E.W. Jackson walks back claims that yoga can lead to Satanism

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E.W. Jackson, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia, has been generating controversy ever since he began to receive national attention.

And while he has been subjected to widespread criticism for his anti-gay rhetoric, nothing earned him more derision than a passage from his 2008 memoir Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life: Making Your Dreams Come True (on the cover the word Commandments is mispelled), in which he appeared to suggest practicing yoga could lead to Satanism.

“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. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want,” wrote Jackson.

Now, the Virginia Republican and clergyman is walking back his remarks.

In a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch interview Jackson said, “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.”

Jackson has been widely perceived as a liability on the Republican ticket, which is led by gubernatorial candidate and current Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.