Newt Gingrich: It's Time to Stop Religious Bigotry in Congress | Opinion

The US Capitol is seen in Washington, DC on January 22, 2018 after the US Senate reached a deal to reopen the federal government, with Democrats accepting a compromise spending bill. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

As we take time to honor and remember the life and work of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.—whose efforts changed our nation for the better and helped end bigoted, exclusionary policies against African Americans—we should also remember his message applies to bias and bigotry in all its forms.

In a 1963 speech at Western Michigan University, Reverend King said:

"There are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry."

Republicans did exactly the right thing this week when they expressed their "maladjustment" toward Representative Steve King's recent bigoted remarks. Congress members who use hateful language should be censured.

Democrats should express "maladjustment" toward bigotry in their own party—specifically the rising anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism.

Where is the vote of disapproval for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who in December questioned whether U.S. District Judge nominee Brian Buescher was qualified to be a federal judge given his Catholic faith and membership in the Knights of Columbus—a century-old Catholic charitable organization? In written questions, Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono and California Senator Kamala Harris specifically suggested Buescher should quit the organization if he was confirmed.

This is a clear attempt to apply the religious test that anti-faith members of the Democrat party are trying to put in place.

It was more of the same anti-Catholic bigotry which Senate Democrats levied against the judicial nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Amy Coney Barrett, during her confirmation hearings in September 2017. Then, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California remarked to Barrett that "the dogma lives loudly within you" and commented that Barrett's religious beliefs may prevent her from upholding the law as a judge.

Similarly, where is the official condemnation for Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib?

Tlaib received a great deal of attention for using foul language when referring to the President at a campaign event—but that's not really what concerns me. Where is the Democratic outrage for Tlaib's relabeling Israel as Palestine on the map in her office? Why are House Democrats not moving to denounce her for having private dinners with a pro-Hezbollah activist who tweeted, "Israel does not have a right to exist. The terrorist entity is illegal and has no basis to exist other than a delusional ISIS-like ideology."

What about disapproval for Tlaib's defense of former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill after he was fired for calling for a Palestinian state "from the river to the sea," a common phrased used by Hamas for decades which describes wiping out Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean?

Finally, why have no Democrats condemned Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a vocal supporter of the BDS movement (which stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions for Israel)? She has publicly called Israel evil and claimed the nation had "hypnotized the world," a common anti-Semitic trope.

In addition to considering Reverend King's message of ending bigotry, my hope is that Democrats would also follow their colleague, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who wrote earlier this month for The Hill that:

"The party that worked so hard to convince people that Catholics and Knights of Columbus like Al Smith and John F. Kennedy could be both good Catholics and good public servants shows an alarming disregard of its own history in making such attacks today.

"We must call this out for what it is—religious bigotry. This is true not just when such prejudice is anti-Catholic, but also when it is anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu, or anti-Protestant, or any other religion."

Aside from being morally bankrupt, nurturing bigotry against religious groups in Congress will cost the Democrats in the long run. As Michael Gerson wrote Thursday in The Washington Post, "if liberal Democrats want to compare the Catholic Church to a hate group, good luck with that. They will offend the last religious traditionalists they haven't already and alienate a good many others besides."

As Reverend King said, we should all be maladjusted to bigotry. It has no place in America—and especially not American government.

Newt Gingrich is Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, a best-selling author, and host of the upcoming Newt's World podcast.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​