Rep. Steve King said Tuesday he can relate to the suffering of Jesus Christ, seemingly equating his recent controversies to what Christ “went through for us.”
“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 because of a lot of prayers for me,” King said at a town hall in Cherokee, Iowa.
“And, 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 hours before Jesus’ crucifixion are referred to as Christ’s passion and reference the events – including torture and intense public shaming – that he went through before being nailed to the cross. For Christians, the Easter season is a time of remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice, ultimately leading to his death and his resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.
An Iowa Republican with a history of racist remarks, King was likely referring to being stripped of his committee assignments and rebuked by members of his own party after giving an interview with The New York Times in January in which he made racist comments.
In the article, King, as part of a defense of what he said was the “culture of America,” asked how certain terms had become controversial in modern discourse.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” he told the Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King said on the House floor in January that he rejected the ideology of white nationalism and he maintains that his comments were misinterpreted.
Despite the controversy, King refused to step aside from his post in Congress and announced in February he’ll run for reelection in 2020. He won his race in 2018 by 3.6 percentage points.
In an interview with “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television, King said he has “nothing to apologize for.”
“We know what the news media has done continuously,” King said. “Each thing starts out with some formerly credible organization that launches this. And then we have this phenomenon that America is not ready for and that’s this cyberbullying that unleashes.”
King’s comments to The New York Times are not his only brush with controversy over race.
He has previously retweeted a Nazi sympathizer and has sponsored a white nationalist fringe candidate for Toronto mayor.
In March 2017, King tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” later telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he “meant exactly what I said.”
And during an interview with a far right Austrian publication in 2018, King suggested that immigration and diversity brought risks.
“What does this diversity bring that we don’t already have? Mexican food. Chinese food,” King said at the time. “Those things, well, that’s fine, but what does it bring that we don’t have that is worth the price?”
CNN’s Katie Bernard and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.