WASHINGTON -- Rep. Steve King invoked the story of Jesus Christ at a town hall Tuesday, comparing his experience being called out for racist remarks in the House of Representatives earlier this year to Jesus' trial and public crucifixion in Jerusalem.
"When I have to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives, 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," the Iowa Republican said, referencing the biblical story of Jesus' trek to Calvary and execution on a cross.
King told the roughly 30 constituents at the town hall Tuesday that the prayers he has received from others have helped him through the tough time and given him a "certain peace," the Sioux City Journal reported.
The full House voted 421-1 on a resolution earlier this year meant to rebuke King for making racist comments to the New York Times. Illinois Democrat Bobby Rush voted against the resolution, saying it didn't go far enough to condemn King's behavior.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Republican Steering Committee stripped King of his committee assignments after the episode.
"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization -- how did that language become offensive?" King said, according to the New York Times.
"Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?" he is quoted as asking.
The resolution passed in January -- which King voted in favor of -- stated that the House rejects white nationalism and white supremacy as "hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States."
When someone at the town hall asked King to resign so that the people of Iowa's 4th District could vote for a representative who sits on committees, King declined and restated his position that the Times mischaracterized his comments about white nationalism.
"The New York Times misquoted me ... I cannot let that stand," King told the crowd, the Sioux City Journal reported.
But the nine-term incumbent's January comments in the Times don't reflect much of a shift in his previous rhetoric and behavior.
The congressman has made headlines over the past couple years for retweeting, and meeting, with far-right groups that have ties to Nazis. He consistently decries what he sees as the demise of white Americans as the U.S. becomes more diverse.
"Western civilization is on the decline," King said at a meeting last year with a handful of reporters and activists, including a member of a far-right group in Austria that was founded by a former Nazi SS officer.
King narrowly won re-election to Iowa's 4th District seat in the 2018 elections, edging out Democrat J.D. Scholten by 3 points, 50.3 percent to 47 percent.
Iowa Democrats are urging Scholten to run again, multiple outlets have reported.
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