Candidate Says Yogis at Risk for Satanic Possession

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Is this woman happy ... or possessed?

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Religion is playing an unintended role in yoga recently. It’s the question at the heart of an ongoing trial in Encinitas, California, where a group of parents have objected to yoga as a part of the public school curriculum. We’ll have to wait until later this month, when the trial reconvenes, to find out if a judge will side with those who believe yoga is indeed a religious practice or a secular activity meant to foster good health. In the meantime, though, a candidate in Virginia is getting a lot of attention for his views on yoga and religion.

Meanwhile, a politician from Virginia was "outed" for saying that doing yoga puts people at risk for possession by Satan. E.W. Jackson, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor and an outspoken conservative pastor, wrote in a 2008 book, that those who have emptied themselves through yoga might not even know they've been possessed. (Jackson also reportedly believes that homosexuals are “very sick people,” has compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK.)

The comments about yoga from Jackson's Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life: Making Your Dreams Come True were quoted in a post by Betsy Woodruff Wednesday on National Review Online:

"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. That is why people serve Satan without ever knowing it or deciding to, but no one can be a child of God without making a decision to surrender to him. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want."

This isn't the first time that someone from the Christian faith has gotten media attention for making similar claims. In January, conservative Christian leader Tony Perkins opposed the military's yoga program, calling it a "wacky substitute" for religion, while last September a Catholic priest in England banned yoga because he believed it is not compatible with Catholic beliefs.