E.W. Jackson, a minister and the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia, has an interesting perception of yoga.
Betsy Woodruff uncovered this passage from Jackson's 2008 book Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life in a recent profile for The National Review:
When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana ... The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself ... [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. That is why people serve Satan without ever knowing it or deciding to, but no one can be a child of God without making a decision to surrender to him. [National Review]
Jackson's yoga theory is hardly the first controversial thing he has said. In fact, because of his string of eyebrow-raising comments, fellow Virginia Republicans, including Rep. Scott Rigell and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, have avoided supporting Jackson in the press. Other members of the GOP, including former chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele, haven't been so reserved:
"The Republicans I'm talking to are saying, 'what the hell are they doing in Virginia?'" Steele told The Huffington Post. "Is this, '101 ways to lose an election'? You're coming out of the gate with comments everyone has to explain."
A few more of those comments the Virginia GOP might need to explain:
1. Liberals have "done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery, and Jim Crow ever did."
This, according to Mother Jones, is a reference to liberal support of gay rights, which Jackson equates with the spread of AIDS. In the 1980s, he lobbied lawmakers in Massachusetts (where he taught a law class at Northeastern University) to vote against an anti-discrimination bill, saying, "If we need a gay-rights bill, then we need an adulterers' rights bill, we need a cohabitators' rights bill, a pedophiles' rights bill, and a sadomasochists' rights bill."
He has also campaigned against condoms, sex education, and public health clinics near schools, arguing that they promote promiscuity.
2. "This comedy is about a group of amoral, irresponsible — funny, yes — but selfish, self-centered people who think that having masturbation contests is great entertainment."
Fun fact: E.W. Jackson is not a fan of Seinfeld. Hopefully he hasn't seen the "sponge-worthy" episode.
3. "While giving to the poor is important, the most powerful giving for wealth-building is upward giving."
Jackson — who told Woodruff he left the Democratic Party after reading Ayn Rand — gave this as a reason for why people should donate to his ministry.
"We may never meet in person, but you can draw on the anointing which God has placed on my life by sowing into my ministry," he wrote in Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life. His recommendation for people with money problems? Meditate on Bible verses that promise wealth.
4. "As if God's gonna let mankind destroy the planet with SUVs!"
The pastor's view on global warming. Jackson does think it's reasonable to work for a clean environment but, according to The National Review profile, he also believes that concerns over climate change are "hysteria."
5. "Obama clearly has Muslim sensibilities."
In 2010, Jackson argued at a now-defunct blog that President Obama saw the world from a "Muslim perspective." That, he said, means bad news for Israel:
Those who are paying attention and thinking about these issues do not find it unreasonable to consider that President Obama is influenced by a strain of anti-Semitism picked up from the black community, his leftist friends and colleagues, his Muslim associations and his long period of mentorship under Jeremiah Wright. If this conclusion is accurate, Israel has some dark days ahead. [BuzzFeed]
6. "Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was."
Last month, Jackson defended comments he made in 2012 concerning abortion, saying they "were spoken in my role as a minister, not as a candidate." The full quote was:
The Democratic Party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called civil rights leaders and Planned Parenthood, which has killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions.
Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was. And the Democrat Party and their black civil rights allies are partners in this genocide. [Daily Caller]
While Virginia Republicans might be wary of Jackson's past, his election would give Republicans a crucial tie-breaker in the evenly split state Senate — suggesting that voters can expect lots of vague, not-quite endorsements of Jackson in the coming months.