No surprise that E.W. Jackson, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, had some tough words for his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Ralph Northam, in their debate Tuesday night.
Perhaps even less of a surprise: Jackson shows no sign of backing away from his role as Election 2013's lightning rod, on Sunday criticizing the Pope, gay people, Muslims, Jews and anybody who doesn't believe in Jesus Christ.
“If you don’t know him, if you don’t follow him, if you don’t come to him, you engage in some sort of false religion,” Jackson said, according to a report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “That’s controversial, but it’s the truth. There is only one God, there is the God named Jesus Christ.”
Jackson, speaking to the Restoration Fellowship Church in Shenandoah County, has previously called gays “sick” and “perverted,” and on Sunday he took another stand against same-sex marriage.
“The family was ordained by God. He ordained it one man and one woman in the bonds of holy matrimony,” Jackson said, according to the Times-Dispatch. “(In the Bible) I don’t hear anything about two people of the same sex being married.”
Down-ballot races like that of the lieutenant governor rarely draw much interest.
But the even split in the Virginia Senate among Democrats and Republicans has given the race increased importance, as Virginia's lieutenant governor has the power to cast tie-breaking votes.
Jackson said he disagreed with Pope Francis, who has said the church had grown “obsessed” with gay marriage, abortion and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues.
“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 said. "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.”
Rabbi Jack Moline, who has led Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria since 1987, called on Cuccinelli on Monday to now disavow Jackson’s remarks, the paper reported.
Cuccinelli strategist Chris LaCivita told the Times-Dispatch: “With Virginia being the home of Thomas Jefferson’s Statute of Religious Freedom — Ken Cuccinelli supports the rights of all Virginians to practice the faith of their choosing. It should also be noted that Ken isn’t running for ecclesiastical office and he doesn’t make those sort of judgments in the first place.”