The Iowa Republican said being accused of racism gave him “better insight into what he went through for us.”
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Tuesday said he gained “better insight” into the persecution of Jesus after his congressional colleagues considered censuring him earlier this year for questioning the offensiveness of white nationalism.
King made the statement during a town hall at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Cherokee, Iowa, after a woman told him she’s concerned “Christianity is really being persecuted,” The Des Moines Register reported.
“When I have to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives,” King responded, “and look up at those 400-and-some accusers — you know we just passed through Easter and Christ’s passion — and I have better insight into what he went through for us, partly because of that experience.”
Republican House leaders stripped King of his congressional committee assignments in January following renewed outrage over his long history of racist remarks. The unanimous decision came after King questioned why terms such as “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” are considered offensive during an interview with The New York Times.
King claimed his comments had been taken out of context.
“If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told The Washington Post at the time.
King had a long record of espousing racist, Islamophobic and white nationalist beliefs before his interview with the Times, as HuffPost has extensively reported. Last year, he met with members of a far-right Austrian group with Nazi ties during a trip to Europe, and he endorsed Faith Goldy, a prominent Canadian white nationalist, for mayor of Toronto.
Following his comments to the Times, the House unanimously passed a Democratic-led resolution to “reject white nationalism and white supremacy.” But House Democrats stopped short of calling a vote to censure King, drawing outrage from some members of the party.
“I offered for him to be censured by the House. I think that is entirely appropriate,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), a 2020 presidential hopeful, told HuffPost last month. “I think the House should act, and I was disappointed that they didn’t.”
King, who has been in office since 2003, has faced numerous calls for resignation from congressional Republicans and Democrats, Iowa newspapers and his constituents.
Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) announced in January that he’s planning to run against King in the 2020 primary. He raised over four times more than King in campaign contributions during the first quarter of 2019.
“We don’t need any more sideshows or distractions,” Feenstra said during his campaign announcement in January. “We need to start winning for Iowa’s families.”