Myrtle Beach, S.C. -- Charges of anti-Muslim discrimination at Catholic University in D.C. has presidential candidate Newt Gingrich up in arms.

"I look at the things that are going on in this country that make no sense to me," he said to a crowd of about 400 South Carolinians gathered at a pig roast fundraiser organized by the Myrtle Beach Tea Party. "We now have a lawsuit apparently by some Muslim students at Catholic University who are offended being at a Catholic university. Now my first answer to them is 'Fine, don't go to a Catholic university.'"

His comments drew applause. Gingrich was referring to allegations that Catholic University of America is illegally discriminating against Muslim students by "denying them access to benefits that other student groups enjoy," and, in particular, not providing space for daily prayers so that they have to pray in classrooms or campus chapels where they are surrounded by Catholic symbols. The charges are currently being reviewed by the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights.

Gingrich challenged the "people who filed the lawsuit," asking rhetorically, "Are you prepared to sponsor a Christian missionary in Mecca? Because if you're not prepared to sponsor religious liberty in Saudi Arabia, don't come and nag us with some hypocritical baloney. So I think we need to be prepared to stand firm for genuine religious liberty, not for something that's anti-Christian."

The former House speaker brought up the story after being asked a question from the audience on the persecution of Coptic Christians in the Middle East, which he related to what he sees as a global picture of anti-Christian sentiment.

Gingrich answered, "What I would do is I would actively try to defend religious liberty across the planet, including in Egypt, in Iraq. Look, the number of Christians left in Iraq dropped from a million 200 thousand to five hundred thousand after we liberated the country."

He blasted U.S. strategy in the Middle East as a "totally grotesque area."

"People say, well isn't this great, we're having an Arab Spring. Well I don't know, I think we may in fact be having an anti-Christian spring. I think people should actually be taking this pretty soberly."