E.W. Jackson, Virginia's Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, clarified Wednesday that he did not believe yoga leads to Satanism, after excerpts of his 2008 book made a connection between the two.
"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 said at a press conference in Manassas, Va., according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The very fact that Jackson had to clarify his remarks demonstrates that the socially conservative reverend will be having to spend a lot of time explaining his past views, rather than speaking about his platform.
A passage from his 2008 book, "Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life: Making Your Dreams Come True," caused a stir after he warned about the dangers of yoga and meditation.
"When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana," he wrote. "The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want."
In the press conference, Jackson spoke uninterrupted for 45 minutes and said that he had used marijuana as a teenager and filed for bankruptcy in 1993.
"It was painful. It was difficult. It was embarrassing," he said of the filing.