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Steve King says he can relate to Jesus Christ's suffering after backlash over 'white supremacy' quote

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 4/24/2019 Robin Opsahl

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Rep. Steve King said that after facing months of criticism for comments in The New York Times about white supremacy and nationalism, he better understands the persecution Jesus Christ felt.

The Iowa Republican made the comments in response to a question from the Rev. Pinky Person of the Faith In Christ Fellowship, who told King during a town hall Tuesday that she was concerned that "Christianity is really being persecuted." 

"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," King told about 30 attendees at the town hall at Western Iowa Tech Community College.

The "accusers" King referred to were his fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who took action condemning him after the Times published an article in which he said, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

House Republicans also stripped King of committee assignments in response to his reported remark.

Steve King: 'I have nothing to apologize for,' plans to seek re-election despite controversies

More: Steve King avoids question about whether 'white society' is superior to 'nonwhite society'

a man wearing a suit and tie: Congressman Steve King takes questions during a town hall meeting in Primghar, Iowa, on Jan. 26, 2019. © Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. Congressman Steve King takes questions during a town hall meeting in Primghar, Iowa, on Jan. 26, 2019. King has said the Times "misquoted" him, but a "fact check" posted by his office does not dispute the quote. Instead, it claims the remark was taken out of context, an assertion the Times disputed in a statement to The Washington Post. 

"Trip Gabriel typed detailed notes during the interview and we are absolutely confident that we quoted Mr. King accurately, fairly and in the proper context," Times editor Patrick Healy told the Post

The remarks in the Times were far from the first comments from King to spark controversy and accusations of racism. He has compared immigrants to livestock, placed a Confederate flag on his desk and said, "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies," among other incidents

King said he is proud of the "strong Christian ethic" in Iowa's 4th District, which he represents. He said the U.S. is a Christian nation because Americans have strong morals and are willing to confess to wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness.

"It's in our culture, it's who we are," he said. "If it were any other way we wouldn't be the America we are, and probably wouldn't be an America at all."

King's history of controversial remarks: Here are some that riled people up

King is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. He said he counts on his faith to get through difficulties in his role.

"In our staff, we've made sure we have solid, faithful people, in Washington and here in the district," he said. "For all that I've been through, and it seems even strange for me to say it, but I am at a certain peace, and it is been because of a lot of prayers for me."

Now, the representative faces multiple primary challenges for the 4th District seat. State Sen. Randy Feenstra, a high-profile challenger, has raised $260,442 since his campaign launched on Jan. 9, while King raised $61,666 between Jan. 1 and March 31, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

King plans to hold his next town hall on Thursday in Jefferson.

Related slideshow: Rep. Steve King speaks in Primghar (USA TODAY)


This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Steve King says he understands how Jesus Christ felt after months of criticism in the House

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