(Photo: Twitter/E.W. Jackson)
Christian minister, lawyer and Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia E.W. Jackson took the opportunity to clear the air in an unusual press conference on Wednesday that he does not believe yoga leads to Satanism.
According to a report in the Times Dispatch, the Christian politician also revealed that he used marijuana, experimented with other controlled substances in his youth and was forced to file for bankruptcy.
Jackson, who was reportedly a firebrand syndicated radio preacher at one time, has been fending off criticisms from Democrats for his unconventional views.
During the press conference where he spoke uninterrupted for about 45 minutes, he pointed out that a lot of his past statements were being taken out of context including charges that he believes yoga leads to Satanism or birth defects in children are caused by parents' sin.
"I do not believe that yoga leads to Satanism. One of my ministers is a yoga instructor. What I said was that Christian meditation does not involve emptying oneself but filling oneself ... with the spirit of God. That is classic biblical Christianity," he explained.
He also clarified, "I do not believe that birth defects are caused by parents' sin unless, of course, there's a direct scientific connection between the parents' behavior and the disabilities of the child." As an example, he pointed to birth defects in children caused by heroin addicted mothers.
The yoga controversy erupted last week after the National Review posted an excerpt from a book written by Jackson.
"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," read the excerpt in part.
He said he felt compelled to address his theology "because it has been twisted and distorted and I'm not going to spend the campaign talking about these issues, so let's get it out of the way now."
Jackson has also reportedly, linked homosexuality to pedophilia, addressed gays and lesbians as "sick" and "perverted," and accused the Democratic Party of being "anti-God."
The minister further encouraged black Virginians to become Republicans and "not betray God."
Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor, told reporters that neither he nor his running mate will be spending time defending each other's statements.
"The people of Virginia need to get comfortable with each candidate individually, and that's what this process is all about," he noted.