Back in 2013, when Religious Right activist E.W. Jackson was the Virginia Republican Party’s nominee to be lieutenant governor, he regularly complained that his long history of making bigoted and outrageous statements was being unfairly used against him in the campaign.
Jackson repeatedly asserted that his past comments had been taken out of context and also seemed to believe that the things he had said should be off limits during the campaign because he had said those things before becoming a candidate for office. As such, he constantly complained that being questioned or criticized about his own comments was a violation of his free speech and an unconstitutional religious test for office that amounted to persecution.
That tactic did not work for Jackson the first time around, but now that he is making another run for office—this time seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate—Jackson is once again trying to suggest that all of the crazy things he has said in recent years should not be relevant because he was just a radio host and pastor when he said them, not a candidate for office.
In a recent interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jackson expressed regret for the tenor with which he made anti-gay comments in the past, but suggested that such comments should not be held against him because they were said in his capacity as a right-wing radio host and “not in the context of a campaign.”
Jackson, 65, is pastor of The Called – Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake. He’s known for his socially conservative views on issues like gay rights, and in the past denounced gays as “very sick people” and “perverted.”
But it’s 2017 now, and E.W. Jackson said he regrets his past tenor.
“I regret using any words that hurt people or that make people think I hate them, or that make people think I look down on them,” he said.
So while his Christian faith means he opposes legal same-sex marriage, “I am going to endeavor in this campaign to express that in a way that calls attention to my faith, where appropriate, without implying some sort of hostility against gay people or transgender people. Because I don’t believe that. And that’s one of the many lessons I’ve learned.”
He also noted that some of his past statements were “said not in the context of a campaign but on Christian radio where I’m speaking as a pastor and minister to Christians.”
Were he to see someone bullying a gay or transgender person, he would step in “and physically fight for them,” Jackson said.
It is rather remarkable to see Jackson trying to present himself as someone who would step in to fight on behalf of a LGBTQ person given that he has repeatedly said that he would need the “grace of God not to jump on” someone who tried to give one of his children a piece of pro-LGBTQ literature “and try to beat them into the ground.”