Breaking! Politician says Christianity is only true religion

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A headline from the Washington Post:

E.W. Jackson says non-Christians are engaged in ‘some sort of false religion’

Reaction from the reader who passed along that story link to GetReligion:

GASP GASP GASP!

Well, if I am interpreting the sarcasm correctly, there seems to be a disconnect between the Post and that particular reader concerning the news value of that story.

Let’s start at the top:

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.’”

That quote is, indeed, attributed to Jesus in John 14:6 of the New Testament. From the King James Version:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

The fact that many Christians believe Jesus is the only way to salvation isn’t exactly breaking news. At the same time, I understand why a mainstream news organization would deem Jackson’s remarks newsworthy.

The key, it seems to me, is to put the candidate’s comments — and beliefs — into a proper context. The Post seems to fall short in that regard.

Here’s what missing: any kind of theological — as opposed to political — insight into Jackson’s remarks.

The story continues:

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.”

In my view, the Post buried the lede.

What Jackson said was not as newsworthy as the fact that — apparently — somebody tried to hide it:

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.

What’s that old adage? It’s the cover-up that gets you in trouble.

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.


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