Republican senate candidate E.W. Jackson recorded a message in his church to send to Virginians: Get out the vote — for me — or you're a sinner.
Republican Senate candidate E.W. Jackson told churchgoers that electing him would push back on the supposed persecution of Christians in America. And he told them that it would be a "sin against God" if they don't turn out to vote in the primary — where he is on the ballot.
Jackson characterized a win for his campaign in the upcoming primary as a "victory for the people of God."
The comments were made in a video Jackson recorded in his own church in Chesapeake, Virginia, where he is pastor of The Called Church.
Jackson is part of a field of Republican candidates attempting to take on Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Currently Kaine is polling in double digits against his Republican rivals like Jackson.
In his rambling comments, Jackson, the conservative-radio-host-turned-candidate, characterized his campaign as an instrument for conservative Christians to push back on outside cultural forces.
Previously Jackson has referred to gay people as "perverted," "degenerate," "spiritually darkened," and "frankly very sick people, psychologically, mentally and emotionally."
In the video, Jackson claimed, "There are people who want to punish us for holding fast on biblical values. I'm going to stand against them, but there's only one way I'm going to succeed in this: I need your help."
He then called on "every Bible-believing Christian in Virginia" to support his campaign and vote for him in the primary.
Apparently alluding to the case of county clerk Kim Davis, who broke the law and refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples, Jackson told those watching his video, "for the first time in our history we've seen Christians actually put in jail for refusing to bow to the dictates of government against their own conscience."
The video shows Jackson, who has made his name by standing on the losing side of the battle for LGBT equality, casting his campaign as a vehicle for rejecting civil rights.
Much of his message echoes that of Mike Pence, who signed into law legislation in Indiana that allowed businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community. A national backlash forced the law to be changed.
Jackson characterized the process of casting a vote in the primary using apocalyptical terms: "I believe to live in a free nation where you have the opportunity to choose the leadership that governs you, to not do so is a sin. It is a sin against God, it is a sin against all that of the people that have shed their blood and sacrificed for our freedom, it's a sin against our Constitution and our way of life. You've got to vote."
After noting that a failure to vote would be a transgression against their maker, Jackson said, "the election's on June twelfth."
In addition to Jackson's "end times" get-out-the-vote message, the other two Republican candidates in the race — Nick Freitas and Corey Stewart — have been involved in a campaign spat involving operatives of Stewart using racist epithets about Freitas, who they (falsely) alleged was an undocumented immigrant.
The mess on the Republican side comes just months after Virginia showed itself to be a major force in the blue wave of voters opposing Republicans and the Trump agenda. Those voters elected a Democratic governor, along with a large roster of Democrats in the state house.
Jackson's use of faith to excuse his bigotry and bolster his individual political fortunes, combined with his fellow Republicans rolling around in racial politics while the Democratic vote surges in the state is bad news for the right, sins and all.