and know Jesus.”

Most political observers in Kentucky seem to believe the issue will not dictate the outcome of this week’s gubernatorial race.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* A Kansas mosque was heavily damaged by a fire this week, soon after receiving a series of anti-Islam letters. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation. (thanks to R.P. for the tip)

* Harold Camping, after failing three times recently to predict the end times, has decided to retire. That’s probably a good move.

* And Shorter University, a Christian college in Georgia, is pushing all of its employees to sign a pledge, promising the school they are not gay. Those who refuse may find themselves out of a job. Because Shorter University is a private school that receives no public funding, the discrimination is considered legal.