STRASBURG, Va. — Some are characterizing statements made this past Sunday by a candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia as being shocking and polarizing in asserting that those who do not follow Jesus Christ practice false religion.
“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,” Bishop EW Jackson is quoted as stating during a sermon preached this past weekend at Restoration Followship Church in Strasburg, Virginia. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way the truth and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by me.’”
Jackson was speaking of the controversy that erupts when Christians proclaim that Jesus is the only way to God. He also spoke on the issue of Biblical marriage and expressed his disagreement with the philosophy recently expressed by Pope Francis regarding how to address the sin of homosexuality.
“I know even the pope has said when we talk about these things, we imply a kind of intolerance. That is not the point at all,” he stated. “The point is to be true to the word of God. The point is to stand up and tell the truth. There is no better way found, ever, to raise children than with a mother and a father in the home. Even sociologically, you can make the argument.”
A Democratic tracker had provided the recording to the media, but reports state that the two-minute clip at issue is missing from the version recorded by the church. The church says it has no knowledge of the audio being edited.
However, in an interview with the Washington Post, Pastor Jay Ahlemann advised that he believes Americans should be free to worship whoever or whatever they want.
“I don’t want government today to say Christianity is the state religion,” he stated. “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.”
But Ahlemann admitted that the Founding Fathers desired for men to love and serve the one true God.
“Historically, it is a fact that this nation was founded by individuals who were Christians and wanted this to be a Christian nation,” he said. “That’s truth. That is historical fact.”
Reaction to Jackson’s comments from members of the public has been vehemently negative.
“Christians are the new Taliban thug wannabees,” one commenter wrote. “May they get what they richly deserve.”
“I’m a Christian and I got to tell you, this Jackson guy is some kind of screwed up nutbag,” another asserted. “However, I love it because the more he spouts his garbage, the more likely the Independents will bag the whole conservative ticket.”
However, some have expressed their appreciation for Jackson’s stand.
“God bless Pastor Jackson for having the courage to speak the truth! If it bothers you, that means that you are not walking with God,” one commenter wrote. “[D]on’t get mad, get saved!”
“Where is the falsity?” another asked. “He’s simply preaching the truth of the Scriptures. In today’s world there’s not supposed to be any indisputable truth, [but] sorry, there is, and all the hand-wringing won’t change it.”
Jackson is running against Democratic candidate Ralph Northam of Norfolk. He had been a Democrat for over 20 years, but changed his party affiliation in the 1980’s. Last year, Jackson made headlines for chastising his fellow black Americans for their “slavish devotion” to the Democratic party.