Virginia's Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, E. W. Jackson, is trying to walk back statements he made in a 2008 book linking yoga to demonic possession. According to Huffington Post, Jackson held a press conference in Manassas, Virginia at which he insisted the he has never linked yoga and Satanism and that some of his best friends practice yoga.

"I do not believe that yoga leads to Satanism. One of my ministers is a yoga instructor," he said to reporters. "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 was referring to a passage in his book Ten Commandments for an Extraordinary Life: Making Your Dreams Come True, a book that appeared on store shelves with a typo on its front cover. In it, Jackson wrote, "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. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want."

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Jackson spoke uninterrupted for more than 45 minutes in a free-wheeling discussion that included his past bankruptcy filings and drug use, as well as his "transition from lawyer to minister."

He discussed his differences with the teachings of Harvard Divinity School, where he claims to have studied, but where, according to the Dispatch, officials said they have no record of a student by that name.

“They were not teaching what I believed to be orthodox Christian biblical theology but rather a liberal version of that. I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture; they did not,” Jackson said Thursday in Manassas.

He also discussed the various tax liens that have been filed against him, his firing from his first ministerial job in 1982 and a passel of complaints filed against him by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers. He insisted that none of the complaints were upheld by the Bar.

Furthermore he said that his more controversial statements -- like the warnings against yoga and the claim that children are born with birth defects as a consequence of their parents' sins -- have been "taken out of context."

“I do not believe that birth defects are caused by parents’ sin unless, of course, there’s a direct scientific connection between the parents’ behavior and the disabilities of the child,” he said Thursday, such as birth defects related to drug use.

[image of woman in yoga class via]