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 life. No man comes unto the Father but by me.’”
It is not the first time Jackson has weighed in with controversial comments on questions of faith and social issues. He has also said that gay people’s “minds are perverted. They are frankly very sick people psychologically and mentally and emotionally.”
The Web site of the Restoration Fellowship Church in Strasburg, where Jackson spoke Sunday, includes a recording of Jackson’s sermon. But a short section that included the “false religion” comment was missing from that part of the recording.
The church’s pastor, Jay Ahlemann, said he agrees with Jackson’s interpretation of scripture. He also said a member of his church staff told him nothing had been deleted from the recording.
As for non-Christians, “I would expect they would be offended,” Ahlemann acknowledged. “It’s not our purpose. And [Jackson] said he did not set out to offend people. It’s his purpose to proclaim what the Bible said as a preacher. That was not a political speech. That was a Bible sermon...Those of us who are Bible-believing Christians are very proud of what he had to say.”
Ahlemann added that the government should not curtail anyone’s religious liberty. While the nation’s founding fathers were Christians, “I don’t want government today to say Christianity is the state religion,” Ahlemann said.
“I want there to be absolute freedom of religion. If someone wants to put a stick in the ground and kneel down and worship that, that’s their choice. Historically, it is a fact that this nation was founded by individuals who were Christians and wanted this to be a Christian nation. That’s truth. That is historical fact,” he said.
Jackson did not respond to a request for comment.