Sali's comments have been quick to earn strong response from both sides. Bryan Fischer, director of the Idaho Values Alliance, is at his side, saying that anyone who worships "cows, monkeys and snakes" is at odds with the nation's founding principles.
On the other side, Democratic Party Chairman Richard Stallings called for Sali to either apologize for his comments or resign from Congress. "I call upon Bill Sali to either publicly apologize to the Americans he has insulted with his bigoted remarks, or resign his congressional seat and let someone who understands basic human dignity and the right of religious freedom to take his place," Stallings said in a written statement.
The whole shebang started with Sali's comments on OneNewsNow.com, an online news site, where he made comments regarding U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and the offering of a Hindu prayer for the opening convocation of the House.
"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes—and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," said Sali.
According to Sali, the only way the United States can continue to survive is under that protective hand of God. He states when a Hindu prayer is offered, "that's a different god" and that it "creates problems for the longevity of this country."
"Hindus believe in a virtually infinite number of gods, and worship cows, monkeys and snakes, while our Founding Fathers believed in one God, the Creator God revealed in the Old and New Testaments. We pledge allegiance to 'one nation under God,' not to 'one nation under gods,' Fischer said.
"Congressman Sali's caution with regard to Islam and public policy is wise. When you examine nations whose public institutions have been shaped by Islamic politicians, you find no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, no freedom of conscience, no fundamental rights for women and no freedom for ordinary citizens to choose their leaders."
Of course, not everyone agrees with Fischer's statements. "Today, Bill Sali is belittling Hindus and Muslims. Tomorrow, will he do the same with Roman Catholics and Buddhists? Or perhaps Jews and Mormons? Who will pass the religious purity test and be able to serve in Congress, or even pray out loud in the nation's Capitol?" Stallings said.
"Religious freedom is a bedrock value of America—it is one of our core tenents. And yet, here we have Bill Sali, a United States congressman, showing his disdain for people who belong to religions other than his own. Either Sali is too dumb and insensitive to realize that his words are extremely hurtful to others, or he really is a religious bigot," he said.
Sali's spokesman Wayne Hoffman said Sali does not have a problem with Ellison's membership in Congress. "As far as having Muslim members of Congress, that's perfectly OK with Congressman Sali," Hoffman said.