Republican E.W. Jackson, Virginia’s stupefying candidate for lieutenant governor, made some headlines over the weekend by disagreeing with Pope Francis on issues related to the culture war. But the news hardly came as a surprise – the pope endorsed more inclusive and tolerant attitudes on homosexuality, while Jackson has condemned gay people as “sick” and “perverted.”
And then yesterday morning, Jackson went just a little further.
At a morning sermon Sunday in Northern Virginia, Republican lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson, a Chesapeake pastor, said people who don’t follow Jesus Christ “are engaged in some sort of false religion.”
Jackson offered that view while describing a list of the “controversial” things he believes, and that must be said, as a Christian.
“Any time you say, ‘There is no other means of salvation but through Jesus Christ, and if you don’t know him and you don’t follow him and you don’t go through him, you are engaged in some sort of false religion,’ that’s controversial. But it’s the truth,” Jackson said, according to a recording of the sermon by a Democratic tracker. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way the truth and the light. No man comes unto the Father but by me.’”
Now, it’s worth emphasizing that in faith communities, “false religion” isn’t just meant as a generic, descriptive term. Obviously those who ascribe to one religious tradition believe their faith is real and true, while others’ are not.
But when Jackson, a right-wing pastor, talks about “false religions” – a category that he says includes every non-Christian on the planet – he’s referring to something more than just “faiths different from mine.” Jackson’s talking about cults.
In other words, for Jackson, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and every other non-Christian faith aren’t just wrong; their traditions really shouldn’t even be considered legitimate religious faiths at all.
About a fourth of Virginians are not Christian. I’ll look forward to Jackson telling them, “I hope you cultists vote for me, too.”