HAF Speaks Directly with Kentucky State Senator David Williams about Intolerant Remarks

via Press Release published on November 7, 2011

Washington D.C. (November 4, 2011) — The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) sought clarification and an apology from Kentucky Senator David Williams (R-KY) in a telephone conversation yesterday, after his latest remarks about Governor Beshear’s “participation” in a Hindu ground-breaking ceremony.  Williams, the GOP Nominee for Governor, initially made waves on Tuesday for criticizing Beshear and expressing his hope that Hindus accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.  His comments were met with disappointment and shock from the Hindu American community and were strongly condemned by HAF.  
Given a chance to clarify his previous statements, however, Williams continued to attack Gov. Beshear by calling his actions “in direct opposition to his own expressed Christian faith which recognizes but one God,” prompting the Foundation’s Managing Director and Legal Counsel, Suhag Shukla, Esq. to write to the Williams’ campaign.  The State Senator responded by directly calling Shukla to discuss the issue in a conversation Shukla described as “civil.”   
“While we strongly disagree with Senator Williams’ comments and opinions, we appreciate his efforts in reaching out to us,” said Shukla.  “The conversation provided a good opportunity to educate the Senator about Hindu beliefs and traditions and we hope to continue the dialogue.”
Shukla stated that she also conveyed to Williams that his comments were deeply offensive to Hindus and that they had received emails and phone calls of solidarity from many other Christians who disagree with the Senator’s comments. Although Williams reiterated that as a Christian it was his hope that Hindus receive Christ as their savior, he added that he did not intend to offend Hindus and would never, in his official capacity, discriminate against anyone on the basis of their beliefs.
“We certainly acknowledge the Senator’s beliefs, but we hold completely irreconcilable worldviews — that of religious pluralism and religious exclusivism,” continued Shukla.  “Hindus hold the view that there exist multiple, valid paths to relate to God, whereas the Senator believes that the only true path lies in his.  While I may disagree, so long as such beliefs are not imposed upon or used to harass, intimidate, or curtail the rights and freedoms of others through mechanisms of the state, provocation, hate speech, fraud, duress, or coercion, he is free to hold them in our great democracy.”

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